Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Red Albania: a Marxist view

In Defense of the Peoples Republic of Albania

December 22, 1961


Of all the errors committed by the Khrushchev leadership, the break in the diplomatic relations with Albania is unquestionably the worst and the most grievous of all. It cannot be justified by any standards of working class principles, nor can it be justified by the long-standing tenets of Soviet foreign policy.

This action must be unequivocally condemned as a calculated attempt to undermine the Albanian Peoples Republic, overthrow the existing leadership by forceful and external methods, and substitute a leadership which will do Khrushchev's bidding.

If this is what is called "democratization," militant Communists the world over must take another look, and try to decipher its deeper significance.

To begin with, the glee and merriment in the camp of the class enemy over the diplomatic rupture, should be enough to make any class conscious worker suspicious of the motivation behind the move.


What has Albania done to deserve such a rash and unwarranted attack? The accusations leveled against her range all the way from fostering the "cult of personality" to the denial of the "Leninist principle of co-existence."

Even if one were to assume that Khrushchev's indictment against her was true in all respects, it could under no circumstances be regarded as sufficient cause for taking such an extreme measure. Even in the case of Yugoslavia there was no actual severance of diplomatic ties. Why Albania? Why not the re-Nazified government of Western Germany? of Denmark? or of the U.S.?

Such governments as the U.S. and West Germany are pursuing the "cult" of war against the Soviet Union! Is the pursuit of the "cult" of Stalin and Hoxha so much worse than the pursuit of the "cult" of superprofits and imperialist war?

Is it not the height of irony to preach peaceful co-existence with states having different social systems, while initiating a merciless war against a small state with a similar social system?

If there is to be peaceful co-existence should it not be first and foremost among the fraternal states within the socialist camp?


To begin with, it should be borne in mind that Albania has been a beleaguered fortress ever since the ouster of Tito. It is amazing how such a small country, surrounded on all sides by enemies, should have been able to survive and develop under such hostile surroundings.

Of course, the tremendous contributions of the Soviet Union, China and the other socialist countries helped the Albanian Peoples Republic in no small measure. But there is no ground whatever to doubt the assertion of the Chinese Communist Party, that it was accomplished "mainly by relying on their own (i.e., Albanian) efforts."

The account of the struggles of the Albanian Peoples government in ridding the country of feudal and foreign rule, and the heritage of a backward, agricultural population that was 80 percent illiterate, is contained in the November 17, 1961 issue of Peking Review.

The appraisal by the Chinese of the role of the leadership of the Albanian Party of Labour, contrasts sharply with the dark picture painted by Khrushchev. Whatever may be the faults of Enver Hoxha and his collaborators, they have been the leaders who have, through trial and tribulation, seen their country through foreign oppression to socialist construction. To extirpate this leadership by external pressure -- which is what Khrushchev apparently wants to do -- is to do violence to the most elementary principle of socialist justice.

Khrushchev, it seems, would be only too glad to see Albania come hat in hand to the imperialists, begging for a handout. But the firm and loyal support of the People's Republic of China and others in the socialist camp, make such a development unlikely.

It should be noted, however, that Poland and Yugoslavia both receive imperialist handouts, but are not under attack from the Khrushchev leadership.

In the context of the present international situation, and considering the fact that Albania is completely isolated geographically from the other socialist countries -- and especially when one regards the fact of Albania's small population (one and a half million) -- the Albanian Peoples Republic and its leaders, have every right to regard the diplomatic rupture as an attempt at political and economic strangulation.


It is claimed by the Khrushchev leadership that Albania made "inordinate demands" upon the Soviet Union with regard to economic assistance.

It is difficult to conceive of "demands" being made by little Albania. But if so, could not these "demands" be politely turned down?

It is further claimed that the Albanian leadership expressed "resentment" over the "aid rendered by the Soviet Union and other socialist countries to the underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa." This is the claim made by Professor Fedor Constantinov in the November issue of Kommunist, theoretical organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

It is a distortion of the real issue raised by Albania and China on the permissible limits to which a socialist country may obligate itself in rendering aid to such countries as India, Egypt, and others -- while at the same time reducing aid, or denying it completely to such governments as those of China, North Vietnam, and the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic.


"... Hoxha and Shehu," says Professor Constantinov, regard the Leninist principles of co-existence of two systems not as the general line of foreign policy, but as "merely a phrase, words which do not bind one, a clever tactical maneuver, whereas the policy (of the USSR) is no tactical device, but the general line of foreign policy substantiated by Lenin and creatively developed by the CPSU, by Nikita Khrushchev." But the truth of the matter is that Hoxha, no less than Khrushchev, is for peaceful coexistence. Only his interpretation of it differs. It reflects a more militant attitude toward imperialism. Unquestionably, Albania holds a political position on this issue very similar to that championed by the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese position was aptly summarized by Liu Ning-yi, head of the Chinese trade unions, in a speech at Peking celebrating the anniversary of the Algerian rebellion:

The only effective way to deal with imperialism and the new and old colonialism headed by the United States is to wage a head on struggle against them, tooth for tooth and eye for eye. We should never cherish the slightest illusion about them. (New York Times -- November 2, 1961)

It is difficult to see how militant Communists can help but support the Albanian-Chinese position as against Khrushchev's.

Whoever does so, however, is immediately branded as a Stalinist by the bourgeois apologists, or a dogmatist and a left-sectarian by Khrushchev's apologists.

A leftist apology for the Khrushchev position is contained in the Monthly Review -- December 1961. In its view, the above quotation from Liu Ning-yi epitomizes all that is wrong with the Chinese position, which it characterizes as a severe case of " dogmatic leftism."

In reality it represents the inflexible determination of the Chinese CP not to be taken in by the wiles of imperialism, and to be prepared for any eventuality, since imperialism -- as the CCP has said on innumerable occasions -- will not change its aggressive warlike nature.

"The world should be grateful to the moderating influence of the Soviet Union" upon China, says Monthly Review. Whether it is speaking of the capitalist world or the working class world here, the reader can judge by its additional statement:

"As compared to the Chinese, the Soviet position puts more emphasis on nations as actors on the world stage and less emphasis on classes."

MR's analysis of the differences between the Chinese and the Russians is inaccurate and faulty -- especially coming from authors who regard themselves as Marxists, for they failed to take into consideration the Marxist-Leninist definition of a nation from the point of view of its relation to the classes. "A nation," said Lenin, "is an instrument of a definite specific class."

All nations big and small, both oppressor and oppressed, are definite instruments of a given specific class. It is true that nations exist as independent entities, but to put more emphasis on nations without respect to whether this or that nation is an instrument of the bourgeois class or the working class, is to blur over and deny the significance of class antagonisms, which is one of the issues in dispute in the first place.


In addition to the dispute over the nature of imperialism, there is also what the bourgeois press refers to as "de-Stalinization."

For a long time now, the bourgeoisie has been bestowing accolades on Khrushchev for his ouster of old "Stalinists" and the process of "de-Stalinization." This chorus of applause ranges all the way from the semiofficial organ of the State Department, The New York Times, to their social democratic lackeys.

But while the so called "de-Stalinization" has found a welcome reception among the ruling classes, it has not found such a reception among the class-conscious Communists anywhere in the world. On the contrary, it has met with stubborn resistance. For what the bourgeoisie and its agents call "de-Stalinization," is in reality appeasement and capitulation to imperialism.

(The process of reviving socialist legality and enlarging the rights of the masses is a more or less independent process, not really related to what the bourgeoisie call "de-Stalinization." We hope to return to this theme at a later date.)

Where "de-Stalinization" has been approved by masses of party members in the world Communist movement, it is done so out of party loyalty, with little if any conviction that the line is correct.

One need not be an adherent of Stalin to realize that this "process of de-Stalinization" does not augur well to those who were looking forward to a genuine revival of Leninism following the death of Stalin. All who are interested in the history of Communism know by this time that Stalin has played a dual role in the movement. That while he defended the gains of the proletarian revolution, he also exterminated practically the entire generation of old Bolsheviks by his abuse of power and personal dictatorship.


The revelation by Khrushchev and his collaborators, of some of the reactionary aspects of Stalin, has unfortunately not been done in a spirit calculated to revive genuine Leninist principles. But on the contrary, it has been carried out in the spirit of appeasing imperialism.

In an earlier article we expressed the hope that the political struggle within the Communist movement should not lead "to a rupture in the relationships between the Socialist states."

Now that this has happened, the responsibility for it must be put squarely on the shoulders of Khrushchev and his collaborators.

China and Albania

The reemergence of Teng

July 26, 1977

The reemergence of Teng Hsiao-ping to almost the same preeminent position he held in the party and government before he was purged comes almost as an anticlimactic event. In reality, the political beheading of Chiang Ching, Yao Wen-yuan, Chang Chun-chiao, Wang Hung-wen, and countless but unannounced hundreds of thousands of others signalled the triumph of the rightist opposition, led by Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping, over the Maoist policies and the revolutionary struggles of the Cultural Revolution of more than a decade.

Teng's reinstatement ends a cycle in the revolutionary development of China. It signifies that the Heroic Age of China's Revolution is over. indeed, it has probably been over for a longer period than had been previously believed.

The new era that is now unfolding in China is the age of the bourgeois pragmatists. But this does not at all mean that the bourgeoisie has been restored to power in China.


This event confirms a historical trend to the right which in effect overturned and discredited the aims and objectives of the Cultural Revolution -- the revolution which was aimed at curbing bureaucratic excesses, at prohibiting enormous privileges and emoluments to the upper crust in Chinese society. The Cultural Revolution had combatted those enormous material incentives which tend to cultivate a class differentiation in the peasantry, the working class, and especially in the so-called managerial class, that stratum in Chinese society which holds such a central role in planning, management, administration, and the various fields of science, technology, and industrial know-how.

Undoubtedly much will be attributed to the personal traits of Teng, especially his cunning and his ability to survive during periods of revolutionary storms, to once again be reinstated after having been cast into purgatory twice during Mao's lifetime. But personal traits, important though they are in the political struggle, are not what is really decisive.

The basic point which accounts for his reemergence is that the counter-current, the current against the Cultural Revolution, proved in the final analysis to be predominant and overwhelmed the left opposition.

Neither Chiang Ching nor Yao Wen-yuan, certainly not Wang Hung-wen, the sole strong revolutionary leader who emerged from the Shanghai working class, and not even Chang Chun-chiao held any great sway in the planning and management sector of the economy -- which of course is very important in a socialist country. Nor did they enjoy much loyalty or adherence from this sector to the Maoist doctrine. Contrary to what Mao's detractors are now hinting, his doctrine did not seek to belittle the significance of technology in the construction of socialism, but to make the masses the ultimate historical instrument in shaping their own socialist destiny.

Teng's relation to Mao is best summed up in Mao's own commentary on Teng. "Teng Hsiao-ping is deaf [hard of hearing] but at meetings he would sit far away from me. In the six years since 1959 he has not reported to me about his work. He relies only on Peng Chen [former mayor of Peking and ally of the Liu-Teng faction] for the work of the secretariat." (Quoted by Edgar Snow in The Long Revolution, p. 83.)

According to Snow, the only one of the many writers friendly to the Chinese Revolution who had long and extensive interviews with Mao over a period of years, among the important items that Teng failed to report to Mao was the policy of "the extension of plots for private use and of free markets, the increase of small enterprises with sole responsibility for their own profits and losses, and the fixing of output quotas [in communes] based on the household [individual] enterprises." This line of political divergence from Mao clearly puts Teng in the role of the early "liberalizers" who were then in the ascendant in the Soviet Union.

It did not, in the Teng world outlook, mean any particular subservience to the Soviet Union or agreement to be a subordinate partner in a Sino-Soviet alliance, but a sharing of views on the evolution of the economy, its management and direction, and the role of the state in the distribution of the national income vis-a-vis the different strata of the population.


It was only a bare two years ago that Teng in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister visited Paris to launch a virtual crusade to unify and strengthen NATO against the "greatest danger," Soviet "social-imperialism." He was then rudely rebuffed by George Marchais, the leader of the French CP.

The incident is illustrative of how superficial appearances convey the impression of deep-seated differences in world outlook, which speedy developments soon tear to shreds. For the truth of the matter is that since 1975 the trends of social development make abundantly clear that the world outlook of Teng Hsiao-ping does not fundamentally differ from that of Marchais, Berlinguer, or Carrillo.

These leaders of so-called Eurocommunism are actually leaders of social reformism, promoting the cause of the preservation of the capitalist system in their respective imperialist countries which are in irreconcilable conflict with the Soviet Union as a workers' state and a new, progressive social order.

Teng represents the current Chinese version of what the Carrillos, Berlinguers, and Marchais' stand for in the way of renouncing and abandoning the revolutionary struggle for socialism. They are bound together, at last, by their lynch-pin of anti-Sovietism.

They differ in this fundamental respect: Whereas Teng is anchored to a workers' state in a period of profound political reaction, the Marchais-Berlmguer-Carrillo grouping are reformists tied to the working class movement in a period of deep capitalist decline and resurgent aggressive political reaction and imperialist pressure at home and abroad from the U.S. Teng's social reformism is reformism on the foundation of a workers' state. The social reformism of the Eurocommunists is reformism based on workers' movements in the imperialist countries.

Of course the whole kit and kaboodle of the theory of "social-imperialism" was introduced by Mao himself. It became the touchstone, as did the so-called "restoration of capitalism in the USSR" theory, of the struggle against the extension of Khrushchevite revisionism on the soil of the Chinese Revolution. In this fierce struggle the theory of "social-imperialism" and of the "restoration of capitalism in the USSR" was more of a highly excessive reaction against the domestic aspects of revisionism, of which Liu and Teng were the principal promoters, than a serious, sober appraisal of the class character of the USSR.

Nowhere did this play more of a role than in the relations between China and Albania. The fact that Teng's reinstatement comes almost simultaneously with what amounts to a virtual end in the fraternal relations between China and Albania is deeply ironic and significant.


Albania was very important, not just as a socialist ally to China, but because it seemed to confirm and validate the Maoist doctrine as a world ideology. None of the other socialist countries, not Vietnam, nor Laos or Korea, embraced the Cultural Revolution, promoted it, or in any way regarded it as more than a national phenomenon confined to China. None of the other socialist countries embraced the false super-power theory and the doctrine of "social-imperialism."

Albania alone seemed to be the only follower of Mao among all the socialist countries. For that alone it was frequently and effusively praised.

The fraternal relations between Albania and China seemed to be of a model character -- what the relationship between a big socialist country and a small one ought to be. They demonstrated, seemingly, how solidarity in Marxist-Leninist ideology and correct socialist relations between fraternal parties with similar social structures could thrive and develop.

Now all this has apparently come to an end, almost at the same time as the reemergence of Teng.

It is not true, however, that ideological considerations were the only ones that moved the Albanian party leadership in the direction of China. A great deal of this ideological agreement stemmed from the original relationship between the Albanian Peoples Republic established in 1945, and Yugoslavia, which at the time held a preeminent position in Eastern Europe. Both Tito and the Yugoslav Revolution had attained tremendous prestige as a result of the victorious liberation struggle conducted against fascist aggression during the Second World War. But at the time of the split between Yugoslavia and the USSR, Albania was in a difficult position.

According to Yugoslav sources after the split, especially Djilas in his book Conversations with Stalin and Dedijer's book Tito, Stalin appeared to be urging Tito "to swallow up" Albania. There is no way to confirm this, as both the sources are extremely tendentious and Djilas is an out-and-out counter-revolutionary. But the existence of an Albanian ethnic minority in Yugoslavia under oppressive conditions, notwithstanding much-touted social achievements and material improvements by the Yugoslav authorities, has been an ever-present concern of the Albanian government and people.

It is possible that Albania as a Balkan state might have become part of a federation with Yugoslavia, or that Tito might have been interested in achieving such a federation. In the period right after World War II, he had expressed interest in forming a Balkan federation in East Europe, and even Dimitrov, the Bulgarian leader, lent support to it. The latter was immediately rebuked in a public statement by Pravda, which scotched the plan.


All this is important in viewing the later developments of the ideological struggle against Khrushchevite revisionism, especially since Albania and China had in reality differing appraisals of the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia. The Albanians had conducted a far more realistic and more accurate appraisal of the deepening of revisionist trends in Eastern Europe, which of course both China and Albania correctly held to be the responsibility of the so-called de-Stalinization efforts of the Khrushchev era in the first place.

But as the struggle between the two trends in Eastern Europe developed, particularly in Czechoslovakia, the Albanians stressed more the aspect that the Soviet leadership under Brezhnev was a continuation and deepening of the Khrushchev period and that the development of the "liberalizers" and the so-called Spring Thaw in Czechoslovakia demonstrated that the Soviet bureaucracy, which had introduced the deepening revisionist trend, was now incapable of arresting it. Their position clearly reflected the view that the Czechoslovak developments were reactionary and were leading to bourgeois counter-revolution similar to what had taken place in Hungary in 1956, and that the Soviet bureaucracy was either too cowardly or too helpless to do anything about it.

They wrote in the March 24, 1968, Zeri i Popullit, "The new Czech counter-revolutionaries resort to new and multilateral methods. They attach great importance to the complete taking into their hands of the internal situation, without neglecting foreign policy. Naturally, out of demagogy, they openly speak of friendship with the Soviet Union, in order to completely undermine it.

"Their principal aim is the liquidation of Novotny and of his clique which is for the Soviet revisionist leadership and the reduction of the relations with the Soviet Union to mere trade relations. In the van of the campaign for the liquidation of Novotny, for his exposure, his compromisation and, finally, for his removal were the Slovak nationalists and the anti-Czech chauvinists, also the old bourgeois intellectuals and the new revisionist intellectuals as well as the students and hooligans who came out and still come out in demonstrations.

"... it (the Dubcek clique) enjoys the guaranty of the West ... [and] the interests of world capitalism are visible in central Europe and Czechoslovakia is its epicenter."

Zeri i Popullit asks, "What will the Soviets do? Nothing, but take Novotny into their old people's home, if the revisionists permit it, and give him a villa like Rakosi."

It follows from their analysis that the intervention of the Warsaw Pact, which they had not expected, was no more than a defensive move against Czechoslovakia becoming the "epicenter of world capitalism," as they put it.

But in 1968, during the fierce struggle that had been unfolding against the Liu Shao-chi and Teng forces, any kind of indication that the USSR had moved in a progressive direction and was in reality taking a defensive move against capitalist restoration could only have weakened the Maoist struggle against the domestic right. Thus, a real contradiction developed in China and Albania's respective appraisals of trends in Eastern Europe and later for all of Europe.


It did not serve Albania's interest to proclaim the intervention in Czechoslovakia as counter-revolutionary and as evidence of "social-imperialist" aggression. For one thing, Tito, who had taken an ambivalent position on the Hungarian intervention in 1956, in 1968 was aggressively anti-Soviet so far as the intervention went, and joined the chorus of Western imperialist denunciations. Moreover, he strengthened his armed forces and enlarged them, always regarded as a danger to Albania.

In the meantime, under the impetus of unleashing a barrage of "social-imperialist" propaganda about the Czech intervention and the "danger" it posed everywhere in Europe, the Chinese press forgot in the meantime that Yugoslavia had originally been cast by the Chinese press in the role of a "fascist" state which had consummated a bourgeois counter-revolution and restored capitalism. Indeed, China now began to cast flirtatious glances at Yugoslavia and showed regard for its "struggle for independence," which could not possibly have found a great deal of credibility in Tirana.

Nevertheless, the Albanian party, loyal in the general struggle against revisionism, dutifully followed along. But the split was inevitable when the Chinese press began more and more to highlight the "greater danger" from so-called social-imperialism and urged the Europeans to galvanize NATO. This imperialist alliance is clearly a danger to Albanian independence when one remembers that one of the anchors of the southern flank of NATO is Greece, Albania's next-door neighbor.

And it shows that Albania's most recent polemic against China should center on China's thesis on the "Third World" and the "nonaligned" movement when one considers that Tito is one of the big wheels in the "non-aligned" movement.


Our epoch is in many ways similar to that long and protracted period of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. In particular, our contemporary period bears strong resemblance to the Renaissance: a tremendous era of great hopes and new anticipations, but also an era of great disillusionment and disenchantment, and periods of passivity on the part of large masses of people who otherwise would be in convulsive mass action.

A period of transition from one social order to another, from a dying social system to a new world social order, is long and protracted and entails many acute contradictions, by the hopes it sets in motion, by the inevitable setbacks, and more often by the cynicism as well as corruption which it breeds, which leads bourgeois historians and commentators to come back to that old, old standby on the "essential character of Man" -- the inherent nature and fragility of the human species, so forth and so on.

But the reality of the situation is that in a protracted period when two worlds are in struggle and defeats are inflicted upon both sides of the divergent class systems, disillusionment and disenchantment by temporary setbacks are bound to bring to the surface precisely those negative social trends which are characteristic of the older, decadent order of society.

But this is of a purely temporary character, in the long run, no matter what the setbacks in the socialist countries, no matter what severe trials and tribulations the working class and the oppressed peoples may endure as a result of the defection of leaders and the succumbing of certain strata of the population to the class enemy, the ultimate result cannot be anything else but the socialist reorganization of the planet on the basis of serving human need.

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