First Published: In Struggle! No. 278, January 24, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Last November, the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA) finished its 8th Congress with declarations of complete optimism for the future of Socialist Albania and the world revolution. But a look at the problems raised by the decisions of the PLA’s 8th Congress is useful, at this time, as a starting point in the discussion on Albania’s role and future.
The most important decisions of the 8th Congress were those related to the new (7th) five-year plan. Albania is a country which took the socialist path right after its liberation from the Fascists in 1945, and which has since then succeeded in rapid industrialization and creation of a relatively egalitarian distribution of goods and services, even if it has remained one of the poorest countries in Europe. The Albanian people did this without credits or aid from the capitalist world. But they didn’t do it alone. Albania’s economic development has always been greatly aided by other forces in the “socialist camp” – first Yugoslavia, the U.S.S.R.. and, after that, China. But the Chinese abruptly and brutally cut off all aid to Albania in 1977, and now Albania faces a new situation in its history, that of being completely without any foreign aid in economic development.
The new five-year plan proposes to face these problems in a spirit of complete national independence and self-reliance, without any foreign investment, aid, credit, or debt. It proposes however to increase foreign trade (exports and imports) by a mammoth 60% over the five years. In order to pay for the increased imports, industrial production, in particular heavy industry, is supposed to rise at an unprecedented rate. Albania’s important reserves of chromium and hydro-electric power will play a key role in their attempt to boost exports and avod balance-of-payment deficits. Along with these decisions, the plan also proposes to raise the peoples wages and social services by 8-10% per year.
These economic decisions have to be linked to the political and ideological outlook contained in the Report to the 8th Congress delivered by party leader Enver Hoxha.
As concerns the basic functioning of the party, State, and forms of government, there seems to be no basic changes in the positions of the PLA. But whereas in the past they gave much stress to the struggle against bureaucracy, now all the weight is on further strengthening the leading role of the party and State mechanisms, and on improving the quality of the leading cadres.
In terms of the international situation, the PLA continues to mainly stress the struggle between the world’s peoples and the “two superpowers”, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. They see less co-operation and more competition between these two powers than in the past. They see a world war as a real danger, but not as inevitable.
Hoxha’s report describes the revolution as bursting out all over the world. But the term “revolution” is used in such a way that it is practically meaningless. It includes the struggles of capitalist underdeveloped states to have more control of their natural resources (like Arab oil); national liberation struggles which are not yet at the stags of socialism; economic struggles of workers in the imperialist countries; and conflicts in the Soviet-dominated bloc.
But the practical priorities Hoxha outlines are more clear. They are to support all national liberation and independence struggles that weaken the superpowers and limit the war danger. And they are for Albania to continue to increase the number of countries with which it has diplomatic relations, including both more of the lesser developed countries and also imperialist states like West Germany. These priorities seem to correspond to its economic needs – for maintaining peace and independence, and greatly increasing its foreign trade.
Although Hoxha mentions few specific struggles in his report, he does speak of two in Eastern Europe: Poland, and the Albanian minority in Kosova in Yugoslavia. As for Poland, he sees the workers’ struggles as arising from their class exploitation by the revisionist regime, but he also completely condemns their union, Solidarity, as a reactionary tool of the Vatican and Western imperialists. As for the Albanians in Yugoslavia, Hoxha says they are part of the Albanian nation, and holds the Yugoslav leaders completely responsible for the denial of their national rights and the repression of their protests. He states clearly that the future relations between Albania and Yugoslavia will be determined by the conduct of the Yugoslav leaders towards the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia.
Hoxha’s report also speaks of the problems of socialism in the world today. Hoxha admits that the question of what is scientific socialism is creating some confusion, but he has the explanation for all the problems. It is revisionism. The Yugoslays are the most insidious revisionists, because they pretend to be concerned about democracy and workers control. The Soviet revisionists are the most dangerous – they are the most powerful, they are an imperialist force, and they are successful in infiltrating the liberation movements. The Chinese are treated almost as a joke – the party was never Marxist-Leninist, the country was never socialist, and there was never even economic planning! The Euro-communists are complete degenerates concerned only with parliamentary class collaboration. The Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea was one of butchers allied with Chinese imperialism...
After all this, Hoxha’s conclusions are more than a little astonishing. He says there is no problem in defining scientific socialism and no need to re-define it; it is crystal clear, and represented by the theory of Marxism-Leninism and the practice of Stalin yesterday and Albania today. As for the problem of world communist unity, the few sentences on this say that it will be dealt with by continuing discussions among the “genuine” Marxist-Leninist parties (like the CPC-ML) that are reinforcing themselves each day.
Hoxha’s analysis of the struggle in the imperialist countries is particularly interesting, because nearly every single thing he says is wrong. For example, he claims that the Marxist-Leninist parties are getting continually stronger, and that the deepening crisis is making it easier to rally the workers to revolution. He says that the most important national question in the imperialist countries is the domination of American imperialism (specifically mentioning Canada); and he claims that the revisionists and social-democrats refuse to take up this question. He also says that the trade-unions play a completely reactionary role, and that the communists must either take them over or replace them.
What can we draw out from all this? First, it’s clear that the PLA cannot play the role of leadership in the world communist movement that we once thought it could. They offer no serious perspectives for revolutionary strategy. And, in relation to the crisis of Marxism and revolutionary socialism, they deny it even exists.
Secondly, the line of the 8th Congress should guide Albania to continue to play a progressive and anti-imperialist role in many aspects of world affairs. But this should not blind us to the increasingly evident problems in the kind of “internationalism” of the PLA. Their complete hostility to Solidarity in Poland is a serious matter, for example; and their arguments to defend this are strangely similar to those of the U.S.S.R. We have to wonder if the Albanian leaders are not very threatened by the possibility of free trade unions in Eastern Europe, particularly in a period of great economic sacrifice for the Albanian workers. There are also the examples of the PLA’s refusal to denounce the fascist repression in both Turkey and Iran during 1981 – two countries mentioned in Hoxha’s report as important friends of Albania in the international arena.
But the third and most important thing is the real difficulties that Albania faces in building socialism and maintaining independence under conditions of both backwardness and total isolation. The increasing nationalisin in the economic and political stance of Albania is clearly related to this basic problem – a problem that many of the other countries building socialism have experienced with grave results. The further development of the struggle for socialism is Albania should help us reflect on some of the most basic questions facing revolutionary Marxists today. To what degree can real socialism be built in conditions of economic backwardness and isolation, as was the case for all socialist revolutions to date? And to what degree should communists in the advanced countries continue to make the imitation of this kind of socialism part of their basic political beliefs?
 Mehmet Shehu. Report on the 7th Five-Year Plan (1981-1985). People’s Canada Publishing House, Toronto. 1981.
 Enver Hoxha, Report submitted to the 8th Congress of the PLA. Tirana.