Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


Albania: Last hope for Stalinists without a country

First Published: Spartacist Canada No 32, Dec-Jan 1978-1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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One of the most peculiar developments in the Canadian left in the past year has been the scramble by four Stalinist sects for a place in the rising sun of Albanian “socialism.” Canadian Maoists were confused and disoriented by the ouster of the “Gang of Four” (the faction in the Chinese Communist Party which was most closely identified with Mao) as well as China’s decision to award the franchise to the servile toadies of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) [CCL (M-L)]. Behind the adulation of primitive Albania as a Marxist-Leninist Shangri-la and the coronation of Enver Hoxha as the new “M-L” pope lies the desperate search of disinherited Stalinists for a new spiritual fatherland.

The narrow, anti-internationalist realpolitik of the Stalinist bureaucracy is embodied in the dogma of “socialism in one country.” “Socialism in one country” has nothing in common with socialism as Marx conceived of it, but it certainly does need its one country. Since the Soviet Union has somehow become “social imperialist” and China under Hua/Teng is allegedly taking the “capitalist road,” there is not a great deal left to choose from in the way of a “glorious socialist fatherland.” Thus, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)[CPC(M-L)], the tiny Bolshevik Union (BU) and In Struggle! (IS!) are left with the sheep pastures of Albania to inspire and guide their vicarious national socialism. Joining them in their new-found enthusiasm for Albania-Canada friendship societies as the hallmark of “internationalism” is the Canadian Party of Labour (CPL), which broke with China in 1971.

While Hoxha’s new-found friends and admirers are all ready to swear their allegiance to “Socialist Albania,” they have little in common apart from Canadian parochialism and mutual denunciations. While they all hold to a subjective analysis of class relations which posits that “capitalism” can be restored at any moment, without a social counter-revolution, by the mere “wrong ideas” of the political leadership (as supposedly happened in the USSR after Stalin’s death), Canada’s Hoxhaphiles hold widely divergent positions on how “capitalism” has been or is being restored in China. The eclectic New Left semi-Maoists of IS!, who were the last to give up China, maintain that the process of “capitalist restoration” is just beginning. CPC(M-L), a group which has a well-deserved reputation on the left as the psychotic semi-cult of Chairman Hardial Bains upholds the “Gang of Four” and claims that with their removal the bourgeois forces in China gained the ascendency. CPL, which during the last seven years failed to even notice the existence of “Socialist Albania,” maintains that Mao himself was the leader of the “capitalist roaders” in China.

However, the prize for the most imaginative treatment of the problem has to go to the Bolshevik Union. After spending the last several years “proving” that they alone correctly understood the directives of the “Marxist-Leninist” headquarters in Peking, the micro-sect BU now announces that capitalism was never overthrown in China. The BU claims that the social revolution of 1949 which expropriated the bourgeoisie was a bourgeois-democratic revolution! The Stalinoid sophists of the BU are no doubt cooking up a “line of demarcation” to explain why they mistook capitalism for socialism until now. While they’re at it they might also explain how it was that the wily Chinese capitalists managed to fool even such expert “Marxist-Leninists” as Joseph Stalin and Enver Hoxha.

Another thorny problem for many of Hoxha’s new devotees is the official endorsement by the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labor (PPS) of CPC(M-L) as the “vanguard of the Canadian proletariat.” Thoughtful members of CPL, IS!, and the BU may well wonder why the world’s “greatest living Marxist-Leninist” would select a group of “social fascists” and “police provocateurs” (for this is how Bains’s rivals characterize CPC[M-L]) as his representative in Canada.

Hoxha’s new disciples have lost no time boning up on their Albanian history – a subject which is close to the hearts of the intensely nationalistic bureaucrats in Tirana. Last month the BU and CPC(M-L) joined with the “glorious Albanian people” to celebrate the victory won by Skanderbeg (Albania’s Joan of Arc) over the Turks in 1443! Hoxha’s seventieth birthday was also marked recently in the pages of the various publications of his supporters – but unfortunately due to certain “M-L” principles about joint work with “social fascists” and “police agents” they were unable to co-sponsor a birthday party for their hero.

“Self-Reliance” Albanian Style

As in the period leading up to the 1960 split with the Soviet Union, the Albanian leadership prepared for its break with China by increasingly emphasizing the need for “self-reliance.” It is not an accident that its major proponents are Albania’s Enver Hoxha and North Korea’s Kim Il Sung. It Is also useful, at times, to large “socialist” powers which are reluctant to share their resources with smaller “brother” countries. Thus, when U. S. imperialism escalated its military intervention in Vietnam in 1965, Mao preached “self-reliance” to North Vietnam and the NLF as it cut off its meager military aid. “Self-reliance” is an anti-internationalist and counter-revolutionary corollary of “socialism in one country” which condemns backward and impoverished countries to remain backward and impoverished.

Despite important economic advances since the Hoxha regime took power after World War II, Albania remains the poorest nation of Europe. Its economic structure rests primarily on agriculture and travellers report that Albania is one of the few countries where traditional peasant dress is still worn by much of the population. Whatever advances the Albanian economy has enjoyed have come almost exclusively through foreign assistance. Imports from the USSR ran at double the rate of Albanian exports until 1960. From 1960 until last summer China occupied the dominant position in Albania’s foreign trade, but its actual assistance was far more limited than Russia’s.

Even according to the rare official economic statistics, wages in agricultural collectives were only 20 lek (approximately one dollar) a day in 1970. Streets and railroads are built by young people in what the PPS euphemistically refers to as “socialist education” which in reality amounts to unpaid forced labor. Under such backward conditions, “self-reliance” can only result in a worsening of the conditions of “socialist life” for the masses of Albanian workers and peasants.

Tito/Stalin/Mao’s Little Brother

The split with China last summer represents the third time in three decades that Enver Hoxha has broken with his “socialist” benefactor. The Albanian Party of Labor was formed in 1941 under the aegis of Tito’s Yugoslav Communist Party, and Hoxha’s “National Liberation Front” seized power in 1944 as an adjunct of the Yugoslav partisans’ victory over the Nazi occupation forces.

The PPS saw its first task as the establishment of a “people’s democratic government in an Albania that has been liberated from fascism” (Jan Myrdal, Albania Defiant [1976]). This classic Stalinist popular-front policy could not, however, be realized in practice for lack of bourgeois forces willing to ally with it. As an adjunct to the Yugoslav revolution and in the context of Soviet hegemony in the rest of Eastern Europe, the peasant-dominated PPS created a deformed workers statelet. The extension of the Yugoslav revolution to Albania was also impelled by the existence of a million-strong Albanian minority in southern Yugoslavia.

After driving out the Nazis, Tito set up a customs union with his Albanian satellite and coordinated economic planning for the two countries. However, when Stalin broke with Tito in 1948, Hoxha, who resented Yugoslavia’s “great power pretensions” and suspected that Tito planned to convert Albania into one more Yugoslav republic, abrogated all treaties with the “superpower” next door. Pro-Yugoslav elements of the PPS were purged and for the most part physically liquidated. Among them were Koci Xoxe, ex-major general and former vice president and interior minister. As could be expected in Albania, infamous for its tradition of blood feuds, there was a regional/clan aspect to the purge. Xoxe and the other purge victims were members of the northern Ghegs, while Hoxha is a southern Tosk (the other major language group).

Unlike the split between Moscow and Peking, Albania remained a faithful follower of the Kremlin, serving after 1948 as a military base for the Soviet fleet. But in the Sino-Soviet split Hoxha allied hiniself with Peking for reasons having nothing to do with “peaceful co-existence.” Albania at first equivocated on the differences between Peking and Moscow, allying itself with China only when it became clear that a continued alliance with the Soviet Union would necessitate rapprochement with Yugoslavia.

Even before the formal break, the PPS had been busy expelling pro-Soviet party members, among them several political bureau members. When in 1961 Khrushchev attacked Hoxha’s “savagery” in executing central committee member Liri Gega, the Albanian leader retorted that as head of the secret police she had personally executed several other CC members by hitting them over the head with a sledge hammer.

Perhaps central committee members are no longer demoted with sledge hammers but once again Hoxha’s break with his foreign patron was preceded by a political purge in the top ranks of his own party. The Seventh Congress of the PPS, held in the fall of 1976 as tensions with China were beginning to surface, rubber-stamped the removal of several top government leaders. Among the disgraced leaders were the agricultural minister, the economics minister and the chief economic planner. In part the dismissal of key economic officials derived from Albania’s worsening economic situation: from 1970 to 1974 production of foodstuffs stagnated despite the expanding population. However several Western newspapers identified the purge victims as supporters of a pro-Peking line. This latest purge and the lockstep flavor of the Seventh PPS Congress indicate that Hoxha remains firmly in the saddle and the rule Albania’s threadbare bureacracy remains undisturbed by even the slightest token of workers democracy.

Locating the Primary Contradiction

There had always been a shading of difference between the foreign policies of Albania and China. Thus Hoxha attacked the Soviet Union not only for its explicit policy of peaceful coexistence with U.S. imperialism, but also for its tacit approval of the Shah’s repressive internal policies in the early and mid-1960’s and for Soviet complicity in the destruction of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965 because of its confidence in the “anti-imperialist” Sukarno. However during its 18 years as a Chinese client the Albanian leadership remained discreetly silent about Mao’s support to Iran’s butcher and the equal responsibility of Peking for the disaster in Indonesia. In a letter addressed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after the cessation of Chinese aid last July, the Albanian leadership suddenly revealed that the Chinese have “joined the dance of imperialist alliances and rivalries for the redivision of the world.” The leadership of the CCP is charged with “instigat[ing] imperialist world war,” attempting to extend its influence in the so-called third world and uniting “with the US imperialists and the monopolists of Europe, with fascists and racists, kings and feudal lords, ” etc. , etc. Yet in their letter to the CCP Hoxha & Co. don’t venture an explanation of their repeated oaths of “solidarity” with the counter-revolutionary bureaucrats in Peking who were committing the atrocities which they enumerate.

In the period which preceded the open break between Tirana and Peking the Albanians began to make increasingly sharp criticisms of China’s “Three Worlds Theory.” Against Peking’s position that “social-fascist” Russia is the “more aggressive” and “more dangerous” of the two “superpowers,” Hoxha continued to maintain that both “superpowers” are equally dangerous. This line has been eagerly seized upon by Maoists in North America and Europe embarrassed by Peking’s increasingly explicit alliance with U.S. imperialism against the USSR. Even the servile Chinese sycophants of CCL(M-L) who took Peking’s line to its logical conclusion and demanded that the Canadian state strengthen its armed forces have found it necessary to camouflage their social patriotism by (temporarily) dropping this demand in order to retain a bit of credibility in the radical milieu.

A Hoxhaite International?

At the Seventh Congress of the PPS Hoxha hinted at the formation of an “M-L“ international. He spoke of the “quite useful activity” of the Comintern “at the time of Lenin and Stalin, ” while downgrading its role to mere “cooperation” of the national parties, which “naturally” must be independent and not “receive orders from one another” (Roter Morgen, 13 November 1976). Hardial Bains has certainly been doing his best to promote such a development.

Last April CPC(M-L) sponsored an “Internationalist Rally” which attracted a dozen-odd pro-Albanian groupings from around the world. However, it remains extremely unlikely that any Hoxhaite international will ever see the light of day. To actually build an international requires either a combination of material inducements and a powerful repressive apparatus (as Stalin ruled the Comintern), which Albania would be hard put to supply; or it requires a political struggle for a common line, a condition which is precluded by the narrow nationalism which is as integral to Stalinism as are the schisms which result when their various nationalist appetites come into conflict. The bureaucratic centralism of Stalin’s Comintern could only be enforced through the terror of the GPU. The democratic centralism of the Communist International under Lenin and Trotsky, the organizational framework in which genuine internationalism flourished, is anathema to all varieties of Stalinism. Enver Hoxha will hardly permit in his “International” what he cannot tolerate in his own “party” without jeopardizing his bureaucratic rule.

The assortment of former Sinophiles who have forsaken the rulers of the Forbidden Palace in order to sign up as front men for Enver Hoxha’s tiny, backward “socialist paradise” rightfully deserve the derision of the rest of the left. It is one thing to believe that Stalin’s Russia would overtake the West in a decade, or even that China could catch up in 50 years; it is ludicrous to think that Albania could be anything other than an impoverished backwater without aid from the most advanced industrial powers. (Khrushchev was reportedly so struck by Albania’s backwardness that he advised its leaders to forget about industrialization and stick to sheep and olives).

The counter-revolutionary policies of both the Moscow and Peking bureaucracies have become increasingly clear to would-be revolutionaries throughout the world. Yet the Albanian bureaucratic ruling clique, while it has broken with its Peking benefactors, can only oscillate from one overlord to another. Revolutionary leadership for the international proletariat can only come through a struggle against all the Stalinists, through political revolution from Tirana to Moscow and Peking, and by the reforging of the Trotskyist Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution.