Celebrating the 100th birthday of Enver Hoxha

Celebrating the 100th birthday of Enver Hoxha

Hysni Kapo
Hysni Kapo

December 13th, 2008, 2:46 pm #1

Architect of socialist Albania, anti-revisionist fighter, and one of the great Marxist-Leninist heroes of the 20th century.
Born in Gjirokastër, southern Albania, on 16 October 1908, Enver Hoxha was involved in politics from a young age at just 16, he became secretary of the Students Society of Gjirokastër, an anti-monarchist movement. A highly capable student, he won a scholarship to further his studies in France, where he spent the early 1930s. There he found an active communist movement, and started to immerse himself in communist activity and Marxist literature, reading such works as Marxs Capital and Engels Anti-Dühring.

Hoxha returned to Albania in 1936, becoming a school teacher. He was dismissed from his post when, following the Italian invasion of 1939, he refused to join the Albanian Fascist Party. Driven underground, he became actively involved in the communist movement, and, at the founding conference of the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Albanian Party of Labour) on 8 November 1941, he was chosen as a Central Committee member.

In the remaining years of the second world war, Hoxha emerged as a most able and inspiring party member, working tirelessly all over the country. He played a crucial role in organising the armed struggle of the united front against fascism, leading the Army of National Liberation. He was also the main inspirer of the new forms of underground popular power that were emerging the National Councils of Liberation. In March 1943, Hoxha was named First Secretary of the Communist Party.

After the partisans forced the withdrawal of German troops in November 1944, Enver Hoxha became head of government of Albania. In March 1946, the Constituent Assembly proclaimed the birth of the Peoples Republic of Albania, and nominated Hoxha as its prime minister.

Socialist Albania

Comrade Hoxha was a key figure in devising Albanias path to socialism an immensely challenging task, given that Albania had long been the most backward country in Europe. Pre-war Albania was characterised by regular famine and disease, almost complete illiteracy, feudal property relations, chronic underdevelopment and the prevalence of such charming feudal traditions as the blood feud.

One of the first acts of the post-war government was to pass the Agrarian Reform Law, which turned the land of the large landowners over to the peasants. Albanias first university was established in 1957, and new educational institutions sprang up at every level. Literacy grew to 99 percent, and life expectancy grew to over 70. Electricity was made available throughout the country. The blood feud was banned. A comprehensive national healthcare system was implemented, and malaria, the most widespread disease, was wiped out. An extensive socialist industry was built up.

These were remarkable achievements, especially if you consider that, on the one hand, Albania was subjected to constant infiltration and plotting by the western imperialist powers, and, on the other, Soviet aid to Albania was effectively ended by the early 1960s.

Mehmet Shehu, then premier of Albania, summarised the victories of Albanian socialism in the following terms: The health service is free of charge for all and has been extended to the remotest villages. In 1960, we had one doctor per every 3,360 inhabitants; in 1978, we had one doctor per every 687 inhabitants, and this despite the rapid growth of the population. The natural increase of the population in our country is 3.5 times higher than the annual average of European countries, whereas mortality in 978 was 37 percent lower than the average level of mortality in the countries of Europe, and the average life expectancy in our country has risen, from about 38 years in 1938 to 69 years. That is, for each year of the existence of our peoples state power, the average life expectancy has risen by about 11 months. That is what socialism does for man! Is there a loftier humanism than socialist humanism, which, in 35 years, doubles the average life expectancy of the whole population of the country? (The magnificent balance of victories in the course of 35 years of Socialist Albania (Speech), 28 November 1979)

Battle against revisionism

Socialist Albania recorded great victories in the fight for socialism, and Enver Hoxha deserves to be remembered as the principal architect of these victories. However, we must not ignore the tremendously important role he played in the world communist movement. Of all the communist leaders of eastern Europe, it was only Enver Hoxha who had the courage, the independence and the tenacity to reject the diktat of Nikita Khrushchev and his cohorts, who were in the business of making fraternal aid dependent on total acceptance of revisionist Soviet ideology.

In response to Khrushchevs denunciation of Joseph Stalin, his turn towards market socialism and his negative attitude towards other socialist countries, Hoxha correctly labelled Khrushchev a revisionist, anti-Marxist and a defeatist, saying the Albanian people and their Party of Labour will even live on grass if need be, but they will never sell themselves for 30 pieces of silver ... They would rather die honourably on their feet than live in shame on their knees.

In the 1960s, Hoxha formed an alliance with the Communist Party of China to defend Marxism Leninism from the vicious attacks of Soviet revisionism. (For reasons that are beyond the scope of this article, relations between Albania and China soured in the 1970s, leading to a diplomatic breakdown that can only be described as a historic blow for the international proletariat.)

Hoxha argued vociferously against the ideas of market socialism that were starting to dominate the Soviet economic discourse. Hoxha also refused to fall in line with Khrushchevs extraordinary and baseless attack on Stalin, which turned out to be nothing but a cover for an attack on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist planned economy. Writing in 1981, on the occasion of the centenary of Stalins birth, Hoxha wrote:

Stalins whole life was characterised by an unceasing fierce struggle against Russian capitalism, against world capitalism, against imperialism and against the anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist currents and trends which had placed themselves in the service of world reaction and capital. Beside Lenin and under his leadership, he was one of the inspirers and leaders of the Great October Socialist Revolution, an unflinching militant of the Bolshevik Party.

After the death of Lenin, for 30 years on end, Stalin led the struggle for the triumph and defence of socialism in the Soviet Union. That is why there is great love and respect for Stalin and loyalty to him and his work in the hearts of the proletariat and the peoples of the world. That is also why the capitalist bourgeoisie and world reaction display never-ending hostility towards this loyal disciple and outstanding, resolute co-fighter of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. (With Stalin, 1981)

Albania since counter-revolution

Hoxha died on 11 April 1985. The cause of Albanian socialism was greatly weakened by the loss of its architect, and, tragically, Albania was not able to withstand the wave of counter-revolution that swept the USSR and eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Albania is, of course, a small country, and its ability to develop socialism was hampered by numerous internal and external factors. Nonetheless, life in socialist Albania was immeasurably better than it was before 1945 and has been since 1992.

Post-socialist Albania, much like the rest of eastern Europe, has suffered dreadfully from the dodgy goods it was sold, ie, the free market and privatisation. It is now once again one of the poorest countries in the world. The diverse industry developed under socialism has been all but completely neglected, as the western privateers are predominantly interested in Albania as a source of raw materials. Unemployment stands at over 30 percent. The only industries in which Albania has been allowed by its US allies to thrive are the drugs trade, prostitution and human trafficking.

The blood feud has returned in rural areas, after an absence of more than 40 years. According to The Telegraph of 3 June 2007, more than 20,000 live under an ever-present death sentence because of such blood feuds. (Thousands fear as blood feuds sweep Albania)

Since 1992, at least 6,000 Albanians have been killed owing to blood feuds. Nicola Smith, in The Times of 20 January 2008, writes: According to the National Reconciliation Committee, more than 1,200 children are without schooling because of feuds. Figures show that since the end of the communist dictatorship in 1990, more than 20,000 families have been affected by blood feuds and 6,000 lives have been lost. The tradition, which dates back to the 15th century, was banned by Enver Hoxha, the Stalinist dictator, but took hold again in the chaos after the collapse of communism.

Naturally, this bourgeois journalist cannot resist the temptation to slander Hoxha, Stalin and all things red; nonetheless, she is forced to admit that vendettas did not take place in socialist Albania.

We are confident that, in time, the Albanian workers and peasants will realise the gravity of their mistake in allowing the restoration of capitalism in Albania. Capitalism is long past its sell-by date; it has nothing to offer the masses of the world except death, poverty, war, exploitation, repression, unemployment and a bit of escapism in the form of drugs and TV.

May the Albanian people take inspiration from the heroic example of their patriots in the second world war and from the remarkable successes of socialist construction led by Comrade Enver Hoxha.

Forward to socialism.

Proletarian issue 27 (December 2008)
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John Belushi
John Belushi

December 15th, 2008, 2:41 am #2

Interesting to see Brar's difficulties here. One minute he's trying to get into the mainstream communist movement the next his party paper is carrying tosh like this. No wonder that the Sino-Albanian split is "beyond the scope of this article". The support for current day China is contrasted with Khruschev's treacherous turn to "market socialism", despite Nikita's very limited steps in that direction compared with Deng, Jiang and Hu, and his "negative attitude toward other socialist countries", although Hoxha denounced them all in turn.
Strangely no mention at all of Yugoslavia or Tito, why is that?
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

December 15th, 2008, 7:18 am #3

"The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning" - William Shakespeare, "The Tempest"
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Harry Lauder
Harry Lauder

December 15th, 2008, 9:16 pm #4

"An old G.P. and his nurse were on the train, going to a Medical Conference. Opposite them was a man furiously scratching his elbow.

"I wonder what's the matter with him?" asked the nurse.

"He's a patient of mine and, in confidence, I can tell you that he suffers badly from hemorroids," replied the G.P.

"Well, why he's scratching his elbow?" asked the puzzled nurse.

"Oh, that's Harpal Brar." He explained.

"'Nuff said." responded the nurse with a knowing wink.
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C. Lang.
C. Lang.

December 16th, 2008, 11:17 am #5

Interesting to see Brar's difficulties here. One minute he's trying to get into the mainstream communist movement the next his party paper is carrying tosh like this. No wonder that the Sino-Albanian split is "beyond the scope of this article". The support for current day China is contrasted with Khruschev's treacherous turn to "market socialism", despite Nikita's very limited steps in that direction compared with Deng, Jiang and Hu, and his "negative attitude toward other socialist countries", although Hoxha denounced them all in turn.
Strangely no mention at all of Yugoslavia or Tito, why is that?
""No wonder that the Sino-Albanian split is "beyond the scope of this article".""

No wonder indeed, the article is called "Celebrating the 100th birthday of Enver Hoxha". As opposed to "The Sino-Albanian split".
I think that if you trying to stick to the principles of dialectical and historical materialism, you don't say lump everything in together and hope for the best, or say "China good = Hoxha bad" etc. etc.etc.
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John Belushi
John Belushi

December 16th, 2008, 12:22 pm #6

I merely make the point that,given Hoxha's political trajectory, it is remarkable for the normally strident CPGB-ML to avoid analysis of his dispute with the Yugoslavs or the Chinese. Hoxha would most certainly not have avoided either of those topics, in fact he wrote entire books on them.

It's fine and dandy to denounce Khruschevite revisionism, we had that back and forth on many discussions here, but the bitter split between Albania and China may be of some interest to those on this discussion list, I'd guess. Especially since the CPGB-ML appears to back China 100% yet eulogises over a man who denounced the Chinese CP in these words:

"When one talks of "Mao Tsetung thought" it is difficult to discern a single clear line in it, since, as we said at the beginning, it is an amalgam of ideologies, from anarchism, Trotskyism, modern revisionism à la Tito, à la Krushchev,à la "Eurocommunist", and down to the use of some Marxist phrases." http://www.marxists.org/reference/archi ... mp_ch6.htm

The Brarites are trying to square a circle and I find that worthy of at least some discussion.

I'm genuinely puzzled by the non-reference to Tito since as everyone knows, attacks on "Titoite revisionism" post-1956 were proxy attacks on Khrushchev, despite the support given to the Albanians by the CPY during the anti-nazi struggle. Maybe the writer was too lazy or too ignorant to write about it, maybe the CPGB-ML lauds Tito too. I don't know. But it certainly is odd.

In the interests of broad non-sectarian unity, I'll leave aside Hoxha's acidic opinions on the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung.

My point is that you can't have historical materialism, without the "matter" of historical facts and events, otherwise you have flatulent idealism.
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

December 16th, 2008, 12:55 pm #7

""No wonder that the Sino-Albanian split is "beyond the scope of this article".""

No wonder indeed, the article is called "Celebrating the 100th birthday of Enver Hoxha". As opposed to "The Sino-Albanian split".
I think that if you trying to stick to the principles of dialectical and historical materialism, you don't say lump everything in together and hope for the best, or say "China good = Hoxha bad" etc. etc.etc.
Actually, now the word "dialectical" has been used . . . Dialectics is above all a theory and conception of relationships. Saying that you can only talk about - say - modern China and the Kruschev-period Soviet Union separately, is utterly undialectical.

Wriggle as they may, our stalwart anti-revisionists cannot get away from the glaring contradiction between their fulsome "hands off China" support of what is today indisputably a capitalist state, and their damning of "Kruschevite revisionism" in what was equally indisputably a non-capitalist state. It reminds me of the story (am I repeating myself?) of the time during the cultural revolution when Red Guards surrounded the car of the British ambassador or one of his staff, shouting "revisionist!". He responded by winding down his window and saying, "I'm not a revisionist, I'm a capitalist". At this, the shouters all fell silent and wandered away. Perhaps some of China's contemporary leaders have said the same thing to the seepie-jeebie-ML.

Of course, if dialectics is one foundational plank of communism, the economic basis is another.
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Ilya Ehrenburg
Ilya Ehrenburg

December 19th, 2008, 10:20 pm #8

Dialectics are a method, not a theory. It is anything but undialectical to require some seperation of subjects under the circumstances of a specific question. Dialectically it would be wrong in a short article to cover Hoxha as a leader and the Sino-Albanian split in depth and then tie it in to the position of the British workers movement today. That would be oversimplification and hugely open to criticism. In the bigger picture both Hoxha, and China's role as anti-imperialists are worthy of praise, but neither are immune from criticism, and that is the basis of the dialectical method. The CPGB(ML) support Hoxha for his anti-revisionist work, and also China for its counterpoint to US hegemony, the fact is that these two positions are indeed the tips of their respective iceburgs, and need further, and appropriate discussion. But! an artcle about China today, is not the place to bring up Hoxhas criticisms, and nor is an article about Hoxha a good place to dismiss China. They are of course related, but who would benefit from dismissal, criticism, or confusion of either, the working people of the world or opportunists and anti-communists? The dialectical method requires a very thorough and detailed discussion, but this does indeed lie beyond a short article regarding the 100th anniversary of Hoxha's birth. I do however believe that few parties today are willing to take on these difficult issues, and the fact that most simply focus on simple economism gives great credit to the CPGB(ML) for refusing to take the 'easy way out' of turning a blind eye, or sniping from the sidelines at such attempts.
For those who actually take the time to read the works of Harpal Brar without prejudice it is impossible to dismiss him so flippantly as some do on this forum. But of far greater concern to the 'keyboard warriors and armchair critics' here is that very little of the CPGB(ML) material is actually written by Harpal Brar, those who dismiss the party as him and him alone are sadly wrong. I do not say this to serve an agenda, but rather to present the truth for those of us 'without baggage' from previous affiliations or long standing loyalties.
Peace!
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

December 21st, 2008, 10:30 am #9

It is not unproblematic to describe dialectics as purely a method. In "Dialectics of Nature" Engels claims that the laws of dialectics are abstracted from the history of nature and human society, and that "these laws are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself". There is indeed argument as to whether Marx, as against Engels, believed that dialectics applied to the world as such or merely to a method of investigating the world. But the three much-quoted "Diamat" laws of dialectics (transformation of quantity into quality and vice-versa, interpenetration of opposites, negation of the negation) can hardly be seen as purely methodological in scope.

There is a story about Willie Gallacher who, when a lady from some government service was giving a lecturer to the unemployed in the 1930s and told them that a good nourishing soup could be made from fish-heads, asked permission to put a question to her. When permission was granted he asked: "Who gets the rest of the fish?" That has always seemed to me to be dialectics in action: refusing to separate off a particular question from allied elements in the real world. So asking why Kruschevite revisionism is bad but turning China into a capitalist state is good, seems to me to be in the best tradition of a dialectical approach.
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