Friday, February 14, 2014

From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-
Present Day Relevance of the Transitional Programme (1966)

Markin comment:

Obviously, for a Marxist, the question of working class political power is central to the possibilities for the main thrust of his or her politics- the quest for that socialist revolution that initiates the socialist reconstruction of society. But working class politics, no less than any other kinds of political expressions has to take an organization form, a disciplined organizational form in the end, but organization nevertheless. In that sense every Marxist worth his or her salt, from individual labor militants to leagues, tendencies, and whatever other formations are out there these days on the left, struggles to built a revolutionary labor party, a Bolshevik-style party.

Glaringly, in the United States there is no such party, nor even a politically independent reformist labor party, as exists in Great Britain. And no, the Democratic Party, imperialist commander-in-chief Obama's Democratic Party is not a labor party. Although plenty of people believe it is an adequate substitute, including some avowed socialists. But they are just flat-out wrong. This series is thus predicated on providing information about, analysis of, and acting as a spur to a close look at the history of the labor party question in America by those who have actually attempted to create one, or at to propagandize for one.

As usual, I will start this series with the work of the International Communist League/Spartacist League/U.S. as I have been mining their archival materials of late. I am most familiar with the history of their work on this question, although on this question the Socialist Workers Party's efforts run a close second, especially in their revolutionary period. Lastly, and most importantly, I am comfortable starting with the ICL/SL efforts on the labor party question since after having reviewed in this space in previous series their G.I. work and youth work (Campus Spartacist and the Revolutionary Marxist Caucus Newsletter inside SDS) I noted that throughout their history they have consistently called for the creation of such a party in the various social arenas in which they have worked. Other organizational and independent efforts, most notably by the Socialist Workers Party and the American Communist Party will follow.


Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 

  Present Day Relevance of the Transitional Programme

This is the first complete translation of the French version of the preface to the Hungarian edition of the Transitional Programme written above the pseudonym of Balazs Nagy, which was published in La Verité, no.538, 1966, pp.31-3, the theoretical magazine of the OCI. A portion of it was reproduced as document 11 in the appendix to Jean-Jacques Marie’s Le Trotskysme, Paris 1970, pp.1110-1, and translated into English by Richard Stephenson in the International Bulletin of the Revolutionary Communist League, no.1, Autumn 1970, pp.33-4. Its importance lies in its clear demonstration that many of the demands thrown up by the logic of the struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy unconsciously echoed those formulated in the Transitional Programme 18 years earlier, proving at one and the same time the validity of that document and its analysis of Stalinism.
Nobody could be better placed to assess this than the author of this piece, who was one of the three secretaries of the Petöfi Circle formed by Hungarian intellectuals in April 1956, whose demonstrations and protests began the chain of events leading to the Hungarian Revolution. He escaped across the Austrian frontier after the Russian intervention put down that revolt in November 1956 for exile in Western Europe, where he moved towards a Trotskyist position, and joined the OCI in 1962. There he organised the Hungarian League of Revolutionary Socialists, which joined the International Committee of the Fourth International in 1963, and which became the basis for the subsequent Committee for the Organisation of Eastern European Communists (Trotskyists). But at the International Preconference of 1972, at which it was decided to set up the OCRFI, Varga objected to the liquidation of the International Committee, and was expelled. In 1973 he formed the short-lived International League Rebuilding the Fourth International, but was expelled from this after a sharp factional dispute in 1984. He is presently Secretary of the Workers’ International for the formation of the Fourth International, whose British affiliate is the Workers Revolutionary Party (Workers Press).
The thesis developed here can be checked against: the author's own account, Budapest 1956: the Central Workers’ Council, which was translated into English in International Socialism, no.18, Autumn 1964, and reproduced in Bill Lomax (ed.), Eyewitness in Hungary, Nottingham 1980, pp.165-81 , along with other necessary matter. The documentary evidence for the political demands thrown up by the Hungarian movement can be studied in Jean-Jacques Marie and Balazs Nagy (Michel Varga), Pologne-Hongrie 1956, Paris 1966, some of which appears in Gerry Healy (ed.), Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Hungary, London 1966, accompanied by other useful material, including an essay by Robert Black (Robin Blick), The Workers’ Councils in the Hungarian Revolution.
The literature thrown up by the Hungarian Revolution is very large. Still a classic is Peter Fryer’s Hungarian Tragedy, second edition, London 1986, and Tibor Meray’s Thirteen Days That Shook the Kremlin, London 1958, yet retains its value. There is also Sandor Kopasci, In the Name of the Working Class, Harmondsworth 1989. But to these must now be added The Hungarian Workers’ Revolution, Direct Action Pamphlet no.2, and Andy Anderson, Hungary ’56, Solidarity, 1964, both accounts influenced by Anarchism, and the more recent and comprehensive treatments. François Manuel, La révolution hongroise des conseils ouvriers, Paris 1976, and Bill Lomax, Hungary 1956, London 1976. First hand descriptions of varying worth are to be consulted in Frank Füredi, The Tragedy of the Hungarian October, the next step, 24 October 1986, Nicholas Krasso, Hungary 1956 (an interview), Meta, nos.3-4, pp.5-10, and Sandor Racz, Hungary ’56: The Workers’ Case, Labour Focus on Eastern Europe, Volume 7, no.2, Summer 1984, pp.2-17, a most illuminating interview with the President of the Central Workers’ Council of Greater Budapest. The same journal (Volume 5, nos-3-4, Summer 1982) included an essay by Bill Lomax, 25 Years Later – New Light on 1956.
General articles on the crisis run into hundreds. Most useful to revolutionary historians are John Lister’s collection Hungary and the Crisis of Stalinism, Socialist Viewpoint, no.14, November 1986, pp.17-28, John Hunt, We Won’t Stop Halfway – Stalinism Must be Destroyed, Workers Power, November 1986, with some interesting remarks about the politics of the workers’ councils, and The Hungarian Workers’ Uprising of 1956, Workers Vanguard, 4 August 1989, which draws some telling comparisons with the analysis in Trotsky’s The Class Nature of the Soviet State, written as long ago as 1933.
Chris Harman’s analysis of Hungary as state capitalist draws comparison with the dual power situation in Russia in 1917 in chapter 7 of his Class Struggles in Eastern Europe, London, 1988, pp.119-86. Others who share this reasoning include Jim Hensman, Hungary: The Struggle for Workers' Democracy 1956, Militant (Britain), 29 October 1976, and Clive Bradley, The Lessons of Hungary, Socialist Organiser, 30 October 1986.
General descriptions, all of them with some perceptive insights include The Hungarian Commune, Socialist Current, Volume 1, no.7, December 1956, Political Revolution in Hungary – Ten Years After, Spartacist, no.8, November/December 1966, pp.8-9, Joseph Seymour, The 1956 Hungarian Workers’ Uprising, Workers Hammer, October 1986, Sean Matgamna, The Hungarian Commune of 1956, in Reform and Revolution in Eastern Europe, London 1988, pp.14-5 (originally in An Solas, December 1966), The Revolution Drowned in Blood, Workers Power, November 1986, Frank Richards, Twenty Five Years After Budapest, One Year on from Gdansk, the next step, October 1981, and Ian Taylor, Hungary 1956: When the Myths Were Shattered, Socialist Worker, 25 October 1986.
The evolution of Stalinist apologetics about what happened can be examined in Charles Coutts, Eyewitness in Hungary, Daily Worker pamphlet, 1957, some of which is excerpted in Lomax’s book of the same title (pp.108-21), Ursula McLean, Hungary 1956, Socialist Europe, no.4, and Sam Russell, Rough Justice in Tough Times, Seven Days, 6 November 1986. They carried no more conviction at the time than they do now, and several hundred Communists left their party to join the British Trotskyist movement in the years after 1956.

ICL Statement

Regarding the editorial introduction to the Present Day Relevance of the Transitional Programme, we note that after the OCI, expelled Varga, they falsely charged him in 1973 with being an agent of the GPU, and later of the CIA as well. In 1974 the OCI published a pamphlet containing extensive excerpts from Varga’s correspondence in an attempt to back up their charges. They also released copies of some 200 pages of Varga’s ‘archives’ from the years 1957-1960.
In March 1976, after lengthy negotiations, an international Commission of Inquiry was finally formed to investigate the OCI’s charges against Varga. Representatives of Lutte Ouvrière, the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, the US Socialist Workers Party, and the international Spartacist tendency (iSt – now International Communist League) sat on the Commission.
Despite the fact that the materials made available by the OCI (I) indicated that Varga had solicited funds from the US State Department; (2) expressed clearly anti-Semitic views (for example: “it is time to exclude this dirty yid from the cultural milieu”, 4 March 1959); and (3) expressed openly racist attitudes (“the Belgians were wrong to grant independence [to the Congo] with no preparation, after a paternalistic colonialism ... But that’s no reason for the Blacks to be irresponsible”, 9 August 1960), Varga refused to make any sort of statement to the Commission. Nor did he ever disavow the published correspondence.
The Commission’s final declaration, dated 29 May 1977 and signed by representatives of the SWP, the LCR and the iSt, dismissed the OCI's charges as “unproved”. The iSt signed the Declaration only on condition that a separate iSt statement be appended and published with the Declaration. Our statement characterised the OCI’ unproven accusations as slanders, and also noted that Varga’s refusal to shed light on his past indicated him to be “a suspicious and highly dubious individual”. Documentation on the Commission’s inquiry is available in French and English. See the pamphlet Documents sur l’affaire Varga, or Spartacist, no.24, Autumn 1977, both available from the ICL.

Editor’s Note

The above statement appears in conformity with our ground rules in this magazine. But I feel that I must, as editor, place on record my disquiet about the use of such statements to make personal attacks upon the leaders of other organisations represented on the board, apart from the lack of courtesy towards one of our contributors. None of us should really be taken to task over statements we made before joining the revolutionary movement, and it should also be added that even a bourgeois court does not call into question the character of its defendant after his acquittal.
Al Richardson

Ten years ago, when the Hungarian Revolution broke the power of the bureaucracy, the workers, toiling peasants, intellectuals and youth knew nothing of the Fourth International. Its programme was unknown to them. Hence the resemblance, even identity, between this programme and their spontaneous demands is astonishing.
“A fresh upsurge of the revolution in the USSR”, says the Transitional Programme, “will undoubtedly begin under the banner of the struggle against social inequality and political oppression. Down with the privileges of the bureaucracy! Down with Stakhanovism! Down with the Soviet aristocracy and its ranks and orders! Greater equality of wages for all forms of labour!“ In fact, that is just how the ferment began that resulted in the revolution of 1956. Already since 1953 protests had arisen more and more openly against the big shops and sanatoria destined for the use of the leading caste, against all its privileges, against work norms, Stakhanovism and work emulation. The first act of the Revolution was the augmentation of the lowest wages. An entire series of the demands of 1956 was to echo the programme drawn up 20 years before. If we go on to quote it, the agreement between the principles of the Fourth International and the practice of the Hungarian revolution becomes even more striking.
The Programme demands: “... it is necessary to drive the bureaucracy and the new aristocracy out of the Soviets. In the Soviets there is room only for the representatives of the workers, rank-and-file collective farmers, peasants and Red Army men. Democratisation of the Soviets is impossible without legalisation of Soviet parties. The workers and peasants themselves by their own free vote will indicate what parties they recognise as soviet parties.”
The Hungarian Revolution created a system of councils without bureaucrats in which the majority of the Hungarian workers adopted a position for the legalisation of the parties which recognised Hungary's decisive transformation of a Socialist type and the council system, the greatest conquest of 1956.
In the Programme we read: “revision of the planned economy from top to bottom in the interests of producers and consumers!” And equally we find this demand, practically word for word, in the programme of all the councils, committees and popular organs of the revolution of 1956.
“Reorganisation of the collective farms in accordance with the will and in the interests of the workers there engaged!” the programme continues. In the same way since 1953 the opposition has expressed the interest of the peasants in the reorganisation of the collectivised agriculture, which was realised by the peasants in 1956 in the most natural way: they liquidated the collective farms organised by force that had failed, but maintained those which were “in accordance with their will” and that functioned “in their interests”.
What is the origin of this singular and astonishing agreement between Hungary ’56 and the Programme of the Fourth International drawn up by Leon Trotsky who was murdered by Stalin in 1940, well before the birth of the Hungarian ‘people’s democracy’, and even before the Second World War, in 1938?
The programme of a party cannot be compared with the programme of a government. A political programme is not a programme of work, but a summary of the political experience of a class accumulated in the course of its struggles, the systematisation of its basic principles and its essential aims. On this basis it fixes the principles of its struggle and its aims during a given historical period.
The Hungarian workers may well ask the question: Why do we need this programme, seeing as the formula of Social Democracy has been the political programme of the workers for a long time? In fact, the Programme of the Fourth International summarises the experiences of the working class as regards Social Democracy as well, when it shows that it has become an organic part of the capitalist system since 1914. Its programme has given up the independent aims of the working class, since under the pretext of defending democracy it appeals to the workers to accept the bourgeois system. Is there any need to furnish any clearer examples of this than the anti-working-class policy of the Wilson government in Britain, or the programme and practice of the German Social Democracy or the SFIO in France?
Others might maintain that seeing as the Communist parties themselves are opposed to capitalism, a new programme is not needed. It is true that the Leninist programme formulates the experiences and aims of the struggle for the overthrow of the world capitalism. But the working class has acquired political experiences of historic importance since the death of Lenin. The Soviet Union that was created by the Revolution of October 1917 remained alone, and the first workers’ state of soviets degenerated in that isolated and backward country. The power of a privileged bureaucratic caste took shape, which in the form of Stalinism erected a reactionary anti-working-class regime inside the country, and on the international level delivered the working class over to the bourgeoisie, betraying its revolutions. The programmes elaborated by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party and by the first four congresses of the Communist International could not have foreseen this development. It was necessary to summarise the experiences of the degeneration of the Soviet Union and of the Communist parties, experiences that were to show that the policy of the Communist parties had become anti-working class inside the USSR as well as within the capitalist system, helping to maintain it. This is the fundamental point of departure for the Programme of the Fourth International, which thus formulates the main conclusion of the experiences of the last 40 years: “The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterised by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat”.
‘Leninism’ and ‘Trotskyism’ differ only from each other by the fact that the latter draws the lessons of the utter bankruptcy of Stalinism as a whole, analyses its roots, causes and methods, and sets out to make war on it in order to resolve “the crisis of the leadership of the proletariat”. Both of them are the Marxist analyses of their time, or, to be more exact, the Marxism. But the aim of the programme elaborated by Trotsky was not only to cleanse the Leninist programme of all Stalinist falsifications and betrayals, but to apply Marxism to the Soviet Union as well.
Marxism is a universal method. Class analysis and criticism must be applied to the USSR as well as to the so-called ‘People’s Democracies’. This programme codifies the experiences of the international working class amid the fresh conditions of the degeneration of the Soviet Union and of the Communist parties, of the development, causes and consequences of Stalinism – that is how it was able to formulate the demands of the revolution of 1956 – 20 years before!
The spontaneous movement of the Hungarian working class took the same route as the conscious Marxist analysis summarised in the Programme. This is because it expressed the historic and immediate interests of the international working class one and indivisible, because it is a Marxist programme, in other words. It becomes clear in the light of this that the Communist Opposition grouped around Imre Nagy – on account of its Stalinist training – was not Marxist, for it only took account of the ‘given situation’ created by Stalinism itself, and did not base its activity upon the historic and immediate interests of the working class. The Hungarian vanguard workers and Socialists had to re-examine, in practice, in the struggle, the experiences of this past (and of the present) by a Marxist analysis of the real problems of Socialism and of the tasks that flow from it. This is why we arrive at a single method – there could only be one of them – that of the assimilation and application of the Programme with an analysis of our past weaknesses and the elimination of them.
The Hungarian Communist Opposition that was formed between 1953 and 1956, and the writer of these lines along with it, thought that it could realise its aims gradually, by successive reforms. But among the important lessons of 1956 that were learned by the Hungarian working class was that we understood that for the realisation of these demands, the revolution of the workers and all the toilers was indispensable. 1956 showed how confused was the activity of the Opposition in the course of the revolution, to which its own programme, however inconsequential it was, led it. The reason for this confusion was that the Opposition did not make clear what Trotsky had formulated 20 years previously, and what was to become the most important lesson of 1956: it is impossible to realise this programme, we read in the Programme itself, without the overthrow of the bureaucracy: “Only the victorious revolutionary uprising of the oppressed masses can revive the Soviet regime and guarantee its further development toward Socialism”. What the Hungarian Communist Opposition did not know how to clarify, which resulted in the revolution catching it unawares, was clearly laid out in the Marxist Programme of the international working class.
The policy provided by the Programme of the Fourth International as a central task for the working class flowing from its experiences is to resolve the crisis of its leadership – in other words, to build the Marxist workers’ party over against the Stalinist and Social Democratic ‘leading’ parties in order to replace them. Given that the 1956 Opposition – lacking a Marxist preparation – could not elaborate a correct revolutionary programme, neither could it subordinate its activity to the only decisive task, the construction of an independent Marxist working class party. For 1956 showed clearly that its greatest weakness was precisely the absence of such a party effectively organising the best revolutionary forces.
But the outcome and the irrelevance of the Opposition also had another origin. It also looked at the Western countries through the distorting lenses of its Stalinist education, as at best the unchallenged rule of the bourgeoisie, or at worst in accordance with the activity of the western Stalinist parties. Thus it did not see that if the Marxist method is universal, the international working class is also one and indivisible, and that the universality of Marxism is indissolubly linked with the international unity of the working class. The Opposition did not know how to define its role and tasks, any more than it understood that its ally was the international working class, which is confronted by the Holy Alliance of world imperialism and Stalinism on account of its fundamental position. It lacked the fundamental idea of the Programme in its conceptions, in understanding that there aren’t blocs marked off by frontiers, but on the one side the international working class, and on the other the bourgeoisie along with its Stalinist ally. Such is the fundamental antagonism of our epoch taught us by Marxism. Any other assertion serves to oppress the masses.
There is no Marxism without revolutionary practice. There is therefore no international working class without an international. The Programme elaborated by Leon Trotsky is the expression of the unity of the world struggle of the working class, because it links organically the struggle of the workers of the capitalist countries for the Socialist revolution with that of the workers of the countries under the domination of the bureaucracy for the overthrow of its power, for the power of the councils, and for Socialism. This unity is not a mere theoretical understanding, but the Programme of the World Party of the working class, the Fourth International.
The lessons of 1956 as well as the experiences of today demonstrate the necessity for the construction of the Hungarian Marxist workers’ party. But this struggle must be carried on at the same time as the struggle carried on for the reconstruction of the Fourth International. The advanced workers and the Hungarian Socialist workers can only accomplish this difficult task successfully to the extent that they understand the experiences, situation and historic and immediate tasks of the international, and hence the Hungarian, working class, and adapt their struggle to them. The means of this understanding is the Programme.
Balazs Nagy (Michel Varga)
Paris, October 1966

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Spain Betrayed-How the Popular Front Opened the Gates to Franco


Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 


Mieczyslaw Bortenstein (M. Casanova)

Spain Betrayed-How the Popular Front Opened the Gates to Franco

From Revolutionary History, Vol.4 Nos.1-2. Used by permission.
This account was first published over the pseudonym of M. Casanova as a pamphlet in the Le Tract collection (no.3) and in Quatrième Internationale, no.17, May 1939.


Author’s Introduction

1. The Tragic Exodus

2. Why Barcelona Was Given Up Without A Fight

3. And the CNT?

4. The Republican Army and its Contradictions

5. The Ideological Factor in the Civil War

6. Can the Francoist Army be Disintegrated?

7. Once More on Technique

8. War Industry

9. What Happened on 19 July?

10. Was there a Proletarian Revolution in Spain?

11. The Events of May 1937

12. The Economy of the Popular Front

13. Food Supplies

14. Republican Order

15. The Withdrawal of the Volunteers

16. The Republican Ideology

17. The Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM)

18. The Anarchists of the Left and the ‘God-Seekers’ in the Light of the Spanish Experience

19. The Fourth International in the Spanish Revolution

20. The Miaja-Casado Pronunciamento

21. What else could have been done?

***Poet’s Corner- Langston Hughes 

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

February is Black History Month
Juke Box Love Song

I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
Taxis, subways,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem's heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day--
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

Langston Hughes

He, Jimmy Sands, new in town, new in New Jack City although, not new to city life having lived in Baltimore, Detroit, Chi Town, Frisco and Seattle along the way decided to hit the uptown hot spots one night. Not the “hot’ hot spots like the Kit- Kat Club which was strictly for the Mayfair swells, or the Banjo Club, the same, but the lesser clubs, the what did he mock call them, yah, “the plebeian clubs,” which translated to him as the place where hot chicks, mostly white, Irish usually, from the old country, all red-headed, all slim and slinky, all, all, pray, pray, ready to give up that goddam novena book they carried around since birth, maybe before, and live, ready to  give in to his siren song of love, and ditto some sassy light-skinned (high yalla his father, his father who never got beyond Kentucky-born nigra to designate the black kindred, called them) black girls, steamy Latinas with those luscious lips and far-way brown eyes, and foxy (foxy if he could ever understand them, or rather their wants) Asian girls, a whole mix, a mix joined together by one thing, no, two things, one youth, young, young and hungry, young and ready, young and, well, you know, young and horny, and two, a love of dancing, rock and roll dancing (and in a pinch, maybe that last dance pinch, in order to seal the evening’s deal, a slow one.

So one James Sands, taxi-driven, indicating that for once in his tender young life that he was flush with dough (having just done a seaman’s three month tour of every odd-ball oil-tanker port of call in the eastern world it seemed, he was not sure that he would ever get that oil tank smell out of his nostrils, all he knew was that he would have to be shanghaied or something to get him back on one of those dirty buggers) and ready to spend it on high- shelf liquor (already having scored some precious high end jimson, you know, weed, reefer in case he got lucky), some multi-colored women (choices listed see above), and some music, alighted (nice) in front of Jim Sweeney’s Hi Hat Club up around 100thStreet just around where things began to mix and match in the city. The only problem, when he inquired, inquired of that beautiful ganga connection, was that while Jim Sweeney’s had plenty of high- priced, high-shelf liquor and plenty of that mix and match bevy of women that the place had no live band for dancing just a jukebox. But a jukebox that had every kind of song, rock and blues song, you could ask for and the speakers were to die for. So here he was.

As Jimmy entered (nice, no cover) he remembered back to the old neighborhood, the old high school after school scene, in dockside Baltimore, at Ginny’s Pizza Parlor where every cool guy and gal went to have their chilling out pizza and soda, maybe a couple of cigarettes and to play about ten songs on Ginny’s jukebox. He remembered too that afternoon when Shana, long, tall, high yalla (sorry) Shana, from the cheerleaders squad showed up there alone, and Shana, if you had seen her would under no circumstances ever need to be alone in any spot in this good green earth much less at Ginny’s. Seems she and her boyfriend had had a falling out and she was on the prowl. Taking his chances Jimmy, old smooth Jimmy, asked her to dance when somebody put Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven on, and she said, yes, did you hear that, yes. And that dance got him a couple more, and then a couple more after that, until Shana said she had to leave to go home for some supper and then somebody put on Ballad of Easy Rider, a slow one by The Byrds, and that was their last chance dance. They saw each other a few times after that, had shared some stuff, but, hell, there was no way in that damn Baltimore city that a white-bread (term of art used in the neighborhood so take no offense) and a high yalla (take offense) could breathe the air there together, although he was ready to jump the hoops to do the thing. Maybe tonight, maybe in the crazy mix and match night if he didn’t get distracted by some red-headed Irish girl ready to burn that damn novena book for some whiskey and smoke, he might find his Shana, make something of it, and make the East River smile.

***Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Teen Dance Club Night

Recently I, seemingly, have endlessly gone back to my early musical roots in reviewing various compilations of a Time-Life classic rock series that goes under the general title The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. And while time and ear have eroded the sparkle of some of the lesser tunes, tunes that our local jukeboxes devoured many a hard-earned father nickel and dime it still seems obvious that those years, say 1955-58, really did form the musical jail break-out for my generation. The generation of ’68, the generation that slogged through the red scare cold war night, survived and, for a minute, were ready to turn the world upside down, and who had just started to tune into rock music as some sort of harbinger of things to come.  

And we, we small-time punk (in the old-fashioned sense of that word, not the derogatory sense), we hardly wet behind the ears elementary school kids, and that is all we were for those who would now claim otherwise, claiming some form of amnesia about when that beat hit them square in the eyes, listened our ears off. Those were strange times indeed in that be-bop 1950s night when stuff happened, kid’s stuff, but still stuff like a friend of mine, not my grammar school best friend “wild man” Billie who I will talk about some other time, who claimed, with a straight face to the girls, that he was Elvis’ long lost son. Did the girls do the math on that one? Or, maybe, they like us more brazen boys were hoping, hoping and praying, that it was true despite the numbers, so they too could be washed by that flamed-out night when Elvis (and us, us too) were young and hungry.

Well, this I know, boy and girl alike tuned in on our transistor radios (small battery- operated radios that we could put in our pockets, and hide from snooping parental ears, at will) to listen to music that from about day one, at least in my household was not considered “refined” enough for young, young pious you’ll-never get-to-heaven-listening-to-that-devil's- music and you had better say about eight zillion Hail Marys to get right Catholic, ears. Yeah right, Ma, Pa like Patti Page or Bob (not Bing, not the Bing of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? anyway) Crosby and The Bobcats were supposed to satisfy our jail-break cravings.

And we had our own little world, or as some hip sociologist trying to explain that Zeitgeist today might say, our own sub-group cultural expression. I have already talked about the pre 7/11 mom and pop corner variety store hangout with the tee-shirted, engineered-booted, cigarette (unfiltered, of course) hanging from the lips, Coke, big sized glass Coke bottle at the side, pinball wizard guys thing. And about the pizza parlor jukebox coin devouring, hold the onions I might get lucky tonight, dreamy girl might come in the door thing. And, of course, the soda fountain, and…ditto, dreamy girl coming through the door thing. Needless to say you know more about middle school and high school dance stuff, including hot tip “ inside” stuff about manly preparations for those civil wars out in the working-class neighborhood night, than you could ever possibly want to know, and, hell, you were there anyway (or at ones like them).

But the crème de la crème to beat all was the teen night club. Easy concept, and something that could only have been thought up by someone in cahoots with our parents (or maybe it was them alone, although could they have been that smart). Open a “ballroom” (in reality some old VFW, Knight of Columbus, Elks, etc. hall that was either going to waste or was ready for the demolition ball), bring in live music on Friday and Saturday night with some rocking band (but not too rocking, not Elvis swiveling at the hips to the gates of hell rocking, no way), serve the kids drinks…, oops, sodas (Coke Pepsi, Grape and Orange Nehi, Hires Root Beer, etc.), and have them out of there by midnight, unscathed. All supervised, and make no mistake these things were supervised, by something like the equivalent of the elite troops of the 101st Airborne Rangers.

And we bought it, and bought into it hard. And, if you had that set-up where you lived, you bought it too. And why? Come on now, have you been paying attention? Girls, tons of girls (or boys, as the case may be). See, even doubting Thomas-type parents gave their okay on this one because of that elite troops of the 101st Airborne factor. So, some down and the heels, tee-shirted, engineer- booted Jimmy or Johnny Speedo from the wrong side of the tracks, all boozed up and ready to “hot rod” with that ‘boss”’57 Chevy that he just painted to spec, is no going to blow into the joint and carry Mary Lou or Peggy Sue away, never to be seen again. No way. That stuff happened, sure, but that was on the side. This is not what drove that scene for the few years while we were still getting wise to the ways of the world The girls (and guys) were plentiful and friendly in that guarded, backed up by 101st Airborne way (damn it). And we had our …sodas (I won’t list the brands again, okay). But, and know this true, we blasted on the music. The music that is on this compilation, no question. And I will tell you some of the stick outs:

Save The Last Dance For Me, The Drifters (oh, sweet baby, that I have had my eye on all night, please, please, James Brown, please save that last one for me, and on too few occasions she did, or her kindred so I came out about even); Only The Lonely, Roy Orbison (for some reason the girls loved covers of this one, especially one night, one church hall teen dance Friday night when a certain she planted a big kiss on my face, well, lips after I sang that one along with the band); Alley Oop, The Hollywood Argyles (a good goofy song to break up the sexual tension that always filled the air, early and late, at these things as the mating ritual worked its mysterious ways); Handy Man, Jimmy Jones( a personal favorite, as I kept telling every girl, and maybe a few guys as well, that I was that very handy man that those self-same gals had been waiting, waiting up on those lonely weekend nights for. Egad!); Stay, Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs (nice harmonics and good feeling); New Orleans, Joe Jones (great dance number as the twist and other exotic dances started to break into the early 1960s consciousness); and, Let The Little Girl Dance, Billy Bland (yes, let her dance, hesitant, saying no at first mother, please, please, no I will not invoke James Brown on this one, please).
From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Stalinism and Communism in Albania

Markin comment:
Every once in a while it is beneficial to go back to the archives to see what our political forebears were up to. And since we are very much in a period where the study of Marxist classics, and socialist concepts in general, is on the order of the day Trotsky, a central leader of world socialism in the first half of the 20th century, has something to tell us about how to organize those inquiries.
Alfred Rosmer

Published: Fourth International, Autumn 1959

Trotsky stayed in France at various periods, but it was only during the two years he spent in Paris during the First World War that he could operate as a militant free to move about as well as to speak and write. That freedom was only relative, because it was that of the state of siege and censorship, but in that he was in the same boat as the French themselves, and what may here seem paradoxical is easily explained by reference to what the situation then was. In Vienna, where he had been living at that period, Russia’s entry into war had made him an enemy alien, whereas in France the “alliance” protected him, while at the same time Paris would be for him the best combat post in the hard struggle for the defense of socialism. Experience showed that this reasoning was correct: for nearly two years he was able to battle just as much among the French workers as in the emigré circles. If it all ended badly – by expulsion – there also Trotsky shared the fate of his French comrades at a time when the growth of opposition to war worried the government and led it to take open measures of repression. In his case, Petrograd was giving orders to Paris, for the expulsion, several times requested already, was finally demanded – in which Stalin was later to repeat Czarist policy, and on two occasions.

On his way toward France, Trotsky’s first stop-over was Zurich. He lingered there, staying three months, so warm and encouraging was the welcome he received from the section of the Socialist Party. In those first days of August, the Swiss socialists were, like those of all countries, overwhelmed by the collapse of the International; but, not being involved in mobilization, they were all there, especially the youth, discussing, trying to understand the meaning of the war amid the confusion created and maintained by rival propaganda. Trotsky brought them the stimulant they needed to keep clear heads. Like them he had gone through the German school of socialism: its Social-Democracy was not a party of the International but the party par excellence – one more reason for fighting mercilessly against the betrayal of its chiefs. Their collapse was a tragedy and, at first glance, the outlook was very sombre; that might lead to erroneous conclusions. But what was this war? A clash of imperialisms, of two great formations of antagonists. Of course, but there was a deeper and general meaning: the war marked the revolt of the forces of production against the outdated political form of the nation and the state; and, as the Socialist Parties were in fact national parties, they collapsed with it. Conclusion: all efforts to save the Second International would be useless; it was not socialism, however, that had collapsed, but its temporary external historic form.

An eyewitness, a member of the section and a participant in these discussions, Fritz Brupbacher, wrote later that, with Trotsky’s arrival at Zurich, life was renewed in the workers’ movement, and that his influence had such a power of attraction that they wanted to give him the mandate to represent the section at the next congress of the party. Though Switzerland. would have afforded him a less exposed place of refuge, it was in the heart of a France at war that Trotsky wanted to settle: he wrote in haste a pamphlet in which, under the title Der Krieg und die Internationale, he assembled and developed the ideas that he had just been setting forth to the Zurich socialists, a pamphlet that was so substantial and still so timely that in 1918 an enterprising American publisher made a whole book out of its translation into English.

In Paris there was another paradox: it was through the Vie Ouvière, a revolutionary syndicalist organ, that Trotsky’s liaison, neither ephemeral nor accidental, with the workers’ movement, functioned. Yet there was a Socialist Party there that persisted in calling itself the “French Section of the Workers’ International” but when Trotsky, for a specific purpose, went to the offices of the party’s daily newspaper, he there found its leaders, Cachin among others, going along with the current as usual, therefore ultra-chauvinist; after a few useless attempts at discussion, they made it clear to him that he was an undesirable: they expelled him from l’Humanité before rejoicing to see him later expelled from France by Briand.

As soon as he had found a possible boarding-house – in the Pare Montsouris neighborhood, one of the emigré quarters of Paris – he sent for his family, Natalia and the two sons Leon and Sergei, to join him; from then on he could organize his activity in such a way as to be able to carry out successfully what was going to be his triple task. The articles that he was sending to the Kievskaia Mysl obliged him to follow closely both French politics and military operations: he was a skilled newspaper-reader, and quickly understood what each represented and what must be expected of it. As for parliamentary life, it was then so limited, so non-existent, that the government had to be sought out rather at Chantilly (General Headquarters) than at Paris. But his articles also gave him the opportunity of making research field trips throughout France, of meeting socialist and trade-union militants, of sounding out the state of mind of the average Frenchman: conversations with a Liège anarchist had enabled him to learn about and give an exact description of the resistance movement that had set a notable part of the population – and even the anarchists – against the German troops.

The main work of the day was, naturally, Nashé Slovo, the newspaper, and the group that gravitated round it. The editors met every morning at the printshop in the rue des Feuillantines to discuss that day’s issue and prepare tomorrow’s, on the basis of information that came in, and of discussions about the conceptions defended by the various tendencies of Russian socialism, of polemics with the “defensists” and also with Lenin, who, from Geneva, was defending his own position with vigor and even brutality. Martov, right from the beginning, had been, before Trotsky’s arrival, a sort of editor-in-chief; his anti-war attitude had helped to bring him close to the other sectors of the opposition. It did not correspond however, to that of the majority of the Mensheviks whose representative to the International Socialist Bureau he was; he was embarrassed thereby, to the extent of being unable to accept having certain questions even raised and discussed such as that of a new International. The clashes with Trotsky grew gradually more frequent and sharp, and as it was evident that Trotsky better expressed the conceptions of the paper’s editorship, Martov resigned and left for Switzerland.

It was through him that the first contact had been made between the Russian socialists in Paris and the centre of opposition, then numerically tiny, represented by the Vie Ouvière; a letter he had written to Gustave Hervé, which the latter had published, had been the occasion for their meeting. And it was he also who announced to us the forthcoming arrival of Trotsky and who brought him around as soon as he did arrive. We used to meet in the evening, once a week, and when our little group was reinforced by these new allies, our horizon, until then sombre, lightened up. With Trotsky and Martov there came Dridzo-Losovsky, long settled in Paris, and a Polish socialist, Lapinsky. When, one evening, the Swiss socialist, Grimm, accompanied them, there could be conceived a rebirth of proletarian internationalism, and we already began arrangements which ensured us serious international liaisons, since, through the Swiss, it would he possible for us to remain in contact with the German opposition.

Of these meetings Raymond Lefebvre painted a faithful picture in the preface to L’Eponge de vinaigre. They were kept up all winter, but were abruptly ended when the government profited by a revision of draft exemptions to call up all known oppositionals who had escaped conscription and send them to the armies. At that moment the idea of an international conference had already taken sufficiently specific form so that practical preparations for holding it were being thought out. It was known that inside the French Socialist Party discontent was growing against the nationalist and pro-government policy which the leadership was integrally imposing on the party; a manifestation of this discontent and its importance was the position taken by one of the best provincial federations, that of the Haute-Vienne, and rendered public by a report signed by all the federations’ elected office-holders. The socialists of Nashé Slovo hastened to make contact with some of them who happened to be in Paris. Meetings were held at Dridzo’s place: they were not very encouraging, for the Limousins, though very firm in their criticism of the betrayal of socialism, shied away when we talked about the action that must be taken, obsessed by fear of a split, which they absolutely refused to face. The arrival in Paris of the Italian socialist Morgari, in search of participants in the future international conference, brought about the last meeting. Trotsky has amusingly described in My Life how, when Morgari suddenly spoke of underground activity, the worthy Limousins hastened to disappear. It was impossible to think of adding to the French delegation: Merrheim and Bourderon remained alone to represent the opposition, though, for that period, they represented it very well, even if they refused, despite Trotsky’s friendly insistence, to go further than their resolution at the confederal conference, which had, however, become insufficient, for it no longer corresponded to a situation that events were changing every day.

At Zimmerwald, the already known tendencies became specific. Lenin wanted acts: refusal of war credits by the Socialist parliamentarians; preparation of the new International; appeals to the workers for anti-war demonstrations. As against this clearly defined programme, the Italians set up a waiting policy: they refused to consider that the Second International was dead already; they wished for a rapprochement with the German centre (Kautsky-Bernstein) ; that was also the position of the Mensheviks. Trotsky was in agreement with Lenin (except on the question of defeatism), but he was in a position to understand better than Lenin what it was possible to ask of the conference at that stage: his Paris activity had permitted him to measure the strength of the opposition; in the same way, through his contacts with Grimm and Morgari, he knew exactly the current conceptions of the Swiss and Italian leaderships, of whom it could not be said that they did not represent the feelings of the rank and file. His speeches seemed so convincing that, at the end of the discussions, he was entrusted with the task of drafting the manifesto, which all the delegates approved. Lenin was not entirely satisfied, but that did not prevent him from considering that it was “a step forward,” and that one could be satisfied with that much for the moment.

This fortunate outcome of the conference was going to permit Trotsky to find in France a base for his activity. The manifesto restored confidence, and the opposition, till then skeletonic and dispersed, penetrated into the workers’ movement. A committee had been created for the revival of international relations; its plenary meetings brought together a growing number of militants; one of its most active members was Trotsky, who soon dominated it. Its secretary was Merrheim; with the Metal-Workers’ Federation behind him, he had, right from the beginning, courageously carried on the fight against the confederation’s leadership; now he became too prudent, already disturbed at seeing the committee drive further than he had decided to go. And so he opposed all proposals made by Trotsky to carry the activity of the committee out into public, taking up again at every session his suggestion for creating a Bulletin, indispensable for the committee’s own life, for circulating information verbally communicated during the meetings which it was important to take down and make known to all those who, in the trade unions and in the Socialist sections, were beginning to break away from the lies and illusions by which they had been lulled in order to drag them into the war. Merrheim resisted, grew impatient when he saw the ascendancy that Trotsky was winning over the assembly, but he could do nothing against his clear comments on events, fed by an exceptional experience, against a well-reasoned revolutionary optimism that carried conviction. At the end of the meetings, militants of all tendencies, socialists, anarchists, syndicalists, approached Trotsky, questioning him about points which were not yet clear to them; dates were arranged to permit continuing such fruitful conversations. One of them, F. Loriot, a member of the Socialist Party, definitively won over to the opposition, whose leadership he was to take within the party, wrote a pamphlet whose contents he had studied out with Trotsky, Les socialistes de Zimmerwald et la guerre, which took its place among the clandestine publications of the committee.

The Czarist government could not understand how an ally could allow a newspaper like Nashé Slovo to he published on its territory. On several occasions it had asked that the paper be suppressed and its editors imprisoned. The operation was difficult, being contrary to the policy of the French government at that period, when the Socialist ministers were explaining that persecution of the opposition could only aid it by making it better known – much better to stifle it by censorship. A grave incident that took place among the Russian detachments brought to France at the request of the French government was to he the occasion of an intervention that was this time decisive. The soldiers of this detachment were subjected, in France, to a regime that the surroundings rendered unbearable; the officers treated them like brute beasts. A soldier, slapped in the face by a colonel, retorted with such ardour that death ensued. Nashé Slovo, declared responsible, was immediately prohibited, and an order of expulsion announced to Trotsky. Different interventions enabled him to gain a little time and to try to choose the place to which he was to be deported. All was in vain. The family was then living in the Gobelins quarter, quite close to the hall of the Reine-Blanche, where there had taken place the deeply moving August 1914 meeting at which the various Russian parties tore one another apart, the “defensists” signing enlistment papers in the French army. It was here that two policemen came to take him and conduct him to the Spanish border. But even from Cadiz, where he was stopping temporarily, Trotsky found the means of participating once more in the committee for the revival of international relations, and precisely on the occasion of the pamphlet that he had prepared with Loriot. The growing influence of Zimmerwald had led the minorityites in the Socialist Party to organize themselves on an extremely moderate basis, their position not being essentially differenciable from that of the chauvinists of the leadership, of which they denounced only the “excesses.” This semiopposition represented a danger; there was a risk that it would get some Zimmerwaldists to make a bloc with it against the leadership – which the pamphlet had foreseen. And so complaints arose from the minorityite members, accusing the Zimmerwaldists of “dividing” the opposition. One of these criticisms was communicated to Trotsky, who replied immediately: “Political forces are not ‘divided’ by clarity any more than they are added together by confusion. Three viewpoints, three motions: clarity is political honesty.” And so ended, in an exceptional prolongation, his career as a Paris militant.


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Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 



Stalinism and Communism in Albania

The article reprinted below first saw the light as an anonymous contribution to Fourth International, Volume 10, no.1 (whole no 91), January 1949, pp22-8, a magazine published by the Socialist Workers Party of the USA. Its author, Sadik Premtaj, had been leader along with Anastas Lulja of the Youth Group, one of the three organisations that had united together under Yugoslavian tutelage to form the Albanian Communist Party in 1941. A fourth organisation, the Zjarri (Fire) Group, said to have been Trotskyist, was not invited to the Tirana founding conference.
When Premtaj and Lulja gained the support of the Vlöre Regional Committee in 1943, Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu took part personally in the expedition that killed both of its leaders, and whilst Lulja was ‘executed’, Premtaj fled abroad. He represented Albania at the Third World Congress of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International in August 1951, and took part in the deliberations of its Central European Commission. He appears in this narrative under the pseudonym of ‘Xhepi’.
Of the people mentioned in this account, Lazar (Zai) Fundo was captured in northern Yugoslavia, and because of his Trotskyist beliefs, was accused of contacts with British intelligence, and shot. Sejfulla Malëshova, who returned from Moscow in 1943, protested at the purging of Ymer Dishnica in May 1944, and after the liberation tried to secure his rehabilitation, for which he was eliminated from the leadership.
After Hoxha had taken advantage of the Stalin-Tito split to rivet his control over the Albanian Communist Party, all pro-Yugoslavs were expelled from both party and government, including Koçi Xoxe. Nako Spiru, an anti-Yugoslav, had already ‘committed suicide’. Even the party organisational secretary, Tuk Jakova, fell into disgrace after 1951 for reminding Hoxha that it was the Yugoslavs who had in effect founded the ‘Albanian Party of Labour’. Premtaj’s account of the predominance of the Yugoslavs receives confirmation from Milovan Djilas’s Conversations with Stalin, London 1963, pp.114, 133 and 139. The grisly tale of the evolution of the Albanian Communist Party is told in full in Arshi Pipa’s The Political Culture of Hoxha’s Albania, in Tariq Ali (ed,), The Stalinist Legacy, Harmondsworth 1984, pp.435-64. It comprises a unique example of uneven and combined development – of tribal blood feud and Stalinist gangsterism. The latest to receive the classic Hoxha treatment was Shehu, who ‘committed suicide’ in 1981. The early years of the present ruler of Albania, Ramiz Alia, are described by Jon Halliday in Tyrant of Tirana, The Times, 11 January 1990. The cult of Enver Hoxha continues even today. Cf. Peter Popham, Ruling from the Grave, Independent, 14 April 1990.
The Stalinist version of these events, which preserves a tasteful reticence over the fate of the various oppositionists, is to be found in the History of the Albanian Party of Labour, Tirana, 1971. Whilst we have reproduced its descriptions of the politics of the groups opposed to the Korçe Group, it need hardly be emphasised that they cannot be relied on, coming as they do from an organisation whose chief method of political dialogue is the revolver.
A whole book would be required to present a complete picture of the Communist movement in Albania, and the manner in which it has been betrayed. Here I shall limit myself to presenting only the most important points which, I am sure, will serve as a lesson to the proletariat of all countries, who are still unaware that Stalinism represents everything except a Communist movement.
I consider our experience to be a good lesson because I know that the working class of any given country learns not only through its own experience but also through the bitter experiences of workers in other countries. When one is warned that a fire is raging somewhere, it would be foolish and even mad to try to confirm it by putting one’s hand into the flames.
And now let us proceed to our subject.
Prior to 1941 there was no Communist Party in Albania. There were only three groups – the Shkodër group, the Youth group and the Korçe groups [1] – and while all three claimed to be Communist, they were in constant conflict with one another. Lacking experience and a Marxist-Leninist education, these three groups were unable to arrive at a correct political line. Each group acted in accordance with its own ideas and impulses, and the major part of their activity consisted of polemics against the other two rival groups.
Toward the end of 1941, after the USSR’s entry into the war, the Shkodër group and the Youth group felt the need of unifying their forces, and at the same time they issued an appeal to the Korçe group (the group of the incumbent president of Albania) but the latter flatly refused to reply to all appeals for unity. Unable to effect unification of the three groups by themselves, and seeing the USSR (which they looked upon as the fortress of world Communism) imperilled by the Hitlerite armies, they decided to ask for the intervention of foreign comrades. Comrades of the Shkodër and Youth groups who lived in the Albanian province of Kosova, which was, as it still is, under Yugoslav rule, found the opportunity to establish contact with Meladin Popovich and Dusham, Yugoslav Stalinists. The Albanian comrades from Kosova explained the situation of the three Albanian groups to the Yugoslav Stalinists and, in agreement with the leaders of all three groups, they invited the Yugoslavs to come to Tirana in order to assist in founding the Albanian Communist Party, and in putting an end to past dissensions.
The two Stalinists were presently brought secretly to Tirana, and although they had no official authorisation from the Yugoslav CP, they were accepted and their proposals were adopted.
Their first proposal was to convene a Conference with a certain number of delegates from each group. In addition to the Yugoslavs, 16 representatives of the three groups participated in this Conference, whose object was to found the Albanian CP.

The Founding Congress

Representatives of each group made a report and a self-criticism of the work their group had conducted, and at the same time presented a criticism of the work carried on by the other groups. After each report, self-critical and critical, there was a general discussion which became heated and degenerated into personal recriminations; the old group spirit certainly did not fail to reveal itself in the course of the discussions.
Upon the termination of the discussion, the Yugoslavs, who had taken note of the revolutionary spirit and consciousness of the Youth, took advantage of the latter’s sincerity and modesty in order to offer the following criticisms:
  1. The Youth had failed to carry out as broad an agitation among the masses as they should have.
  2. They had confined themselves in the main to forming the cadres and translating Marxist books.[2]
The leaders of the Youth group, Anastas Lula and Xhepi, supported by several elements belonging to the other two organisations, among them Vazil Santoja, replied to this ridiculous criticism as follows:
We do not claim we did everything we should have done. On the other hand, you ought to know that it was not so easy to do what you are suggesting. You are unacquainted with the circumstances, conditions and customs of our country, just as we are unacquainted with those in your country. In Albania, Communism is an imported doctrine. It is not a product of the development of economic conditions in Albanian society. Here the Communist movement was launched by intellectuals, particularly by students in the secondary schools.
`Albania is a backward agricultural country without any industry. There is no industrial proletariat among us and consequently we have no proletarian organisation pursuing, at least, economic objectives.
Moreover, you should not make the mistake of viewing present and past conditions in the same light. New conditions are making a travesty of the old. At the beginning, during the early days of the Fascist occupation of our country, it was very difficult to carry on open agitation among the masses for two reasons. Firstly, because the successes of the Nazi-Fascist armies made our people lose all confidence in an eventual Allied victory. Secondly, because in the first days of occupation, Fascism, pursuing its own objectives, set about making temporary improvements in the economic conditions of the masses, who had been far worse off under the previous regime of King Zog. [3]
Despite this, we did our best to reach the masses. We never restricted our activity to forming cadres and translating books, as charged by the Korçe group, which thereby reveals its old hatred of us. We are not against friendly criticism; on the contrary., we welcome it, because criticism of our past activity strengthens us and increases our experience for the future. We are a Youth group, full of enthusiasm but unfortunately lacking in experience. The same may be said of the other two groups, who have in their reports greatly exaggerated their past work.
We have never had the intention of exclusively forming cadres, with the idea that at a certain point in their formation, they would march pompously toward the masses. There are no limits to the formation of cadres. Building cadres and working among the masses are two closely interrelated things: the more cadres we have, the better we can reach the masses, and, conversely, the more we penetrate the masses, the greater will be the number and strength of our cadres. As soon as we finished our studies we went into the country and formed study circles everywhere, which are daily increasing in number; and we did this in the interests of our cause, without any considerations of a personal nature. Today, with a complete change in the situation, now that everybody can see with his own eyes that the ‘glorious armies of the Duce’ are not at all invincible, as the Albanian Fascist functionaries used to boast, we are able to reach the masses on a far greater scale, and at the same time, can start direct action against the Fascist plague and its servile functionaries.
Finally, what has been done is past and cannot be changed. Some have accomplished more, others less. Our main concern now is to be able to do our best as good Communists.
Despite these declarations, which were made not in self-justification but out of simple regard for the truth, the representatives of the Youth were unable to understand why the two Yugoslav Stalinists continued to regard them so banefully. Moreover, when they asked for more detailed explanations of orders and proposals, the Stalinists became angry and berated them as intellectuals. Whenever they were at a loss for an explanation, the Stalinists used the term ‘intellectualism’ as their supreme argument.
The Albanian comrades had asked for explanations sincerely and in good faith. They sought these explanations in order to learn more clearly what they were supposed to do, for in this way tasks are accomplished in a much more satisfactory way. There are obviously cases where this would require too much time from the leaders, but resolutions which require no explanation until after they are carried into effect are exceptions and not the rule. Nevertheless, the comrades who found themselves in the opposition accepted all the decisions of the majority, even though they were not always convinced of their correctness.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Meladin asked the conference of Albanian comrades to empower him to appoint the Central Committee of the Party. This was voluntarily agreed to, in good faith and out of utter ignorance of the customary Stalinist manoeuvres. Meladin then requested the names of two or three candidates from each group, from among whom he would select the members of the CC. But he fixed as a condition that the candidates should not be chosen from the former leaders of the groups, as their past differences would endanger the work of the Party, especially if new differences arose within the Central Committee. This argument was also considered valid by the Albanian comrades.
A few days later the leaders of the Youth group learned that the CC had been formed by leaders from the other two groups plus a rank and file member of their own. Although disappointed by this evidence of Meladin’s obvious bad faith and trickery, they offered no objections. Indeed the Youth thought that Meladin, as an experienced foreign comrade, was entitled to their confidence and that he was acting solely in the interests of the Party. Besides, the Youth did not want Meladin to think that they were interested in becoming members of the CC at any cost. The Youth group leaders were not at all concerned with gaining posts; their sole objective was the interests of the Party.
But Meladin’s actions were strictly in keeping with his character. As a Stalinist bureaucrat, he could not have acted otherwise. The orders which he had received from his superiors called only for the creation of cliques of mere agents utterly at the disposal of the Kremlin. Meladin had quickly learned that the Youth group leaders, because they were genuine Marxist-Leninists, conscious of their mission, and revolutionists in the real sense of the term, constituted an obstacle in the execution of his plans.

A Clique Takes Form

As soon as the membership lists of the three groups were turned over to the CC, together with all material resources (literature, typewriters, funds etc.), one of the Yugoslavs, Dusham, and a member of the CC, who was his lieutenant, began to establish branches, mixing up the members of all three groups. Fearing the members of the Youth group, they put into these branches the greatest possible number of sympathisers of the other groups with the aim of ensuring a majority in the elections to the regional committees. They included these sympathisers under the pretext that at the given stage few of the comrades had the necessary qualifications for party membership. At the same time, to secure a majority, they did not hesitate to bring in people of extremely dubious character. They were not at all fearful of people lacking in character or education; all they feared were Communists. Their fears were groundless at the time, but people whose conscience is troubled tend to suspect the whole world. Had the Youth group leaders sought to obtain posts, they could have done so at the very beginning by refusing to entrust the nominations to the CC to the Yugoslavs, and by insisting that they be given places on the CC in conformity with the will of their membership.
During the delegates’ Conference (1941) which was to elect the Tirana Regional Committee, one member of the Youth group rebelled against election methods which he termed ‘Fascist’. This comrade was made indignant by the conduct of the Yugoslavs, who employed various subterfuges to elect candidates of their own choice.
Obviously these facts and others of lesser importance contributed to the birth and growth of discontent among the Youth militants. Indignant comrades came to their former leaders, Anastas and Xhepi, in order to express their discontent. They were advised as a rule not to come on matters which the Party alone could regulate, not individuals. They were advised to take up every demonstrable fault or error with their branch leaders. They were also advised not to rebel, inasmuch as the Party was new and mistakes were naturally unavoidable.
Despite these efforts of Anastas and Xhepi to do their best to calm the discontented comrades by speaking in favour of the Party all the time, they were accused by Meladin and his CC of stirring up dissatisfaction. These charges hurt them deeply. They had shown enough political courage to confront far greater political difficulties during the Fascist occupation, but also under the dictatorial regime of King Zog. Had they wanted to, they would certainly have had enough courage to oppose Meladin openly, this same Meladin whom they themselves had freed from a concentration camp and brought to Tirana, where they put everything into his hands of their own free will.

The First Clashes

As soon as Meladin consolidated his position in Albania and formed his own clique, he called a conference whose purpose was to place Anastas and Xhepi on trial on the charges of cliquism. [4] Here is the text of the conference resolution:
It has been established that both of you have not yet rid yourselves of the sectarian spirit, and what is even more serious, you have been the principal instigators of this spirit among other comrades of your former group. You must admit that this is an obstacle for the Party. The Conference instructs you to confess your errors and to self-criticise yourselves.
In addition to Meladin and his agents in the CC, participating in this Conference was an individual who only three months before had been accused by Meladin himself of being a secret service agent. Despite this, Anastas and Xhepi entered no protest and permitted the Conference to take its course. Their reply was as follows:
It is obvious that when some things do not go well in the party, there must be some obstacle to its growth. And we agree with you that this obstacle is the old group spirit. But you should not examine this group spirit one-sidedly. As Marxists we should always try to resolve our problems with the aid of dialectical materialism. You know that there is no effect without a cause. The group spirit manifested among our comrades is the product of the group spirit which prevails to a far larger extent among the other two groups who are in the Party leadership. Disappearance of the group spirit among the leading comrades would rapidly cause it to dissipate among the other comrades. But inasmuch as you have arrogated the right to place us on trial, and because of this cannot allow us to expose your own faults, we have no other resource, in the interests of the Party itself, than to shut our eyes. We repeat that the group spirit will be dissipated only to the extent that you will furnish proofs of justice and impartiality.
The Conference closed with the following statement by Comrade Meladin:
In the event that the CC decides to expel you from the Party and at the same time, taking into consideration your qualities as old revolutionists, decides to maintain contact with you, are you willing to abide by its decision? On the other hand, we must warn you that if you take a hostile attitude, the Party will adopt more drastic measures against you.
Even a child could understand the obvious fact that the CC of the Albanian Communist Party existed in name only, while the real CC was constituted solely by Meladin and Dushan. Everybody knows that the members of the CC were only Meladin’s agents and the executors of his orders.
Anastas and Xhepi, who loved the Party more than their own lives and who hoped that things would improve, were not only incapable of a hostile attitude toward the Party but were, on the contrary, willing to remain at its disposal at all times. From that time on, while accepting the collaboration proposed by Meladin, they began to suspect that his systematic attacks would augur no good. Meladin’s behaviour showed them that he was not a genuine Communist. They began to look upon him as a crafty Serb chauvinist who, under the mask of Communism, wanted to form a clique for the sake of better serving the interests of his country.
Nevertheless, the leaders of the Youth group thought it best to leave the responsibility for the consequences of this situation with the CC. Rather than provoke a split in the Party, they preferred to submit. Although expelled from the Party, they fulfilled all the tasks assigned them scrupulously and with good will. Unfortunately, however, their honesty and revolutionary conscientiousness were an irritant to the bureaucratic clique. Honest comrades and good revolutionists, who enjoyed great sympathy among the rank and file, had to be eliminated at all costs. To this end, the leadership ordered its agents to set up control over the activities of all genuine Communists generally and the foregoing two comrades in particular.
Anastas and Xhepi, although they took note of this, made no protest because they knew the need of a Communist party to control the activity of the comrades. What revolted them was the fact that those placed in charge of this control were without even a minimum of Marxist education, and, therefore, unqualified for such a task. This task is indeed a very delicate one, because a poorly educated comrade is in the nature of things unable to judge matters correctly and is liable to make inaccurate reports which would victimise comrades under his surveillance.
But what is far worse, the agents were under CC instructions to bring in unfavourable reports about the comrades under their surveillance. A whole number of reports were made whose contents remain to this day unknown to the comrades in question. These comrades knew that the Communist principle of controlling members is based on the excellent intention of uncovering and correcting errors. But in no case is it permissible to use this control for the purpose of catching the comrades in a trap. Unfortunately, in the Albanian Communist Party the spirit of setting snares prevailed over the spirit of correcting errors. Effective control from top to bottom, such as Lenin favoured, was not even given a thought by the Albanian CP. There was exclusively tight control from above, whereas Leninism teaches us that control must be far stronger from below, since errors committed by leaders can be catastrophic, while those committed by individual members cannot seriously damage the Party.
If a comrade tried to criticise on the branch floor any errors committed by a Party leader, he was not only denied the right to offer such criticism but found himself subjected to attack by the branch leader and labelled a Xhepist, a Trotskyist, a saboteur and the like. To avoid being misrepresented in this way, the comrades no longer dared criticise errors which they might have observed. Here is an example of criticism which one branch member addressed to a member of the Regional Committee of Valona concerning another leader. The comrade in question, returning one night from one village to another with an escort of armed partisan guerrillas, met up with some Fascist militiamen and instead of showing himself worthy of the post he held in the Party, he fled like a coward, abandoning his comrades and even his overcoat. On another occasion, in the course of bitter battle (a battle that became an epic among the Albanian people) against the Fascist army sent to deal a blow to the village, Gjormi, this same individual, left the front on the pretext that he had a stomach-ache, only in order to dine on roast chicken in another village from where he could be certain of not hearing even the noise of battle. There were many other similar cases.

Persecution of the Opposition

Greatly worried by constant criticisms and seeing itself losing ground every day, the bureaucratic clique thereupon decided to find some way out of this deadlock. The only way it could defend its positions was to get rid of the revolutionary opposition as quickly as possible while it was still in an early stage. To crush it, the clique resolved to get rid of all uncompromising revolutionists by means of secret assassinations.
Once the decision was made, it was immediately carried out. The best-known Marxist-Leninist in Albania, Anastas Lula, was brutally murdered. As soon as this terrible news was learned by Comrade Difi, political commissar of the Mallaxastra battalion (it was at the time the largest single partisan military unit), this devoted member of the revolutionary opposition came to see Comrade Xhepi in order to discuss the matter with him and agree on a course of action. Difi said:
I have just learned something which is revolting not only for you personally but for every conscious Communist. Several days ago the CC held a Conference where it was decided to condemn you along with Anastas and several others to death. Anastas was placed under arrest by a squad from the battalion to which he belonged and marched off to a village where he was unknown to the inhabitants and where he was denounced as a Trotskyist, traitor, spy and so on. When he tried to speak in order to refute these accusations, he was led away by the squad and brutally assassinated. In your case they have decided on a different type of assassination. Knowing that you enjoy great popularity among the Party rank and file and the inhabitants of Valona, they have decided to kill you secretly during the night and to organise the next day a magnificent funeral, with flowers, wreaths and speeches extolling your heroism and virtues. Our problem is to decide what can be done to put an end to this frightful individual terrorism. I know that what I am doing is a violation of Party discipline, but this infraction is absolutely necessary and is committed for the sake of saving the Party and preventing errors which can lead only to catastrophe. Besides, in turning to such a comrade as you, I know full well that their charges against you are pure fabrications. If you had any intention of harming the Party in order to take over the leadership, as they say, I know that you would have first confided in me, your most intimate comrade. Just the opposite is true. Each time I voiced my discontent with the Valona Committee, you have tried to persuade me that it was necessary to have confidence in the Party. I cannot understand how anybody could accuse you of such a thing. To me they are only a clique who, under the mask of Communism, are seeking to secure a perpetual monopoly of the Party leadership, and in order to achieve this, they have decided to exterminate all revolutionists of any worth. How can anybody justify the assassination of comrades, without trial and without any opportunity to defend themselves? I believe this is an open betrayal of our revolutionary movement, but I am asking you, as an experienced Communist, to show us some normal way whereby we can put a stop to such proceedings.
In Xhepi’s opinion the best Communist way would be to convene a Conference consisting of at least two delegates from each branch, all members of the Valona Regional Committee, plus one or two members of the Central Committee. (Valona was one of the most revolutionary centres and the idea was that it was the best place to begin to apply Leninist principles of democratic centralism. The others would later follow its example.) The object of this Conference should be a general examination of the faults and errors committed, and, if any had been committed, to condemn those who were responsible. If the proceedings showed that the Valona Committee no longer held the confidence of the majority of the comrades, a new Committee should be democratically elected.
But although close to 80 per cent of the members wanted this Conference called, the Valona Committee along with the Central Committee categorically opposed it. At first they put on an act of favouring the idea of such a Conference, doing so solely in order to gain time and prepare a plan for eliminating the most active and conscious comrades. As soon as their terrorist plan was completed, they secretly arrested the political commissar of the Dukati commune. They likewise organised an ambush for the assassination of Comrade Xhepi, but he escaped thanks to comrades who warned him in time. They also treacherously arrested Xhemil Cakerri, political commissar, and Vangjo, commander of the Valona battalion. They were brought to a mill where they were to be assassinated. The political commissar was brutally murdered, but the commander succeeded in escaping with only a hand wound and took refuge in a village whose inhabitants gave him a friendly reception.
Memet Shehu (today the Stalinist commanding general), the most notorious criminal in Albania, went to this village and re-arrested Vangjo, telling the village people that the assassination attempt had been an accidental act of the escort and that Vangjo was now to appear before the Party judges.
Vangjo was then led to a house in the middle of a forest where, at the point of a gun, he was forced to write to his battalion an order transferring his command to the general in question. He was kept prisoner for three months and then succeeded in escaping and rejoining the opposition comrades.
Meanwhile, assassinations of the revolutionary oppositionists became more and more frequent. In the press and through all the vehicles of propaganda, the leadership sought to create the impression that the demand for calling the Conference had been put forward only in order to destroy the Party, and that it was actually a conspiracy under Xhepi’s leadership.
Had the revolutionary opposition engaged in a conspiracy, as the Stalinists claimed, the overthrow of the clique would have been unavoidable and would have presented no difficulty inasmuch as the clique was in the minority at Valona. But the comrades of the revolutionary opposition, knowing nothing of the Stalinist terrorist methods, sought on the contrary to act in the most legal way possible within the Party. They were not and could not have been enemies of the Party: But the leading clique had made its irrevocable decision to crush them by any and every means. The revolutionary conscience of the opposition made it impossible for them to use their arms against their comrades. The Stalinist clique, on the other hand, had no scruples whatever about plunging their hands into the blood of revolutionary militants, tried and tested in the struggle against Fascism and the occupation forces.
It is self-evident that the revolutionary opposition of Albania fell victim to its own scruples, and it is this which permitted the systematic elimination of all those who declared themselves in favour of the Conference. It should be comprehensible even to a child that the bureaucratic clique refused to call a Conference not because it deemed the Conference a danger to the Party but because it was unable to justify its actions, and above all, because it found it impossible to explain its deviations from a genuine Communist line. Therefore, by far the easiest way was to gain time through terror. If the Stalinist leaders had been real revolutionists they would have had no reason at all to fear holding a Conference, whose sole aim was to rectify past errors and to elect the Party’s leading bodies in a democratic manner.
It was impossible for Communists who had made so many sacrifices to found the Party to have attempted to destroy the fruits of so much labour with their own hands. The Stalinists knew this very well. No, the real reason for their trickery was their fear lest they lose the leadership of the Party. Even had they desired to accept the wholly justifiable proposal of the revolutionary opposition, they would have nevertheless been unable to do so, for they played no independent role. Not they but someone else was in command in Albania – Generalissimo Stalin.
At all events, it is the opinion of the writer that the tragic plight of our Party is sufficient evidence that Stalinism has not only substituted itself for Fascism but has far surpassed Fascism in its methods and politics.


It is self-evident that not very much could have been expected from the Albanian Communist Party. But there are other Communist parties, old parties with good revolutionary traditions – such as the French CP – whose leaderships have for a long time simply been instruments of the bureaucratic clique in the Kremlin. The Albanian Communist movement was still in its embryonic stage when it became infected with Stalinism. Few of the comrades had even a vague conception of Marxism-Leninism. The rest were sympathisers convinced on an emotional plane of the correctness of Communism rather than educated revolutionary members. It is indeed difficult to become a Communist by merely decreeing it, as was the case in Albania. Communists are the products of specific social and economic conditions (the class struggle), and these had not reached a sufficient degree of maturity in Albania at this time. The Party had not existed for even 18 months, and the Albanian Communists lacked the necessary time to educate themselves and develop.
There was no industrial proletariat and, consequently, the organised class struggle did not exist. What is remarkable is that the Albanian people, despite their rude struggle for existence and against the oppression of foreign regimes, have shown such incomparable revolutionary spirit.
Owing to the fact that leaders of the Albanian Communist movement had not assimilated even the elementary principles of Communism, the Yugoslav Stalinists were naturally able, without encountering any obstacle, to form a clique blindly obedient to their orders. Needless to say, their first directives were to eliminate by assassination the genuine Marxist-Leninist revolutionists. For them Communists alone represented a danger. Fascists and reactionaries were, in their eyes, of secondary importance.
Thus, faithful to foreign masters who promised them posts and distinctions, this clique proceeded to assassinate the outstanding revolutionary militants, those who had in reality built the movement in Albania.
After the refusal of the leadership to call the Conference and after it started to use terrorist methods against the revolutionary opposition, the latter issued an extensive bulletin, entitled Why We Have Broken with the So-Called Communist Party. This document was signed ‘The Genuine Communist Organisation’. The aim of this bulletin was to acquaint the Party members and the population as a whole with the betrayals which were being perpetrated.
After the publication of this bulletin, the Valona revolutionary organisational movement was followed by other similar movements elsewhere in Albania, particularly such centres as Berat, under the leadership of revolutionary militants Resul, Namik and Fatbardh.
Unfortunately, these movements were condemned to isolation because they started in a period when the bureaucratic clique had already consolidated its position by the terrorist and demagogic methods.
The Stalinists then began accusing the revolutionary opposition of working on the side of reaction. But the revolutionists were able to prove, with ample facts, that it was the Stalinists who were disillusioning the masses and the Party sympathisers by the employment of terrorist methods against comrades whom everybody knew as revolutionary militants from the very beginning. And what else could the people do but turn away from this Party known to them as the assassin of such best known revolutionists as Anastas Lula, Neki Hoxha (Vangjo), Xhemil Cakerri, Lazar Fundo, Resul Tozhari, Namik Mequemeja, Xhafer Dalami, Xhelal Hoxha, Nimet Mitaa, Haki Xhelo, Duro Kanina, Idajet Bolena, Zef Noja and a hundred others who had distinguished themselves by their revolutionary work.
(Lazar Fundo and Halim Xhelo were the first communist propagandists in Albania. Lazar Fundo had also been a member of the Communist International for a long time. He left it when he saw that it had been changed into a mere tool of the Kremlin bureaucratic clique. Upon leaving the Comintern, he denounced the betrayals of Stalin and in order to safeguard the Communist traditions, he propagated Trotskyist ideas in Albania.) [5]


And how was it possible for the people not to lose confidence in this Party when they learned that a Fascist colonel in the Italian army fired a salvo of three shots to celebrate his joy over the assassination of these revolutionary heroes, who had been the terror of the Fascists in Albania?
And how could the people fail to be deeply shocked when the most intransigent enemies of Fascism and reaction were assassinated by their own Party, and the most cherished wishes of the Fascists became thus realised through their worthy emulators, the Stalinists?
To sum it up, the Albanian Communist movement degenerated with the intervention of the Stalinist agents whom we have already designated.
Following upon their intervention, the frankness of the past became replaced with hypocrisy and vile slander; loyalty to Communist ideals with careerism and the leadership cult; self-discipline with an iron discipline imposed from the top; criticism became exclusively self-criticism; freedom of thought gave way to blind obedience. Former respect, freely given and inspired by comrades who had given repeated proofs of their devotion to the movement, was replaced by compulsory idolatry for unworthy people, for ignorant and vile petty bourgeois like colonel Enver Hoxha and Co.
The majority of Party members, and its sympathisers, along with the Albanian population as a whole are becoming daily more and more aware of the growing degeneration of Communism which stems from the bureaucratic Stalinist clique. The so-called People’s Courts are rendering a great service by revealing to the Albanian people the real designs of the promoters of the new ‘People’s Democracies’. The cowardly assassination of hundreds of Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries; the recent death sentence passed on the well-known old revolutionist Hasan Reci (he has been condemned thrice to death as a Communist: once by King Zog’s government, once by the Fascist occupation forces, and now for the third time by the Stalinists); imprisonment of the revolutionist Kadri Hoxha, one of the most devoted revolutionists who has contributed a great deal to the cause of Communism; the purge of the old revolutionist Sejfulla Malëshova, a pioneer of Communism in Albania who spent most of his life abroad in efforts to coordinate the Albanian movement with that of other countries and who was for a long time professor of materialist philosophy at the Moscow University [6]; the social and economic privileges of the bureaucratic caste; and, above all, the oppression of the people by the dictatorship of a simple clique – these are some of the outstanding characteristics of the betrayal of the Albanian Communist movement.
Today the question is: Will the Albanian people remain passive forever, accepting this state of affairs as an incurable disease? The people of Albania remain revolutionary. They will be able, under the leadership of the most devoted Marxist-Leninists (powerless for the moment but ever prepared to renew the struggle), to rid themselves of these deadly microbes within human society. It was the people, trusting the promises of the Stalinists, that gave them power. And it will be the people, seeing with their own eyes how the Stalinists have betrayed the ideal of the people, and of the thousands of comrades who have fallen for the cause, that will put an end to their crimes. Under the banner of the Fourth International the people of Albania will resume their march toward the liberation of human society and toward Socialism.
Sadik Premtaj


1. The Korçe Group was founded in June 1929, and was strongly influenced by the Greek Archeio-Marxist Group to begin with. But after Ali Kelmendi returned from Moscow it was turned in a Stalinist direction, and the main supporter of Archeio ideas, Niko Xoxi, was expelled. Enver Hoxha joined the Korçe Group when he returned from Western Europe in 1936.
The Shkodër Group was formed in 1934, and was joined by Niko Xoxi, who led it along with Zefa Mala. From 1938 it issued Buletini Jeshil, an illegal journal which argued against the ideas of the Popular Front held by the Korçe Group. According to the Stalinists, its leaders “were for direct social, and not for national, revolution, that they were opposed to imperialism, but unwilling to collaborate with the nationalists; that they were in favour of direct action when the time came, and not of dilatory and roundabout actions” (History of the Albanian Party of Labor, pp.53-4). The smashing of the group by arrests and torture in 1939 created the disillusionment that turned. its remains towards Stalinism.
The Youth Group carne from a split inside the Korçe Group in 1940. It was led by Anastas Lulja and Sadik Premtaj, “elements of pronounced Trotskyite and Anarchist inclinations”, according to the Stalinists, who described its ideas as “that the Fascist invasion would bring about the development of capitalism, the growth of the proletariat, and the consolidation of the relations between the Albanian and Italian working classes. Thus class struggle would develop, creating favourable conditions for founding a Communist Party to lead the struggle for Socialism” (History of the Albanian Party of Labor, p.75).
2. The accusations of inactivity among the masses and trying to form cadres merely by translating Marxist books levelled against the Youth Group are still maintained by the Albanian Stalinists: “It held that in Albania there was no proletariat, no class struggle and, therefore, no basis existed for the formation of a Communist Party, that the peasants were conservative, reactionary, and could not become the ally of the working class. Thus they had adopted the Trotskyite theory of educating and preserving cadres. They considered connections and work with the masses as dangerous, for that would endanger the cadres!” (History of the Albanian Party of Labor, pp.74-5).
3. Ahmed Zögu proclaimed himself ‘King Zog I’, and ruled Albania (1928-39) until the Italians decided to bundle him out of the country.
4. The extraordinary conference which was to be the trial of Lulja and Premtaj took place in Tirana in June 1942.
5. Lazar Fundo was accused by the Stalinists of having “sabotaged the work of sending Albanian volunteers to Spain to fight against Fascism and, finally, came out in the open against the Soviet Union, taking under his protection the Bukharinites, Trotskyites, and other hostile elements condemned by the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of the Soviet Union” (History of the Albanian Party of Labor, p.53).
6. Sejfulla Malëshova was removed from the Political Bureau and Central Committee in 1946, and was afterwards imprisoned.

Additional Note on the Zjarri Group

This group was first formed by Andrea Zisi among Albanian exiles in Athens in 1936, and assuming the pseudonym of ‘Zjarri’ (Fire) it transplanted itself to Albania in 1937. It never formed part of the Albanian Communist Party founded under Yugoslav tutelege in 1941. It joined the Balli Kombëtar (National Front) that was set up in 1942 to fight the Italians, and was later ‘wiped out’ by the Stalinists (History of the Albanian Party of Labor, pp.131, 139). It is described by the Stalinists as having “sometimes launched such leftist slogans as ‘for a proletarian revolution’, ‘for the struggle against capital’, ‘for the dictatorship for the proletariat’, with the intention of winning the trust of the working masses, sympathisers of Communism, or at other times posed as ‘nationalists’ with the intention of detaching the nationalist patriots from the National-Liberation War and from the Communist Party” (ibid.). It is clear that whilst none of these groups were Trotskyist properly so-called, Trotskyist ideas did penetrate Albania through the channel of the Archeio-Marxist group in Greece.