This article will be my brief critique of Albanian socialist leader Enver Hoxha & his modern followers.
Enver Hoxha was a great Marxist-Leninist & anti-revisionist. His works are a valuable contribution to anti-revisionism and the practical application of Marxism-Leninism. This ought to be recognized by every communist.
The critical comments I’m about to make should not be interpreted as a condemnation of Hoxha’s significant work.
WHEN HOXHA WAS CORRECT
Hoxha perhaps most well known for his firm critique of Khrushchevite Revisionism:
“The true Marxist-Leninists will intensify their principled struggle for the exposure of the Khrushchevite and other modern revisionists”
(Hoxha, Reject the Revisionist Thesis of the 20th Congress)
As well as his outstanding work against Yugoslav revisionism:
“The Yugoslav renegades abandoned the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism on the socialist state right from the beginning…”
(Hoxha, Yugoslav “Self-Administration”)
However he also began to be very critical of Mao Tse-Tung’s China and this is where I feel he fell into serious errors. I will be writing a similar short article giving my thoughts on Maoism as well as the Juche Idea later. But for the time being let us point out that Mao also made mistakes, especially in the so-called “Three Worlds Theory” and it was entirely justified to point this out. In fact this was done by many supporters of Mao also.
One such pro-Mao communist was Harry Haywood who criticized the “incorrect strategic line of the Three Worlds Theory” in his article “China and its Supporters Were Wrong About USSR”. I will discuss the specifics of this issue in my future article on Mao.
WHEN HOXHA WAS WRONG
Let us now focus on Hoxha’s other criticisms of Maoist China.
1. The Peasant Question, People’s War
Hoxhaism claims that Mao gave up the leading role of the Proletariat to the Peasantry:
“Although he talked about the role of the proletariat, in practice Mao Tsetung underestimated its hegemony in the revolution and elevated the role of the peasantry.”
(Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution)
However, he in my opinion presents insufficient evidence to support this. Mao employed a worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the Proletariat & the Communist Party as Lenin and Stalin did. Hoxha claims that in Mao’s case this was mere rhetoric and not true, and that in reality the Proletariat was never the leader, but I find this unconvincing.
Is there any doubt that the Communist Party was at the head of the Revolution? Is there any doubt that Communism is first and foremost a working class & not a peasant ideology? Hoxha’s best evidence seems to be the numerical superiority of the peasants, but the same argument was frequently made against Lenin by dogmatists.
Hoxha’s second piece of evidence is Mao’s slogan of ‘the countryside encircling the cities’. Hoxha claims that this was not merely a tactic but a deviation from Marxism-Leninism. In my opinion he fails to justify this. The soundness of the strategy was proven by the fact that they won. Are all guerrilla movements which hide in the countryside, mountains and forests going against Marxism-Leninism? Surely not.
Mao’s military strategy was based on Marxist-Leninist analysis & popularizing previous military writings, Sun Tzu’s Art of War in particular.
2. National Liberation, United Fronts, New Democracy
Hoxha argues that Mao was a class-collaborator:
“The revisionist concepts of Mao Tsetung have their basis in the policy of collaboration and alliance with the bourgeoisie”
This is based on the fact that the Chinese Communist Party allied with all patriotic elements against the Japanese invasion in a nationwide united front. Does Hoxha denounce all united fronts? No he doesn’t, he cannot do that as united fronts are an accepted Marxist-Leninist tactic. Therefore Hoxha only denounces this particular united front.
Hoxha attacks the Maoist policy of ‘New Democracy’ as class collaboration, as the New Democratic State allowed the existence of not only workers but also capitalists & peasants under the leadership of the Communist Party. Hoxhaists might point out that the other classes also had some representation in the government, but to claim that the Proletariat & the Communist Party were not leading the State is quite frankly ridiculous.
The New Democratic State was designed as a transition from semi-feudalism & semi-colonialism to Socialism. The other socialist countries; ‘People’s Democracies’ in Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union during the NEP policy, grappled with these issues. Hoxha doesn’t denounce all of them, only Mao.
Hoxha attacks Mao for his idea that there are antagonistic & non-antagonistic class contradictions, i.e. that some class differences can be solved relatively peacefully in the context of the Worker’s State. It was necessary to violently overthrow the KMT, compradors & landlords. However the peasantry & patriotic forces that supported the Communists do not need to be dealt with in the same way.
The Bolsheviks did not immediately wipe out all the capitalist elements, instead they allowed them to exist in a restricted form during the NEP. The Bolsheviks first secured the gains of the Democratic Revolution and only later constructed Socialism. During the Collectivization of Agriculture the Bolsheviks wanted to “win over the middle-peasant” (and isolate the Kulak). This would be solving the contradiction between the workers and poor & middle-peasants in a peaceful non-antagonistic way. For some reason Hoxha doesn’t consider this to be class collaboration in the same way.
Considering that China was semi-colonial & even more backward then the Soviet Union, it should be expected that more compromises would have to be made with the classes with different but not antagonistic interests like the petit-bourgeois peasants. It would take longer to get rid of these social classes then in countries with more favorable conditions. Still the landlords were gotten rid of, agricultural collectivization was implemented, industry was nationalized.
MISTAKES OF MODERN HOXHAIST PRAXIS
I consider Hoxhaists my comrades. I am non-sectarian enough to support Hoxhaist parties such as the Brazilian PCR as based on the information from my Brazilian comrades they are the best party of their country. However there are elements in modern Hoxhaism which I’d prefer not to be there.
Hoxhaists have seem to have an ultra-left tendency of seeking “ideological purity” over all else. This means sectarianism, isolating themselves from others, attacking non-Hoxhaist Marxist-Leninists as “revisionists” and deadly enemies.
In general Hoxhaists seem incapable of distinguishing between disagreement, deviation & revisionism. A deviation is a one-sided mistaken line in Marxism. Naturally there are different degrees of deviation, some of which are more harmful then others. Revisionism means an anti-marxist trend, a line that contradicts with the core of marxism.
In my opinion Maoism & Juche both show some signs of deviation, but not revisionism. What I consider the flaws of Maoism are in no way on the same level as the anti-Marxist tendencies of Khrushchevite, Trotskyite or Titoite Revisionism.
I shouldn’t have to explain what disagreement means, but it seems it is necessary. We will always have disagreement about the correct tactics, the correct policies, the correct slogans. It is not always Revisionist to have different views.
It should be obvious to everyone that China not only nationalized large industry but also implemented policies of agricultural collectivization similar to the Soviet Union. The notion that they were not constructing socialism is absurd and based on a nitpicking “left-communist” attitude. They don’t care about the big picture. If they can find some excuse to denounce something as Revisionism, they will.
This conduct is not different from “Left-Communist”, “Orthodox Marxists”, Trotskyists and other armchair revolutionaries who claim “the Soviet Union was state capitalist because it still used money instead of labor vouchers” or some such nonsense. Unfortunately many Hoxhaists boldly proclaim such absurdities; “China was never building socialism. Mao was a Revisionist”. I say this is nonsense.
HOXHAISM OR LENINISM?
The biggest danger for Hoxhaists is sectarianism. They openly admit that they are Marxist-Leninists, that Hoxha was an anti-revisionist and not someone who created new theory. Hoxha’s writings popularized & applied Marxism-Leninism just like Stalin did, and Hoxha never sought to create a new “ism”. Hoxhaists should agree with this.
So why do we have Hoxhaist parties? Why do we have Hoxhaism? Hoxhaists feel that if a Marxist-Leninist organization doesn’t identify as Hoxhaist then probably a new party should be created, though they might come up with some other excuse for this splitting action.
Maybe I am a hopeless centrist for not being a Hoxhaist nor a Maoist. Maybe I am centrist for thinking its counter productive to spend most of one’s time denouncing Maoism & the DPRK as revisionists, enemies, worse then capitalists etc., instead of actually trying to advance Communism.
Particularly small parties and groups have a tendency for sectarianism & isolating themselves. This is true of many Maoist groups as well and seems to be a serious danger for all Hoxhaist groups. The Brazilian PCR doesn’t seem to suffer from this quite as much as some others, but I’ve been criticized for being “pro-Mao” by some Brazilian Hoxhaists (in a friendly discussion) as if that is what we should be worried about at this point.
You don’t see Maoists or Marxist-Leninists focusing all their time on attacking Hoxha, yet Hoxhaists seem obsessed with attacking us non-Hoxhaist M-Ls. This is wrecking activity and harms our movement.
Should there in my opinion exist specifically Hoxhaist parties? Absolutely not. We need Marxist-Leninist parties. Everyone should recognize the positive contribution of Hoxha and all the times when he was correct, we don’t need to be “Hoxhaists” to do that.
If some comrades insist on labeling themselves “Hoxhaists” then so be it. But that is not a big enough issue to split over, not from their point of view or mine. Like Hoxha, I call for ‘true Marxist-Leninist unity’.
Unity cannot be unprincipled, we cannot achieve unity by merely proclaiming that we have it and then still continue to have big differences which are brushed aside, we all know this. However to have disunity or split over minor questions is sectarian. The Hoxhaist vs. M-L split is obviously just such a minor question, to claim the opposite only proves my point.
The quest to have specifically Hoxhaist organizations, to have Hoxha’s face and name always visible as a priority, to split with those who don’t agree with Hoxha on everything is obviously sectarian.