Revolutionary Worker #902, April 13, 1997
Albania is a small country along the Balkan coast--inhabited by mountain people famous for their fierce independence. Its population is about 3.5 million. It is bordered to the north by the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, to the east by Greece, and to the west, across the Adriatic Sea, lies Italy. All of Albania's neighbors have tried, at one time or another, to take over Albania or carve off parts of its land. Serbia today controls the Albanian-inhabited region called Kosovo, and heavily oppresses the people there. The Greek ruling class has been accusing Albania of persecuting Greek-speaking people in its southern districts--and threatening to take those areas away from Albania. And Italy long attempted to conquer and colonize Albania--including during World War 2, when the Italian fascists and their German Nazi allies carried out a brutal occupation of Albania.
At the end of World War 2, a communist-led guerrilla army liberated Albania from years of brutal occupation by Italian fascists and German Nazis. Albania became an independent socialist country.
Led by the communists, the people of Albania's isolated villages fought to create a new collective agriculture. They broke the power of the old bey feudal landowning classes. As the war-torn economy was rebuilt, modern industry emerged in Albania for the first time--created along socialist lines. Albania had close ties to the Soviet Union--which in those years was a socialist country led by Joseph Stalin.
In 1956 phony communists rose to power in the Soviet Union and overthrew socialism. They restored capitalism--using a state-capitalist system of ownership. And their new state-capitalist owning class exploited the people, even while they continued to call themselves "communists."
Albania was the only country in Eastern Europe that refused to follow the Soviet revisionists down that capitalist road. At great risk, Albania's Party of Labor broke with the Soviet Union, and made a close alliance with Mao's China. Albania remained socialist for two more decades, led by Enver Hoxha, the leader of the Party of Labor of Albania (PLA).
After the death of Mao in 1976, capitalist roaders came to power within China. Albania's leadership increasingly moved away from revolutionary positions, and consolidated a revisionist line of their own.
In 1978 Enver Hoxha published a series of attacks on Mao Tsetung and the Cultural Revolution--denouncing important theoretical developments of Mao on the class struggle under socialism.*
It was forces within the Party of Labor of Albania who overthrew the socialist relations in industry and agriculture. Then in the late 1980s, they called for fully "opening up" to the world capitalist market. In 1991 they welcomed U.S. President Bush's Secretary of State Baker to Albania--in a move that marked a major turn toward open capitalism.
Elements within the PLA decided to fully discard the label of "communist" and openly embrace the politics and economics of western-style capitalism. Berisha, who had been a secretary of the PLA and a confidant of its leadership, formed a right-wing "Democratic Party" with close ties to the British Tories. The bulk of the old PLA renamed itself the Socialist Party--proclaimed that they were Western-style social-democrats, and no longer communists or Marxists. When Berisha became President, this pro-capitalist "Socialist Party" moved into opposition.
The new government, its military, the new capitalist ruling class and even Albania's new Mafia-style underworld drew many of their honchos from old state-capitalist ruling circles--who became more and more openly capitalist.
Then in 1992, with support from Western imperialist powers, these openly capitalist forces rose to political power, led by Berisha, and proceeded to carry out a major "opening" to the world capitalist market--and with it a systematic restructuring of Albania's economy and political system.
* For the RCP, USA's analysis of Enver Hoxha's attacks on Mao, see "Beat Back the Dogmato-Revisionist Attack on Mao Tsetung Thought" in "The Communist," Number 5, May 1979. For a critique of Hoxha's overall line see Revolution magazine, September 1979.
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