By Bill Bland & Norberto Steinmayr, (Former Secretaries of the Albanian Society)
The Question of Dictatorship
One of the main charges leveled against Enver Hoxha by the current regime in Albania and its supporters is that, during the period in which he was General, and then First, Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, the Albanian state took the form of a ‘dictatorship’.
In the Marxist-Leninist sense, this statement is undoubtedly true.
The second article of the 1976 Constitution states proudly:
“The People’s Socialist Republic of Albania is a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat which expresses and defends the interests of all the working people”.
(‘Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’; Tirana; 1989; p. 7).
Indeed, Marxism-Leninism maintains that all states are dictatorships of one social class or another — that the British state, for example, is one of the dictatorship of Big Business.
The current regime in Albania and its supporters claim that the state in Socialist Albania was basically in contradiction with ‘human rights’.
The question of ‘human rights’ has long been used in Britain as a football. The United States, for example, may support in Latin America the most barbarous puppet dictatorships, whose ‘death squads’ carry out the organised murder of thousands of dissidents, without a murmur of protest from the British government or press. For them the sole criterion of whether ‘human rights’ exist in a country or not is whether or not the right of ‘free enterprise’ exists -that is, the right of capitalists, native and foreign, to make profits out of the labour of the working people.
In Socialist Albania, the Constitution laid down that
“the exploitation of man by man has been liquidated and is forbidden”.
(‘Constitution of the PSR of Albania’; op. cit.; p. 13).
The ‘right to exploitation’ does not figure on any internationally recognised list of human rights. But the ‘right to work’ does! Article 6 of the ‘International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights’ (approved by the United Nations in December 1966) declares:
“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right”.
(‘International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’, in: Edmund J. Osmanc’zyk: ‘Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Relations’; New York; 1990; p. 400).
In the Socialist Republic this ‘right to work’ was written into the Constitution:
“In the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania citizens have the right to work, which is guaranteed by the state”.
(‘Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’; op. cit.; p.23).
This guarantee was put into practice:
“In the past . . . everyone had a job”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Profile: Albania: 1992 93; p. 35).
Restriction of Political Activity
Allied to the charge of ‘dictatorship’ levelled by the current regime and its supporters against Enver Hoxha is the charge that, during the period in which he headed the Party of Labour, anti-socialist political activity was prohibited.
This, again, is correct. Article 55 of the Socialist Constitution states:
“The creation of any type of organisation of an . . . anti-socialist character is prohibited. . . . Anti-socialist activities and propaganda . . . are prohibited”.
(‘Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’; op. cit.; p. 26).
But Article,5 of the ‘International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ states explicitly:
“Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any rights or freedoms recognised therein”.
(‘International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’, in: Edmund J. Osmanczyk: op. cit.; p. 400).
But, as tens of millions of people all over the world know by bitter experience, full employment is impossible in an economic system based on the profit motive, for here a worker is employed only if some capitalist believes he can make a profit out of his labour.
Only a socialist social system, in which production is planned for the maximum welfare of the working people, can make the right to work effective.
It follows that to prohibit anti-socialist political activity and propaganda was not in violation of human rights, but served to defend a vital human right — the ‘right to work’.
“Economic Stagnation” Under Socialism?
Another charge laid against Enver Hoxha by the current regime in Albania and its supporters is that, during the period in which he led the Party of Labour, the Albanian economy suffered stagnation, which was responsible for Albania being ‘a poor country’.
The facts give an entirely different picture.
Official statistics (the objectivity of which has been attested to by eminent British economists) show that between 1951 and 1985
Agricultural production increased by 4.5 times;
Retail sales per head of population: 5.5 times;
Industrial production increased by 16.2 times;
Chrome production increased by 30.9 times;
Electric power prduction increased by 217.1 times;
Chemical production increased by 585.8 times;
(‘Statistical Yearbook of the PSR of Albania 1988’; Tirana; 1988; p.: 81, 87, 122).
These high rates of economic development were the product of the planned socialist economic system which then existed in Albania. Article 25 of the Socialist Constitution laid down:
“The state organises,manages and develops all the economic and social life by a unified general plan in order to fulfil the ever increasing material and cultural needs of society”.
(Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’; op. cit.; p.16).
Perhaps, however, these high rates of economic development were unfairly distributed?
On the contrary, Socialist Albania was extremely egalitarian. There was no unearned income and income was strictly proportional to the quantity and quality of work performed:
“In the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania the socialist principle ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his work’ is implemented”.
(Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’, op. cit.; p.18).
“limitation of income differentials to a maximum of 2:1”.
(William B. Bland: ‘Albania’ (World Bibliographical Series, Volume 94; Oxford; 1988; p. 162).
was laid down by law.
That Albania was relatively poor was not because of ‘economic stagnation’ under socialism, but mainly because of the appalling economic backwardness which it inherited from the past.
In spite of the absence of luxury goods, foreign visitors commented that people appeared well-fed, well-clothed and well-shod, and one saw no signs of such phenomena as malnutrition and homelessness which are to be found in much more economically developed countries.
Indeed, Socialist Albania had some of the finest social services in the world. For example, retirement pensions were 70% of an individual’s pay at the time of retirement. The state built some 15,000 new dwellings a year and 80% of the population lived in dwellings built since the Second World War, paying a monthly rent equal to about three days’ pay.
This progress in living standards was reflected in the statistics of expectation of life, which rose from 38.43 years in 1938 to 71.6 years in 1986-87. (‘Statistical Yearbook of the PSR of Albania: 1988’; op. cit.; p. 29).
It is true that for the last few years of his life Enver Hoxha was gravely ill and some of the concealed anti-socialists in high positions took advantage of this — as visiting experts have testified — to adopt unscientific methods (particularly in agriculture) which caused some damage to the economy.
The picture of Albania at the present time is complicated by the fact that the regime at present in power strives to misrepresent the undoubted achievements of the Socialist society. Readers who have seen newsreels made recently in Albania — showing for example, neglected children in an unheated orphanage in Shkodra — should be aware that the authors of this pamphlet visited the same building some years ago and found the children clean and well-fed, with many toys. What kind of regime is that deliberately makes helpless children suffer in order to fake a propaganda film designed to elicit sympathy and aid!
The present regime in Albania and its supporters tell us that after forty years of ‘tyranny’, the Albanian people are now ‘free’.
Let us look at their situation now that they are ‘free’.
The ‘ slow, steady improvement in living standards under the Socialist regime has given way to economic catastrophe. In July 1992:
“. . . the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Genc Ruli, described the Albanian economy as being ‘in a state of collapse”‘.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: . . . Albania’, No. 3, 1992; p. 43).
” . . . unemployment was believed to be about 70% nationwide”.
(‘Facts on File’, Volume 52, No. 2,679 (26 March 19.92); p. 213).
While in the Socialist Republic, there was no inflation and prices consistently fell as production increased, by 1992 it was reported that
“. . . inflation is expected to remain out of control at above 300% per annum”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: . . . Albania:. No. 4, 1992; p. 36).
“Prices have risen by up to 400% since they were freed on a wide range of products at the beginning of November (1991 — Ed.), but wages have remained fixed”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: . . . Albania’, No. 3,1992; p. 40).
“Output in in 1991 fell to 50% of the 1990 figure. . . . Only half of the 300 largest industrial enterprises were operating. . . . During the past two years oil and gas production has declined by more than 45%, chrome by about 60%, copper by about 70%, coal by about 50% and light industry by about 60V.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: . . . Albania’, No. 2, 1992; p. 44).
“In August . . . the government sanctioned further massive increases for a wide range of goods and services. Urban transport fares were raised fivefold; long-distance bus fares 5.5- fold, train fares were trebled. Rents were doubled; charges for domestic gas and central heating were trebled, and the prices of medicines were increased on average by 2.5 times”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report:. . . Albania’, No. 3, 1992; p. 41).
“Wages have not kept up with the explosion in prices”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: 93; : . . . Albania’, 1992; p. 40).
“The volume of savings bank deposits rose 155 times between 1950 and 1978 . . . Until recently Albania claimed to have the world’s highest savings ratio. Hyperinflation since 1991 has wiped out most of these savings”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Profile: . . . Albania’, 1992-93; p. 40).
The new Albanian regime and its supporters claim that the present chaos in Albania is a temporary aberration resulting from the transition to a privatised economy.
But small-scale peasant farming prevents the use of many types of agricultural machinery, and the dividing up of the successful large cooperative farms into smallholdings is an economic step backward. Furthermore, the increasing dependence upon foreign capital will not help forward Albania’s industrial development, but lead towards a a colonial status concentrating on the production of raw materials and export crops.
Increasing Atmospheric Pollution
In the Socialist Republic, the government followed environmental procedures which have been endorsed by experts in the West but not applied. It adopted a policy of cheap and efficient public transport and the virtual prohibition of private cars.
In the name of ‘freedom’, the new regime has reversed this policy:
“By August this year Tirana alone had 6,000 private vehicles, most of them second-hand bought in poor condition. . . . The number of traffic accidents has multiplied and there were 208 fatalities in the first seven months of 1992. . . . The increase in the number of cars, most with badly maintained engines, has also begun to have an effect on pollution levels in the larger towns”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: . . . Albania, No. 4, 1992; p. 43).
The present regime in Albania and its supporters claim that Albania is now a ‘democracy’ in the fullest sense of the term.
But in July 1992 Parliament passed a law banning any political party of a ‘Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist or Enverist’ character. Thereupon,
“. . . the Justice Ministry banned the Albanian Communist Party”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Albania’, No. 3, 1992; p. 39).
The current regime in Albania is clearly not democratic, but neo-Nazi.
Under the Socialist Constitution foreign concessions, foreign credits and joint ventures were prohibited on the grounds that to accept them could only prejudice the national independence of a small state like Albania:
“The granting of concessions to, and the creation of, foreign economic and financial companies and other institutions or ones formed jointly with . . . capitalist monopolies or states, as well as obtaining credits from them, are prohibited”.
(Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania’; op. cit.; p.17).
In consequence, Socialist Albania was unique in having no foreign debt.
The neo-Nazis who run the new regime have, of course, no interest in maintaining Albania’s independence and are quite willing to sell the country to the highest bidder and to convert the proud Albanian people into semicolonial slaves of one or other foreign power.
“Albania’s foreign debt soared from $500 million at the beginning of 1992 to around $800 million by October”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: “Country Report: . . . Albania’, No. 4, 1992; p. 44).
In the generations before Liberation, emigration was a painful sore. But in May 1992 President Sali Berisha appealed to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to encourage
” . . . organised emigration from Albania”. “.
(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,920).
Those who were found guilty under the Socialist regime of political crimes, such as treason, are to be rewarded by the new neo-Nazi regime. Under legislation of the-autumn of 1992,
“former political prisoners and their families would be able to acquire their homes free of charge. . . . Parliament voted at the beginning of September to establish a special fund for their employment, housing and educational needs”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Albania’, No. 4, 1992; p. 42).
Under the Socialist Republic, crime was extremely rare. One felt completely safe in Albanian streets, day or night. Those who visited the Socialist Republic will recall the spectacle of hotel chambermaids running after Albturist buses to return to tourists discarded tubes of tooth-paste!
“Under the Communists there had been little violent crime in Albania”.
(‘Facts on File’, Volume 52, No. 2,679 (26 March 1992); p. 213).
“Violent crime had become commonplace throughout Albania, according to the ‘Washington Post’ March 21 and the ‘Sunday Times’ of London March 22.”
(Facts on File’, ibid.; p 213).
“The December bread riots are symptomatic of a more generalised breakdown in law and order. Armed robbery, racketeering, murder, looting, burglary and drugs related crimes have become commonplace. No one is safe”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report:. . . Albania’, No. 1, 1992; p. 38-39).
The present regime in Albania and its supporters claim that ‘justice’ now reigns in Albania.
But in 1991, it was announced
“Enver Hoxha’s widow, Nexhmije Hoxha, who was arrested in December, is to be tried by a military court on charges of corruption”.
(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Albania: No. 1, 1992; p. 39).
Nexhmije Hoxha, although 72 years old, was not allowed bail, but was kept in prison in solitary confinement for more than a year before her case finally came to court in January 1993.
It then emerged that the state funds alleged to have been ‘misappropriated’ totalled only 885,930 leks (equivalent to E5,900) over 5 years — i.e., E1,180 a year and related to expenditure approved by the Party of Labour for official duties as head of the Democratic Front until December 1990 and as Enver Hoxha’s widow — expenditure which could not possibly have been met from her small official salary of the equivalent of less than E150 a year. No claim was ever made at the trial that she had benefitted personally from these expenditures.
The ‘Observer’ commented:
“The case is flimsy. . . . Witness after witness has come forward, wide-eyed, to sing her praises”.
(‘Observer’, 22 January 1993; p. 10).
“Prosecution witnesses all spoke in Mrs. Hoxha’s defence, describing her as ‘honest’ and ‘modest”‘.
(‘Guardian’, 22 January 1993; p. 10).
Any objective observer must agree with what Nexhmije Hoxha said in her closing address to the court:
“It is crystal clear that the real aim of the trial is to persecute politically the Hoxha family and discredit it in front of public opinion”.
(Closing Argument of Nexhmije Hoxha; Tirana; 26 January 1993).
Yet Nexhmije Hoxha was sentenced by the neo-Nazi military court to 9 years’ imprisonment.
This political persecution is carried out in contemporary Albania against thousands of those who contributed to the establishment of a free, independent and socialist Albania.
A Defender of National Independence
Enver Hoxha led the War of National Liberation of the Albanian people to free the country from Nazi occupation.
In the years that followed Liberation, he led the resistance to -successive pressure from Yugoslavia, the post-Stalin Soviet Union and China to preserve for the Albanian people the right to determine their own destiny.
In the 15th century, the national struggle of the Albanian people against foreign occupation was led by Skanderbeg. Bishop Fan Noli tells us that, when the Turks finally occupied Lezha, they desecrated Skanderbeg’s grave. (Stilian Fan Noli: ‘George Castriot Scanderbeg (1403-1468)’; New York; 1947; p.-70).
After the neo-Nazi traitors of the new ‘democratic’ government of Albania had finally taken power in Tirana, in May 1992
“. . . the remains . . . of Enver Hoxha and 12 other former leaders of the Party of Labour . . . were . . . transferred from the Martyrs’ Cemetery”.
(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,920).
At least the desecration of Skanderbeg’s grave was carried out by foreign unconcealed enemies of Albania. The desecration of Enver Hoxha’s grave has been carried out by Albanians posing as ‘patriots’. But only national traitors could carry out such an act!
We are completely satisfied that when objective history comes to be separated from propaganda, it will be accepted that Enver Hoxha was a statesman of world stature, a dedicated national patriot, and a firm defender of socialism and democracy — in the original meaning of the term as ‘the rule of the common people’.
February 1993, Published from: a private address, Ilford, Essex