The Corner

National Security & Defense

‘Sole Force,’ They Called Him

At a Christmas party for Labour staff, the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, quoted Enver Hoxha — which is shocking news. Labour has a Christmas party? (Surely they don’t call it a Christmas party.)

Corbyn described Hoxha as a “tough ruler.” And his quote of Hoxha was the following: “This year will be tougher than last year.”

There is a chapter on Hoxha, and his brood, in my book Children of Monsters. Indeed, it was Hoxha who prompted my book: While in Albania, I wondered what it must be like to be his son or daughter. Let me remind you about the old man:

Enver Hoxha ruled Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985. His Communism was practically on the North Korean level: total, crushing, absolute. Life in Poland or Hungary was easy by comparison. Hoxha’s Albania was very much a hermit kingdom: No one entered the country, and no one left it.

We should pause for a matter of pronunciation: “Hoxha” is pronounced approximately “HO-djah.” …

Hoxha idolized Stalin, whom he imitated. Like Stalin — and like the Kims and many others — he imprisoned, tortured, and killed his political opponents. Nothing was left to chance, no crease was allowed. Religion in Albania was banned. One of Hoxha’s titles, bestowed by the Party, was “Sole Force.”

In the early 1960s, he broke relations with the Soviet Union, deeming the Kremlin under Khrushchev too liberal. He broke relations with China after the death of Mao, on the same grounds. Albania had its own style of juche [the Kims’ philosophy] — its own expression of insane isolation. Hoxha spent precious government funds on concrete bunkers. There were 750,000 of these, in a nation of 3 million. The bunkers were supposed to defend against invaders whom Hoxha was always warning about. Private ownership of cars was banned. In the last years of Albanian Communism, there was famine.

One could go on (and I do, in my book).

Jeremy Corbyn chose an interesting word to describe Hoxha: “tough.” As tough as Pol Pot, who, with his Khmer Rouge, killed between a fifth and a quarter of the Cambodian population? Hoxha did not knock off so high a percentage of Albanians. Squish.

In Children of Monsters, I quote a son of Idi Amin, Taban, who assumed a position in state security about ten years ago: “Amin ruled in the 1970s. Now it is 2006. It is a different time. Amin’s name is so tough in Uganda that some people are scared.”

“Tough.” Ladies and gentlemen, Labourites have chosen for their leader a genuine red. This is bad news for Britain and bad news for the democratic West. The totalitarian temptation is a constant. It must be guarded against, and combatted, constantly.

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