Fire in the fire department – who will save us? – Go out
How could their academic brains surrender to the brash nature of hope? This embarrassing question must now be confronted with all those political scientists who have courageously defined the post-dictatorial countries as “transitional democracies”. They believed that after the dissolution of communism, countries would emerge from the difficulties of their past with a smile and slowly embrace democracy. Then kiss him. And then become it.
After all, “the story was over,” so there was no chance of surprises. Conversely, judging the other side of the coin, it was because “the story was over” that it would also fail to evolve. The fall of communism made most countries unable to shape a healthy political environment that would guarantee a foundation built on the separation of powers and respect for differences. The majority of these countries remained confined to the mania of the omnipotence of the new rulers and thus remained infected with the same old patterns of state building.
This homecoming was also faced by Albania in the 90s. The philosophy imposed by the leader of “either with me or against me” has flourished in all the veins of the political system. These strange rebels who dared to act in any other way were threatened, beaten or worse. Fred Abraham in his book “ Modern Albania ” wittily captures the whole panorama in one sentence: “At the time, Albania was not ruled, but ruled”.
Such a lack of political freedom deprived the transition of its short-term nature, prolonging it instead. The political apparatus therefore remains a severe hierarchical system which obliterates the openness to oppress originality. This setting allows the incumbent to load the political system with indebted people whose only merit is their dedication to rewarding the leader’s belief by doing whatever is asked of him. Thus, the philosophy imposed by the leader for government affairs became: “Those of you who follow me, I give my heart. For those of you who do not follow me, I give the law. A simple aesthetic progress, which leaves the substance of Albanian politics unchanged: an eternal fetish for divine control.
Democracy was built on the paradigm that pluralism of thought ensures the quality of decision-making processes. The collision of contrasting ideas removes all that is weak, unnecessary, or ill-intentioned. Only the beneficial survives. This is true for every act of fabrication and even truer for the quintessential creation: politics. To serve its reality-enhancing purpose, policy is tied to the outcome of heterogeneous interests vested in policy making. When no multiplicity is maintained, such a result becomes rare and degrades everyday life instead of raising it. Deprived of diversity, the political environment is brutalized in an empty space subject to arbitrary will, thus becoming quite dangerous; just as dangerous as a fire in the fire department. This not only runs the risk of ruining itself, but also of failing to save others.
The monolithic structure of Albanian politics degenerates the power from an instrument to directly confront reality, into an agent of eternal charge. This is the case of the last elections, where OSCE observers said that the “The ruling party has benefited significantly from its office, notably through its control over local administrations and the misuse of administrative resources.” Power for power thus becomes a poison that perverts all aspects of public life.
Parliament is crowded with people who represent no political idea but rather flattering loyalty. Worse yet, as this election has brutally taught us, lawmakers can be filled with people with heavy pockets associated with the revival of organized crime, who are now organizing votes.
The pockets are heavy, for the mass of corruption is great. This is the mantra of a system based not on meritocracy, but on people whose loyalty must be bought. This creates a particular demand which is satisfied by the 6 billion euros that the High Council of State reports, eliminated from corruption in public procurement over the last 7 years. The US State Department and the European Commission have also stated in their annual report that the level of corruption is of great concern in Albania.
But the most candid witnesses of this corrosive phenomenon are our peaceful ears, always greeted by the exhibitionist noise of cars priced at € 150,000. In a country that has an average salary of € 426.19. This noise triggers a sadistic reminder of the growing inequalities of an economic system designed to satisfy the monolithic structure, improperly redistributing the income stream. For 2019, statistics from the Deposit Insurance Agency show that 3% of Albanians have a total of around € 4.1 billion in bank deposits, while 97% of individuals have around € 3.2 billion. . According to Eurostat, over the past 7 years Albanian income per capita has increased by 1,560 euros, while that of Montenegro has almost doubled.
“How come they are so lucky” is a question that will never receive an answer in a media environment crumpled by the lack of enforced freedom. The most telling example is the attempted new media law, which allows the politically controlled Audiovisual Authority to impose heavy fines on any online media without a court order. Because of this arbitrariness, censorship and self-censorship precede all attempts to accurately expose the problems of society. The void they leave is replaced by a powerful authority-led PR machine, which attempts to dictate all public debate, allowing the incumbent (to put it in terms of the time) to stand 1.5 meters away. of any responsibility.
Now all is not black and white. The fact that this column can be written and read represents a certain degree of openness. But as Norman Cousins said, “History is a vast early warning system”, informing the inclinations of those in power. So that the trends of the past do not become the norms of the future, it is necessary to capitalize on this degree of freedom. That leaves us with the stinging question:
Who will carry out the rescue mission?
It sounds like a pretty dramatic question because it’s not our life at stake; just the quality of it. But what is life, if it’s not worth living? The dramatic therefore becomes necessary.
The political environment in Albania obscures openness because the unusual and unpredictable nature that accompanies it poses a threat to the established. Therefore, it is only common sense that for openness to prevail, the monolithic structure of Albanian politics must be hammered out precisely with what it fears most: novelty.
This antidote can only be exploited by an unwavering determination to turn our political status into an active one. Only after that can we try to place ourselves at the center of the old politics with style, display courage for new engagement, inventiveness for new ideas, nonconformism for new ways of organizing and brilliance for new policies. If this difficult first step can be taken, constructive and pragmatic criticism of the current political system will subsequently form not only an opposing norm, but also an attractive alternative. In doing so, the political environment would have acquired a certain acuteness with which it could eliminate the vestiges of the past system and tackle the 30-year transition in Albania.
After all, when the fire department catches fire, you can’t just run around with your arms raised and your morals lowered. Just grab a bucket full of water instead! There is no guarantee of success, but a certain satisfaction in trying. For there is nothing more tragic in this world than unrealized potential. It thus becomes evident that the “Who will carry out the rescue mission?” The dilemma can only be solved by this delightfully optimistic, relentlessly self-hoping and power-unleashed question: If not us, then who?
Dosti banushi is a young political activist with considerable experience in Albanian civil society and the media. He obtained his BA in Political Science from the University of Tirana and the University of Granada.