Historically, Albanian rebellions have taken the form of destroying mini-busts. History tells of Gjergj Kastrioti, Ismail Qemali, Zogu, and Enver Hoxha. The history I studied at school taught me about demigodly heroes, or about real historic characters from legends. It taught me about a general who grew up at the court of an immense empire, with powers exceeding that of USA today. He achieved the highest rank “Skandër” and while having a poor knowledge of language he successfully united all principalities. Even though Ottomans didn’t allow the teaching of Albanian language at school, he used it like a true orator. His values were not only mythological but rather prophetic. There weren’t only muscles and swords but there was also the muscle. I mean that he passed on his prophecy through his tongue. Despite not having a place where to practice Albanian, he could persuade the stubborn Albanian princes in a revolt against the emperor.
Personally I find this rather hard to believe. The history I was taught in school didn’t mention the Illyrian kings enough, who could have possibly named one of the biggest ports in Europe, Marseille (the word marr “to take,” and the word sjell “to bring”). History then taught me the story of a former minister who possessed some kind of superpower. He led our independence, and he became a self-made king who aided the Yugoslavs and an Italian dictator. The latter was supported by the king with a grant and came to power aided by the same clan who had brought the king. Change didn’t come from an inner rebellion. Leaders were either brought from abroad, or, in the best case scenario, were created by foreign clans.
26 years ago in Shkodra, the bust of Stalin was pulled down. At the same date, the 14th, but in month of July 1790, the French remember their National Day, the storming of the Bastille. The whole world honors the French Revolution. Every year, Albanians commemorate the fall of a bust instead of the French Revolution or the Fall of the Wall in Berlin. A heroic act created by some and praised by others. I am rather young and I believe that there isn’t a person in Albania who doubts the bravery of those people or who doesn’t cherish the hope for Albania to become a European country. Albanians recognize the significance of the rebellion, the sacrifice and the courage to go against the bloodiest regime in Europe. But like all other Albanian revolution stories, something doesn’t sound right about it.
The fall of the bust of Stalin resembles that of Hussein in 2003, in Baghdad. Not only for the physiological resemblance of the tyrants, but for the fact that these events did not bring major changes. We were the last to be granted independence from the Ottoman Empire, and we were the last in Europe to exit a communist dictatorship. We were the last to be liberated from the Nazi fascists. We kicked a bust that was falling, a system that had run its time. The regime was a hard one and change was inevitable.
What did we bring with the collapse of the minibusts?! While we pulled down big busts and little busts, we swarmed in the boulevards and hoped; at the same time we demolished and destroyed factories and industries, we crowded embassies and rubber boats. We killed each other, but we didn’t jail any persecutors. Our courage was only shown when bringing down the busts. The busts fell one after the other but the communist culture remained. The backward communist ideology and culture live to these days.
We also brought a political class that hasn’t come out of the infamous meeting room with Ramiz Alia yet. The media and the economy are still in that room. To this day, the former communist ministers lead commissions and parliamentary groups. In the parliament we brought criminals, bought-out journalists, deformed artists, and as a result we created a disoriented economy.
We brought something positive too, the government of 2005–2009, but we were quick to slap it in the face. In 2013 we brought a tumor that thwarted development in 2009. The so-called Rilindja that first kills bank officials and later buys off the bank, that jails youth for possessing 1.8 grams of weed, while mocking us with the planes transporting drugs, that buys off the media, that threatens you… and the black list of Rilindja values knows no end.
We surely are an experimental people that were saved due to our geographical position. Our biggest heroes are the persecuted people, those who were incarcerated, killed, and latter mocked. Therefore the best solution is a “chutzpah” to really rebel. If one day we find the “chutzpah” we need, then we will have hope. Only that day the government will be subdued, the opposition will get frightened, and the superpowers will take our people seriously. We need mad courage for a lengthy revolution. It is time to transcend the demolition of busts. We have many reasons for this, the jewels of the queen were sufficient for the French. There is only a technical problem, they had Rousseau, Voltaire, Robespierre who led them ideologically, we do not have anyone.
Note: Chutzpah is mad courage in Hebrew, I will be writing about this at another time.