Bashkimi Newspaper, September 17, 1990
By Dr. Sali Berisha
Check against original.
Democratization of life in our country is taking place as an imperative of the time. The decisions at the last plenum of the Party’s Central Committee and the respective decrees issued by the Chair of the People’s Assembly and the government mark significant steps for the constant and irrevocable development of this crucial process for our future, for progress, and for the social, economic, cultural development of our society. These processes strengthen our people’s relations with other peoples; they promote and do credit to Albania and its increasing integration into progressive European and world developments.
But democratic processes in our country also makes a very precious contribution to the war of our brothers in Kosova. The war, which has: its human ideals and massive participation with an age range from seven to seventy and an ancient and freedom-loving Albanian principle starting from the ’70s of the last century until now; the largest number of martyrs on the continent; the youngest age of martyrs of any democratic or liberating revolution; the stand; the ways; and the civil inspiration that will be unique in the history of contemporary civilization. The platform, the ideology, the means and dimensions of the repression, the massacres and extermination exercised by the Serbs against the Albanian population remain unique in the annals of barbarism and human oppression. Democratic processes are welcomed not only by the Albanians, who live in their own country, but also by those who live in other countries, so the Albanian diaspora.
From this point of view, the democratization of the life of the country is a crucial process for the Albanian issue in general; for the strengthening of the moral and spiritual unity of our nation; and for the establishment of constant national achievements. Here stands the great national dimension of these developments and the origin of all the tasks set forth.
Today more than ever, the time calls for us, the intellectuals, to mobilize our forces, energies and potential in the effort to implement and ever perfect the democratic processes in our country.
Rexhep Qosja says that the truth is the bible of an intellectual, while the people is the god. That means that the truth is a weapon in his struggle, efforts and activities. His force is measured with his stance towards that. He is competent and strong when he says the truth. He will be defeated when the truth is on the other side, but he will be poor and hopeless when he loses it. His stance towards truth also indicates the essence of the moral of the intellectual. That is the demarcation line between him and the pseudo-intellectual, who doesn’t protect the interest of society but, on the contrary, becomes a dangerous deceiver of society.
So, the first and eternal duty of every intellectual is to persevere in seeking, discovering, exposing, affirming, re-affirming, verifying and re-verifying the truth, in separating it from the half-truth and the false. This is not for positivism but, first and foremost for the development of new ideas, viewpoints, concepts and attitudes, which will be implemented in making policies in all fields. Second, for the implementation of methods, knowledge, techniques, procedures, and new experiments to follow contemporary developments. Third, for the affirmation and establishment of achievements, which present the powerful basis for our progress. We should keep in mind that, although experience teaches a lot, its fetishism can obstruct development. So, the practice and the activity, which were once efficient and useful, may prove outdated and harmful in new conditions.
So, an intellectual, who is loyal to the truth, can fulfill his noble mission of creating spiritual, cultural, artistic and scientific values for his nation. Only in that way can he become a forerunner of the future, that is its designer. He will be able to write clearly in the great book of his remarkable predecessors, whose geniality has been shaped in all the great creative acts of our history. Only in that way will he be able to serve to his god, that is his people, and make his contribution to these processes, which require the change of the people and reality in a proportional ratio, referring in this respect also to Marx’s thesis that “history does nothing, people do everything.”
But while most people consider the democratization of our society as a crucial process for the present and future of the country, as it in fact is, the anti-democratic elements and conservative forces, who are neither small in number nor without power, think differently. These forces do not represent a certain generation – not even the generation that took part in the war. Those people, who in their youth stood arm in arm for national freedom and human dignity, cannot have different opinions about human rights and freedoms.
Conservatives and anti-democrats are all those state-employees and bureaucrats who allowed various illegal privileges for themselves. But now, though it’s time for them to give up these privileges, these people behave just like the mean man, who tells and believes his own lie. They think that these privileges are legal. But the keen professional eye of the people-doctor is not mistaken while making a social diagnosis.
Anti-democrats are all the fanatics, intolerant people and all those who prefer monism (possibly only their own monism) to pluralism. But there cannot be democracy without democrats. Monism (uniform thinking) bears critical social consequences. It’s true that uniform thinking unifies it, but as any other uniform (such as doctors’ or soldiers’ uniforms) it hides more than it reveals. The Latin proverb “As many heads, as many ideas” states perfectly the eternal pluralist character of human thinking. A monist audience, assembly or society are simply illusions.
Dogmatists are also afraid of giving up their dogmas, old ways and prejudices. Surely, they can not present themselves as men of an assembly because to be an assembly man means to respect the force of an argument, or other’s opinion, while in fact dogmatist use slogans and labels. But the dogmatists and the conservatives should not neglect the fact that the psychology of a people, whose main age group is the youth, cannot agree with dogmas, prejudices, old ideas and policies.
Democratic processes frighten also all those people who do not respect the law and all those who believe the new norms and criteria only apply to others. But a strict enforcement of all the laws, norms and rules make up the alpha of democracy.
Conservatives and anti-democrats are also all those state employees who think they are the owners of democracy or they consider democracy as a medicine, which can be given to the others as much as they think appropriate and ideal. But they forget that democracy stems from the people and belongs to them.
In this respect, parasites and hopeless people join the conservatives. The democratic processes close many of these ways.
In brief, democratization is not simply a pain but a real social agony for these people.
For this reason, they try to obstruct, render difficult, decelerate and deny the development of these processes using various means, ways and mechanisms. In these circumstances, open discussions and people’s opinions and ideas become very important. To this end, different forms are used from radio and TV interviews conducted with people in the streets to numerous meetings and letters.
I think that sociological and psychological studies should have a very important place in the current cultural and educational developments of our society. Being directly related to the society, they can play a very important role in the democratization of life in the country.
It is very useful to carry out socio-psychological studies based on the qualitative and quantitative techniques of analyzing opinions of certain age-groups and strata of society. This enables a proper identification and recognition of people’s opinions, evaluations, concerns, objectives and motives about a certain issue.
These studies provide accurate information about the dimensions and tendencies of phenomena. They allow a thorough analysis of the reasons encouraging people to develop their opinions, attitudes or behaviors. So, through these studies we can discover the social and psychological mechanisms of different behaviors, opinions and attitudes.
Studies carried out with these approaches will identify our society’s interests, likes and dislikes. This will enable the design of social policies. Comparing the two polls about smoking conducted in the secondary schools of Tirana, we saw that the anonymous poll proved the prevalence of the phenomena was three times more than in the poll conducted among pupils who identified themselves.
Anonymous polls are an opportunity to express one’s opinion freely; they enable people to avoid self-censure; and they allow a scientific analysis of the attitudes, motives and objectives of the society. Such polls represent some sort of mini-referendum about the problems of its focus. Anonymous polls to identified polls are like secret ballot to open ballot. So, meetings, letters or other forms cannot replace the value of such studies.
If we analyze our meetings we will notice that, regardless of the changes taking place, they suffer from conformism, which constitutes the main mechanism of their inflation.
This happens because of personal interests and servility. Conformism is one of the biggest dangers for the personality of a man. Albert Einstein warned that the danger of conformism for the ruin of a man’s personality is “bigger than the danger of the atomic bomb or hunger.” But we should not forget that figures can be manipulated. Different concerns or issues expressed in one or two of the polls may become victims of the state administration’s pen.
Comrade Ramiz Alia, in his speech at the meeting of the General Council of the Democratic Front of Albania, emphasized: “The tradition of assemblies and discussions of the people of villages or meeting rooms (oda), where not only old wise men or other men, but also women and young people are involved, are very popular and democratic.” This evokes a very precious tradition, which is completely democratic, and which helped the Albanians to keep their free and independent views. Albanians were killed, burned and destroyed during all their history of efforts, battles and enduring patience, but their views were never spoilt. This reminds one of Socrates’ line: “Aliti and Meliti can kill me, but they will never manage to harm me.”
It’s true that men’s meeting rooms did not have imposing presidiums, chiefs, directors, secretaries or chairmen as in our meetings, but we should not forget that they had heterogeneous composition and they always had people enjoying good reputations and positions for that time. However, they expressed their opinions freely and they had a very high cultural standard of communication. So, the freedom of thinking and expression was their first ancient law. That made them, as our scholars say, play “the role of the halls of different countries in all of Europe, where the first sparks were produced to be changed later into flames of numerous national and social revolutions.”
But we can ask the question: what was the guarantee of a perfect pluralism in those meeting rooms? Apparently, the owner of the house, so nobody else. But it was only apparently. Because in fact a single man, regardless who he was and how powerful he was, could not have been a real and sound guarantee. It was something else, which belonged to everyone and which was protected by everyone. That was the kanun, one of the most ancient, firm and great juridical systems so far, which stated that the house of the Albanian was the house of the friend and God and that the Albanian men were equal in front of this strict law. Despite its shortcomings, due to the circumstances of that time, the kanun and its articles did not close the mouth of the Albanian man or darken his mind. On the contrary, it opened his mouth and sharpened his mind.
None of these articles consider someone’s opinion expressed freely in the men’s meeting room (oda e burrave) or assembly as a social crime. On the contrary, it was considered as human honor, duty and dignity. It gave to our meeting rooms and assemblies such a pluralism, which did not prevent, but rather helped them to take balanced political decisions and to choose the right strategy and tactic for the national movement, which kept our nation from falling into the dark holes of history, a misfortune that befell many other nations.
Also, if we refer to history, it’s clear and undeniable that large national assemblies, where great historical decisions for the country have been taken, were politically pluralistic.
The same goes also for alliances during wars, when people pledged their faith to fight enemies without compromise. Following that tradition, now the people’s assemblies in Kosovo, with a great moral force, changed vice into virtue, or the crime of killing each other was changed into maturity, force and energy to forgive and achieve national unity, which shows that Albanians are a people of reconciliation.
In pluralism our people developed its national culture and philosophy, that is Albanianism, which presents the universal essence of every Albanian man and the arm, which Albanians used to survive in the long darkness of history. For this reason, Comrade Ramiz Alia, in his speech at the meeting of the General Council of the Democratic Front of Albania, emphasized that if political, cultural and economic problems have to be addressed, then different opinions should be considered, and the pluralist treatment of ways to implement them is natural.
To this end, our people’s high standard of humanism constitutes a powerful support for the processes of democratization. Democracy and humanism are an inseparable duo, which did not arise from pacts or universities, but were based on great human feelings and spirit. Considering human beings as the superior creature, humanism implies respect for human rights.
In this article I briefly addressed some problems, not due to my nostalgia or ethno-psychological passions, but as a citizen to express my belief that our present and future have a precious democratic inheritance, because although our people lack some of the legislative structures of democracy, our people possess a democratic spirit. On the contrary, this existed in one of the greatest and firmest codes of human rights and it was and will be the foundation of our democratic national ideal. This is a precious opportunity and treasure for the further development and perfection of our democracy.