Culture Accepts Only Democracy

Speech by Preç Zogaj to the Democratic Party’s first National Congress

Rilindja Demokratike

October 2, 1991

Last year when the first intellectual opinions were published and when the people had hope for the coming democracy, so in 1990, which I consider a touchstone for the most efficient and qualified forces, the regime was challenged with life or death. It was proved that the candle of culture was not extinguished but, on the contrary, that the holy source of light was guiding our path towards a land of democracy and prosperity. Intellectuals, writers, artists, and journalists used their intelligence and courage to abolish the social and cultural policies of the party-state with its slavo-bolshevik principles and practices of the robot-man; the man who was a prison to himself; literature, which was a servant to the Party; the ordered art, etc.

Logical and new creativity, especially in poetry, painting, and writing, issued a death sentence to the so-called socialist realism. The attack on Enver Hoxha’s thesis, according to which the writers and artists help the party to carry out the communist education of the masses, marked the fall of his failed work. That was a signal for the revival of our nation. The people of culture completed their mission to guide and encourage future historical changes. These bearers of democracy naturally joined the student movement of December from the start; they protested together with them; they contributed to the foundation of the Democratic Party; they joined Azem Hajdari, Arben Imami, Sali Berisha, Gramoz Pashko, Eduard Selami, Arben Demeti and other organizers of the DP; they joined Frrok Çupi, Mitro Çela, Petraq Kolevica, Teodor Keko, Ilirian Zhupa, Kujtim Çashku and others to enable and support the publishing of the first opposition newspaper, Rilindja Demokratike. They were united to overthrow dictatorship and to build a democratic Albania. The massive participation of intellectuals, writers and artists in the democratic movement has encouraged people to approach the DP. At the same time, the DP’s vision of culture clears the way for qualitative developments and work as it is based on the freedom of expression and freedom of ideas. A new culture and art will be developed, incomparable in many aspects to what existed until now. While considering the inherited work, we should take care not to throw the baby out with the bath water. This is a typical cultural attitude as opposed to the total denial resembling a crusade, which is insulting to our people and history. As I have already said: none of us, and none of all those to come, has discovered this country only now. This inspires and should inspire the constructive orientation and realization of the DP. Based on our tradition, we should identify and develop some very important values, such as humanism, tolerance and mercy, understanding and justice, which were destroyed by the Labor Party using the class struggle. To this end, the contribution of everyone, especially the contribution of emancipated intellectuals is required.

I feel and I say that, as an evident and painful paradox of the democratic movement in Albania, many well-known young and old personalities of our culture, those who accelerated the process and those who were involved in the democratic revolution, are not seen lately at DP. In pluralist conditions everybody has the right to join the alternative that he or she appreciates; everybody can take his/her own decision on how and where to contribute to democracy. The alternatives are no longer imposed, and I don’t want to impose my opinion to anyone but, ladies and gentlemen, you can also notice that the representatives of literature, art and science are so few in this hall. At least for me, this is a major concern. And I hope and believe it is for you too, because everyone should seriously worry about this.

Where are those representatives of the Art Academy, those boys and girls who last summer in the conditions of a mono-party system gave one of the most open democratic lectures to the rulers of that period? Where are “the rebels of the Conference of Literature in Korça,” who publicly in the presence of the authorities protected Ismail Kadare, two days after official Tirana had condemned his departure in the most cynical and banal way? Where are our great future writers, so those students, who in a December night appealed for the demonstration, placed their courageous and clever friend, Mr. Azem Hajdari, at the head of the demonstration and turned towards Tirana? Where are those intellectuals who wrote the tragic truth in the newspapers and appealed: Open the windows!

All those people joined thre DP and Rilindja Demokratike at the beginning. They were a part of this Party, but it is really a concern to lose such supporters and members at a time when the aim is to attract new members and supporters to the Party.

We have declared that we will be and we should be an open party of the intellectual type. So, we can say that expelling members shows our shortcomings. I do not mean thieves and/or traffickers, who really deserve that. I mean common people and especially intellectuals, who are able to develop opinions and to be listened to widely.

The militants of the Labor Party were happy to expel intellectuals.

This hate came from their ignorance and their possessive attitude regarding their posts and titles. However, intellectual opinion and ignorance, these two irreconcilable notions, coexist in a very specific ratio. The first tries to give light to the second, while the second takes the first one away on purpose, though it declares itself as protecting the intellectual view.

I had to recall these facts to give an end to such intentions of preferring obedience to independent opinion. I should also say that any separation from intellectuals leads the parties towards the left. Finally, I would like to express my hope that Oriana Fallaci’s conclusion – “history teaches nothing to nobody” – will not be proved here.

Not to prove this conclusion as true and to have more light and space for intellectuals within DP, it is reasonable to ask: Why? Why are there so few intellectuals, people of art, culture and science in the DP branches? Why were there so few delegates from this contingent? Why do only mediocre level journalists write for Rilindja Democratike? Why are the qualified writers who worked at its beginning avoided?

Regarding this I would like to mention only the factors having to do with the role of the Party, which according to my opinion are:

Democracy within the party is not at the right level. The initiatives for dialogue and democratic debate have quite often been paralyzed using the argument of “the state security agent.” But how can an intellectual accept to be depersonalized closing his/her mouth and eyes before the party’s shortcomings, because if he/she acts differently they will be called an “agent of the Sigurimi”? How can the opinion and philosophy of a party develop in these conditions? Our country had a very bad experience on this point. And the people will not support us if this happens again. The people support us because they aspire for democracy, but they can abandon us if we disappoint their aspirations. Here a contradiction emerges between the party and culture, which agrees only with democracy. This contradiction can be resolved by enriching and encouraging the diversity of opinions within the party but based on the program of the party.

The people see us. The democratic culture of everyone and democracy within the party are what we will provide to the people when we have power. There cannot be two democracies: one for the party and one for tomorrow. Nobody believes this. So, I insist that in the name of attracting many people to the party we should further democratize the party and ourselves.

The diversity of the opinions and the existence of tendencies lead to more efficient and mature decisions, as opposed to the euphoria and spontaneity expressed in some declarations, which have deeply affected the DP. I think that any action or decision should be based on an analysis of the negative and positive effects. In this framework I think that the earlier elections issue should be discussed in a special meeting of the National Council, to be elected in this Congress, and where due consideration should be given to the economic, political, and social factors. This meeting will decide on the appropriate time for these elections, which we should win.

I know that writers, intellectuals, and artists are for democracy. Our attempt for the democracy constitutes a guarantee to attract them and I believe this will happen.

In the change of our historical epochs, a door has been opened for the DP. Let us pass through this door, as a French writer says, with our breast and not our back.

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About Fred Abrahams

Author of Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy (NYU Press, 2015)

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