Protests are good for the health

Protests are good for the health

By Sonila Meço

Crises and gridlocks also have a positive side: they set your mind in motion.

Albania is going through a heated moment. The opposition has abandoned parliament and has set up the Freedom Tent in the boulevard. A group of residents from Zharra, fed up with the decisions that governments up until today have made, have carried out a historical journey on foot and currently, they are staying in front of the government buildings. Meanwhile, other newly emergent forces are showing civil disobedience, supporting causes against this governing model. And at this important moment, each of us feels insecure because a degraded transition system is not going away and a new model is not emerging. But this crisis is not only ours, this is a crisis which is born in today’s systems and it doesn’t address the fact that people have lost faith.

Zygmund Bauman, a Polish philosopher, who has left behind many studies on the current state of society, shows how our problems are not only ours. The state’s crisis is the first one. This leads to the disappearance of an entity which guarantees individuals an opportunity to solve the problems of our time and with its crisis, it generates other crises, relating to ideologies, political parties and any reference to a community of values which allows the individual to feel part of something that he represents and meets its needs.

The crisis of the community leads to an uncontrolled sense of individualism, where nobody is a comrade of ideals, but an opponent of everyone. Anyone against everyone in a race of protagonism. Now, society has become liquid, without reference points. The concept of justice is lost (the judicial system is considered enemy, political parties are considered instruments of establishments, while media is considered an uncontrolled machinery of consumption).

We all know what the crises of trust caused in societies with older democratic cultures than ours. We all recall the angry movements in Italy, Spain and Greece, we have seen the election of an anti-establishment president of a society more divided than ever in America and we are seeing the strengthening of the position of left wing and right wing extreme parties in France, Germany, etc. In Albania, the lack of civil courage, degradation of civil society, the extinction of unions (for which the head of the government boasts in front of foreign investors), extreme politicization of society have weakened the individual’s political form of expression:

The votes of the people are bought and misused.

Protests are difficult to be held and when they are held, they are prejudiced.

The expression of opinions in public forums has been minimized because media is only open for a small circle.

This has lead to the death of collective thought and political debate no longer relates to us. The ties between the government and the people have become so weak, that they only exist thanks to the authority and obedience. And this is the reason why we have become politically inactive, without a voice, without a role in the changing of political elites which have captured the state. And we’re talking about this monster of a state which has been created, a monster that hates itself up to a point that it bites anything public.

Thus, when collective reaction is not present, the protest becomes a guardian.

The opposition launched such protest, gathering thousands of demonstrators on 18 February and showing its resistance in the tent set up in front of the government’s building. The scope: to guarantee free elections, where the vote is not controlled by people with criminal records and the mind is not affected by the cannabis’ steams. For this, the opposition proposes an interim government and escalation of protest until this objective is met.

On the first day, I was present in the protest along with a group of journalist colleagues. My protest was for those, who like me, feel that the vote acts as an alibi where democracy dies during the counting process.

I was not legitimizing any parties or party logos, but exploiting a civil protest to say that nobody can replace the freedom of speech or freedom of thinking. I wanted to show what I believed in, to show that through arrogance, violence and arbitrariness, the government turns us into mere numbers.

But I was also present in the protest of the residents of Zharrez, which Libra Party joined and I intend on going in every protest which seeks to put an end to a model that reproduces itself in a shameful way, because the citizen needs to be reborn as a being able to thing, reason and react. And in spite of the opportunities that social media have offered to people to express themselves, reaction needs oxygen and a concrete image. Solitary activism doesn’t work and gathering around a cause generates new energies, powers and attention from the media.

Let us speak openly: we are losing values and references, because the model that has been built in decades has been an ugly and aggressive form of capitalism. There has never been a rotation from left to wing and vice versa. There has only been a rotation of people hungry for power, who have only known the left wing during the communist regime and who have made a dictatorship out of the right wing. This is the secret of the big conspiracy theory which is sucking out our hope, because in a state which the current elites have failed so much:

  1. The citizen is considered to be a consumer, whereby democratic rights are exerted by buying and selling.
  2. Public services are privatized and they are controlled by very few people.
  3. Unions which defend the rights of workers have been seen as deformations of the market that damage the natural hierarchy of the loser and winner.
  4. For the people in power, inequality has generated wealth.
  5. If you’re unemployed, according to them, you have no skills.
  6. Militantism has been rewarded with a job.
  7. Investments have not been seen as a way of funding manufacturing and social activities, but as a way purchasing of current assets with the aim of milking them.
  8. Everyone’s scope is to steal national assets and not to create them.

Etc, etc…

In this long tradition, in the middle of a tunnel where we allow no light to come in and illuminate our memory or knowledge, we have told ourselves that we are paying the price for 50 years of dictatorship and isolation.

The political crisis that supplies us with scandals, hides these painful truths. Meanwhile we are consumed in the debate of the reform in justice, which is carried out by the same elite that caused the biggest injustice: it captured our state and our wealth. It criminalized it and reduced it to nothing, introducing crime in parliament.

Therefore, by quietly intimidating, insulting and threatening those people who protest alongside those people who share a joint cause, to put an end to a criminal state model, is the biggest damage that we do to ourselves, because one cannot come out of the autism that the media generates, the discouragement that is generated by the rotation of powers, while the elites are still the same, and the isolation from the establishment that control every asset that belongs to us, through the premise of eternal doubt. When the political class is unable to make decriminalization, when cannabis feeds the voters and the people in power, when the vetting process only applies to the justice system, leaving politics, media and economy out of it, when civil society and unions do not exist, there are two alternatives: to remain intimidated and hopeless by waiting to see where the wave will throw us, or we can show our resistance for a new model, which is not managed by the ordinary players, a model which opens the race, adjusts the electoral process and relieves us from the syndrome of the lesser evil. Let us believe that at least once in these 26 years, we are heading to elections without having the impression that someone is leading us toward a fake political rotation!

*The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line