Letter: Albania reverts to old habits

Share
Related Topics
Sir: Andrew Gumbel ("God save us. God save Albania", 14 March) is right to point out how the polarisation of opinion between "left" and "right" among British commentators is confusing policy towards the current emergency in Albania. Unfortunately, political position-taking is also making it all the harder to interpret current developments.

Albanian politics cannot be understood in simple West European terms of left versus right. Much of what masquerades as politics in Albania is instead informed by clientage, personal allegiance and clan affiliation, all of which cut through conventional ideological positions. These loyalties are often reinforced by business and criminal connections.

On top of this, Albanian society has never recognised a distinction between public and private spheres. Public offices have therefore been perceived as private perquisites, to be plundered at the beneficiary's will. In this respect, there has been little difference in attitudes between the inter-war Zogist,the post-war Stalinist and the current Berisha regimes.

After 1945, Albania experienced decades of harsh Communist rule under which political power was understood to be the private possession of a small governing elite. Over the last few years, the successor governments have found it increasingly hard to maintain Stalinist levels of coercion, and have gradually had to relinquish power over the society they inherited.

More recently, the ruling Democrat Party has been entirely discredited as a consequence of the failure of the pyramids in which it is widely believed to have been a major stakeholder. With the contraction of the state and the damage done to its already tenuous legitimacy, Albanian society has begun to revert to its historic, pre-modern form.

Albania is now dissolving into the condition in which it entered the twentieth century: riven by faction, clan and blood feud, and divided by regionalism, custom and dialect. Categories of "left" and "right" will not help us explain the current tragedy.

Dr MARTYN RADY

Senior Lecturer in Central European History

University of London

London WC1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work at ...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week