Tag Archives: Albanian politics

Faust from Tirana

After reading the title of monodrama “Faust from Tirana” a showpiece in an alternative setting, I was keened on going to this event. I’m glad I did, since it turned to be beautiful piece, perfectly adopted in the our context, done with an absolute low budget, but still reflecting much care, passion and desire to convey a powerful message to viewers. Staged at the premises of Tirana Express, in a modest, improvised stage located in a run-down post industrial environment of communist era, created the perfect setting for this performance – the transition of Faust from Tirana.

But let’s get to our personage and his inner drama. Faust from Tirana is an upset, disappointed intellectual looking back 22 years later after the fall of communist regime in 1991, displeased about the failure of his generation dreams and high hopes. It carries a powerful political message of a lost generation of the early 90’s, young intellectuals who’s dreams and aspirations for a democratic society adhering to EU values and integration are shattered. Transition between systems was longer then expected, full of unresolved issues which have captured every cell of our society like a chronic disease.

As in the original legend where Faust decides that a pact with Mephistopheles (devil) is the only way to fulfill his ambitions, Faust from Tirana suffered a deep emotional drama, an inner conflict on which path to follow: A pact with the devil (here it refers to politics) is the way to succeed, with the condition that as individual he will loose his privacy, his identity, his soul, become a clown in the eyes of his family and lead an absolute mediocre life. The lifestyle of a man who wakes up in the morning, drinks his coffee, goes out and bargains, comes back and sleeps. While shutting the door to Mephistopheles, abolishing the pact with the devil means being left alone, idle, un-accomplished, unrealized, without the dignity and the respect that an intellectual like Faust deserves. It’s the portrait of an unhappy “looser” who never went that far “to succeed”.

The dilemma of our Faust intensifies the moment in which he questions the very foundation of his life. Whether his reality has any longer a meaning, value or purpose triggered by the traumatic loss of his dear Margaret, is indeed a crucial moment in his existential crisis. In one hand, becoming a politician is both pragmatist and mediocre solution which he never found appealing. While feeling alone, isolated from the world, with no external meaning, he appreciates his own mortality. But ending it would that make a difference? Would that impact the world if he doesn’t wake up on the next morning? The harsh reality hits in. The life of the mediocre will continue with the same habits, in the same patterns. Therefore, committing suicide does not seem to be the solution either. The resolution of Faust from Tirana is left to the public to decide. The message stays strong and powerful, given in an artful and professional way by the production team and tremendous acting of Alfred Trebicka. If you get the chance, don’t miss this monodrama.

The home made Albanian Bourgeoisie

The old Chinese proverb “Fu bu guo san dai,” or “Wealth never survives three generations”, could have a grim of truth in itself, as we randomly have seen it happening throughout history. Looking back over the last 100 years of Albanian independence as a state of its own, with several political systems (monarchy, communism, democracy) and social-economic dynamics is still hard to point out the bourgeoisie (upper class) holding on to their money for three straight generations. Not to mention here the lack of established royalty. As we frequently hear in people’s conversations when recalling Hoxha’s time “…back in communism we were all the same”.

If a foreigner will read this, he/she might get confused with my reference to middle and upper class in Albania. Why so, since these are pretty straightforward and self explanatory concepts? So, let’s straighten this up for our international friends. Dear Friends, in your developed society professionals such as politicians, ministers, presidents, attorneys in law, judges, builders, businessmen are considered middle class. Well, not in Albania. Just for the sake of it, I took a flash “mini survey” with friends and co-workers. I asked them who are the richest in Albania. The absolute unanimous answer was THE Politicians. And unlike in other consolidated democracies the above mentioned professions make the newly rich Albanian Bourgeoisie. While professionals like economists, journalists, teachers, professors, administrators, technicians electricians, small businessmen, etc. are the remaining middle class which I’m also part of. We mind our own business and we are certainly the least influential in public policy making process. Therefore, the self exclusion of the newly rich from the middle class, creates a non-representation of our interests in the society.  In addition, the situation becomes even more abnormal due to the rather small base of the middle class (since a considerable percentage is at the lower and extreme poverty levels). What the hell am I saying: I’m part of a weak middle class who does not serve as the engine of growth, the advocator of social values and human rights, and the backbone of a state run by laws instead of by strongmen? Sadly, maybe!

Not only our newly rich Bourgeoisie is the upper class, but to some extent they also could be seen as “royals”.  What pushes forward an issue to the top political agenda apart from its importance in a normal democracy is mainly the lobbing of interest groups and constituents’ pressure toward their political representations. In contrast, here the constituents’ pressure happens to be only in one day, on the Election Day. In 16 years as a voter I never met with my political representative in Tirana, neither write to his/her staff on an issue since they are publicly invisible. As a foreign student in US and non-US citizen I once wrote to my congressmen regarding my scholarship status. Here’s how.

I could go on for hours with pros and cons on the traits of the newly rich, but that’s not important here. What’s crucial is their way of governing. What I desperately hope to see is that we immediately find “a pill” to this sickness. It is very wrong to be governed by a political class which holds deep the interest of the 0.5% rich guys and leaves ignored, neglected beyond belief the needs of the rest. Politicians are there to make and enforce public policies. We don’t vote them to tailor policies as if were to be their own dresses.