I'm reading Blendi Fevziu's biography of Enver Hoxha, the one that was recently burned in Ferizaj by the “National Front for Cultivation of Revolutionary Work of Enver Hoxha” (yes, that’s what it’s really called). I want to know more about what he was like as a person. How did he manage to keep 4 million people under his thumb for so long? What was it about him? I expected to read something about how he was a great leader, or played a key role in the Albanian resistance against the Fascists, or had a burning desire to bring social equality to Albania, whatever. Ironically, the thing that characterizes Hoxha is how painfully mediocre he was.
He was never a good student, or a leader of men, or a brave fighter. He wasn't really good at much, except befriending people and then betraying them. Hoxha became our mythical Enver Hoxha only after every Communist who was smarter, braver or more popular than him was arrested and executed. History was rewritten and it was like they had never existed. It feels like this is the lesson of Hoxha: Mediocre people use brutality and mythology to cover their ineptness.
Hoxha turned into a national liberator without ever having fired a gun at a Nazi or a Fascist. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has somehow become the George Washington of Kosovo, without having liberated Kosovo. The context is different, but the concept is the same. Thaci is not the monster that Hoxha was, but they have mediocrity in common. Mediocrity breeds insecurity, and insecurity in a prime minister means a government that doesn't work with opposition parties on issues, but breeds petty personal conflicts and painful press conferences such as this one. The problem isn't individuals like Thaci. The problem is a system that lets small Thacis turn into big Thacis. They are tragically simple. They don't see and don't care about the consequences of their decisions. Their immediate comfort feels more real to them than the vague notion of “the people.” When they are frightened they are obedient, and when they feel powerful they are bullies. They are easily threatened by people who might know more than they do.
One of the few blessings history gave Kosovo is the memory of a civil resistance. The University of Prishtina's Student Parliament announced on Saturday that they want to organize a protest against the mismanagement of the north, in the spirit of the student protests of the 1980s. I hope that the student body is as political as it once was – not political in the sense of supporting one useless party over another, but political in the sense of caring about a greater good. It needs to happen, again and again until the country is immobilized, until the people who raise their hands for us in the National Assembly are forced to listen. I hope that this isn't a protest that happens once, gets covered by four outlets and then is forgotten.
A Kosovo with a low tolerance for mediocrity could look like the best of what we want. We Kosovars are a strange group of people. We expect our mechanics and hairdressers to be experienced and professional, but we are OK with voting for the inept and the corrupt as long as they are members of the “right” party. We stop going to mechanics who overcharge and to hairdressers who ruin our hair, but we keep voting for people who make catastrophic decisions on our behalf. We keep voting for people who don’t care about me, or you, or anyone else but themselves and their party. Any citizen of Kosovo reading this, you are the boss of the National Assembly. It's time to start acting like it.
The article was originally written in English.
Illustration: Yuta Onoda
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