Lea Ypi is Free

If a bird is born and grows in a cage, it believes the cage is the world

So it was for Lea Ypi (read Upi), now a professor of political philosophy at the London School of Economics in London, but born and raised in Albania under the full regime of Enver Hoxha. Here she found herself believing blindly in what they taught her, namely that socialism was a transition phase from the dictatorship of the proletariat to communism, which, in the long run, would take place with the dissolution of the state and the total liberation of the ‘man. A process that Marx had exposed, but which, beyond the utopia he represented, Uncle Enver applied – as all communist regimes did – in terms of personal power, deceiving his own dictatorship as the dictatorship of the proletariat and enemies of the people who dared only hint at a timid criticism of it.

An important great-grandfather

Such a manipulation that also conditioned Lea’s family, although aware – with the exception of the child and then a girl who was completely unaware of her origins – that she was not a family like any other, being none other than a descendant of that Xhaferr Ypi, former Albanian Prime Minister and interim head of state during the Italian occupation. Kinship that did not enable any of the YPIs to important schools or roles.

And, therefore, many of them had been detained for years in prison and whose absence was justified, in the eyes of Lea, by their parents and grandmother (a former noblewoman at the court of king Zog) so as not to scare her, as motivated by studies in distant universities. Only much later, after her release, would she learn that Xhaffer Ypi was her great-grandfather. “All his life, that surname had crushed my father’s hopes. It had prevented him from cultivating his passion and studying mathematics. She had forced him to humble himself constantly, apologizing for his ‘biography’.

Rows to grab a piece of cheese or a handful of rice

In this darkness Lea, poor thing, doted on communism, certain that, guided by the dictatorship of the proletariat, she would witness the dissolution of the state and the total liberation of man. A man no longer threatened by capitalism that loomed at the borders, where freedom was not for everyone, as in Albania, but only for the exploiters. In Albania, however, “we worked, but for ourselves, not to enrich the capitalists, and we shared the fruit of our labor. In our country there was neither greed nor envy. Everyone’s needs were met, and the Party helped us cultivate our talents“. The absurd aspect was that it was precisely the misery and the political and economic oppression in which they lived that generated the greatest greed and envy.

The book, in this sense, is full of memories of the widespread, general shortage of food first of all and of others, too many elementary things for which the lines to grab a piece of cheese or a handful of rice (depending on the day) or bread. or a pair of socks was the order of the day.

A can of coke bought illegally

As for envy, a skit is about a dented can of coca-cola that Lea’s mother had bought clandestinely and that she had placed at the center of the table on the best doily made with her own hands, and then revised – stolen – on the table of the neighbor, envious , of that trophy, for which the two families, until then friends, ended up closing relations. Spy, envy, rivalry, in a country whose propaganda spoke of solidarity or “common good”, assuming that the repression and preventive and prison action of the political police concerned only the “enemies of the people”. They were as free as in the elections, in which party and single candidate was Enver Hoxhawas competing to go to vote for the sole purpose of demonstrating their attachment to the boss, so much so that already at nine in the morning the elections were concluded with the name of the winner acclaimed by an absolute majority.

Looting, civilian attacks on military barracks and two thousand deaths

Lea, of course, would also have witnessed the collapse of communism and a “free all” who, as in other communist countries without an economy that produced wealth, other than that which served to maintain the oligarchies and the forces of repression, did not show up. in its best light. In fact, in the first free elections, after 50 years of one-dimensional life, the possibilities that presented themselves to people seemed incredible. So, contrary to the longer time that the transition – and an adequate ruling class – would have required, the country plunged into chaos that reached its peak in 1997 when the suddenly drugged economy set fire to the dust. Lea Ypi writes: “Looting, civilian attacks on military barracks and the largest mass exodus in the country’s history followed. Over two thousand people lost their lives“.

A real civil war

A real civil war that has nothing to do with economic liberalism, but with a parody of this followed by the exaltation of something that the population, in the intoxication of the open cage, was pushed to experience, favoring those who had less scruples and less or no inhibiting brake, or crime. An inevitable reaction not only in Albania but in all communist countries lacking that democratic culture, which can only grow with time and a ruling class that could not be the one raised by fear and courtesan and flattened on the will of a man in his exercise more of terror than of government.

Albania sick of too much state

The first to realize the future that was needed for Albania, sick with too much state, was the mother of Lea, who courageously gives herself to politics and whose path I reproduce here a significant step that seems desirable to me not only for Albania , but for anyone who aspires to live free, as a responsible citizen, and not as a subject, whatever the state.

Above all (the mother) distrusted the state. She was allergic to abstract discussions of equality or the role of institutions in promoting justice. Asking yourself if something should be one way or another already meant starting on the wrong foot. You never had to ask yourself what the state could do for you, just how you could reduce your dependence on the state. She suspected that all debates about positive action and pink quotas were red herrings, the real purpose of which was to increase the power of the bureaucratic apparatus to infiltrate your life and generate greater opportunities for corruption for parasitic individuals. For her, the state had never been a vehicle for progress. She had never believed in the power of the collective“.

Also because this power, he understood, is a farce behind which the Hoxhas hide, who, for their own personal interest only, claim the right to speak on behalf of the community.

Diego Zandel *

* The municipal administration of the island of Kos, in Greece, has conferred honorary citizenship on our Diego Zandel, a writer linked to the island for having married a woman, now missing, from her mother’s side. Diego Zandel has been frequenting the island since 1969. As a writer he has set two novels here “The man from Kos” And “The Greek brother “ and some stories, collected in the book “To the east – tales from beyond the eastern border and the Aegean“. He is also the author of a guide “Sentimental handbook of the island of Kos”, In which he talks about the places and the locals he was able to get to know from the inside thanks to the intense family relationships. Kos is famous for being the birthplace of Hippocrates, but also for its rich history during which, after the long Ottoman period, Italy, to which it belonged in the years between the two wars, had no less importance, leaving important evidence, visible above all in the city of Kos rebuilt by the Italians, according to the rationalist architectural schemes, following the earthquake of 1933. After 8 September 1943 it was a victim of the German occupation, during which, on 6 October in the same year, 103 Italian officers stationed on the island were killed in the countryside and in the marshes of Linopoti, 66 bodies of which, recovered at the end of the war, rest in the military memorial of the fallen overseas in Bari.

Lea Ypi is Free – The Match