by Antonina Zhelyazkova

The survival of the Albanian identities under Enver Hoxha. The role of the isolationist policy of the regime in Tirana... (2)

Although as a southerner Enver Hoxha tolerated in the government and at key posts Tosks from the South, he tried to eliminate the differences and unify the people from the North and the South through their complete subjugation to the Communist ideological stereotypes and clichés.98  This was achieved through the final standardisation of the language, through the schools and the overall educational system, through the military-like regime within the industrial labour collectives, generally through a drastic change in the overall social and value structure of society. 

Then came a schizophrenic split of personality and perceptions, familiar to the other Communist regimes too. On the one hand, it was evident that the country was being modernised, illiteracy was overcome, the number of university graduates was rising, but, on the other hand, this led to a propaganda-narrowed perspective, to the unification of minds, to stagnation and fear at all levels of political and social relations, to isolation from the world and encapsulation of the individual and the family, to an effort to survive in the privacy of self-isolation. 

The chiefs of the clans and the bajraktars were ruthlessly eliminated - killed or put to prison, and precisely they were the guardians of traditions and morals and the ones that were supposed to keep the customs and collective memory for the generations.99  It is small wonder then that after the fall of the Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, the establishment of new democratic institutions has been most retarded and most difficult in Albania. In each of the post-Communist countries, societies turned back to their own heritage and restored the democratic traditions and institutions, but the latter had either not been established in Albania, because of the short historical spans of independent existence, or if any positive heritage of self-government and collective decision-making had been present in the national traditions, it had faded away or had even been eradicated from the collective memory. In such a complex situation the Albanians put efforts to revive their national, ethnocultural, and religious identity, with the invariably concomitant danger to allow, as a result of oblivion, deformation for some ad hoc geopolitical or home policy reasons.

The international isolation in which Albania had been driven into by the dictator over the years - until his death in 1985: the break with Yugoslavia, later with the Soviet Union, with the other countries of the socialist camp, breaking with China too, led to the further loss of true awareness of their own identity. The Albanians have a numerous Diaspora in the neighbouring countries and around the world, where the memory of traditions and cultural-historical identity had been perhaps preserved better, but since they could not travel, they lived in almost full deficit of information about themselves and the world. Every attempt to obtain exterior information - listening to foreign radio stations or studying foreign languages outside the officially sanctioned places - resulted in accusations of espionage and imitation of foreign models.

99 Ibid., p. 11.