What It’s Like to Live Through a Rupture in History

hari ini Result SGP 2020 – 2021.

Albania would now be free and open — not just its elections but its markets, too. The “international community” (in the form of consultants from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) descended on the country, prescribing breakneck liberalization and privatization, a strategy known as “shock therapy” that was applied across post-communist Europe. It might be painful as the old state was dismantled, the thinking went, but it was necessary. This was the end of history and Albania could follow only one path: toward capitalism, democracy and freedom.

Ypi’s highly educated father got a prestigious job running the port, but he was forced to follow the World Bank’s “structural reforms” and lay off hundreds of workers, whom he then had to walk past every day as they begged. Her mother worked to reclaim property that the communists had nationalized, but her family, like hundreds of thousands of others, lost their savings to an elaborate pyramid scheme, which in turn helped ignite a chaotic civil war. Albanians fled the country en masse, but would-be migrants were sometimes shot. This time the guards were on the other side of the border.

Ypi’s high school experience culminated in a tragic scene at an end-of-school party. It was held at the beachfront “Hotel California,” which belonged to the local mobsters. Ypi reflected on the childhood friends who didn’t make it to graduation: One was dead from an accident while playing with a gun; another had been trafficked into prostitution in Italy. Before a curfew began, the Eagles started playing on the sound system and the gangsters pointed their guns at the recent high school graduates as they were ushered out of the hotel. Was this what freedom looked like?

That’s not to say that capitalism was worse — Ypi never downplays the cruelty and absurdity of life under Hoxha’s Stalinist state — just that it was a different kind of bad, and that while both can promise, and deliver, a kind of freedom, each has its own set of limitations.

After graduation, Ypi, like so many Albanians, left her country. (Albania has one of the world’s highest emigration rates.) She was luckier than most, though: She went to Italy to study philosophy, and is now a professor of political theory at the London School of Economics. While she never writes like an academic, theoretical questions are laced through “Free” on every page. Does freedom mean elections? Or is it equality? Is what really matters inner freedom, the ability to live according to one’s principles — as her family does?

These questions may sound like the work of a cynical academic measuring messy reality against pure theory. In fact, they are hopeful and Ypi’s “Free” is meant to inspire. “When you see a system change once,” she writes in her epilogue, “it’s not that difficult to believe that it can change again.” This is the kind of intellectual clarity that comes from living through a genuine rupture in history, a moment when, in fact, everything changes.