From April 7th to 9th, the Liberty Summit was held in Tirana, Albania, with the damaging legacy of communism as its main theme. The Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) was the main organiser of this conference, in collaboration with other conservative organizations.
Albanian Students for Liberty had the opportunity to be part of this summit and present our organisation and our goals: to provide the necessary tools and support for students who are advocating for liberty, while educating and empowering them in their advocacy for freedom. We were able to present the work of Students for Liberty to foreign diplomats, politicians and other participants at the summit, including representatives of other pro-liberty organisations in Albania. We emphasised that we are undertaking initiatives locally, regionally and internationally in order to advance liberty in our communities.
We also provided more detailed information to interested participants: we distributed t-shirts, Tom Palmer’s ‘Why Liberty’ and ‘Peace Love Liberty’, which both attracted a lot of interest in a matter of minutes.
A distinguished libertarian was part of this summit and I had the good fortune to meet him in person to discuss and share thoughts about our movement. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, attracted the attention of all participants with his speech as he introduced himself by saying “Thank you for inviting me to this conference, but I feel a bit like a fish out of the water”, humorously addressing the conservatives in the room.
Brook continued by stating that politicians think that they are much more important than they really are. Real change would have to come through culture before it can even reach politics. Communism did not come out of nowhere, it emerged out of a specific set of ideas, which have to be fought and challenged intellectually. We have not done enough to fight the ideologies of communism and socialism, which both rely on the ideas of collectivism, on the idea that the individual is just a piece of the puzzle. We should also stop referring to the political spectrum as traditionally right and left, but instead call both sides what they are: collectivism. One of the panelists responded to Yaron Brook, saying that it was like hearing Ayn Rand, a remark that was applauded by the audience.
In an overall conclusion, this event was of certain significance for Albania as it is the last country to have freed itself from communism. Moreover, Albania also is the country that became the most isolated in the world as a consequence of a tyrannical communist regime. 2017 marks the centenary of the Bolshevist Revolution, yet much of the evil done in the name of Marxist-Leninism has been forgotten.
The Liberty Summit focused not only on the wickedness of communism itself, but also on the way it vitiated civil society, making it difficult to rebuild social capital after the formal end of the dictatorship. No location could be more fitting for this conference than Albania: the 47-year communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha marked the darkest period in Albania’s history. Human rights and fundamental freedoms were suspended, political parties were outlawed and members of the opposition executed, land and properties seized, religious freedom crushed, social and cultural institutions destroyed. Today, like many other post-communist countries, Albania unfortunately remains a hotbed of crony capitalism, corruption, trafficking, and poverty.
Enea Zhuleku is a law student at University of New York in Tirana. He is an Albanian national who grew up in Greece. He is involved in several activities and groups concerning leadership and impact on community, and is a Local Coordinator for ESFL.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, please contact [email protected] for more information.