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February 16, 2014


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Note that none of the people trying to convince the
Albanians are part of the broad European project of austerity--which to me, seems to be profoundly about restoring class lines and class barriers through immiseration of everyone beneath the upper middle class, rather than class distinctions via sumptuary consumption taken out of a strongly growing GDP.

The Albanian elite are probably no different than the Greek elite in terms of the level of seeing anyone other than their class as representation of the country.

Only twelve years ago the blood feud was the law of the northern mountain tribes. This blood feud was based on the legislation of a fifteenth-century prince and is called the Kanun Lek Dukadzinit--the Law Code of Alex, Prince of the Dukageni. It was a primitive law code, based on the Old-Testament standard, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' It decreed that if the brother of a warrior was killed, this warrior was entitled to murder his brother's murderer wherever he found him.... It is a generally adopted phrase in Albania that 'in Toplana men are killed like pigs.' The average of murders in the whole Malisori (mountain) district, however is given by Baron Nopcsa at 19%....
Plot and Counterplot in Central Europe, MW Fodor, 1937, p 95.

Zog fell in love with a girl named Miriana Zougdidi, according to one of these legends. Her father refused permission for the match. Zog swore that he would beoome King of Albania to prove his worth. The father, still obdurate, chased a gang of Zog's kidnappers who abducted the girl, and killed her with his own dagger to keep her from falling into Zog's hands. He then sent the girl's body to Zog as a sort of wedding present. Zog swore eternal vengeance, and never to marry. He exterminated the father and his whole family--and never married. Also, be it noted, he did become King of Albania....

The way to play politics in Albania is to make a revolution. Zog has made several. He was minister of interior in an Albanian government that was forced out of office and into exile by a Putsch engineered by a radical priest, Monsignor Fan Noli. Zog lived in Belgrade, Jugoslavia for a year, and then made another revolution whereby he ousted Fan Noli and became president of Albania. This was in 1925. Three years later Zog promoted himself, with Italian help, to be King.

John Gunther, Inside Europe, 1936.

Albanian history is very interesting! That said, it's a pretty imperfect guide to modern Albania. It's a country that has been through a lot of changes in the last 90 years.

Doug M.

Noel, you're very welcome! I thought you would enjoy this.

Pension payments are an issue all across the region. Pensions are often the only thing that keeps miserable poverty among marginal rural populations and the elderly from being "you starve and die" poverty among marginal rural populations and the elderly. And they're usually not terribly high by developed country standards. That said, governments tend to announce hikes to pensions before elections, and the plump peasant who's collecting a pension is sort of the regional equivalent of US "young bucks and T-bones".

shah8, an additional wrinkle is that countries in this region are blessed or cursed with a particular subclass of the intelligentsia that's largely absent in the West: the Modernizing Technocrat.

Doug M.

Doug M, exactly!

Modernizing technocrats are a bane in MENA and more advanced Latin American countries!

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