Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 3. 14th March 1973
Albania — A Triumph for Socialism
A Triumph for Socialism
Why should New Zealanders be interested in Albania? It is a very small Mediterranean country bordered on the north by Yugoslavia, on the west by the Adriatic and on the south by Greece. Many people in this country are probably unaware of its existence. Yet New Zealanders could learn a great deal from Albania. Despite their country's size, lack of natural resources and history of extreme poverty, the Albanians are creating a society which can provide more than adequately for their needs and which is controlled by the people. Ron Taylor, the present National Organiser of the Communist Party of New Zealand, returned from Albania last year after four year's work among the people there. Salient asked Ron Taylor to outline the history of the Albanian, revolution, set out the lessons for New Zealanders of socialist development, and put forward his party's views of how young people in this country can help create a revolution here.
The People's Republic of Albania is a small country (about one-tenth the area of N.Z., or nearly the size of Belgium) in southern Europe, with a population of 2,300,000, which has carried out a proletarian revolution and is now in an advanced stage of the construction of a socialist society. The first stage, the political revolution, took place simultaneously with the liberation of Albania from occupation by the Italian and German fascists. This freed the Albanian people from exploitation by foreign investors allied with the local landowners and merchants, feudal aristocracy and tribal chiefs. This was completed by 1944-45 with the smashing of the old state by the People's Liberation Armed Forces and the establishment of the people's state power in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus the national independence and sovereignty of Albania was ensured and all power placed in the hands of the working people.
The way was now opened for the economic revolution, in which socialist relations of production have completely replaced relations of production founded on private ownership of the means of production, both in industry and in agriculture. The construction of an independent, self-supporting, socialist economy, based on the material and human resources of the country and aimed solely at fulfilling the needs of the Albanian people is well advanced.
At the same time, there has been enormous progress in the third stage, the ideological revolution to overcome the backward ideas and habits of thought of selfish personal gain at the expense of one's fellows, which have been inculcated over centuries of society. The new man with communist morality and Marxist-Leninist world outlook is developing. The main blow in this stage of the revolution is aimed to prevent any trend to the development of administrative, managerial, scientific, and intellectual personnel, into a bureaucracy ruling the working people, and to ensure that the entire society is under the complete control of the working people and serves their interests alone.
The result of these profound revolutionary changes in Albania is a society in which the quality of life of the entire people is enormously better than it is in New Zealand today. The sense of purpose and achievement, the unlimited horizons for the youth, the assurance of security, the breadth of real democracy and personal freedom, give the Albanian people a spiritual satisfaction and a feeling of optimism quite unknown in any capitalist society, despite the existence of many fields in which the almost unbelievable backwardness inherited from the past has still not been completely overcome.
Here are some practical achievements which would be applicable in New Zealand once the working people have seized power and set out to build their socialist society.
There is no inflation in Albania. There has not been a single retail price rise since 1946, when the people's state power first got the economy under control. On the contrary, as productivity has increased with the rising technical-scientific and educational level in the country, prices have been constantly reduced. The real standard of living is steadily rising and there is no polarisation into rich and poor.
Free medical services are at an advanced level, available to all citizens, and distributed throughout the country where-ever the people live and work.
The social security system is much more comprehensive than ours. Benefits are not less than 90% of wages. Sickness benefits commence on the first day of incapacity to work. Retirement pensions are payable at 55 years for men, 50 for women. Working women get paid maternity leave, 13 weeks as of right, easily extendable on medical grounds.
Albanianspay no taxes at all — not even for TV licences.
There are no fees for schooling at primary, secondary or university level. About 70% of university students receive bursaries which cover all their living costs. In 1970 there were 7,000 students of Tirana State University accommodated in the "student city", a new suburb, complete with lodgings, restaurant, club and sports facilities.
Albania is the only country in Europe with no unemployment problem. University graduates are guaranteed employment in their chosen speciality.
In this country where brigandage and blood feuds were normal phenomena of life only thirty years ago, crime is disappearing, "juvenile delinquency" is rare, and there is no drug problem at all.
There is no discrimination based on race or sex. Pay is based on "the rate for the job". The law makes special provision to protect women in their role as mothers and there is a very comprehensive network of mother and child health centres, creches, kindergartens, and facilities to lighten the burden of household chores.
There is no foreign or local capitalist expropriation of the wealth created by the work of the Albanian people. The land, factories, schools, hospitals, houses, banks, newspapers, all belong to the Albanian people and serve them.
The Albanian people have tremendous interest and involvement in politics. The entire state structure is built on elected people's councils, starting at the level of the individual village or city block, through city and regional councils, up to the People's Assembly. Voting is direct, by secret ballot, with universal suffrage from 18 years of age.
The judges of lower courts are elected too, although Supreme Court judges are appointed by the People's Assembly. Within its own territory and subject to the decisions of higher level councils, each of the People's Councils exercises the full functions of government, thus the local bodies have real authority. Day to day government of the country as a whole is carried out by the Council of Ministers elected by the People's Assembly.