No Order Without Justice: Kosovo Needs a Social Revolution

When we hear the word revolution, we typically think of dictatorships, violence, and chaos. However, social revolutions can also be non-violent; their best army and arms are the people and voices that advocate for change. According to Oxford University Press, a social revolution is “a sudden change in the structure and nature of society”. Such revolutions do not focus on changing political systems per se, but rather on transforming the socio-political culture of a particular country. With initial success, every social revolution simultaneously does two things: It attracts fresh forces and crystallizes the opposition.

In Kosovo, a long-standing logic of bribery, clientelism and nepotism has corrupted and diminished what should be our ideal, that of transforming Kosovo into a well-functioning state, based on democratic standards and principles. The people of Kosovo have been skillfully brainwashed to the point of accepting the idea of malevolent and philistine politicians that corruption is part of our lives and that we must live with it. Thus, creating a strong sense of indisposition and an inert lumpenproletariat.

Kosovo has basic problems probably unseen elsewhere in Europe: people parking on the sidewalks, inhumanely ignoring freedom of movement to people with disabilities; teachers protesting for their income but never for quality education; people firing illegal guns at weddings and accidentally killing their relatives; people smoking indoors in public spaces ignoring the law and public health; courts taking years to solve cases violating the rights of citizens; a Prime Minister who doubles his salary but keeps the minimum wage at 170 EUR; a person who gets convicted of a crime, moves abroad and returns three years later as a free man; a government that spends almost one billion EUR on a highway and never publishes its contract… the list goes on.

In his epic novel, Les Misérables, Victor Hugo transcends mercy as a second chance for redemption. Mercy therefore is not just about compassion but also showing forgiveness in order to make the world a better place. But Kosovo leaders have had multiple chances to redeem themselves; consequently, Kosovo is in dire socio-economic circumstances. Hugo has spoken of the “madmen of moderation” who are “unpaving hell”. Today, the descendants of Hugo are promoting the message: Order before justice. The fact is, there is no such order; no order exists without justice.

In the midst of this dystopia, calling for a social revolution can be anything but revolutionary. Martin Luther King Junior wrote once, “when you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” Kosovars have different personalities, diverse financial interests and varied aspirations. There are Kosovars who are corrupt and those who are not. However, this should distress no one. Every society has its share of opportunists, profiteers, freeloaders and escapists. The good news is, such people are a minority. The scary part is that there exists a silent majority and a passive middle-class—the fulcrum of every society—without whom no major change can be initiated.

Kosovo needs fresh voices and a united opposition. It must break the norm of ignorance and mediocrity and promote social activism. This is not as idealistic as it sounds, as change can be initiated in different forms and aspects. Students should not register in classes where corrupt politicians lecture; people must not pay for “extra treatment” for their loved ones in public hospitals; youth should vote when elections take place; women must claim their legal right of ancestral inheritance, etc. The sceptics may argue that such small actions have little or no impact; however, if they are undertaken they may produce big changes in the mid- and long-term. After all, a long journey begins with a single step, as an old Chinese proverb tells us.

It is an axiom of social change that no revolution can take place without a methodology suited to the circumstances of the period. Additionally, no revolution is executed like an opera; its instruments, sounds and gestures are not neatly designed and precisely performed. Kosovars need no weapons for such a revolution. They are possessed with the most formidable weapon of all: the conviction that they are right.


Cover photo credit: fabulousfabs/flickr/some rights reserved

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Visar Xhambazi

Visar Xhambazi completed his undergraduate studies in management and public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology Kosovo and holds a Master's degree in US foreign policy and international relations from Old Dominion University in Virginia. He currently works as a research fellow at Prishtina Institute for Political Studies.