Commentary: Democratic autocratization and Albanian mass psychosis – Exit
It is evident that over the past twenty years there has been an overall decline in democracy. Many countries around the world, including the United States, Brazil, Hungary, China, Russia and Poland, have seen the quality of their democratic institutions deteriorate at an alarming rate. According to the 2020 report of the Institute of Varieties of Democracy, the share of the world’s population living in autocratized countries increased from 9% in 2009 to 34% in 2019.
This seemingly outrageous statistic might surprise some, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In order to understand why, it’s worth taking a look at the human psyche.
According to psychologist Carl Jung, the greatest threat to human civilization is not a meteor strike or cataclysmic explosion from the Yellowstone supervolcano, nor a physical illness like the bubonic plague, but rather, our inability to do so. in the face of the forces of our own psyche.
The human mind is very fragile, and therefore very sensitive to temporary or permanent mental disorders. One of the most common mental disorders is called psychosis, a condition in which an individual loses touch with reality and creates mistaken beliefs about the world. When this disorder engulfs a large group of people, it is called mass psychosis. Two major examples of mass psychosis are the 17th century European witch hunts and the 20th century holocaust.
The Holocaust was a particularly deadly example of mass psychosis, and its analysis sheds light on the causes and consequences of most of the mass psychoses in history. Historians have agreed that the main cause of the Holocaust was the presence of widespread fear among the German people. Following the crippling sanctions imposed on Germany after the loss of World War I, the German economy fell exponentially. Millions of people could not find jobs and ended up falling into poverty. To rub the salt against the wounds, following a major stock market crash in the United States in the late 1920s, the German government was forced to print a lot of money. This led to hyperinflation which made the situation even worse.
Therefore, the fear of a darker future pervades the entire German population. The German people began to lose touch with reality and began to look for a scapegoat to blame them. Just as you have probably imagined by now, that scapegoat became the Jewish people.
Anti-Semitism has exploded and millions of ordinary Jews have been killed, seriously injured or separated from their families. Widespread paranoia also allowed the rise of the all-powerful Nazi totalitarian government of Adolf Hitler, which used people’s fears to consolidate power.
So, in a nutshell, there are two main characteristics of mass psychosis: it is caused by fear, and it leads to the rise of authoritarian rulers.
These days, episodes of mass psychosis are less deadly, more subtle, and more common. Many autocratic politicians have realized that the best way to secure power is to put their people through mass psychosis.
In the United States, Donald Trump used the fear of a “Latino invasion” to win the 2016 presidential election. In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson took advantage of the fear of an increased EU presence to go to 10 Downing Street. In Hungary, Viktor Orban managed to land a third term in 2018 by urging his people to fear “Muslim invaders“. The list goes on.
By now, it is clear that mass psychosis is one of the most reliable tools for power-seeking individuals. The current Albanian Prime Minister, who has become increasingly autocratic in recent times, is one of them.
If I had to use a comparison, I would compare Rama with the character of Thanos in the later Avengers movies. Over the past 8 years, he has managed to collect all of the stones needed to create an almighty gauntlet of power. He has the executive under his control, since he is the head of the executive. It has the legislative power under its control, because the strong majority of the laws adopted by the Albanian Parliament are not proposed by individual deputies, but by the Ministries. He also has the judicial power under his control, since, for several years, all the legislation passed by his party could not be examined by a Constitutional Court unable to harm.
Prime Minister Rama’s authoritarian tendencies explain why Albanian democracy score is so low Freedom House nations in transit report for 2021. In this report, Albanian democracy achieved a score of 3.75, a score which classifies Albania as a “hybrid regime”, slightly above the threshold necessary to qualify a country as a semi-authoritarian regime. consolidated.
Yet despite the fact that Rama regularly exhibits authoritarian tendencies, north of 700,000 Albanian voters voted him into power, once again. This is because Rama has mastered the art of mass psychosis.
He won the elections by making the Albanian people fear a future with Lulzim Basha at the head of the government. Sometimes he continued live and began to compare his party’s candidates with candidates from other parties, often posting embarrassing and degrading photos of them. At other times, he took to Twitter, where he usually made sarcastic remarks from opposition parties.
Whatever medium he used to communicate his messages, he made sure that the Albanian people feared a future without him as head of government. Therefore, he managed to get a third term.
The point of this article is not to question whether Rama’s next term as prime minister will be a major success or a catastrophic disaster, as it is impossible not to make false predictions. However, one thing is certain: Rama is not going to stop consolidating power, and this is a real threat to Albanian democracy. That is why it is necessary that the deputies on both sides of the aisle find ways to become less dependent on the will of Rama. The role of the Prime Minister is now far too powerful and it must stop. This can be done in different ways.
“No one can be elected president more than twice,” states the Twenty-Second Amendment to the US Constitution. This is important because it limits the number of years a president can lead the country. The limit on candidates protects the American people from authoritarian rulers and also ensures political rotation. One could argue that passing a law that imposes a two-term limit on elected officials like the Prime Minister would be a beneficial initiative that would make healthy political rotations more frequent.
As was mentioned earlier, the majority of the deputies of the Albanian Parliament do not propose legislation. On the contrary, most laws are proposed by the Council of Ministers or by individual ministries. This gives Rama unlimited legislative power and also significantly compromises the ability of minority parties to have a say in the drafting of legislation.
Therefore, it could be argued that the creation of an Albanian Senate, and therefore changing the current structure of the legislature from unicameral to bicameral, would be a successful endeavor. The Albanian Parliament could be designated as the lower house and the new Albanian Senate could be designated as the upper house.
The Senate would be made up of democratically elected senators, but with a certain twist. Only a fraction of senators would be elected by the general population, while the rest would be elected by academics and academics. This model is used in the Republic of Ireland and has been reasonably effective. By deploying this model, the Prime Minister would not be free to pass the laws he pleases, because they would have to go through a Senate full of experts.
Democracy is not perfect, and the legendary philosopher Plato knew this very well. Plato rejected democracy on the grounds that it followed the impulses of citizens rather than pursuing the common good. According to him, these drives tend to lean more towards the irrational than towards the rational.
We can now understand that Plato was partially right. Democracy has given rise to authoritarian rulers all over the world, including in Albania. However, even if it is not perfect, democracy is without a doubt the best system that society can use to organize itself. That is why we must protect and improve it.