Left Political School of Activism – theory and practice walking side by side

Fall 2019 was quite an intense and fruitful period for the young and new activists specially among students. More students were coming back to the capital to the University of Tirana from their hometowns, the academic year is about to start and so is the ongoing struggle.

Under these circumstances the Left Political School of Activism organised by the Institute for Critique and Social Emancipation (ICSE) and supported by transform! europe was held in Tirana, Albania during October and November 2019, a program which aims to foster active participation and raise the emancipatory political consciousness of the subordinated and marginalized social groups, students included.

This is not the first time that a left political school is held and this comes as a second phase after they were self-organized in a Summer School in 2019 so this Left Political School of Activism was thought as ongoing process of political education of the activists who have joined from December 2018 Students uprising or later.

Due to the neoliberal hegemonic discourse which is quite presents in the public debate, academia or even translated literature in Albanian these last 30 years, it is really important that the activists among the left to have an intro to the Marxist materialist method and view of history, on how and why capitalism works and fails, the role of modern revolutions, the neoliberal reforms in higher education-what for more than 6 years are being opposed in a persistent way and the fight for public education in the modern and contemporary history of Albania. The school is not thought as an intellectual course of lectures, or going into deep theoretical details. Among the left we are way more than done with that. Our focus is to grow intellectually but being among the people in the field more. Praxis is what we need.

One of the most interesting activities of the school was a workshop about street art as a political mean which was followed by different activities on field; how to prepare stencils, banners, spraying, sticking and putting into practice all what was learned since on the meantime the activists were campaigning and organizing a protest against the high tuition and the cuts in scholarships. Unfortunately, a tragic earthquake stroke Albania, a few days before the protest so it had to be cancelled.

Nevertheless, these actions on the walls on the Student’s Campus about the living conditions, tuition, lack of services were useful not only as a mean to bring more attention to what was happening but to open a discussion among students about what the government yet has not fulfilled as promised in the last massive protests.  Still, their activity was not interrupted.

Beside, being on the field to help the people in the poorest neighborhoods affected by the earthquake, these activist joined the miners’ strike in Bulqiza and helped in the organizing process. But the most important they used their skills in Tirana to call for a boycott campaign against the businesses owned by main oligarch in Albania, Samir Mane after he dismissed 4 miners due to founding an independent union. The campaign had a crucial role to raise the awareness about what was going on by distributing leaflets, hanging banners, graffiti, stickers and so on. This pressure made the company step back at least for a period.

These activists have their daily activity in the university mostly due to the fact that they are students, but this does not stop them to engage when needed in the labour cause. You could hear them cheering the rhyming line in Albanian “Studentë e punëtorë, të ardhmen kanë në dorë!” – “The future lies in students’ and workers’ hands!”. 

Although the media censured what happened in the mines, the activists take care that the citizens of Tirana remember it daily by reading the walls. Tirana wakes up differently since its walls now speak politically.

And as Gramsci would put it: “Educate yourself, because we will need all our intelligence. Agitate because we will need all our enthusiasm. Organize, because we will need all of our strength".