BY DR.ZEKRI PALUSHI/
There is no better place on earth to live and work than Australia.
Back in 1995 I came to Australia from Albania, with my wife Tina, and our three children, Anisa, Arbiona and Endrit – now all adults with families of their own.
I had previously practiced in north Albania in the post-graduate specializations of internal medicine and cardiology, working hard for very long hours, all year long. Our life was nothing like the one we have now, the one that we’ve been enjoying for many years here in Australia.
Back then, for about three or four years when we first arrived, I worked as a cleaner, while learning the language, embracing the Australian culture and working towards my Australian accreditation as a medical practitioner. Once I had that I was able to work as a doctor, initially in hospitals and then, from 2002 on as a general practitioner in private practice. I feel sincere gratitude for the way Australia and Australians have generously accepted me and my family – I will always be grateful. In some ways it feels like I have been here forever.
I love the commonly used expression that ‘Australia is the lucky country’, even though I respectfully disagree with this sentiment. I truly believe in that Australia has made its own luck. Its people are hardworking and good. Since 1901 there has been a continuous succession of harmoniously and democratically elected governments. In Australia there is freedom and democracy.
Reflecting back on my life in Albania and on my ‘new’ life in Australia, I have come to the conclusion that Australians and Albanians have many things in common: both peoples are hardworking, very generous, decent, humble and trustworthy. But while Australians have been working hard and enjoying their freedom and the fruits of their labours, Albanians, for the last 50 years or so, have also been working hard, but under unimaginable circumstances – with their lives controlled by the most oppressive of communist regimes.
Unfortunately, Albanians took the freedom and democracy they had under King Zog for granted. In 1944, the Communist Party duped the people with slogans, such as ‘we will eat with golden spoons’, and a promise to collect the wealth from the rich and re-distribute it to all the people. The reality, however, was very different; people ended up losing everything. Life became one of class wars, hardship, poverty and humiliation. Society disintegrated: there was physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse. But worse than this, people were brain-washed by the communists – in effect it was a ‘genetic mutation’ that they had to go through, which I believe, will follow them for life.
Soon after communists took power, their first action was to eliminate all other political parties and any kind of opposition. People were rounded up, imprisoned, and the majority were inhumanely tortured and killed.
Then they delivered on the first part of their promised ‘golden spoon’ slogan, by seizing tons of gold coins (which were then the currency) along with people’s properties and their dignity. No lives were spared. They failed, however, to deliver on the second part of the promise. Instead of redistributing wealth to the ordinary people, members of the Party kept everything for themselves.
The ‘golden spoon’ ethos was replaced with the tenet of ‘we [the people] ought to live life within our means, and in order to achieve that, we should tighten our belts’. According to the communists, we were surrounded by enemies, both within and without, constantly plotting against the state to destroy our communist system. Of course, all the ‘enemies’ were imaginary, made up to scare people and to justify their inhuman acts against their own citizens.
The politics of communism is to divide and rule; they created within society a ‘good people’ – those with communist connections, and the ‘bad people’, their ‘enemies’ – fighting against each other on a daily basis.
For my poor grandfather, it was too late to adjust and understand the changes. After few years of living under the communist regime, in a community meeting, he naively asked about the promised ‘golden spoon’. This error was enough to prove to them that he disliked the communists, and to justify his incarceration on the grounds of ‘agitation, propaganda and collaboration with the hidden insurgents, and conspiring against the communist system’. He endured a couple of years of unimaginable torture before he was eventually murdered by crushing his spine, with his lifeless body thrown into a creek (Zalli i Kirit, Shkoder). His family was strictly prohibited from taking his remains for a proper burial. The result of all this was that members of his distraught family (including myself) were discriminated against and classified as being anti-communist, thereby preventing any of us from getting a tertiary education. It is a long story, but eight years later, by a rare stroke of luck, I was able to study medicine. Unfortunately, thousands of other, potentially excellent, students – including my wife Tina – were not as lucky.
The ‘class struggle’ ruled Albania until 1991.
Communists are deceitful, unscrupulous and hypocritical; but, to their credit, they are united inasmuch as they are determined to think, speak and act as one in order to achieve their aims by any means, and with no regard for human lives. Over the years they’ve referred to themselves by different names, and used different slogans, depending on their political agenda at the time. Initially, they were interduced as the ‘Albanian Democratic Front’, soon after, they called themselves ‘Communists’, then they rebranded themselves and changed to ‘Labour’, and then, from 1991, they call themselves ‘Socialists’.
I have to agree with Khrushchev’s description ‘Socialists are Communists without guts’, although being called this didn’t seem to worry them. Instead, they worked hard, mastering the art of lies and deception and training their not-so-smart brains to come up with endless slogans, which they would learn by heart until truly believing them. These would be drip fed, slowly and deliberately, infused into people’s psyches, injecting their sugared poison. At first, no one noticed the process, and by the time they did it was too late. The slogan had become law. Bad luck.
Mark Twain said, ‘Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience’. I beg to differ, to protect civilization, ourselves, and our freedom, democracy, dignity, integrity, and moral values we should never ignore or forget the awesome power of stupidity. We should engage with and argue every day against their hidden agendas. We should not accept and let these things go. We need to hold them legally liable for the social experiment of communism, in the name of which they performed their inhuman deeds and deceit, and for the millions of lives barbarously destroyed. Ironically, all of these horrific acts were done ‘on behalf of the people’.
Today they are still working, but under different branding, to bring back their freshly minted, very sophisticated, brain-washing machine, in order to further continue and finish their masterpiece, which is a ‘World Without Borders’, a dependent humankind without identity, and global citizens ready to be sacrificed, but with no dignity nor a better life.
Socialism is like a dangerous autoimmune disease, and we should all be aware of its early signs. Catching it will make our life miserable. Let’s mention a few common signs to watch out for: climate change; unconscious bias; safe schools; political correctness; identity politics; vilification of white men; pre-school sex education; diminishing the Christian faith: different phobias; choosing to suffer and be offended on behalf of the others; and so on. All these are signs of the incurable ‘socialist disease’. However, it is amazing how many people digest, tolerate and ignore these signs, which we hear and see every day. They are becoming part of our vocabulary and culture. Fooling us again makes us very stupid indeed.
Back let’s return to socialist Albania, when later came a new communist slogan: ‘Each and every one should rigorously fight against personal comfort, or a comfortable life.’ This was a dictum that Albanians had to strictly follow until as recently as 1991.
We should not forget, also, that the Party prevented people praying to and putting their hopes in their gods. From 1967 it became law, thereby banning Albanians from practicing their religions. They believed that the only hope people should have, and pray for, was for the Party and for the dictator himself, Enver Hoxha. Religious faith was considered to be the ‘opium for the people’ and the clergy, especially the Roman Catholics, were heavily persecuted, taken to jail, and sentenced to death. It was this fate that met my wife’s grandfather, Fran Mirakaj, who was only 30 years old when he was sentenced to death and killed by torture because he refused to denounce his Catholic faith. In 2016, he was among the Albanian martyrs beatified by Pope Francis.
This was my life until 1990.
It all changed when, inspired by the political changes taking place in the Eastern European communist countries, I decided to put my family and my life in harm’s way by becoming involved in the political process. Until then I had been trying to look after my patients’ physical health, but instead I decided to fight to improve their lives, to bring back the dignity, freedom and democracy that we once had. So it was that I became heavily involved in founding the Albanian Democratic Party and as the leader of the Puka district branch.
In 1991, the first democratic, pluralistic election took place; I failed to be elected for the Parliament, mainly because of the manipulation of the electoral system by the communist incumbents.
Then, in 1992, the Albanian Democratic Party was voted in, winning the majority of votes. I was elected a member of the Albanian National Council of the Democratic Party, Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, and the Chair of the Governmental Commission for the Humanitarian Aids – positions I held until I arrived in Australia, where I hoped to establish diplomatic relations. Once I arrive in Australia I met with the Speaker of the Australian Parliament, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and with other different federal MPs and officials; indeed, I was made to feel very welcome and I have very good memories of all those people who were so friendly and willing to help.
Holding the positions that I did enabled me to analyse and understand that the ‘collapse’ of communism was not in fact due to the fight we waged against it, as many Albanians including myself used to believe and would like to claim credit for. Unfortunately, the credit belongs to the well-crafted strategy of the United Eastern European Communists, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, which was to ‘destroy’ communism in order to protect and empower it – by allowing their own people to stay in power and become millionaires. A new Communist Manifesto was conceived allowing so-called pluralism; the best citizens were urged to ‘defect’ from the communist parties and to create right-wing political parties. These parties appealed to the disaffected opposition (the declassed), and the ex-prisoners who wished to continue their fight for freedom and democracy. What a joke. Once more we were deceived and used.
Which is why I am here, enjoying a real taste of democracy and freedom, and sharing my experiences under the deceptive socialist system, with its Bible-like fundamentalist theories. Borne in 1848, the ideology has, practically speaking, proven to be a disaster, but strangely enough it still appeals to many. Did they introduce anything into our water to change the genome of humankind?
It has been 28 years since the so-called ‘collapse’ of communism. And it has become very obvious that we haven’t destroyed the communists at all, but instead have naively trusted them and helped them to come to power, and to stay in power. This happened and is still happening not just in Albania, but in all excommunist countries, the worst example being Russia. Those who caused the most harm in that time remain in control and deny their responsibility for any wrong doings. They have never shown any remorse. They have never admitted to anything. And they have never apologized or asked for forgiveness. Nor was a commission set up to interrogate them about their crimes. No one knows what happened to all that seized property and money. We worked hard for nearly 50 years with nothing to show for it. Where is the money? Who owned or owns it? One thing we all do know, though, is that all of them are now the new multimillionaires, able to control everything and everybody’s lives by using the invisible communist mafia tentacles and their wealth along.
Ridiculously enough, they still use their old slogans – ‘we put the lives and the interests of the people first’, and ‘on behalf of the people’. The socialist multimillionaires ‘do everything for the people’. They are continuing to lead the Socialist Party and the other left-wing derivates, to ensure that the people are ‘well looked after’. What hypocrisy!
How they can still be in power? All I can say is what Stalin’s said: ‘… the people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.’
Surprisingly, most of those socialist millionaires pay no taxes or very little. Therefore, almost nothing goes back to the people. The Albanian pension is just A$150 per month, while prices for goods (which are generally past their use-by dates), are very much like here. I have yet to see or hear of any leaders of Labour or Socialist Parties, or their sympathisers, having shared their own wealth with the people, as they always preach. However, they are very keen to take a share of other people’s wealth for themselves.
People in ex-communist countries have been fed a sweet, addictive diet of lies and slogans by the communists and their derivates. Which is why those countries are still ruled and controlled by today’s ‘poor’ millionaires.
It is very important for everyone to understand this Machiavellian deception. For me, and on behalf of those millions of people who died or endured communist and socialist regimes, it is very disappointing, insulting and concerning to see the results of a recent Galaxy opinion poll where six out of ten Australian millennials believe socialism is ‘a good thing’. People forget what socialism was and is, and that terrifies me; I know the kind of hell that socialism leads to. What socialists and communists did to their own people is very similar, just stretched in time, to what Nazis did to the Jewish people. The difference is that there has never been a Nuremberg-like trial in any of those former communist countries. I strongly believe that there is an urgent need to educate people about socialism, in the same way we were educated about Nazism and fascism. Their slogans, ideology and propaganda should be outlawed before it is too late.
The country known as Albania, which produced George Kastriot – who fought against the Ottoman Empire and saved Christianity in Europe, came to reject its faith. It came to replace George Kastriot’s flag with the communist’s hammer and sickle. The citizens of the country that produced Saint Mother Teresa came to reject themselves as normal human beings, to reject any good human traits, to reject their ancient history, and to replace it with the history of communism. Ironically, a few times, we rejected St Mother Teresa’s attempt, and her burning desire, to visit Albania and her mother Drane in Drane’s last days.
Why did we take these actions? Because we were socialists, and we were told that Mother Teresa was our enemy, a spy that wanted to destroy our socialism and socialist achievements! Can you believe it? I had the honour to see in person both St Mother Teresa and St Pope John Paul when they visited Albania in 1993.
It took about half a century for another pluralistic election to come, when Albanians realised that communism and socialism were like an octopus that had mastered the art of camouflage, while using stealth and intelligence to capture their prey.
It is important for people to take note of this story. Australians should not be fooled by the socialist propaganda. They do not need to take part in this ongoing social experiment. It is very important to understand that, instead of being envious of others’ wealth, we should work hard and build up our own wealth by taking advantage of our freedom and democracy. We should be grateful to any of the hardworking business-leader millionaires, who in contrast with the ‘socialist’ millionaires pay their taxes and freely contribute to the community and different charities. They really work hard for us, they employ us, and their contribution to the welfare system (which, paradoxically does not exist in socialist-run countries) is enormous. We should be very grateful that they are one of us, and are not hated. Indeed, we should be far more appreciative of our business leaders, because without them there would be no jobs or a welfare system.
We all have different aspirations for life, different talents, different dreams about choosing a profession, different priorities and lifestyles. Some work more and some work less. We should build our lives based on our needs and our efforts, and we should never trust those who promise the world and ‘put the life of the people first’. The socialists think they can own the people and their brains, they can own the country, and they have the legitimacy to possess everything on earth. They like to make people think naively and believe in the world ‘entitlements’. They rely on people’s short-term memories. But we should keep in mind the unimaginable differences in the lives of people living under communist or socialist rule and those living with freedom and democracy.
We must remember the lives of those in communist East Germany compared to the lives of those in the capitalist West Germany. I really hope that people are smart enough to have memorised those scenes from the Berlin Wall.
I am going to conclude by returning to my career in Australia, and adding that I am now a member of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, a selected member of Leading Physicians of the World Organisation, and, in 2012, I was recipient of an ‘Honorary Citizen’ title from Albania, which was granted in absentia for the contributions I made towards the democratisation of Albania and in the field of medicine.
I end my story, with one of the many testimonies from my patients posted on the community Facebook: ‘It is overwhelming to see all these thank you’s for you, Zekri. It seems pretty obvious that you have made an enormous positive impact on so many people. I thought it was just me that you made feel special, but it is abundantly clear that you treated everyone the same and we all felt special. It takes a wonderful GP to be able to have that effect on so many people in the community …’ (Original testimonies can be forwarded at your request.)
I believe I built my reputation because of my determination to work hard and to keep myself professionally up-to-date, which has enabled me to be capable of fulfilling the needs of my patients and to look after their well-being, and because of my sincerity and willingness to speak my mind and to stay away from ‘political correctness’, which indeed is something my patients have appreciated the most.
Gold Coast, Australia