The hand-held ‘stop’ is a well-known symbol used by the police and other legally recognized services (security guards, private police etc) to halt the traffic.

However, this sign has another role, which is maybe more important. It is being placed lately on the front windows of civilian cars, which has increased the pressure on those who do not have such a ‘special’ equipment, or do not have a car at all. Citizens get irritated by the arrogant, but privileged behavior of the people with such vehicles, who breach dispositions, rules, the law, and even challenge the highest public order authority – the State Police. Although the police use the hand-held stops, they seem to be scared of a potential clash of the two signs, because the weakest will bear the consequences. 

Why this phenomenon? Nowadays, corruption is seen as an open attack against the notion that “…all the people were born equal to achieve happiness through legitimate ways.” In a political system, in order to ensure application of basic rules, the society delegates the power to the state representatives working in judiciary, police, public services etc. Of course, these representatives cannot avoid the human temptation to create additional favors for themselves in corruptive ways. But the way they do it in Albania is fatal. Regardless of what one really represents, he/she considers himself/herself a ‘chieftain’, a ‘leader’, or even a ‘king,’ while other people seem small and are a source for fulfilling their interests. Of course, this sort of people show off behind the stop sign, which is placed on the lower corner of the window and has the shining word or decoration - ‘PRIVILEGED.’

There is a belief that the people find it difficult to give up social privileges, they even fight to maintain or achieve them in order to live better. But what one can notice in the Albania of a marathon-like transition is the fact that privileges and interests of a certain class of people have been institutionalized as the time went by. This can be seen in courts, police, and public institutions of the local and central level, where we are treated similarly. So, the State has institutionalized the relationship between the ‘(pseudo) elites,’ whose privileges are regulated in a way to get transferred into ‘the rights of elite,’ so, they become legitimate privileges. As a consequence of this, we do not deal nowadays with individual privileges, but with privileges applied exclusively for a certain group. As a result of this, we live in a feudal order of modern times, where the state does not treat its citizens equally and collectively, but individually, by taking into account their social, political, or economic background.

Possession of a hand-held stop does not mean only a privilege for someone, but it is also a granted right, which reflects injustice towards us. Its legitimacy is even more worrisome. These practices make us different and categorize us into social classes. Thus, rule of law is not run by human values, but by privileges that one enjoys, regardless of whether rightfully or not, usually labeled in a ‘stop sign…’

Theories of W. Kasper, I. Hentic, G. Bernier, B. Weingast have been used for this article.

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