The Palace of Dreams

Do you know how Ismail Kadare sees the hell of a totalitarian state? As a well-built system in which everything is under control, where even dreams are dangerous and subject to classification and interpretation. Those employed in the Ministry of Dreams, or Tabir Saraj, have the task to collect, interpret, archive and process all potentially dangerous dreams that could pose as hazardous for the survival of the Ottoman Empire (or Stalinistic Albania, take it however you want, since this parallel is imminent in Kadare’s works). Every week one dream deserves the title Arch-Dream, which is with a special ceremony presented to the sultan: the most dangerous and most important, dream which can shake the foundation of the interlaced ends and nets which keep the people in submission.


If by any circumstance the main character of Kadare’s masterpiece, Mark-Alem Ćuprilija, were to be working in the Montenegrin Ministry of Public Administration (although it is not excluded that Ministry of Dreams could find its place in the organisation of the administration) in the last week of February he would have a lot of assignments to work on:

The dream of a single opposition candidate for president: “Come on, please, when has the opposition agreed upon any question? Well, I know that you will mention the joint decision to boycott the parliament. Did that make any sense? No. One should let the opposition onto the opposition. What will emerge from all of this: accusations, labelling, searching for the culprit, at least 17 candidates. To keep one mouth’s shut and look from the distance. No additional activities are necessary. Conclusion: Harmless. Archive it. “

The dream of a better life for the citizens. “People still seek better life conditions? Interesting. I would say that they are content. But now when Monstat has presented the consumer basket, citizens will be convinced that 2.06 euros daily is sufficient for life. Pensioners will come to the conclusion that with the average pension of 285.98 euros one can live up to four months! Besides, there are always some elections. A vote costs less and less. And there could be an increase for pensions of 0.05%. And then, as always, increase the VAT on New Year’s Eve. And, Voilà! Conclusion: Harmless. Archive it. “

The dream of confict of interest. “I can’t remember the joke when a pupil was asked what he wants to be when he grows up, on which he immediately responded with: in conflict of interest. Deeply rooted dream in Montenegrin society. But, that isn’t such a big problem after all. If any case emerges, we can always say that the government is absolutely not guilty. Who could know what is going on around the empire. Conclusion: Harmless, Archive it.”

The dream of a constructive cooperation between the governmental and non-governmental sector. “The Prime Minister has indicated that the non-governmental sector should help in creating public policies and not be involved in politics. What is here not clear? Conclusion: Harmless. Archive it”.

The dream of an independent public media service. “Does anyone still dream about this? After the independent members in the RTCG council were removed illegally and expressly. After the Parliament bravely rejected to implement the court decision to return these members to the council until the completion of the case. After the candidature of the DPS biographer. Well, we have gathered 135 supports for him. That should be sufficient. Anyways, no one would ever know who supported him. Conclusion: Harmless. Archive it.”

The dream of Montenegro being in the EU in 2025. “In this EU’s credible enlargement perspective strategy for the Western Balkans, years of possible accession to the Union are being calculated clumsily. That can evoke some unreal expectations for the citizens. It is noted that we are a captured state and that we can’t continue to simulate reforms. Connections with organised crime and corruption on all levels inside the government are mentioned, interweaving of the public and private interest, the importance of free media, independent judiciary, implementation of adopted anti-corruption measures and pronouncement of adequate sanctions.

All true. But what can we do about it? How do we find victims in our own yard? How should the constitution and laws be respected – is there a manual for that? Should we watch the opposition in RTCG shows? How do you mean that conditions for fair and democratic elections should be ensured, so that the opposition could return to the parliament? How could we use the formula we licensed “one employee – four votes” if we respect the principal of employment by merits? Conclusion: Hazardous. Arch-Dream. Inform the sultan.“

Photo: Riccardo Vecchio, The New Yorker

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