Guest Post by Charles Schembri:
A bunch of opinion writers persevere in scribbling epistles that do not necessarily comment on our daily chronicles. It is an endeavour on their part to look beyond the truth or un-truth. Our daily chronicle of events, complemented with on-line comments, is just the facade of the malign cancer permeating the organs of a self-destructing body. Diagnosis are often far off the mark. But it is not a palliative treatment stage. The crowd heard it before; it is a routine occurrence. Nothing would have materially changed in their lives.
The problem is not Vergil’s Trojan Horse, including the deceitful Sinon mingling among the besieged city-state citizens, as personified in the Prime Minister and his submissive crew of “condottieri” or mercenaries. The problem is not the party in opposition that is still awaiting a wake-up call.
The problem lies in the social fabric of a community that has lost its concept of a society’s code of ethics and moral fortitude; a community that has forgotten that the state is its citizens and not the institutions charged with being of service to the citizens. But forms of autocracy, totalitarianism and despotism are and have always been a short-lived “happening”. Malta has been through this before.
We have reached a stage where communal subsidiarity and solidarity have given way to egocentric thinking and the survival of the presumed strong or of the “Haves” and “Have-Nots”. Decentralisation and the faculties of empowerment are now relegated to the immediate environs of the centre of power, where anything is permissible and anything could be above board while all fraudsters are considered above suspicion; a community that for years has allowed itself to be regaled with deceitful wondrous gifts. Wondrous gifts politically wrapped in a conspiracy of silence.
Politicians strive for the retention of power; some less than others. But this is truth. The vehicle they usually employ is keeping the people in ignorance. But the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot. As if all this did not happen. Never happened. Even when it was happening, it did not happen. (Harold Pinter – 2005 Nobel Prize address).
And this society is not just representative of individuals who form part of a vast silent crowd; it is representative of the country’s members of our political society, of the constituted bodies and institutions, of the country academia and professionals, of the country intellectual players.
Who would dare contaminate the trickling drinking fountain? And who would dare challenge the unscrupulous uncensored script-writers behind this conspiracy?
And yet, one cannot hold the electorate and the rest at fault. The electorate expressed its preferences as it felt best; a vote of no confidence, I call it protest, in the PN and, exhausted by the coercive web of the powerful, it reverted to the notion of the Common Man Front; the Gugliermo Giannini’s Qualunquismo launched in 1944. Whereas the party’s history was quite short, it left one long-lasting influence in the political discourse: even today, qualunquismo is a common derogatory term for a non-committal attitude, cynical political disinterest, lack of social responsibility or anti-political populism.
Our esteemed Prime Minister could certainly be considered as the Malta Trojan Horse. Our population could easily be personified in the gullible Trojans. Our country’s chaotic problems leading towards this apparent daily dangerous living are not just the Trojan horse itself but the socio-cultural mentality of a people resigned in recognition that the Trojan horse is a gift by beloved gods governing our material well-being; a gift that cannot be questioned unless one is prepared to experience a burn-out.
The interpretation of a Trojan horse is nothing but a discussion on falsehood; the government’s obligation towards disclosure as against concealment. It is not the purpose of this critique to describe in detail the instances verging on proclaimed untruths by the party in government going back to prior 2013. Particularly now that a cabinet Minister has made it clear that this is a government vested in deceit.
The party in government tends to focus on expansionism. A pseudo-political programme moulded on an expansive economy that goes beyond the immediate exigencies of the Malta society since this “best in Europe” economic plus notion is not embedded in a society where the rule of law is what it means to be and where the even distribution of justice, including our civil and social rights, mired by the dreaded misconduct of citizens at the highest level of government, has now been developed into a much complex paradox.
In parallel with the government’s economic programme, that is not the case to indulge in here at, this neo liberal totalitarian overseeing the state of Malta has set his eyes on a far more intriguing expansion programme. As Hannah Arendt would have it ‘the territory to be taken is the mind’.
Only this morning we learnt that the think-tank Today Public Policy Institute could possibly be calling it a day due to lack of funding that was driven by businesses’ fear of government. Moreover the head of the Institute is quoted as saying that the Institute had also been hampered by a ‘sense of defeatism over the government running roughshod over standards of professionalism, transparency and accountability.’
It is historically proven that such regimes tend to be short-lived. Arendt recalls that this happens because there is a fateful paradox at work as soon as a movement transforms itself into a nation.
Manuel Delia on 9th April: “I have to turn to people of theatre, artists, intellectuals and academics: people who write or draw or play and live by expressing themselves. Is your silence truly borne of indifference? Or are you so afraid?”
Republik: Island of Silence, April 11: “…the murder sent shockwave through the small state in the Mediterranean. … But the shockwave ebbed away; quickly. Hardly any demonstration, no resignations, no professional education.”
In response to the quotes above and the excellent piece by Alessandra Dee Crespo it is worth recalling Saul Alinsky’s words in his Rules for Radicals (1971) “There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.”
It is time to reflect on our country’s degrading situation. It is time for those who care to set in motion the required central concepts of action in human politics that as a start would ascertain that, before the flood-gates open, the party in Government resigns itself to the reality that liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself, in Lord Acton’s words, the highest political end.
The emphasis on liberty tells volumes, provided the people in power can read the small print. And again it is relevant to persist in quoting Heidegger who questions whether the enemy is the person or in the crowd.
It is time that leaders put in motion without further delay the required central concepts of action in human politics and take calculated risks that progressively lead to the formation of a movement were activists be representative of the nation.
The world outside would continue following the Malta story. And this could hurt the country and the people.
And I repeat again the party in government is not the enemy but an adversary. The enemy would need to be slain.
The adversary would need to be defeated. If this society still believes in the equal distribution of justice it must act determinedly but respecting and honouring our democratic liberties.