It won’t surprise anyone that unlike the general trend in Europe, most Maltese people worry more about their standard of living than the protection of European values. In people’s mind, too often, values have no value.
The question was being asked as Europe was measuring the mood about the consequences of the war in Ukraine. What’s more important, the Eurostat survey asked, that prices don’t go up for you or that we stop Russia over-running a democracy next door just because it wanted to and threatening to crush other democracies if the mood so takes it?
Most Maltese respondents had their priorities clear. Make sure I can continue to afford everything I afford now and let the poor Ukrainian, or maybe Moldovan, Estonian, or Polish buggers fend for themselves.
As Clyde Caruana lamented yesterday in Parliament almost no one will continue to afford all they have afforded. Caruana embodied Malta’s breed of neutrality about the war which is partly causing the steep rise in inflation. He spoke of the war as something that was happening beyond the horizon, beyond our appreciation, understanding, or interest.
He was only aware of why it was being fought because of the impact it has on the price of bread here in Malta and how he’s going to source the money to either keep the price of bread unchanged or put money in people’s pockets so they can continue to flirt with diabetes at an unaltered rate.
Defence of European values did not feature in Clyde Caruana’s speech. It was all about wealth and the continued affordability of luxury, or even, for that matter, the essentials.
I try to imagine how Clyde Caruana and most of the respondents to that Eurostat survey would have reacted if they lived on the eve of World War II without the benefit of knowing its outcome. Would ‘we must resist fascism’ have featured in their thinking? Would they have drawn the line when Hitler broke into Poland saying it was imperative to go into war rather than allow another unlawful annexation on the continent? Would they have said that we must sip the first foretaste of a bitter cup which would be proffered to them year by year?
Given a choice would they have preferred to extend the rotten fruit of Munich to allow Hitler to take over Europe rather than bankrupt their own economy to finance a war they could not afford?
Would they have chosen the preservation of their standard of living over doing the right thing? Would they have thought about the fullness of their stomach before thinking of other people brought down to their knees by tyranny?
I rather fear they would have done that if they could, every time.