Begin the Politics

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“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished

by being governed by those who are dumber” (A Paraphrasing of Plato)

It irks me that in this day and age we still have to discuss the obvious when it comes to talking about the Maltese political scene. I originally had the pleasant feeling that the blogosphere was in agreement on one important issue… the need of change and a move away from the dualisms and MLPN entrenchment. I was more than glad when Immanuel (a blogger who I have had many an opportunity to disagree with) blogged his mini-manifesto for change here. If anything this showed that we have a number of things in common:

a) We chose to disengage from the current system of politics. We see through the miasma of rubbish that is churned out by the MLPN (and more recently AD has joined them in its methodology) and opt to be non-political or rather non-partisan.

b) We believe in the need for change: We agree that the real bidla (change) is still to come. It is not found in a pseudo-christian democrat knee jerk reaction document that ignores the truths of a society at a loss morally and economically but elsewhere.

c) We believe that it takes a break in mentality: An independence of the mind. An intelligent empowered mind that thinks outside the box but for the box. We agree that thinking outside the duality is not against the duality but a necessary tool so as to reach a new order.

d) We recognise the chaos of the present system: A chaos that is manifested by misplaced priorities and the birth of extreme movements that take advantage of uncertainty.

People like us see the need of a NEW POLITICS. The new beginningbeginning is in the medium as well as in the result. Unless that is understood it is useless to continue to preach. It is very difficult to think outside the normal mindset. The recent reply here to a comment of mine here is a clear example of the difficult struggle for a change in mindset.Arcibald’s original statement was to the effect that Gonzi’s government would lose an election even if it contested it alone but as long as Sant and MLP are there it is not so sure. The import is that the PN do not win elections but it is Sant that loses them. I added in the comments that this is the typical comment of a Nationalist who says that he would vote Labour were it not for Sant.

Mark took exception to this statement and blogged that such Nationalists who make this statement are either (a) naive or (b) gullible voters who believe the mantras by PN about Sant’s fallibility. (He also added the usual alternative argument mentioning Varist Bartolo and Anglu Farrugia as credible alternatives which would still push off PN voters!).

Now, to begin with I feel that the lack of respect for the hesitant voter is another aspect of old style politics. The label of “irresponsible voter” was slapped on to me the times I voted for AD. Most of the flak on my wasted vote came from the PN camp. I was not admitting hesitation there… I was clearly stating that I voted for another party. Now in our island, even hesitating about voting is a no-go area. Old style politics requires allegiance. Old style politics requires that at most you can consider reshuffling your party (good luck) but never switching to another party.

And it is in this age of old style politics that we begin to see the hesitant people. We had the labourites switching to vote for Europe in a referendum, we had the discontent nationalists voting AD for Europe. True no such switch has happened during election days and this is no thanks to Eddie’s dire warnings or Freddie’s incompetence. I resent however the attack on naivete. Even if I was not the one being referred to (especially since I know that I WOULD vote for a better choice) I still find the attack of naivete insulting.

To begin with, they are hesitant. They are the seeds of doubt that are sown in the cracks of the system. Not many can change. Not many will make the big step. Yes maybe the big propaganda machine of MLPN will turn them back on the eve of the election (as has been done before). There minor doubt must not be laughed at but cultivated and encouraged. They must be allowed to think freely. They cannot be labeled traitors before they even start to walk!

A bigger concern of mine is that this ludicrous allegation against these hesitant voters normally comes from the Labour camp. It could be a psychological reaction tantamount to the reaction to the kid who switches to the winning side on the last minute. It is almost a “We do not want you aboard. We have suffered the ignominy (only in Malta is Opposition a shameful position and not something from which constructive elements can be had) of opposition and we do not want you with us now that the moment of “victory” is almost here. We want to be able to point at you and laugh from the heights of Castille in the same way as we will point at all those nasty nasty nationalists who have terrorised us labourites and Dr. Saint for so long”. This is a hunch of mine. it is a hunch that the labourite in opposition wants to gain power for revenge (unlike the nationalist who wants to gain power for economic and social gain) and he has no place for last-minute turncoats.

Having said all that, we must admit that this is all Oldspeak. The rules of engagement in this kind of reasoning are still entrenched in the tribalistic dualist mentality of always. What I call Old Politics. It was Politics for Beginners. But an old fashioned politics for those who are still interested in initiation into the system.

Yes, you are entitled to believe that maybe a hesitant nationalist is a naive victim of some propaganda machine and he will never vote for Sant (incredible) Bartolo (vengeful) or Farrugia (incompetent) as much as you might believe that he might even vote for a Lino Spiteri (intelligent). You are entitled to go on living in the world of categorisation based on collective conscience, victimisation, revenge and whatsnot. You are entitled to believe that the only way out is that one day everyone will wake up and miraculously decide to vote for Harry and the Golf Course Greens. You are entitled to keep on living in the past.

Politics for beginners must no longer remain the same litany. It must no longer remain the Idiots Guide to Politics or Maltese Prejudices Made Simple. It is time to begin the change. The real change. It is time that we get the few heads that are outside the box together and like Immanuel (and myself in earlier posts) begin to chart a possible way out. It is time that we accept the label of idealists and show the realists that we mean business.

It is time that we Begin the Politics.

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5 responses to “Begin the Politics

  1. It is true that an idealist is someone who says that a rose makes better soup than a cabbage because it smells better. Having said that, I believe that continuous influx of idealism is needed in our political system which tends to stagnate. Daphne Caruana Galizia has oft cut idealism to ribbons in her article but I would not throw the importance of idealism out of the window so hastily as it does tend to have a bearing on election results. Something which has often been said is that people will not vote as they did in the MEP election in the general election, but do the powers that be recognise the fact that maybe the outcome of the MEP election has fired the imagination of the population who think they are more free to vote now than before because we have joined the EU? Therefore I say in times like these let idealism bubble over and congratulations to Jacques, Manuel and other bloggers out there who are always pushing at the limits of our existence. Amen. (I promise to lighten up later on this week)

  2. What I find really uncomfortable are the terms such as “Nationalist”… i mean what makes you one? How you voted in the last election? How you feel inside? How you build your arguments?

    Anyway I think I am fed up with all this politik-shit. My main argument that the PN lose the elections if they ran alone meant exactly that, and was a half-joke. That I also inserted the MLP into the equation meant that no-one is infallible, not even the Sant many people idolize. It’s disillusionment of the whole system, not of the parties.

    Also – my argument about leaders who should resign is very simple. We just have two main parties who play pink-ponk into government. The least one can do to have ‘choice’ (that’s a funny word in this context) is change leaders when they loose elections. If we had at least 5 parties to choose from, and all with a possibility to win the election and govern, I would think otherwise.

    This argument is also the main reason why I will cut the photo on my vote and use it for something else (I won’t waste a laminated photo, you know).

    Irresponsible voting (non-voting)? More like – “give me choice and I’ll choose”.

  3. Robert Micallef

    Thanks Jacques for the points you raise – several issues to reflect upon.

    In an interview I gave to It-Torca last week I commented on the EB findings re the consistent lack of trust in politics/political parties in Malta. Unlike in Central and Eastern Europe where a new generation of politicians is dealing with the modern challenges of new forward looking EU member states, the Maltese polical system continues to resist change.

    My question…is the current old political establishment properly equipped to take this nation forward in the information age?

    I know of Maltese ministers who are not even able to handle a computer – this may seem puerile but is symptomatic of a political class that is, in many ways, outdated.

    The solution is not simply a change of government but a complete turnaround in the way we do politics. Young, qualified people are staying away from politics – not just because they prefer to concentrate on more rewarding career opportunities but also becuase the system as it is organised pushes them away.

    http://www.it-torca.com/news.asp?newsitemid=4062

  4. billi din bloggata interessanti u ghad ghandi naqraha sew u nomoghdha, ippermettili nkompli d-diskussjoni f’forma ta’ bloggata ohra….

  5. It is a sure sign that someone is confused when they can state, in the space of a few paragraphs, that they prefer to opt of out being political only to then to say that they want NEW POLITICS, in capital letters no less. New politics for a new generation we are to understand. The Kinnie Generation of thirty-year olds to be exact, the curiously vague and inaccurate term coined by the holder of these opinions. Indeed, the last time that Malta was truly and genuinely excited about political choice was when everybody was allowed to gorge themselves on Mars bars, without having to wait for their cousin to go on a daytrip to Catania, which is why I think that Mars generation would be a more fitting epithet.
    The day that priorities began to lose their definition in the Maltese political was the day that people chose EU citizenship. Embracing the European Union, whether Eddie knew or not, signified the withering away of the immediacy of domestic issues. Shortcomings can now be indirectly ascribed to European inflexibility. Eastern European countries are in a similar predicament, evolving as they are from a post-Soviet culture, while Malta is eased out of an anachronistically statist dimension. While I am on the subject, is it legitimate to inquire whether
    The moral quagmire that the country is in is not an issue because the people have spoken on abortion, divorce and all the other heathen menaces that threaten to ravish the purity of the Maltese lifestyle. Remembering that the 500 that judged Socrates were a representative cross-section of Athenian polity, so the self-elected free-thinkers must concede to the majority. It matters not that the resulting outcome is injustice, hypocrisy and misery, but that the people have spoken. Alienation from the prevailing moral code is not the exception, it is not a Maltese syndrome, but a regular fixture of contemporary European life.
    Nonetheless, the cited �break in mentality�, or �paradigm shift� as we say nowadays, is a political choice we have to make; not as Maltese citizens, or as Europeans, but as human beings. Having said that, what are the concerns that pose the greatest challenges for the a country that has taken the post-modern route, where local dialogue is no more than a sideshow and where democratic choice is a ceremony instead of a process.
    Polemics about the redundancy of the monotony of the false bipolarity of the MLPN (an odd collision of Anglo-Maltese there, by the way) are not healthy if the only thing one can volunteer is aloof observations about the ill state of the medium, whatever that might be. Neither is it fair to suggest that the dialogue has been only a two-sided contest of allegiances. There was a time when Maltese politics was about fighting for rights, even at times when the ugliness of vitriolic partisanship made it seem otherwise. If for no other reason, Malta should pride itself on leaders like Mintoff, Mifsud Bonnici and Fenech Adami, because for all their misguided decisions they belonged to an age when policies when informed by moral convictions. If the only thing the self-appointed �liberal elite� (sic!) can agree on is that they don�t like the here and now then what?
    Actually, as far as the debate at hand is concerned, it is obviously hard to make accurate generalizations, but it is also misguided to maintain that the process lies exclusively in the realms of social change and imponderable future factors.
    The recent German upset is evidently a result of shrewd politics and campaigning, though I would argue that the Italian predicament is more indicative of how electoral influence is mostly wielded from the top down. Indeed, the recent scandal over mooted amendments to Italian electoral legislation raised many questions about the issue of which system best served the country’s needs. Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest that the legislative debate is the most noteworthy aspect of the affair, but it does suggest that the way polls are organized remains a crucial and sensitive matter.
    If we have to be honest, the question of coalition’s stability or otherwise is not as relevant as any given country’s prevailing political culture. If, when the British Labour party had come to power, it had held true to its tacit pledge to the Liberal Democrats to introduce some elements of PR, the House of Commons would not have fallen apart. This is because British political life is rife with factional infighting, but pragmatism compels parties to avoid open schisms. Rare examples, such as the anti-war Respect, nominally built on George Galloway’s shoulders, and one-issue anti-EU parties like UKIP, are notable in being marginal.
    Meanwhile, Italy demonstrates that even a largely first-past-the-post setup will crack under the pressures of personal enmities and ambitions. Notwithstanding the resulting stasis, it is heartening to see that Italian voters continue to demonstrate political commitment.
    Shortly, Malta�s best hope is some kind of implausible telescoping back into individual relevancy in the era after the death of politics; �Ci vogliono uomini di cultura!!�, as Norman Lowell would say in a semi-sexual faux Hitlerian fashion. And ironically, as a country that has almost always had politicized leaders and cataclysmic historic development, this may be the moment when people discover that their voice can be about more then just self-interest. Hesitancy is pardonable when it seems like everything is at stake, but perhaps now that the gamble isn�t so decisive the voter might feel unshackled from the conventional categories. What we need is not new politics, but politics full stop.

    Oh yeah, and why not a quick Churchill quote;
    “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average (Maltese) voter.”

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