The choices we make

We are a reflection of our society, and our politicians are a direct result of the choices we make. So what does the current government say about Maltese society?

Canadian writer Ryan Murdock’s post on Running Commentary, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog, details the phenomenon of amoral familism that anthropologist Jeremy Boissevain wrote about in his 1962 study of Malta, Saints and Fireworks. Murdock applies it to the political situation Malta is facing.

Murdock lived in Malta for six years before he left the islands. He wrote: “The crisis facing Malta today didn’t just happen, and you are not a victim of it. Joseph Muscat and his Merry Band of Thieves are the direct outcome of Maltese society. You could even say they’re its finest expression”.

In essence, Maltese society is built on an ‘all for one, and one for one’ mindset.

Unless the individual in Malta is directly affected by whatever scandal or crime has rocked the community, they’re disinclined to get involved.

It provokes a defence of the criminal because that criminal is almost an extension of society’s desire to absolve itself of its own wrongdoings.

Once again it is an expression of Maltese society’s need to shift responsibility. As Murdock states, “if you don’t like it, fuck off” is how most of us deal with any criticism or insight from expats, and any expression of concern from outsiders is dismissed as a colonial interference or, recently, as a conspiracy theory born of jealousy of Malta’s success.

This attitude lends itself perfectly to the neoliberal free market idea pushed forward by people like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former US President Ronald Reagan, and exploited by people like former British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Neoliberalism, put simply, is a laissez-faire policy that argues for a free-market economy while conveniently ignoring that not everyone attempting to compete in the market is starting from a level playing field.

A vastly deregulated economy allows for corporate giants to squash smaller business, and they consolidate this by buying up competitors and forming massive conglomerates that dominate the market.

It also allows those in power to gamble with the average person’s money. Bill Clinton’s administration, for example, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act – regulation that kept different types of financial institutions separate. In 1999, when President, Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing it. The economic collapse of 2007/8 has been attributed  in part to this reversal.

In short, neoliberalism favours the bully-boy giants over the underdogs through a lack of regulation.

It is no wonder that Malta’s present administration espouses neoliberalism. It is a government populated by bully boys and girls, driven by the desire for personal gain.

A neoliberal market despises regulation – which makes it the perfect space for the rich to agree on corporate tax cuts for each other while sending their personal taxes and kickbacks to companies in Panama through dodgy banks.

It is no coincidence that Malta is also marketing itself as the home for the notoriously unregulated cryptocurrency market either.

These actions impinge on the individual in Malta every day, from the price of oil to a skyline obliterated by cranes, from the cronyism and nepotism that ensure you will not get a position you deserve unless you toe the party line, to depriving you of the right to know by quelling media criticism.

This isn’t exclusive to the Labour party of course, but it is the Labour Party that is currently in government, and it is the Labour Party that is doing its damnedest to silence its critics.

It is also the Labour Party that originally claimed to be a Socialist Party. How on earth can a Party be socialist if it adopts the economic model of a woman like Thatcher, who once notoriously proclaimed “there is no such thing as society”?

When that Party boasts endorsements by Theresa May and Lord Michael Ashcroft ( a Brexiteer who was implicated in the Panama Papers), as well as having received advice from Tony Blair, who stands accused of leading the UK into war on a false prospectus, it’s time to admit that Labour shares more in common with unbridled capitalism than it does with any socialist movement.

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