In most areas of our life we all understand that some opinions – or perspectives – are more important than others. They’re simply worth more. They have more weight, more value, more validity. They are more deserving of your time.
This is why you generally don’t visit your mechanic when you have a toothache, or turn to the drunk at the bar for help with your taxes.
I don’t want my editor performing open heart surgery on me at any point, for example, and I’m not about to wade in on any discussions about astrophysics.
You get the point.
It’s not simply because our preferred consultants have several letters after their names, or because of the wealth of experience they often have in their field of expertise, or even because we necessarily always expect them to have all the answers.
It’s not because your doctor has an especially lovely office, or because of your dentist’s sexual charisma – although all of this almost certainly would help.
No, what compels us to turn to certain people for their opinion is because they speak a language that is universal and unifying and has formed the bedrock of every progressive society since time immemorial: the language of facts.
As former US president Barack Obama put it recently, “there is no basis for cooperation without facts. If I tell you this is a podium, and you tell me this is an elephant, we are going to find it very hard to cooperate”.
So what of Malta’s ability to cooperate in the EU given the present administration’s complete disregard for facts? How can Malta lay claim to being European while eschewing everything the EU stands for?
It cannot, after all, claim (with a straight face) to champion the free press when Konrad Mizzi continually refuses to invite all media houses to his PR stints. Or when Joseph Muscat steadfastly avoids interviews with independent media houses. Or when Glenn Bedingfield wants the Speaker of the House to censor The Shift News. Or when Chris Cardona issues garnishee orders on Daphne Caruana Galizia to cripple her financially. Or when the Labour media machine weaponised the masses to dehumanise and victimise the same journalist.
It cannot claim to support free speech, freedom of protest and freedom of information when it continually clears the protest memorial. Or when it sends in the troops to violently remove peaceful Moviment Graffiti protesters. Or when it refuses to release information about an MP’s all-expenses paid trips to Monaco.
The fact is that it absolutely does not support meritocracy and transparency when it appoints and promotes characters like Tony Zarb, Jason Micallef, Mario Philip Azzopardi, Edward Zammit Lewis, and a raft of others to positions for which they are neither qualified nor deserving.
Malta’s government – and by extension its people – does not believe in accountability or responsibility when criminals with Panama accounts still retain their positions.
The fact is that it simply does not subscribe to the European Project as it greedily sucks up EU funds while selling passports to dodgy oligarchs and makes business deals with corrupt regimes like Azerbaijan and China.
There is absolutely nothing to support the claim that Malta is European in anyway but in name.
So Malta inhabits this kind of Schroedinger principle, where it is European but it is not. Where facts are simultaneously true but they are not, where rules are rules but at the same time they are not, where it is claimed that responsibility is shouldered but it is not, and where freedoms are purported to be protected when they are not. It’s Schroedinger’s MusCat.
Speaking at a Ted Talk in 2010 author Sam Harris asked “does the Taliban have an opinion on physics worth considering?” He answers with a prompt “no”. Similarly does Malta have an opinion on the European project and its values worth considering? The answer is “no”.
Harris goes on in the same video to make the point that “whenever we are talking about facts, certain opinions must be excluded. That is what it is to have a domain of expertise, that is what it is for knowledge to count”.
Labour has always expressed a euro scepticism, but in its characteristic schizophrenic relationship with reality it has taken to it “like a bitch on heat” (to use an English equivalent to a Maltese term that has caused some uproar recently). So long, that is, as it can take and keep taking without fully giving anything.
To appropriate Guy Verhofstadt’s comments on Hungary to my point “[Muscat] wants the European money, but not our values”
Malta has a choice: to continue being corrupt, or to be excluded from the progressive table. With the possibility of the EU triggering Article 7, that choice may be closer than you think.