Project Cassandra is a project by a small group of German academics working with the military aiming to use novels to try to pinpoint the world’s next conflicts. The idea of trawling through literature to identify possible trends and predict possible conflicts or humanitarian crisis is novel, to say the least, and yet has an attractive ring to it. Cassandra was a priestess in ancient Troy who got quite a few predictions right and yet was never heeded – being accused of having lost her wits.
There are times when observing the slowly unravelling fate of a nation when one can feel like a modern-day Cassandra – reading into the entrails of the happenings of the day and attempting to foresee what eventually seems to be an inevitable destiny. The similarity is compounded by the treatment reserved for such readings since they are often dismissed as the mad ramblings of a fool.
Malta’s greylisting by the FATF seems to have triggered a few realisations among the general public that were previously the reserve of Cassandra-like doomsayers such as this column. Take, for example, the theory that our political system needs a complete overhaul that sets aside the two political parties and a redesign that eliminates the clientelism and corruption with which the current structure is cursed. Such a theory may not have become mainstream, yet it seems to be gathering consensus with time.
What does help, of course, is that the signs that were previously hidden or well papered over are now beginning to manifest themselves more explicitly. Take, for example, the inability of the government to admit even the mildest form of responsibility for the mother of all FATF-ups that just occurred. Robert Abela’s dreadful press conference held, once the word was out that the inevitable had happened, is testimony to the dog-headedness of his government.
Already the press conference was held before the FATF’s report was out to take control of the situation. The prime minister could only mumble the weary story of business as usual combined with the smokescreen of “we survived the pandemic so we can survive anything”. No apologies. No responsibility to be taken. Not just that. The prime minister purposely confused the Moneyval technical report with the FATF conclusions regarding effectiveness and slammed the final decision as “unjust”.
The patriotic vein of the troll armies was suitably tickled into action led by the usual suspects of shit-stirring braying donkeys. What the prime minister did not count on at the time was the rude awakening of the sectors that would most be impacted by the greylisting. Notoriously cautious in their approach and having stayed put for the worst part of the last five years as the system burned, the interested sectors finally showed signs of life and indicated that in the future they will not allow the labour government the leeway it had been given until now.
Labour’s ‘business as usual’ approach and the default solution of throwing public money at public problems created by itself does not seem to be such an easy way out now. Already cracks are beginning to show. Take, for example, the fact that Malta has still not presented a post-COVID recovery plan to the EU. Worse, Malta still fails to satisfy the conditions required to be able to receive the first millions in recovery. So much for “Best in the World”. The Labour government seems to be only good at one thing: failing.
Back to Cassandra. I have long advocated the need for a blanket systemic reform including the breaking down of the bipartisan dominance. It is increasingly clear that such a reform can never come from within and, most of all, it will never come as an initiative of one of the two parties.
To be as clear as possible, this is not a situation where we can get away with one of those Constitutional Conventions doctored and orchestrated by the Labour and Nationalist politicians. Reform will have to be forced and, in order to be provoked, there will need to be a catastrophic event that shakes the system to the foundations to such an extent that the only solution is to rebuild from scratch.
Let me be clear about this. I do not wish a catastrophe on my country. Be it economic or natural because of the ill-thought actions of those entrusted with its management and progress, such a catastrophe will never be welcome. Yet it could be the only way to start from scratch due to the inevitability of rebirth. The Second Republic can only happen that way.
It’s a curse, I know. Cassandra’s Curse.