As shamed ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat attempts to weather yet another public humiliation after being caught taking tens of thousands of euros in ‘consultancy fees’ from a company associated with the scandalous VGH/Steward hospitals deal, his supporters remain unmoved, unwavering in their blind loyalty.
He lied blatantly in the interview he gave this summer when he denied point-blank that he was doing any work for any companies related to the hospitals’ contractor. Yet still, his supporters spit and seethe at the suggestion that perhaps Muscat has done wrong.
This level of devotion to a man who has clearly done immense damage to the country is becoming as alarming as watching a group of young people being caught up in a sinister cult. No matter how many ‘ġaħans’ there may be, it’s just not possible that so many people are so completely bereft of judgement or any sense of self-preservation that they can’t see the damage that Muscat and his ominous legacy have done to us.
It’s like watching a Maltese version of Jonestown, in which Muscat has somehow hoodwinked and conned vast numbers of people into following him into the abyss, come what may.
More than 900 people, including many little children, were killed in the Jonestown horror in 1978. It’s described as a mass suicide, but should perhaps more properly be remembered as mass murder. The doomed followers of the diabolical Reverend Jim Jones were quite literally brainwashed, victims of extreme mind control and manipulation that robbed many of them of their ability to take, or protest, such an extreme decision.
While the Maltese population is not likely to be literally poisoned to death by Muscat and his successors, the toxic psychological effects of the mind control tactics they employ are already alarmingly clear to see. And the economic and societal ‘death’ that they’re already causing are becoming more catastrophic by the day.
Far too many people fell under the spell of his superficial charm, believed the lies of his silvered tongue, and ignored the dire warning bells that assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was ringing.
Now, eight years after the great con that carried him to power and four years after his government made it possible, at the very least, for her to be brutally assassinated in broad daylight outside her own home, we all know she was right.
Every day, we get further confirmation that she was right. Only it’s too late now. More than half the population is lost to the cause of this sick cult of Muscat/PL-worship, their brains envenomed to such an extent that they’re able to cheer and sneer at a grieving family, to rejoice, even today, over the murder of a fellow human being, and litter social media with words of such hate and fury for anyone who opposes their heroes that it takes one’s breath away.
Many people tend to downplay the dangers of emotional and psychological manipulation. Only stupid people fall for it, they may say: ‘I’d never be susceptible, it’s only morons who could believe the lies, who can’t see the deception’. But that’s been proven to be false.
We can see it in Malta, ourselves, where it’s not only the vapid masses who swallow the Labour Kool-Aid but also a large number of men and women known to be smart, accomplished and professional. How’s this possible, though? How can they not see through it?
Successful deception is dangerously powerful. An article in The New Yorker a few years ago described a series of experiments carried out by researchers at Stanford University and others over the decades, all of which were designed to establish whether learning new facts about something would change minds. It turns out that, as one of the researchers put it, “once formed, impressions are remarkably perseverant”.
People who, for whatever reason, have been sufficiently deceived to make a certain fact part of their belief system will then go on to display confirmation bias – the tendency most people have of accepting facts that confirm their opinions and ignoring those that contradict them.
Muscat and his ‘best friends’ – Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi – laid down the fundamental lies about himself and his intentions long before he became prime minister. His pre-2013 sermons about eradicating corruption, establishing an honest, fair government, creating prosperity for all – the nauseating ‘Taghna Lkoll’ slogan – won over the vast majority of PL supporters as well as a large swathe of PN voters. The facts, for these people, were laid down.
For many of these people, Muscat’s exposure, yet again, as a liar, as taking money from a company that his government has been accused of granting a “fraudulent and corrupt” hugely expensive contract to, is nothing more than character assassination, smearing, false accusations.
They take his assertion that he was doing legitimate work, for €15,000 a month, that he only started after he resigned as prime minister – though he was still an MP for the first few months at least – at face value, and see the news reports as simply more vicious, unfounded mud-slinging.
Konrad Mizzi’s performance at the Public Accounts Committee last week was an attempt to tap into that same vein of viewer sympathy and outrage. His full-on narcissistic rage – exploding into furious accusations at his opponents, peppered with reminders of what he considers he did for the country, twisting facts, lying outright, repeating over and over the falsehoods he’d conned so many into believing for so long – was extraordinary to watch.
We’ve seen Muscat in full red-faced spitting vehemence too – in the shameful aftermath of the sham Egrant inquiry conclusions, when he and yet another disgraced former Minister Chris Cardona, were shouting at former PN leader and MP Simon Busuttil saying he would have to escape Malta and Europe, Joseph Muscat leant forward in his seat and spewed hideous wrath across the aisle. Yet it was Muscat who was rejected by the EU.
Muscat’s desired outcome, as he sat plotting his criminal ‘roadmap’ with his chums pre-2013, was surely not what we have today. His intention, of course, was to spend 10 years raking in the dosh, then skip off into the sunset, his crimes undetected, his adulation undimmed.
Instead, we have a country on the verge of economic collapse. A government that’s sold its soul to big business, staffed with ministers and MPs enslaved to corrupters. A landscape that’s been ravaged by concrete, a countryside that’s been stripped of trees, and towns and villages that look like cheap shanty towns in third-world slums.
But, most tragic of all, we have a large section of the population that’s been deceived, gas-lit and manipulated to such an extent that it’s lost all sense of right and wrong, all capacity to understand that it’s been used, abused and traumatised to the point it’s lost all semblance of humanity.
A section of the population who, most tragically, have been turned into heartless voids, who celebrate the murder of an innocent woman, and defend to the death the misdeeds of some of the most evil men this country has ever seen. And this, surely, is Muscat’s worst crime of all.