The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

Values

Alfred Sant Thursday, 23 May 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

I was greatly pleased that during the final week of the ongoing election campaign, the major theme switched to one about values. Perhaps what triggered it was the shock felt across the country at news of the arrests concerning the murder of Ivorian immigrant Lassana Cisse. Perhaps not. But that values were pushed up to the top of the agenda at this crucial point seemed to me to be a very welcome development.

ADVERTISEMENT

For despite the Opposition’s tired sermonizing, I met nobody during the past weeks who tried to contest the fact that the government has achieved significant economic and social successes, by contrast to the mediocre results – or worse – chalked up by the Gonzi administration. In this area, the PL administration has come close to a walk-over.

It is on how to make use of such achievement that the political debate had best focus now. Among other avenues, one could approach the issue from the perspective of which values should determine how the benefits and burdens of the growth generated are to be distributed. Or one could consider it from the need to reinforce those values which have begun to buckle in the wake of economic growth.

***

Socialism

Reference has already been made in this blog to PN representatives who in the same breath, accuse the Labour Party of not being socialist any more, and of having “reverted” to socialism. As if there is something wrong with having socialist beliefs.

To the contrary, for me it is quite clear that a sense of belonging to the socialist fellowship, mainly in the way it has been practised in Western Europe, is a source of strength. For some years prior to the “end” of the Cold War, the phrase “real socialism” had been introduced to describe the approaches of movements whose practices came close to those adopted by the then Soviet Union in the implementation of its brand of “socialism”. And it was also deployed by the christian democrats mostly to tar democratic socialism with the Soviets’ political practices.

This notwithstanding, democratic socialism remained the sole political force that is able to maintain a reasonable balance between the demands of the “free” market, and the public need for the state to be prepared to intervene in order to protect society. 

***

Europe of the nations

I will once again repeat: The Gaullist call for a Europe of the peoples... or of the nations, as some prefer to call it ... was one that still makes sense for today’s Europe. It is a pity that both right and left have allowed it to be forgotten... for no matter what may be said one way or the other, de Gaulle also had French socialists who were in full agreement with a good slice of his ideas.

Today, his call has been appropriated by the extreme right. As a result, it has become devalued, a slogan that much mortifies those good souls who believe that heaven will be discovered in a Europe united under a single government. But, it also disturbs other people, given the way by which the call has been mixed into a xenophobic narrative and packaged in neo-fascist discourse.

This is a pity for what de Gaulle distinguished in the European reality is still relevant today: the fact that the continent’s history is made up of the different and yet similar historical experiences of its peoples. Europe is a unique experience in the development of humanity.

I just do not know how unity in Europe can be created while ignoring this experience. Or worse, by making out of it a neo-fascist caricature. 

  • don't miss