The Malta Independent 26 September 2020, Saturday

Dumbing and dumping Malta

Victor Calleja Sunday, 12 January 2020, 09:10 Last update: about 10 months ago

I have always loved our country, with its warts, pettiness and ironies. I learnt quite early how small and petty-minded we are: I am, after all, part of its fabric so I loved my – and our own – insignificance.

Our country has always had glaring faults. Our politics sucked. Our omertà was always our one true, infallibly present, religion. We were servile, and many of us are always ready to double-cross each other if it suits us. We often let horrors go unnoticed. Our blood needs clientelism to survive.


I always thought we wrought miracles to survive on a small rock – barren, dry and overrun by too many of us.

I always believed that, before I condemn the land which gave me my life and my living, I should look in the mirror. I don’t do it often but when I do, I am aghast at what I see. I am annoyed by my pettiness, my ingratitude, my servility, my not speaking out enough, or loudly enough.

I would find it hard to spill the beans on my best friend or colleague. I would also find it hard to relinquish my chance to climb higher by closing an eye or two on the ascent. I fight all these baser instincts but they are there in my inner core. I try to always let principles and values beat the inner core of thinking that I – and the ones surrounding me – are the be-all and end-all. 

Sometimes we all fail. Sometimes we all suffer an internal death of conscience. And who doesn’t ever think that we are the centre of the world and forget everything else?

But I always felt that, with all our foibles and innate failings, we – as a country – deserved to be looked up to for surviving, for making it against all odds.

Daphne Caruana Galizia used to say that Malta should be obliterated; that we were so despicable we needed to clean the slate and start from scratch. According to Daphne, we deserved nothing better than what we had created ourselves. It was one of the few things she said with which I didn’t agree. I felt it was a pretty awful thing to say. Malta was not so bad, I used to think. Malta had made it and will make it – why let hope die?

Fast forward a few years and I am still angry: actually I am angrier. Not at Daphne for uttering those words but at myself.  For not having understood then just how necessary it was for this land of ours to be completely torn down and reconstructed.

We are a country which truly and awfully sucks. It is not just our politics, politicians and men and women at the top who are shaming us by destroying everything that is good, salvageable and functioning.

In a recent opinion piece Prof. Dominic Fenech, Head of the Department of History at Malta University, talks about the challenges ahead for the Labour Party.

Prof. Fenech writes with particular emphasis on why the Party members should elect – or should have elected – Chris Fearne as their leader. By now we should all know whether his chosen candidate was elected or not. It is not important. What is important and shocking is what the man from the university uttered.

The piece is sombrely – and soberly – entitled: “A time for grave reflection”. The man who heads the History Department, who is moulding and helping our university students to think critically, writes a piece couched in platitudes and cover-ups.

Instead of condemning everything that has happened in the six years of Labour government, he talks first of economic development and material well-being:

It gave the country a powerful injection of energy that brought it back on its feet, created economic growth, eliminated unemployment, substituted a surplus for the deficit, and lightened the millstone of debt hanging from the neck of future generations. For this we should remain, for a very long time, indebted to the ġenerazzjoni rebbieħa (winning generation).”

Prof.  Fenech does admit that this economic success has come at a cost. But the words corruption, justice denied, assassination of a journalist, cover-ups by high officials, freedom curtailed, memorials desecrated, institutional hijacking and criminality in Castille are totally absent.

The good professor then goes on to say that a lot has to be done to salvage our reputational loss abroad. Not a word that the reputation was lost when the Labour Party was in government.

This article was penned by a man who is a history lecturer. He does not see that he is the embodiment of our precarious situation in how we look at things and dissect them. He cannot see the irony of it all: that by choosing to emphasise one thing and block out a whole load of others, he is doing a disservice to the past, the present and the future.

When Daphne wrote about Malta’s situation, she knew how deep-rooted our problems were. She also knew that there was no hope for us, because we totally lack any spine or brain; and most of the ones who do have a brain use it in nefarious ways.

We truly deserve the situation we are in right now and, if we survive these cascades of crises, we will remain a servile, crass country: a people who love corruption and who are in no way perturbed by the total disintegration of critical thinking.

If one of the top minds of the land reasons this way, why not just dump us all in the cesspit of our history?  


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