The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Muscat the Obscene

Mark A. Sammut Sunday, 19 January 2020, 10:47 Last update: about 2 months ago

It is too early to start analysing newly-installed Prime Minister Robert Abela’s performance. So far, he has made a number of statements and only in time shall we know if he really meant them.

Frankly, I don’t want to find myself in the position of those who had to admit they had been hasty in their initial assessment of Joseph Muscat. I want to wait, to give time to time, and will analyse Dr Abela’s performance only as events unfold. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, to study his reactions, his solutions, his foresight, his values, and whether he keeps the promises he makes along the way. I will be fair with him, as I have been with his predecessor.

During his Dissett interview of Wednesday 15th, Dr Abela stressed that he wants to find the balance. He drove the message home that balance will be the hallmark of his premiership.

Indeed, he needs to devise a two-pronged strategy.

On the one hand, he has to restore Malta’s badly-damaged reputation. Actually, first he needs to recalibrate his measurement of the damage (he thinks it’s not that bad); then, he has to ensure the quick and focussed prosecution of the cases of corruption that ironically have airlifted him to power.

On the other, he needs to take care of the downtrodden and the environment, while maintaining the economic momentum. He’s taken up the job of Prime Juggler not Prime Minister. He really needs to find the balance. Only time will tell if he’s up to this which is, admittedly, a tall order.

In his inaugural speech, Dr Abela has said he wants to “keep Joseph Muscat’s ‘movement’ alive and kicking”. What this will mean beyond the rhetoric is not clear yet, particularly since Muscat’s ‘movement’ lacked balance and it depended entirely on its imbalance to succeed.

Again, time will tell what Dr Abela really means by these early statements. Mostly because Muscat’s ‘movement’ was based on a huge misunderstanding: Muscat deluded himself he was a liberal. Real liberalism is, in one of its manifestations, the pursuit of happiness, as the Americans have declaimed in their (liberal and stunningly beautiful) Constitution. I won’t go into the feasibility of the project of pursuing happiness, as that pursuit might be endless given that happiness might just be a mirage in a desert of misery and desolation.

Be that as it may. The pursuit of happiness isn’t the pursuit of pleasure. Pleasure doesn’t engender happiness and happiness isn’t necessarily pleasure. In actual fact, pleasure might just augment the desire for more pleasure – consider the mechanism behind the overdose: a relentless search for more pleasure which doesn’t bring more happiness but death. Happiness – as even the Greek philosophers who taught about seeking happiness in this life, pointed out – is learning how to avoid pain and how to satisfy one’s needs adequately. Muscat’s liberalism is hedonist, it seeks pleasure; it doesn’t seek happiness in the sense I’ve just described.

This was one of Muscat’s biggest “philosophical” mistakes – I’m using “philosophical” because I feel like being generous with the man who has been kicked out of the number-one job in the country because of his lax attitude and insatiability. He always wanted more, and more, and more. In reality, his wasn’t “philosophy”; it was a mentality.

The Mejjet bil-Ġuħ Mentality

Mejjet bil-ġuħ literally means “famished” in the sense of “peckish”. But it is also calqued on the Italian morto di fame (literally, starved to death) which is synonymous with words like bramosia, cupidigia, avidità, smania – all of which mean, more or less, the excessive greed of the excessively famished, who devour (not eat) with a wild look in their eyes. If you remember the movies of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill: the former is usually hungry, the latter un morto di fame.

Muscat governed with the morto di fame mentality, as if he never had had anything in his life, exuding an excessive urgency to make hay while the sun shines, even tolerating and protecting his two closest aides when they were caught red-handed owning very fishy secret offshore corporate structures.

This mejjet bil-ġuħ mentality must have been the what’s-it-called that attracted the flies to the what’s-it-called-hole on the Fourth Floor; the same flies Anġlu Farrugia is now hinting he didn’t have a big enough flyswatter to strike them with.

If we’re to believe Sandro Chetcuti, the Nationalists had told him about the need to diversify since “development” as Mr Chetcuti understands it was no longer sustainable. The “developers” recognised Muscat’s mejjet bil-ġuħ mentality and seduced him. Yes, I claim that it wasn’t Muscat who seduced the “developers” but the other way round – the “developers” seduced (an admittedly easy) Muscat. Had Muscat not been slave to his mejjet bil-ġuħ mentality, he would have put the national interest first. And the country would not have been thus ruined.

But give Ċirillu a pair of trousers, and being the bravu he is, you know what he’ll do, and you also know where he’ll wipe after he’s done it. And the flies keep going back to him, as they like it.

Lord of the Flies

It must be an obscene being who, in a matter of days, first visits the Pope accompanied by his two innocent children, then attends Midnight Mass at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, and then first thing he does upon resigning is to hint he will campaign for the introduction of abortion. This could finally become the textbook example of “obscenity”.

This obscene creature said he owed it to future generations. What does he owe to future generations? That they be killed in their mothers’ wombs?

This obscene Beelzebub, this Lord of the Flies, knows that the illiterate segment of the electorate adores him and is easily carried away by his demonic rhetoric. But more importantly, this Deceiver also knows that there’s a small but powerful percentage of the thinking electorate that’s warmly receptive to his obscene ideas.

On this game Muscat the Obscene has now set his mind. He will keep rousing the rabble while using the ultra-liberal part of the electorate to shield himself from possible official procedures relating to corruption and other illegalities. He is crudely and rudely hinting at immunity in exchange for his role in introducing (or not) abortion in this country.

The new Prime Minister has declared that he’ll fight Muscat the Obscene’s pro-abortion efforts. This is, I believe, wishful thinking. Muscat the Obscene’s understanding of the economy is probably considerably better than Dr Abela’s; he also understands that in time, Dr Abela might need the support of that percentage of the electorate that respects Muscat the Obscene.

Let’s keep in mind that it often happens that politicians miscalculate how much power they really have, and as a first-term lawmaker, Dr Abela is still fresh to real politics. One reason why many politicians don’t keep their word isn’t because they’re not honourable people, but because circumstances are much stronger than the politician could ever have dreamt, and s/he must bow before to them to survive. Muscat the Obscene said he wants to be a sailor on a boat captained by another – let’s see whether and how he’ll rock the boat.

Politics as entertainment

A certain, unsophisticated segment of the electorate, view politics as entertainment, on a par with football. They possibly view it as even better than football because it’s a sort of interactive game. Whereas in football you just watch (and bet, if you’re the betting type), in politics you watch, you bet, but also you participate by voting, bribing, etc. However, this is not Politics.

This column is probably read by the converted, so there’s no need for any preaching. Then again, it’s always good to share convictions with like-minded people. Particularly with regard to politics, which are nothing but the art of surviving in a hostile world where nobody owes you a living but where you should not behave like a mejjet bil-ġuħ either: politics is surviving in a community with limited resources. Politics is not point scoring but problem solving.

Let us pray that God listens to our national anthem and does grant judiciousness to he who governs Malta and strength to those who make the economy grow.

My Personal Library (No Consecutive Number)

Today, I would like to ask to be forgiven but I’ll use this space for a little self-promotion.

This coming Wednesday, January 22nd, I’m delivering a public lecture at Casa Lanfreducci, Valletta, at 6:30 pm, hosted by the Malta Historical Society, on the Father of the Maltese Language.

I’ll focus on a short period during Mikiel Anton Vassalli’s exile in France, discussing certain fascinating aspects of Marseille, her Freemasonry and commercial philosophy: all elements that colour the background to Vassalli’s French exile. This summer I attended a public conference organised by the Freemasons in Marseille and visited a few State institutions – I’ll share with the public what I have found.

More importantly, however, I now possess some documents that will cast light on one aspect of Vassalli’s life. I have unearthed documentary evidence, both in France and on Malta, that answers, but also raises, questions.

I’ll be answering, at least in part, a question that has been troubling Vassalli researchers for the past 80 odd years.

This documentary evidence will probably embarrass certain researchers who insisted on certain assumptions while confirming the reasoned deductions of others.

Not for nothing have I called this lecture – given we live in times famished for evidence and proof – Vassalli fit-Turufnament: il-Provi. The lecture will be in Maltese. For obvious reasons.

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