The Malta Independent 25 September 2023, Monday
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Writing or speech?

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 5 June 2023, 08:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

I recently got plugged into an interesting argument about a topic which on its own is “academic”, meaning that it does not provide any new skill or perspective by which to impact immediately on the surrounding environment. Yet, it revolves around some understanding of what has really been of the greatest importance in the life of “man”, not least in the everyday life of human beings.

What was the dominant breakthrough in the evolution of human civilisation: when man learned how to speak or when writing was developed?

Those who believe that speech was the major factor in human progress  claim that it allowed humans to explain arising problems and challenges, set future aims and agree about them, and cooperate  with fellows in order to implement such agreed aims. But now it has been established that other animals too possess means of communication and language tools even if they are not as “advanced” as those which belong to humans.

On the other hand, writing gave “man” the ability to widen “his” outreach over a larger spread of territory. It allowed for the transmission of commands and instructions across farflung distances from where whoever gave such commands was physically located. It provided the means by which records could be kept of events and experiences from which future generations would retain the best access to past discoveries about the material world in which “man” lived. In this way, human society became increasingly complex and endowed with resources.



The word “reform” has been devalued since quite a while.

For a long time, “reform” was a word of substance, used to denote projects for radical change, perhaps just short of a revolution. There was the example set by Luther with his Reformation to drive back the excesses and abuses of the Catholc Church of his time. It gave a demonstration of how powerful the meaning of reform could be.

Today that significance has faded. All governments use the word reform indiscriminately for whatever they want to achieve, major or minor.

Reforms have multiplied so widely that it has become hardly possible to distinguish one from the other, especially when they are intended to roll back some other reform that had been introduced quite recently.

For that has become another outcome of the devaluation that the meaning of reform has been subjected to: it is also getting to mean the reversal of some other relatively fresh reform.



European stock exchanges have remained too small. One reason for this is that European peoples are not used to invest in equities. The financial culture is skewed towards people opting to deposit their available cash in banks.

Compared to the financial markets of the US, the UK and Asia, European markets are split into relatively small units. Which is what gives rise to the need to create a European market that would bring together all such. But this is hardly an easy task since it implies changes in financial customs and procedures which countries have built over  the years in ways that not everybody can understand or agree with.

Fundamentally, this could also reflect the European reality of a situation where a radical divide exists between national financial markets – namely between those of the north and those of the south.


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