A political class we (don’t) deserve. Or, Betrayal.
A recent Malta Today editorial, revisiting the shameful JPO episode, concluded that “this is how politics works in Malta” and that when “ethical behaviour gets thrown out of the window, and politicians can hold on to their seats and posts without even a modicum of humility in the face of damning evidence, then perhaps we ought to consider that we really get the political class we deserve.”
One is tempted to agree with Malta Today’s conclusion, especially when this gutsy paper reminds us that the “entire farce was later crowned by (former) secretary-general Joe Saliba’s frank admission that he would pursue the same strategy had he found himself in a similar situation once again”. We must, however, resist this temptation. We must refute the assertion that this is the political class this country deserves on at least two grounds.
We must, firstly, refute it because it is based on the assumption that all the Maltese who have chosen to engage in politics in one way or another are all unscrupulous bastards that represent a nation of equally unscrupulous bastards. Secondly, we must also refute it because it is an assertion that exudes a sickening stench of fatalism. We are all a bunch of bastards, it says, and, what’s worse, we are forever destined to remain so.
We do not share Malta Today’s wholesale condemnation of all those engaged in politics nor do we subscribe to its apocalyptic pessimism. Malta Today quotes from the Noble Prize acceptance speech of one of my favourite playwrights, Harold Pinter, who is presently enjoying an unusually long pause, a dramatic mechanism he practically invented:
“…the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”
Pinter, you may wish to note, is more cautious than Malta Today. He speaks of “the majority of politicians” not of the political class, not of all politicians. Harold Pinter’s distinction is critical. The lack of distinction exercised by Malta Today is, on the contrary, fatal. It kills any hope some of us may have. Pause. Of changing things. Pause. Of changing. Pause. At least to the extent that makes life on this rock worthwhile. Pause. We cannot betray that hope. Pause. It would be a. Pause. Betrayal. Silence.
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