watersbroken

Dahrendorf rivizitat.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 28, 2009

F’dan is-sens ir-rwol ta’ Dah­rendorf kien pożittiv. Kien sinjal ta’ allarm tal-insostenib­biltà soċjali ta’ guffaġni poli­tika. F’mument fejn l-aktar li kellna bżonn nifirxu l-eġemo­nija tagħna fl-irkejjen kollha tas-soċjetà ċivili – kundizzjoni essenzjali biex nibnu soċjetà tabilħaqq progressiva – ħraqna eluf ta’ alleati li kellna bżonn­hom bħall-ħobż. L-għażla ta’ Joseph Muscat bħala mexxej tindika li qiegħdin nitgħallmu mill-imgħoddi.

“Imsieken dawn il-Maltin!” Hekk żgur jgħid Ralf Dahren­dorf kieku kellu jaqra wħud mill-affarijet li nkitbu dwaru f’dawn il-jiem f’Malta. Jien kont student gradwat tas-soċjoloġija fil-London School of Economics and Political Science (magħrufa aħjar bħala l-LSE) fl-ewwel snin tiegħu bħala direttur ta’ dan iċ-ċentru ewlieni fil-qasam tax-xjenzi soċjali.

Kien in-nofs tas-snin 70 u Dahrendorf kien għadu ‘biss’ ċittadin Ġermaniż. Kiseb iċ-ċittadinanza doppja fl-1988 meta kien onorat bil-KBE, ħames snin qabel ma nħatar membru għal għomru tal-House of Lords. Ma kinitx ħaġa stramba li professur barrani jilħaq Direttur tal-LSE. Dan il-kulleġġ tal-Università ta’ Londra (illum awtonomu) kellu fama bħala d-‘dar’ ta’ wħud mill-aħjar imħuħ tal-kontinent Ewropew, fosthom dawk li kienu ħarbu mid-ditta­-tura Nażista tal-Ġermanja fis-snin 30 u 40.

Din kienet l-LSE li Herbert Ganado kien identifika bħala ċentru ta’ propaganda soċja­lista u komunista li saħansitra, ma nafx kif imma dejjem skont Ganado, kienet għajn ta’ ispi­raz­zjoni politika għal Mintoff (Rajt Malta Tinbidel, Vol. 3, it-tieni edizzjoni, 1977, p.290). Safejn naf jien, il-Perit Oxford studja u mhux l-LSE. Veru li din twaqqfet fl-1895 permezz ta’ somma flus li l-Fabian So­ciety, għaqda soċjal-riformista qrib il-Partit Laburista, wirtet mingħand donatur. Veru wkoll, iżda, li l-LSE malajr żviluppat f’ċentru ta’ eċċel­lenza internazzjonali li ġibdet lejha ħassieba brillanti imma frankament konservattivi bħal Karl Popper (1902-1994) u Friederich August Hayek (1899-1992), it-tnejn idoli ta’ Margaret Thatcher (ċertament mhix xellugija).

Dahrendorf laħaq direttur fl-1974, l-istess sena li Hayek rebaħ il-Premju Nobel għall-Ekonomija, u sena qabel li Thatcher laħqet kap tal-Partit Konservattiv. Il-kredenzjali tiegħu għal din il-kariga kienu eċċellenti: kien studja taħt Popper l-LSE fis-snin 50 u hemm kiseb il-PhD, kien għal­lem is-soċjoloġija f’Amburgu, f’Tubinga u f’Kostanza u ppub­-blika l-kapulavur “Klassi u konflitt ta’ klassi fis-soċjetà industrijali”. Kellu wkoll esper­jenza politika u amministrat­tiva: kien deputat tal-FDP (żgur mhux partit xellugi), segretarju parlamentari u Kummissarju Ewropew (l-ew­wel għall-affarijet barranin u kummerċ, imbagħad għax-xjenza, ir-riċerka u l-edukaz­zjoni).

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Madankollu, f’Malta fior del mondo, Ganado seta’ jikteb hekk: “Il-London School of Economics […] kellha wkoll filosofija ekonomika Soċjalista. Sa ftit ilu kienet f’idejn Lasky, orjentat lejn il-Komuniżmu. Issa […] qiegħda f’idejn Dah­-rendorf li, waqt li qed nikteb, ippreżenta r-rapport tal-kum­missjoni li ppresieda fuq l-Università ta’ Malta” (op.cit. p.291). L-avukat Ganado kien qed jinsinwa li minn xi ħadd li kien qed imexxi istitut allega­ta­ment imnebbaħ mill-Marxiż­mu ateju u anti-klerikali (jaq­leb għal dan is-suġġett immed­jatament fl-istess paġna), wie­ħed kellu bilfors jistenna pro­posti li jissovvertu t-tradizzjo­nijet sagrosanti tal-kultura Maltija.

Il-pandemonju li qam bir-riformi tal-Università ta’ Malta huwa parti mill-istorija ta’ pajjiżna iżda għadu frisk wisq fil-memorja ta’ min għex dak il-perjodu, biex din l-istorja tinkiteb b’mod seren u kemm jista’ jkun oġġettiv. F’dak il-kuntest, l-għażla ta’ Dahren­dorf biex imexxi l-Kummis­sjoni kienet tajba: intellettwali kbir, eks Kummissarju Ewro­pew għall-edukazzjoni, politi­kament differenti mill-gvern li kkummissjonah.

Il-PL ftit jiem ilu ħareġ stqar­rija li wriet maturità poli­tika kbira. Qabel xejn, sellem lil Dahrendorf u fakkar kemm għamel biex kattar il-kultura Ġermaniża f’Malta f’perjodu meta l-komprensjoni reċipro­ka kienet essenzjali biex jitkattar l-investiment Ġermaniż f’Malta (il-Ġermanja kienet għajn ewlenija ta’ investiment fis-snin 70). Imbagħad irrefera għar-rwol ‘pożittiv’ li kellu Dahrendorf fil-kwistjoni tar-riformi tal-edukazzjoni għolja, liema rwol jeħtieġ li jkun rival­wat fil-kuntest storiku ta’ dawk iż-żminijiet.

X’jista’ jfisser dak il-‘pożit­tiv’? Kif fakkruna wħud li ħatfu l-okkażjoni tal-mewt ta’ Dahrendorf il-ġimgħa li għad­diet biex mingħalihom iħam­mru wiċċ il-PL (imma ma rnexxielhom jagħmlu xejn ħlief li jikkonfermaw kemm huma ‘msieken’), f’ċertu mument tal-proċess ta’ riforma Dahren­dorf kien qal ċar u tond li hu ma kienx jaqbel ma dak kollu li kien qed jagħmel il-gvern laburista. Illum qiegħdin na­raw li kieku dakinhar il-Partit Laburista kellu jinterpreta id-dissens ta’ Dahrendorf korret­tament, x’aktarx li numru kbir ta’ persuni li setgħu joqorbu lejna ma kinux ikomplu jit­biegħdu minna, u oħrajn li kienu viċin tagħna ma kinux jitilquna. Mhux qed ngħid missna warrabna l-għan li niirriformaw l-edukazjoni għolja, imma li missna fassalna il-pjani tagħna b’mod aktar għaqli u fittxejna kunsens akbar biex ‘nwet­tqu ir-riforma.

F’dan is-sens ir-rwol ta’ Dah­rendorf kien pożittiv. Kien sinjal ta’ allarm tal-insostenib­biltà soċjali ta’ guffaġni poli­tika. F’mument fejn l-aktar li kellna bżonn nifirxu l-eġemo­nija tagħna fl-irkejjen kollha tas-soċjetà ċivili – kundizzjoni essenzjali biex nibnu soċjetà tabilħaqq progressiva – ħraqna eluf ta’ alleati li kellna bżonn­hom bħall-ħobż. L-għażla ta’ Joseph Muscat bħala mexxej tindika li qiegħdin nitgħallmu mill-imgħoddi.

X’differenza bejn it-ton tal-istqarrija tal-PL u dak ta’ xi stqarrijiet u kummenti li qrajna fil-gazzetti Maltin f’dawn il-jiem! Hemm min ma jitlifx opportunità biex jipprova jerġa’ jqajjem l-ispirtu ta’ kon­-frontazzjoni u ta’ gwerra qad­-­disa ta’ żminijiet li biex xi darba nifhmuhom neħtieġu kuraġġ u maturità intellettwali kbar

Mario Vella

Dan l-artiklu deher fit-Torca 29 Gunju 2009  http://www.it-torca.com/news.asp?newsitemid=8040

Ritratt: Ralf Dahrendorf f’diskussjoni pubblika ma Rudi Dutschke, 1968. Hajr: die Tageszeitung (taz.de) http://www.taz.de/1/leben/koepfe/artikel/1/der-minirock-wurde-nicht-1968-erfunden/

Uneasy lie the heads.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 22, 2009

No, there’s no typo in the title. Of course, what Henry IV says in Part II, Act III, Scene I, Line 33 – when complaining that the solace of restful sleep does not come easy to those in power – is “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

Shakespeare speaks of one head, the king’s, hence the third person singular. Weary and wary (who wouldn’t be when beset by rebellion?), Harry’s crown weighs heavily upon his royal skull.

No typo then, the use of the plural is expressly intended. I speak of all heads that wear a crown. Let’s start with the Prime Minister and kap. (Aside: The Nationalist Party prefers to use this Italianate term, from capo from the Latin caput, head, as opposed to Labour’s unapologetically semitic mexxej. Much in the same way as they prefer Nazzjonijet Uniti to Labour’s Ġnus Magħquda…a hint of the PN’s unease with ethnic identity?)

But back to business. The June 6 results can’t possibly fail to be a pain in the neck for the honourable gentleman, in whichever of his two institutional positions of responsibility. This holds for anyone who is anyone in the governing party. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is true for anyone with a modicum of brain who identifies her/himself with the PN.

For the June 6 results are not merely symptoms of a passing malaise but they indicate deep subterranean changes. They confirmed what we had been suspecting for a while, namely, that a growing number of voters no longer recognise themselves in the either/or fundamentalism that has ruled this country for far too long.

You may consider yourself a Nationalist and yet not accept all of the PN’s views as sacred dogma. Likewise, if you feel at home with the Labour Party. More and more citizens that feel they belong to one of the two major parties are ready to disagree with particular policies and statements enunciated by the respective office holders and elected representatives.

But what happens, you will ask, if I am “blue” and discover that I disagree fundamentally with what “blue” stands for? The easy answer is that in this case you are not really “blue” and that, for the sake of moral consistency, you ought to come out in the open about it. The less easy answer is another important question: “What does it mean to be really blue (or really red) after all?”

In my view, a growing number of voters on both sides will increasingly tend to vote, not for “their” party, but for the party that addresses their concerns with greater credibility. This growing category of voters will also increasingly tend to vote for the party that is less fundamentalist in terms of the requirement that members and supporters should adhere to its articles of faith.

For example, a kap who believes that declared gays ought not candidate themselves for Parliament is thereby imposing his prejudices on his party’s members and supporters. Such a kap will tend to become unelectable and a political liability. This is true of any policy based on the moral convictions, tenets of faith or mere prejudices of only a part of the electorate. It is true of any other issue of the same nature, from divorce to cremation. I suggested that we begin by considering the implications of these seismic changes on Lawrence Gonzi because I think that, of the two leaders, he is the less likely to successfully adapt to the emerging political landscape. He belongs to a cultural world that may once have been solid but has now largely melted into air.

If this is the case, then the PN needs to draw the consequences and to reinvent itself. If it is doesn’t, peggio per loro.

What about the PL? Well, Joseph Muscat has so far shown that he has a feel for the changing electorate that is not simply beyond Dr Gonzi’s will but also beyond his comprehension.

This is not a moral issue but a cultural one. I am convinced that Dr Gonzi is a good man but that is not the point. The point is that today’s world requires a correspondingly contemporary world view that he does not have. It is not a question of age. I know far too many persons – on both sides – who are younger than Dr Muscat but even more intellectually out of touch with the world than Dr Gonzi himself. It is a question of culture.

Am I suggesting that a party’s survival depends on promising whatever quantitatively significant market segments signal that they want, according to market surveys? No. Such a party would not “hold together” and would be swept aside by the electorate itself. Dr Muscat is a case in point. He is both the product of ongoing deep changes in our political culture and a conscious agent of this change. 

An easy task? Far from it. Uneasy lie all heads that wear a crown, including that of Opposition Leader. You can’t sleep as you sail uncharted waters.

Mario Vella

You can access the original article in Dr Vella column in the Times of Malta of June 22nd at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090622/opinion/uneasy-lie-the-heads

 

Niebuhr, McCabe, Kirk, Crane & Co.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 22, 2009

I “met” Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) twice three years after he passed away. Finals were hurtling towards me at vertiginous speed, like the menacing asteroids on the main screen on the bridge of Star Ship Enterprise*. Anticipation of release from Malta, however, was an effective palliative against the apprehension of impending impact with exams. I had set my sights on the LSE and on diversifying from philosophy to sociology. My spaceship was ready “to boldly go”. These first encounters with Niebuhr were of the brief and, apparently, inconsequential kind.

Reinhold%20Niebuhr

The first was ephemeral. A SUNY Binghamton student on her 1973/1974 study-abroad programme, having heard me express strong views on neocolonialism, suggested that I beware of the “messianic impulse”. While agreeing with me, she felt I was self-righteous and that I might benefit from reading Niebuhr. She had done so and, she claimed, his “realism” had transformed her into a “wiser” person. I did not. I mean, I did not forthwith read him and did not become wiser.

The second one was a non-encounter. This was during a visit to Malta by Herbert McCabe (1926-2001), a close friend of my then professor of philosophy, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott. I remember a long walk with McCabe around Mellieħa, in the company of Sammy Vella (who brought along a liberal supply of his wine) and Evarist Bartolo (who brought along food and his wit). I remember the conversation swinging between the abstract (our questions to the author of Love, Law & Language) and the concrete (his questions to us about Maltese politics).

HerbertMcCabe

We asked about the “McCabe affair”. Reacting to theologian Charles Davis’ decision to leave the priesthood and the Catholic Church because of the latter’s “concern for authority at the expense of truth” (Time, December 30, 1966), in the February 1967 issue of New Blackfriars, McCabe argued that although the Church was “quite plainly corrupt” this did not justify leaving it. He was sacked – thereby illustrating Davis’ point about authority and truth – and suspended from administering the sacraments and preaching. We knew about the legendary first sentence of his first editorial upon reinstatement at New Blackfriars (“As I was saying before being so oddly interrupted…”), but were delighted to hear it live.

I remember how this led McCabe to advise us to be concrete in our political judgments, to base these on concrete analyses of concrete situations. He warned us against political infantilism and urged us not to exile ourselves in marginal groups, no matter how far from ideal a mass party with whom “the people” identified might be. He set me thinking. What is the point of being self-appointed proud keepers of uncompromising, absolute, eternal, perfect and pure ideas of what is politically good (yes, Platonic idealism), if you are utterly incapable of changing the real world even just a little bit? Unwillingness to compromise is complicity with those that oppose change. It was then that I recalled Niebuhr’s notion of a negotiated compromise between the ideal and the possible.

Suddenly, it was very late and I drove McCabe back to the Rabat Dominican Priory, where he was staying. I was hoping we would have time for a nightcap before saying goodnight – there were so many other things I wanted to hear his views on, including Niebuhr’s realism – but, when the yawning monk who came to the door looked at his watch, I knew that Niebuhr would once again have to wait. How could I tell a churlish Maltese patri that I wanted to hang around a while longer with a guest brother of his who was viewed suspiciously in Rome, was a radical thinker and an Irishman to boot, to sip whiskey and discuss the views of an American Protestant of German descent? **

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My first consequential encounter with Niebuhr took place 22 years later, on the last Friday of March 1996, in New York City, in a second-hand bookshop whose name I have forgotten, on Third Avenue between 8th and 9th streets. I wasn’t looking for him, just browsing, when I came across his The Nature and Destiny of Man. It was not a mystical life-changing epiphany but the comfort he offered and the challenges he posed earned Niebuhr a privileged place in myself, a place to which I often return even though William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk of Star Trek has meanwhile metamorphosed into Boston Legal’s lawyer Denny Crane. Join me, next time I visit him in this column.

Beam us up, Scotty!

Mario Vella

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* An “overseas boarder” at De La Salle College, Cottonera, I had gobbled what I could of the original 1966-1969 Star Trek series on USAFTV during school holidays back home in Tripoli. Only later did I learn that USS Enterprise prematurely terminated its “five-year mission to go boldly where no man had gone before” not because of King Idris’ deposition in September of the same year but that NBC had dropped it after its third television season due to low ratings.

** See McCabe’s obituary by John Orme Mills OP http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/fr-herbert-mccabe-729262.html .

You can access the original article in Dr Vella’s Times of Malta column (June 8, 2009) at  http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090608/opinion/niebuhr-mccabe-kirk-crane-amp-co

Simon Busuttil 68,819 u “l-image ta’ Lawrence Gonzi naraha qieghda tbati”.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 8, 2009

 “L-image ta’ Lawrence Gonzi ukoll naraha qieghda tbati. Fi zmien l-elezzjoni kellek il-veru sens ta’ “kap”, li jhaddem l-awtorita’ tieghu minghajr hadd ma jistaqsi xejn u li tista’ tghid li hu u l-partit huma haga wahda. Wara l-elezzjoni bhal irtira f’Kastilja, bhal tilef l-aura li donnu kienet tigbed ir-rispett anke mir-rivali tieghu u spicca jaqleb minn surmast, kultant jiddixxiplina l-parlamentari Nazzjonalisti, ghall-qassis f’konfessjonarju, dak li jmorru jigru ghandu l-imsiehba socjali wara glieda jew m’Austin Gatt jew ma’ John Dalli. Nahseb li jekk il-partit Nazzjonalista ma jiehux azzjoni minnufih jispicca bhal gvern ta’ John Major bejn in-’92 u n-’97: il-pajjiz miexi l-quddiem, imma l-partit assedjat minn kull naha, b’Tony Blair isir bhal messija gdid, meta assolutament ma kien xejn specjali.”

Glenn Galea

Inredden

http://inredden.blogspot.com/2009/06/fid-dawl-ta-dak-li-qed-jigri.html

Il-Labour spicca.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 7, 2009
 

 

  

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Thus spake Glenn Abela in his blog Inredden a few days ago…

 

“Il-Labour spicca. Id-daqqa tal-mewt ma waslitx mat-telfa elettorali tas-sena li ghaddiet, imma ma’ l-elezzjoni ta’ Joseph Muscat u l-entourage l-gdid tieghu. Kull ma fadal mill-partit huwa numru sparpaljat ta’ nies inkompetenti, minghajr ideat jew intelligenza…” 

And for those of you who belong to Joseph Muscat’s scattered band of incompetent idiots without ideas or intelligence, here is an English translation of what the wise man saith in his blog for all and none:

“Labour is finished. The death blow was not delivered with last year’s electoral defeat, but with Joseph Muscat’s election and the appointment of his new entourage. All that is left of the party is a handful of scattered individuals without ideas or intelligence.” 

 http://inredden.blogspot.com/2009/06/fid-dawl-ta-dak-li-qed-jigri.html 

 

 

  

 

 

 

European Parliament Elections.

Posted in 1 by Editor on June 6, 2009
Victory but not THE victory.
  

The Sunday Times of Malta online says:

Labour wins by a landslide – Victory estimated between 55-57%

Labour obtains a majority of between 33,000 and 35,000 votes.
 
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090607/local/labour-wins-by-a-landslide

 
 
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