The rise of Nazism is not a ‘protest vote’

The days when Malta was largely homogenous – all Christian, all white, all moulded by the same educational system, all exposed to the same media influences, all neatly categorisable into ‘hamalli’ and ‘puliti’, etc.… that’s all gone now

I am beginning to detect worrying levels of delusion in Maltese politics today. Look, for instance, at how much of our political discourse is still rooted in an archaic, non-representative (and, in any case, almost extinct) ‘two-party system’. Billboards pointing fingers at each other, like kids on a playground; ‘debates’ which still invite only Labour and PN, to the exclusion of all minority voices; a media landscape which appears far more comfortable talking about the realities of yesteryear, than about what’s happening today…

Yet everything that is happening today points squarely towards the disintegration of Malta’s traditional ‘two-party’ system. One of those two parties has gone and eviscerated itself over the last 10 years: and the other has simply morphed into what the Nationalist Party used to be, when it enjoyed a quasi-unassailable grip on power in this country for almost a quarter of a century.

How is that a ‘two-party system’? I see a ‘one-party system’, myself. You could have as many 20 million parties contesting an election… but if they’re all going to prove identical once in power, then we can’t talk about a multiplicity of political ideas, can we? And besides: we couldn’t realistically talk about an ‘electoral choice’, even at a time when there really were two parties to choose from: let alone today, when there is almost literally ‘only one’.

But even before that started to became visible, there was another problem with the old system staring us all in the face. It’s an easy problem to recognize – you can all see it, many of you have complained about it before – but it’s a little hard to define in just a few words.

By its own nature, a two-party system cannot be representative of the full gamut of national concerns. Malta is now a country of well over half a million people. The days when that population was largely homogenous – all Christian, all white, all moulded by the same educational system, all exposed to the same media influences; all neatly categorisable into ‘hamalli’ and ‘puliti’, etc. that’s all gone now. Finished. History. Those are simply not generalisations that can realistically be made any more, without coming across as lamentably out of touch.

Meanwhile, any number of specific political niches have arisen… too many to be comfortably ‘represented’ by the policies of only two parties, which are in any case both dependent on the same financial power-structures for their own survival… making it inevitable that they will end up converging on practically everything anyway.

The environment? There has been no policy difference between Labour and PN on that score since… forever, really. Both are deep in the pockets of developers; both are therefore incapable of conceiving of a policy-platform that is not based only on construction projects. So even if one of those two parties was not bleeding to death before our very eyes… we all know that ‘voting in the Opposition’ would make no difference whatsoever to that status quo.

Only the face representing the (not-so) hidden power behind the throne would change; and even then, not by very much. The hidden power would remain the same.

The net result is that - aside from being largely indistinguishable from one another anyway – both parties have also gravitated towards the dead-centre of the political spectrum.

And as a certain William Butler Yeats once put it: “the centre cannot hold”. “Things fall apart”, he said. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”, he added. And guess what? He could very easily have been talking about Malta’s political system (indeed, I have seen that quote applied specifically to the context of America’s two-party system, which resembles ours on the surface).

From their comfortable position at the nice, safe and squeaky clean political centre… political parties cannot gauge popular concerns on the dark and dangerous periphery. Just as Yeats’ “falcon cannot hear the falconer”… Labour and PN cannot address niche political concerns which lie beyond their political reach. And it’s when those unreachable concerns reach crisis proportions, that the true failure of the system becomes manifest. That’s when ‘things’ literally do ‘fall apart’.

In the fullness of time, that could only ever lead to the eventual collapse of the two-party system. Inevitably, an issue would arise where people feel strongly enough to rebel against the tacit complicity that renders both parties incapable of confronting it. Sadly, that issue did not take the form of ‘the environment’. Instead, it took the form of immigration.

Hence the political delusion I referred to earlier. Last Sunday, MaltaToday published a poll in which, for the first time ever, Norman Lowell’s Imperium Europa registered on the charts. It came in at number three after the two main parties; which also means that – just like that, out of nowhere – Imperium Europa shot past both Alternattiva Demokratika and Partit Demokratiku, to become Malta’s official ‘third party’.

And Norman Lowell’s Imperium Europa is a Nazi party. Not just a ‘far right/anti-immigration’ party’, like Alleanza Bidla; nor (even less) a Conservative Christian movement like ‘River of Love’. It is a party modelled directly on Adolf Hitler’s 1930s ‘white/Aryan supremacy’ ideas: i.e., that black people, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, etc., are all ‘non-human’, and therefore can be conveniently exterminated at will.

Noman Lowell himself has advocated mass-murder on numerous occasions. (To be fair, he was also prosecuted on at least one of those occasions). He proposed using the AFM patrol boats to sink immigrant boats at sea; he even advocated public lynching of ‘traitors’ (‘We will hang them from the lampposts’, etc.) on live TV.

And he is now officially Malta’s third most powerful political voice.

Now: in case I am misunderstood, I am not pointing all this out to make a public display of my (admittedly genuine) distress at this turn of events. Nor even to try and influence voters. I acknowledge that Norman Lowell exists, and has to be regarded as part of the political landscape. I can even understand the frustrations that drive people to vote for him, or others like him. And yes, I can see that is happening all over Europe and elsewhere, too.

But that is precisely what disturbs me in all this. It is not just the spike in support for Imperium Europa, in and of itself. It is the reaction from the rest of the political (and media) circuit.  Almost instantaneously, this phenomenon was dismissed as… a ‘protest vote’. It is as though any variation from the traditionally ‘two-party system’ – even now, that it no longer exists – is automatically interpreted as a minor ‘blip’ that will set itself right in due course. The general sensation seems to be: “They’re saying they’ll vote Norman Lowell, for now…  but that’s just to send a message to the two parties. You’ll see, they’ll all come running back to the fold with their tails between their legs… they always do…”

No, damn it. No, no, no. That is part of the ‘homogeneity’ I talked about earlier, and which is now history.  If Lowell’s support can be extrapolated at roughly 10,000 – and we’ll know soon enough – those are not 10,000 people who are ‘fed up of the two parties’. Those are 10,000 Nazis. They are 10,000 people who applaud Hitler for killing millions of Jews in the 1940s; and who approve of drive-by shootings of black people on Maltese roads in 2019 (in case no one’ s noticed, there’ve been two so far already).  And they will certainly not ‘come back with their tails between their legs’. If they come back at all, it will be to smash windows and kick in doors, in true ‘Kristallnacht’ fashion.

And this can be asserted with 100% certainty, because Norman Lowell is not the only far right candidate on the ballot sheet. If his support really were just a ‘protest vote’… part of that vote, at least, would have gone to the aforementioned Alleanza Bidla/Moviment Patrijotti Maltin, or to an independent candidate like Stephen Florian. The ‘respectable’ faces of the far right would have benefitted from the fall-out, too.

But no. The vote went only to the most extreme, radical and undisguisedly homicidal version of the Far Right. The one that actively proposes killing migrants in the streets.

To dismiss that reality as a ‘protest vote’ – and even then, because you are simply incapable of extricating yourself from an outdated, obsolete political template - is to literally sleepwalk into Fascism. It is to invite Fascism in through the front door, for a cup of tea and biscuits. And – let’s face it – if Europe responded in the same way to the rise of Fascism in the 1920s and 1930s… I probably wouldn’t be here writing this, and you probably wouldn’t be there reading it.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of it all, however, is that it will probably have to take something truly drastic to shake people here out of their somnambulist stupor. How many armed Nazis do you think it would take to successfully overthrow the government of Malta in military coup? I reckon a lot less than 10,000, myself. And if that example is too drastic for you… how many Nazis does it take to hang a migrant (or a traitor) from a lamppost? Or to pull the trigger of a gun?

But hey! Nothing to get all panicky about, is there? It’s just a minor ‘blip’ that will soon itself right…

Sigh. Something tells me that ‘things’ here will have to really ‘fall apart’… that ‘mere anarchy’ will really have to be ‘loosed upon the world’… before we all finally get it into our heads that this… is not… a ‘protest vote’.

 

Right of reply

Contrary to what has been stated, Imperium Europa’s statute, Section II (a) states: “Any person older than fifteen (15) years of age, whether Maltese or foreign, can become a member of the Party, regardless of gender, race, creed, financial status and sexual orientation. The Party leadership retains the discretion to refuse any application for membership on other grounds without giving a reason for such refusal. Imperium Europa members shall not support, promote and finance other political parties during the MEP campaign formally launched by the Party up to the end of the election.”

Section III of our statue lists the aim of the party: “The aim of the Party is to contest local elections, general elections and European Union Parliamentary Elections. The Party stands for European Unity, the fraternity between the Union’s members, and the safeguarding of their Identity and common interests. It does not support the current setup which renders it inoperative/ineffective, undemocratic and a threat to Members’ sovereignty. Imperium Europa believes in a smaller, highly effective, democratic Union and looks forward to forging a basic Constitution for the safeguard of its members in matters relating to Identity, Eurozone, Immigration, Territory, Environment, Individual Rights, and High Culture. Imperium Europa promotes higher levels of local political autonomy for every member state, equality between men and women, good governance, the rule of law, respect for work, effective education and accessible, well-developed healthcare and the re-alignment of Human Rights to its intended original aims.”

“Imperium Europa reserves the right to join existing political groups according to compatibility with its principles and best interest thereof, should it be elected to Brussels.”

Neither Imperium Europa nor Mr Lowell, as its leader, stated that “[omissis] are all ‘non-human’, and therefore can be conveniently exterminated at will”.

It is also not true that Mr Lowell “proposed using the AFM patrol boats to sink immigrant boats at sea” - in his Safi 2005 speech, Mr Lowell stated ‘duru lura 1, duru lura 2, duru lura 3’. This does not mean that immigrant boats are to be sunk with people onboard, although this is what other countries had done in the past years. Imperium Europa believes that Frontex has exacerbated the problem by offering hope to those who planned to cross illegally. Had the European governments adopted a hard stance on immigration, as suggested by Imperium Europa in 2005, many lives would have been saved for people would have understood that there are alternative methods to apply for asylum.

Charles Sammut, Imperium Europa

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