[WATCH] Malta, a divided nation: hypocrisy, class, and love for party and wealth

Great minds Immanuel Mifsud, Aleks Farrugia and Marie Briguglio’s worthy tuppence following the national State Of The Nation conference on Maltese nationhood

One of Malta’s ‘divided’ feasts: Hamrun’s St Cajetan feast is contested by two rival band clubs, also associated with Malta’s Labour and Nationalist parties
One of Malta’s ‘divided’ feasts: Hamrun’s St Cajetan feast is contested by two rival band clubs, also associated with Malta’s Labour and Nationalist parties

Want an answer to ‘what’ or ‘who’ is the Maltese nation? Well it’s hard.

Writer Immanuel Mifsud has despatched that notion quiet easily. “It’s a bourgeouis concept that is trying to hide our economic and cultural differences, the differences between class and gender.”

Mifsud featured in a panel that debated the proceedings of President George Vella’s ‘State Of The Nation’ conference, where he showed himself ‘tired’ of grappling with a question that seemed intent on ironing out differences and divisions that were deeper than they appeared on the surface.

Mifsud said he was exhausted by popular notions that profess national pride yet shy away from decrying the construction blitz that had obliterated Malta’s traditional townscapes, or which even during international football matches, root for the English or Italian national teams.

“It’s so contradictory, I’m exhausted having to repeat this… the way we have destroyed this country shows so clearly that we do no not love our country.”

The writer Aleks Farrugia, now head of the national media literacy board, pointed out the importance of class in assessing common complaints about various national peeves, citing noise pollution from village festas and fireworks as an example. “I find class to be more pervading as an explanation, because it shows an attempt at showing up a certain class of ‘high’ value’, while the rest of the ‘popolin’ is low. And that hurts me personally. As a theatre-goer, I often ask myself how many patrons are there to enjoy the theatre or just be part of the social occasion…”

The economist Marie Briguglio, a major proponent of social infrastructure that prioritises people above private gain, asked whether the Maltese were actually capable of collaborating in finding solutions to their needs and problems without the intercession of party-led governments.

“One Nobel prize economist researched such communities. Elinor Ostrom found multiple examples in societies where people knew each other, feared sanctios imposed on each other… and yet in Malta, unfortunately we do not have that. Despite our size, we’re not really that small enough in Malta for us to collaborate in that manner. And I believe it is impossible without a clear plan from a government or organisation.”

Briguglio also questioned the rate at which economic growth and material wealth could grow at the expense of the social good. “When all that financial wealth starts actually reducing one’s social happiness, we must ask ourselves: do we step on the gas of financial wealth, or do we answer to the people’s aspirations for more time, more quality of time, more open space, more peace of mind… these are not just my crazy ramblings, economists have actually mapped out the limits of such financial wealth.”