Kudos for the team behind TheJournal.mt. The left in Malta has always had a staggered approach to publishing and projecting its own news and views by means of the English language medium. A number of such projects – like shooting stars in the night sky – illuminated for a period of time the Maltese left’s opinions and initiatives, unadulterated and non-interpolated. In my much younger days, I remember contributing to the Sunday Chronicle. Later, and nearer our time, I also contributed for Maltastar, the now defunct online portal.
The need of an English language portal is essential for a distinct number of reasons, all holistically relevant to a strong social democratic movement for the years to come. With the advent of the internet, and with the world becoming more interconnected – true to the concept of a global village – the need to project the thoughts and opinions and ideals of Malta’s left in the English language has become even more urgent and even more politically, socially, economically and demographically important. Why?
English-only speaking residents
Let us firstly take the local Maltese scene. There is no professional left-wing portal conveying news and views for local consumption. The fallacy that all left-wing voters speak Maltese and thus are best served with the available Maltese language media outlets is not only anachronistic and nostalgic. It is indeed a dangerous misconception which underscores the constant demographic fluctuations which affect Malta’s population.
The ever-increasing minority communities hailing from other countries which now call Malta their home island have fascinatingly altered the innate structure of various localities throughout the island. Thousands of Britons, Serbs, Arabs, Russians, Indians, Ukrainians, Italians and other EU member state citizens have permeated our society in a fully inclusive successful experiment which have created huge swathes of English-speaking residents and voters in areas as diverse as Gozo, St. Paul’s Bay, Marsascala, Hamrun, Marsa, Mellieha and so forth. Their vote and their voice have the same strength and impact as any other traditional Maltese voter. The only means of information dissemination for these citizens has to be in English.
Local news for posterity
Everyone knows that what is published on the internet stays there for posterity. The conservative forces which have traditionally monopolised the tools of projection and operations in this country have a long and dark record of interpolating the daily goings on in Malta to suit their preferred rendition of history.
This exercise is not new. It predates the internet. It was constant and ever-present throughout Malta’s political history; from the Strickland era to the sixties’ era to the period of Labour government of the late 70s and 80s. It managed to demonise Labour leaders and their progressive vision in many a despicable manner. Pre-internet historic interpolations such as ‘the Malta File’ or the ‘Is Malta Burning?’ publication are just mere examples of such a constant onslaught on the historicity and veracity of our country’s image.
The same dark methodology is being utilised by anti-progressive forces as we speak. On the internet. Leaving a highly biased, interpolated, local image of the goings on in our country which is hugely detrimental to the local well-being of our society. Additionally, and most importantly, the internet phenomenon leaves such interpolations visible for posterity. This portal has a very essential role in making right this historical aberration. For now, and for generations to come.
International political and economic monitoring
It is indeed high time that progressive policies, visions and projections being driven by a progressive government have their own undiluted portal to precisely project the former to an international audience. Too much time has been lost in these last decades in leaving such online literature the sole domain of conservative portals and their minions.
Political institutions monitor our country, like any other country. Investors interested in utilising Malta’s services browse the internet on data related to our country. Credit rating agencies and financial institutions likewise do so. Up till now, Malta’s presence on the net was the sole dominion of mostly anti-progressive institutions and publishing houses, blogs and pseudo-journalism, mostly with hidden egoistic agendas which further muddy the waters.
This portal has the duty to rectify such interpolations, purposely projected on the web.
Creating a philosophical online hub
Unfortunately, international political manoeuvring and behind-the-scenes haggling and dealing have severely diluted and eroded the social democratic ideals and ethical philosophies which were traditionally synonymous with the left. Centrist appeasement policies in various countries by left wing parties, some for brutal expediency’s sake, and others for political partnership and appeasement, became the order of the day for left wing political institutions in Europe and other jurisdictions. This became even more evident with the advent of populist mass movements and pseudo Trumpist politics of convenience.
Malta has had a centrist-left wing government for these last eight years with a minimum five more years beckoning in the coming general elections. It is essential for the soul of the party to own a professional English language medium which gives adequate space for projecting progressive agendas and philosophical outbursts by the up and coming local, left wing intellectuals. This is indeed a vacuum which has been left pending for many a year by Malta’s progressive left. In the past, there was indeed space for a number of Maltese and English language publications and periodicals which created a healthy platform for such ideas and analysis. This included a healthy discussion of left-wing initiatives imported from other countries. It is high time that such a medium is reintroduced.
Giving space to local intellectuals
Such a portal is also instrumental in pinpointing and headhunting all suitable and up and coming intellectuals and progressive political activists. It gives them not only appropriate coverage, but it also gives them a platform to promote and project progressive ideas and concepts which spark healthy discussion within the local left-wing community. Even if the subject matter is not in synch with present government thinking. Or more avant-gardist.
This platform will create a wider impetus for societal change by means of radical and progressive initiatives which have been specifically left out of public debate by the dominant conservative portals and media.
There are a plethora of other reasons underlining the need of such a progressive English language portal. With the age-old maxim of ‘better late than never’, we heartily congratulate the team behind TheJournal.mt and wish them many years of online presence.
Like all political ideologies, social democracy has been the topic of many discussions, developed through time, tested under various conditions and by various people, and has altered according to local circumstances. It is high time that social democratic ideals are properly espoused locally by a professional portal which should introduce interested readers to the idea of a more equal society referred to by various political theorists, such as Karl Marx (1818-1883), Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864), Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) amongst others.
It is true that the call for freedom, equality, justice and solidarity originates in old humanistic thoughts. It is central for the Christian idea of man. It has been the battle-cry of the French Revolution. It is reflected in the legal foundations of the United Nations and the UN’s two Human Rights Covenants of 1966. It also forms the core values of social democracy.
The core values of a political ideology constitute its political compass. As the interrelated ideas of freedom, equality, justice and solidarity are relatively open to interpretations, institutions which declare them as their values must likewise define them. Such definitions constitute the theoretical framework which is the basis for political action. Social democratic parties or organisations therefore have to find ways to put freedom, equality, justice and solidarity into practice. This is hardly possible without an intellectual portal or publication accessible to all and sundry. I am positive that TheJournal.mt will do its work honourably and professionally.