Labour in labour

Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics): an unauthorised tazebao.

Representing diversity in a complex and dynamic world: the moderate and progressive vision of European democracy.

Posted by fcb on July 19, 2008

Copernicus, fractal art, Sven Geier, 2007 (image inverted by LiL team) [*]

The Prime Minister’s decision to set up a select committee of the House of Representatives, representing both parties equally, to discuss issues related to the strengthening of democracy is one of the first tangible results of Joseph Muscat’s leadership.

The committee’s agenda is impressive and almost daunting:

* Public broadcasting
* Electoral Law
* Public financing of political parties and party funding transparency
* Adequate resources for Parliament
* A reform of the Permanent Commission against Corruption
* Strengthening of the Office of the Ombudsman
* Regulation of parliamentary appointments
* Regulation of ministers’, parliamentary secretaries’, and MPs’ conflict of interest

We feel that Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat have both understood the great opportunity offered by the present exceptionally favourable political circumstances to take Malta a step closer to the standards of governance expected of a European country today. One hopes that all of the MPs chosen to sit on this historic committee (Tonio Borg, Anglu Farrugia, Austin Gatt, Charles Mangion, Karmenu Vella and Francis Zammit Dimech) will live up to the considerable responsibility they have been entrusted with by their respective leaders.

Joseph’s insistence that civil society should be given the opportunity to have its say before any decision are taken, including the trade unions, the constituted bodies, Alternattiva Demokratika (the only organisation he specifically named) and the NGOs, should not be underestimated. Parliament is the highest expression of our democracy but does not, cannot, comprehend and express the complexity, diversity and dynamism of the galaxy of interests, aspirations and preoccupations that characterise Maltese society close to the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

The latter is an issue that needs to be seriously engaged by the political parties. Malta’s consistently high electoral participation rates hide the fact that in between elections an increasing number of Maltese and Gozitans feel alienated from ‘the political class’. Voting Labour or Nationalist at elections today does not mean that one identifies completely with the culture of the party one has voted for. Indeed, one wonders why so many thinking citizens continue to vote for so many candidates whose ignorance is surpassed only by their arrogance. And we are not thinking of the marginal cranks, oddballs and black sheep that occasionally jump onto the stage. We are thinking of the average candidate’s ability to read and appreciate the signs of the times and to ‘represent’ these in the House of Representatives.

The problems of political representation of diversity in a complex and changing society is one of the main issues that Labour in labour intends to pursue. It is central to any discussion of democracy in the contemporary world and, more emphatically, of the vision of democracy of European moderates and progressives.

[*] See Caaretaker’s note below.

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14 Responses to “Representing diversity in a complex and dynamic world: the moderate and progressive vision of European democracy.”

  1. Caretaker said

    CARETAKER’S COMMENT ON TODAY’S IMAGE: FOR NERDS ONLY (ABOVE)

    Fractal art, usually created indirectly with the assistance of a computer, is produced by calculating fractal objects and representing the results as still images, animations, music, or other media.

    The term “fractal” (originally a noun but it may also be used as an adjective) was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975 and was derived from the Latin fractus meaning ‘broken’ or ‘fractured’.

    Mandelbrot – who is known as the father of fractal complexity – defines a fractal as generally “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole”. Fractals are chaotic but not random that is, they are dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions (you will have heard of the ‘butterfly effect’). The term ‘chaos’ is confusing because it suggests randomness, whereas we should rather speak of ‘deterministic chaos’ inasmuch as the future dynamics of fractal systems (and chaotic systems generally) are fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved.

    Fractals are good visual metaphors of the dynamic complexity and diversity of society today. To reduce society to simple, unchanging structures is politically suicidal. We must learn to live with complexity, diversity and change. We must learn to represent as much of it as possible, whilst being true to ourselves and to its diverse elements.

    Thanks to Sven Geier, the author of the fractal illustrating this editorial, for allowing us to reproduce it (with colours inverted). The next editorial will carry the original version. Sven works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (a NASA centre) of the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena, California, where he also lives. You can see Sven’s collection of fractal pictures at http://www.sgeier.net/fractals/indexe.php

  2. Andrew Sciberras said

    I was slightly taken aback by today’s editorial of the Times of Malta (19/07/2008) which stated that according to Joseph Muscat “civil society should be represented (in discussions on public broadcasting) but its representatives should be approved by the political parties.” The editorial went on to say that “it seems that Dr Muscat believes that the political parties should dominate public service broadcasting. He also appears to be adopting a paternalistic and condescending attitude towards civil society because he wants to approve their representatives.” It continues to lavish Dr. Gonzi with praise for having “radicalized the agenda”.

    I would like to confirm whether the above is what Joseph Muscat truly said regarding the matter if anybody can enlighten me in this regard.

    Secondly I would like to congratulate MP Evarist Bartolo for his insistence that the British model of the Freedom of Information Act is simply not good enough. The British, like the Americans, have radically decreased citizens’ right to information following a total shake-up in legislation directed to drastically increase Governmental powers during the “War on Terror”. I agree with Evarist Bartolo that the right of information should be a right safeguarded by the Constitution and even more so with his opinion that if a government is not willing to share information with citizens, it means that the government is afraid of empowering the citizen.

    Andrew Sciberras

  3. Leli said

    Freedom of Information Act should be of utmost importance to most citizens considering the vast amount of information being kept (in electronic format) on us by the various institutions. Freedom of Information is essentially a change in culture and mentality. I am particularly interested on the possible impact (if any) this act may have on the various appraisal methods and other HR tools being used in the Public sector which can be so subjective and which can be so difficult to confront, even before the ombudsman.

    Leli

  4. Abraham Agius said

    I think that as usual it will be the Goverment’s way or no way at all. The conservative papers are already backing the government on all issues and showng only the positive decisions taken by same without a slight glitch of negativism. And I sincerely hope that the members chosen by the government will nto make of this committee just another puppet to be used before an election to criticise the oppisition.

    I think that most people, excluse me, the people with a hefty financial backing want life in this tiny isalnd to remain as is….stable, calm and flourishing in providing them cash form the coffers of the government. We Maltese are gullible and when someone gives us soemthing we never take it against him/her. And that is what the local powers do. They buy your silence with favours and positions and then use you as and when required. This is becoming the norm in this society and I hope that labour will realise and move a step forward to open the eyes of the people. We cannot continue to live on an economy that is dependent on the governemnt’s expenditure and on the construction industry. One day both will stop. The questions is when.

    Abraham

  5. Karl Carabott said

    Andrew,

    this is the background. The Times set out to show Joseph in a bad light. The Nationalists are worried that Joseph is coming through as more innovative than Gonzi, so they must do their best to blunt the competitive edge of his proposals. The point is not that Joseph wants to approve the representatives of civil society in discussions on the strengthening of democracy in Malta. The point is that these should not be chosen unilaterally by the Government. The point is to resist government’s diktat.

    This reminds me of one of last week’s editorials on this blog, “Ranier’s Thesis”. If I well remember, the editor predicted that the Nationalist Party would now do its best not to allow Joseph to appear as the progressive innovators and the PN as the conservative reactionaries. No sooner had that editorial appeared that John Dalli came out with his proposal to initiate a discussion on divorce. And now we have Gonzi (who can’t afford to be outpaced by both Joseph and John Dalli) praised by The Times for “radicalising the agenda”. Bullshit!

    Karl Carabott

  6. marie abdilla said

    So glad to have you all back. Post 2 Andrew Sciberras agree that Bartolo’s comments are excellent as was the Opinion column he wrote on the same subject today in Malta Today.

    Also couldn’t agree more with Karl Carabott Post 5.When I read the Times editorial I too remembered of Fsadni’s article of concern and warning to the PN and thought looks like his warnings were heeded and the PN propaganda machine has already gone into overdrive.

    Marie Abdilla

    …and we’re delighted to have you back, Marie! The Labour in labour team.

  7. emmanuel.mazzitelli said

    I must say that this is a very interesting blog and would like to congratulate its organisers.Its gives scope to frank, open discussions where people can air their views and contribute towards a constructive dialogue which will benefit the Party and all those who wish to speak their mind freely. Let’s kickstart some energy and enthusiasm in our writing. I send my regards to all.

    Emmanuel Mazzitelli

    CARETAKER’S NOTE: Emmanuel posted this flattering comment (thanks!) in the special page dedicated to the Admin & Exec elections. We thought we should copy it here for all to see. Come one guys and girls, give Manwel a rousing welcome and let’s promise him that we will never let him down: that we will continue to “contribute towards a constructive dialogue which will benefit the Party and all those who wish to speak their mind freely”.

  8. Anna Maria Callus said

    Dear all,

    “Considering how intimate some of the cockroaches are with us , it is disconcerting to find how little we know of the private life of cockroaches”, wrote Robert E. Snodgrass (1875-19862) in his excellent entomological study published in 1930, Insects, their ways and means of living.

    * * *
    Hugs and kisses to all of you! Missed you all but as the team knows I have been away for a while and am now eligible to participate in the NSO’s Doctorates survey.

    When I was where I was (which is none of your ducking business) I did my best, as many of us confess to doing, not to advertise my Maltese identity lest I be approached by the usual crowd of Maltese expats riding on GonziPN’s gratious and grateful munificence. Hucking fell! What a bunch of what Italians call “morti di fame”! When you meet these fellows in Malta you’d think they rub shoulders daily with Barroso and Solana and survive on a diet of gran crus (“Ajma! The Bâtard-Montrachet was a bit dull this time, I think we’ll stick to Griotte-Chambertin from now on”)and tartufo con tutto. When you meet them over there, they’re the epitome of small-headed, provincial, self-effacing, qammilin who’re out to make the most of their gov.mt allowances.

    Well although I did my best not be spotted and identified, I failed. They’re bad when observed at a distance, worse at close quarters. The men tend to be terribly frustrated and I don’t think they get laid as often as they wish you to think they do. Probably because available women (not Maltese) tend to take the initiative and that makes our homespun lotharios wilt. Our women there do better, I must say. They are more laid back.

    Their politics: well, they are quite relieved that we lost the elections ’cause they all imagined that Alfred Sant was going to recall them on day one. Joseph confuses them and they ask more questions than they pass sentences. Well, that’s progress.

    And they are all blog crawlers. Few, if any, post comments but most of them take a keen voyeur’s interest in Maltese blogs. I actually met three (2 ladies, 1 gent) who visit Labour in labour regularly and swear that it must be written by a team of Dutch and British comrades at the PES office in Brussels.

    Flavour-of-the-month blogger with this crowd is Sigmund Bonello who has taken over the honour from Jacques of J’accuse. One of the girls who seems to be intimately acquainted with him swears he’s a magician at… (she whispered it in my ear and I won’t tell you). I see that he’s written to us too, see under the editorial Ranier’s Thesis. I am not too impressed…give me Blatta Orientalis anytime. Did you know that the secretion from the dorsal glands of orientalis was believed to have the typical roachy smell of cockroaches while the secretion from the males of germanica had a not unpleasant, fruit-like odour (Haase 1889)? Apparently it isn’t true. Perhaps that idea had something to do with racism.

    Well, I see you’ve been busy and are busy surprising all those who thought we were brain dead.
    I’ll go back to my summer reading now. What? A Study of Cockroach Behaviour, Roth and Willis 1952. I just got to a good bit, “Sexual Behaviour of Blatella Germanica“, yeah the fruity-smelling German Adonis…

    Anna Maria Callus

  9. CARETAKER’S NOTE: Thanks to our prodigal sister Anna Maria Callus (and congrats for now joining the community of dotts)for pointing out that a Dr Sigmund Bonello had in fact posted a comment on our tazebao at 11.17 am of yesterday July 20 under an editorial of early last week (Ranier’s Thesis). We thought of copying it to this section for ease of reference. Gents, don’t develop an inferiority complex and ladies keep you hands to yourself.

    So many words to explain the glaringly obvious.

    I’ll bet you that this is how Your Leader did it. I would’ve made exactly the same calculation.

    Laburisti (jibqghu jivvutawlek taghmel x’taghmel): 150,000, suq.
    Nazzjonalisti li xebghu bil-Knisja tindahal f’kollox u ’saru moderni’: 20,000, suq.
    Gewwa x-xileb Jason.

    Easy, free of waffle and effective. Pathos, logos and ethos mon cul! Labour in Labour? More like labouring your point!

    Sigmund Bonello

    Originally posted at Ranier’s Thesis., 2008/07/20 at 11:17 AM

  10. Dow Ting Tomass said

    Proset for your colour policy! I liked the idea that you began with red, then moved to green and now to a pale blue. A politcal tactic, yes? But it wasn’t your idea, admit. Who is advising you? Is it true there is foreign input? Are you financed or assisted directly by the Party of European Socialists? Is this why they took the calculated risk of endorsing Joseph Muscat before he was elected? Why are they so keen to see a change of government in Malta? Isn’t this blatant foreign interference? What does former Foreign Minister and would-be International Secretary Dr Alex Sciberras Trigona, architect of the infamous Foreign Interference Act of the Mintoff era, have to say about this? Shouldn’t he resign in protest?

    Dow Ting Tomass.

  11. fabrizioellul said

    @ sigmund.

    from the 150,000 you need to subtract the 7,000 who did not vote in the last election.

    Fabrizio Ellul

  12. CARETAKER said

    ATTENTION ALL VISITORS: DID YOU POST A COMMENT TODAY 22 JULY AND IT HAS NOT YET APPEARED? WE HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING SOME TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES TODAY. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE A RECORD OF 10 COMMENTS SINCE NOON WE HAVE IN FACT ONLY SEEN 7. WE HAVE CHECKED BUT NONE OF THEM WERE CAUGHT IN THE SPAM NET. IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE COMMENTATORS CONCERNED WE APOLOGISE FOR THE DISAPPOINTMENT AND ASK YOU TO POST IT AGAIN, PLEASE. IF YOU DO, KINDLY MARK THE COMMENT “REPEAT POSTING”.

    THE CARETAKER TEAM

  13. Thomas Falzon said

    FOR THE INFORMATION AND ENTERTAINMENT OF OUR VISITORS, WE ARE PUBLISHING AN EXCHANGE OF COMMENTS BETWEEN LABOUR-IN-LABOUR TEAM MEMBER THOMAS FALZON (WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR LIAISING WITH THE BLOGGERS COMMUNITY) AND JACQUES R. ZAMMIT OF J’ACCUSE, A BLOG WE LOVE TO BE PROVOCKED BY. IT ALL BEGAN WITH THOMAS ADVISING JACK, WHO RESIDES IN THE GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBOURG, ABOUT A REFERENCE TO HIM IN ANNA MARIA CALLUS’ COMMENT ON SIGMUND BONELLO’S (AN ALIAS) BLOG. BONELLO, WHO IS MAKING AN EFFORT TO PARODY JOSEPH MUSCAT, RECENTLY POSTED A COMMENT ON THIS TAZEBAO. BY THE WAY, KACHKéIS IS THE GROUSSHERZOGTUM’S NATIONAL CHEESE.

    From Thomas Falzon // July 21, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Jacques,
    you’re mentioned in Labour in labour (with reference to Siggi Bonell). You may wish to take note.
    Thomas Falzon

    From Jacques René Zammit // July 21, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve looked through the site and not found the reference (or mention). In case someone might be thinking that I am also Sigmund Bonello (an alias), rest assured that I am not. I always sign my input.. no matter how bad it may be 🙂

    From Thomas Falzon // July 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Have another look, Jacques. You are referred to in a comment by Anna Maria Callus who seems to think that Siggi Bonello is replacing you as flavour of the moment. Don’t worry, mon cher, moments, like eons, are relative.

    From Jacques René Zammit // July 23, 2008 at 12:57 am

    @Thomas: Cheers, found it. I see “flavour of the moment” with a particular crowd. You can’t win them all I guess. I always said I would settle for the select few… that J’accuse is only for particular tastes and cetera and cetera. All the bla in other words. We’ve seen blogs come and go and we’ll see many more yet. Still find the general administrative side of the tazebao rather cheesy (latest funny phrase is “we apologize for the disappointment”) but it’s still a good rag on the net… just like any other I guess.

    P.S. I don’t know who AMC is but she does not seem to have managed to fit in with the BXL crowd. What? Not enough invites to be with the in crowd? Sounds very much like the sour gripe of the illuminati labourite kind. There – a label to savour. Tell her not to worry, the Luxembourg elite is made of another mettle altogether.

    Chill. Now I’ve got some more Latin to revise… I can’t stand to be corrected (guffaw, this English is awful innit?)

    From Thomas Falzon // July 23, 2008 at 4:03 am

    How dare the great unwashed pronounce themselves on the taste and style of the elites, n’est-ce pas?

    À propos des saveurs particulières de les amis de M. Jacques Zammit et de son successeur au throne…fascinating subject and AMC authorises me to announce that she will be coming back to this theme.

    Is it just love of parody, irony, sarcasm and wit that attracts the attention of a certain crowd or is there more to it than that? When I told AMC that the whole field might be a trifle too highbrow and esoteric for our core audience, she threatened to insert a hardbound copy of Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste in and up the tightest of my orifices.

    It is not so much the internet functional substitute of the stand-up comedian (such as you or Siggi or herself) that concentrates her anthropological gaze but your audiences.

    As to our cultivated cheesiness, dejjem ahjar mil kachkéis! But then we won’t dispute your qualifications as conoisseur of fine cheeses.

    Savour that label, Jacques, and cheers to you!

    See the original exchange of views in:
    http://jaccuse.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/jaccuse-triple-x-rated-xxx/#comment-11314

  14. toni abela said

    Dear Caretaker ,

    Parliamnetary Commissions seem to be far and distant “things” to the ordinary citizen . Yet these Commissions may well change the ordinary citizen’s way of life for the better and at times for the worse. This Commission is one such Commission .

    One innovative aspect of this commission lies in its procedural way on comming to terms on the different issues to be determined . For the first time ever , at least I cannot remember an other instance of this kind ,though being a bipartisan Commission , consensus is the keyword with no strings attached . This was Joseph’s acchievment : the offspring of his firm belief , that if change is to come , the oppostion has to be treated in dignified manner .Were change is at stake , we are peers and not second class citizens .

    Consensus is of essence because of the highly delicate subjects that lie before this Commission . If profound changes do come about regarding the fianacing of political parties , anti-corruption measures , profound amendements in electoral laws , broadcasting and other institutional matters which have been for years of great concern and yet neglected , we will be ushering a new Constituional era .

    I dare say that the First Repubblic has long decayed and all we did for the past thirt years or so was , to sit on the eggs without making them warm enough to hatch . Society changed rapidly if not overnight and yet the institutions failed to respond as rapidly , with the consequence that today we can palpabbly percieve the social and institutional disparity . We are very much like an adult who still wears his school days shirt .

    Further more ,the fact that the Nationalist Party accepted the principle of consensus , subliminally there seems to be some kind of recognition on its part ,that governing the island with less than fifty per cent of the votes , albeit having obtained the relative majority , is devoid of a strong moral ascendant to have it it’s way all the time .

    Whether by accident or design , the maltese have sent the message , that things must truly change . Joseph has read and understood the message .

    Toni Abela

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