Today, Juliette Galea, one of Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers messaged me privately on Facebook to supposedly teach me why the publics inquiry on The State’s Involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia should be shut down.
Naturally, I told her to shove her and Yorgen’s letter up her arse.
I then posted the conversation publicly on Facebook and she came back saying I should be fired from the National Book Council.
I retorted by saying that she could kiss my glorious, brown Marxist ass.
She then reported the Facebook post and it was deleted. For the sake of posterity I’m posting the screenshots here, safe from the censorship of big tech.
Please also note that Facebook has blocked me from making any posts right now.
Joe Biden’s election victory has brought a great sense of relief in the cold and bland corridors of power. Diplomats and politicians were relieved, the stock market went to an all-time high, and businesses hope they will be spared the excessive volatility which is brought by an impulsive, erratic and incompetent President. Fukuyama’s “end of history” is finally back, but is it, really?
As the pandemic steals our attention, overlooked is the fact that as Trump leaves office, the hubris left behind him is a world where the dictator has been empowered. We have always imagined the literary narrative of a dystopia which comes from within, but gradually and unconsciously we are also moving in a world where democracy is made more fragile by exterior forces while dictators gain the upper-hand in the geo-political game.
Back to the past. The Anti-War coalition in 2003, which propelled the political career of Jeremy Corbyn to the top-class of the political game, brought the anti-American sentiment to the mainstream of politics. Back then it was easy to hate George W. Bush and Tony Blair and after Iraq was ruined, the verdict was sealed that American-intervention brings more harm than good. So we thought. By then the memories of the the Second World War and the invasion of Normandy were fading. And Trump capitalised on this. Bring back the troops home. Let’s not fight any useless wars he said.
“The end of history” is ending with the return of the dictator. The anti-war and anti-American narrative spurned by the abuses and violent and imperial ways of an outdated oil-industry during the Iraq War, was then appropriated by dictators across the world. The left in Europe, idiotically enough, empowered these dictators with this narrative by pressing a local politics insulated from the dangers of the world. Dictators who rule with a bloody iron-fist suddenly began victims. The world has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War, but some people still don’t get it. Our leaders are stuck in a Byzantine bureaucracy of paper-comfort and delusional expectations. A free-world doesn’t come free. Freedom in Europe was only possible after Hitler’s armies were crushed in the freezing Soviet-East.
So, let’s say Erdogan is allowed to pursue his imperial ambitions in the Mediterranean and the Near East. What next? Hitler was allowed to run riot in Europe for six years before it dawned on European leaders that he was going to ruin the world and massacre millions of people. They even gave him their seal of approval by signing off his supposedly-innocent ambitions with the Treaty of Munich in 1938. The complacency today is uncannily similar.
As Europe becomes the old and sick man of the world, its neighbours become increasingly dangerous and aggressive. We’re sitting out these events thinking that nothing will come back to bite us. Foolish and naïve I would say. There was a time when European leaders envisioned a worldly-utopia of world-peace and worked to create a framework to bring it about in reality. Today, the Cold-War geo-political defense institutions are outdated. Turkey, a country which is pursuing imperial ambitions and massacring people in the process is a NATO member, and we, Europeans, have to supposedly trust it with our defence and consider it as a defensive ally.
At the very Far East, China too is flexing its muscle. It wants parts of the Indian border, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the South China Sea and god knows what else. It’s open season for the strong and mighty, and the weaker ones have to stick with it. China wants to be the world global-leader, but on what grounds? Because they have the biggest population in the world, get it? The more people we are, the more we get to rule. We give our people a dictatorship and to the world we give a popular-democracy categorised by ethnic groups. So, the Chinese will always win, cos they are the majority. Game over.
Not so fast. America is back, Biden said. Is the world-police back too? Or did it retire? Who’s going to rule the world now? Let’s not get so enamoured with multi-polarity. The First World War was a disaster because of a multi-polar world of empires that balanced each other, eventually to their death. Did the nuclear deterrent of the Cold-War keep the peace? Maybe. But putting our bets on world peace with nuclear-weapons seems a bit risky.
Trump got one thing right for sure, but his execution was pitiful. Leveraging the US economy and the US Dollar actually works because Dollars are needed for trade and everyone needs to access the biggest economy. Trump did this by himself, went in it alone and even alienated his allies. Under Trump, the West could no longer function as a single international-political block. Biden can bring this back.
This is a basic reality which even the dictators from China to Turkey will admit. They need the European and American markets more than we need theirs. They also need Dollars or at least Euros to transact internationally and their currencies are dependent on the whims of our economies and central banks. As the Turkish Lira craters, guess to what currencies the Turks are turning to? It’s Dollars and Euros, and crypto-currency helps them do this.
Let’s be very simplistic here. Let’s say we create a new utopia where bloody hands can’t get access to Euros and Dollars. Fantastic. Erdogan can buy his bombers, drones and missiles from Russia and the Russians and Chinese may very well transact only in their own currencies. A new alternative political-block is created where the Ruble and the Yuan are the main currencies and countries like Iran, Turkey, Syria and Venezuela are members of this block. Do you really think that this is a feasible idea? Here is where the problem lies. This idea is only feasible as long as this block of countries has access to Euros and Dollars. It is already happening but since it is happening in front of our own eyes it may be even harder to realise its existence. Merkel even wants to buy more gas from Russia, and hindsight always comes too late.
So, one on side the West is fragmented and without any sturdy leadership, vision and guidance while alternatively a block of dictators are ganging up to run the world on their own terms. Let’s not get too hyperbolic though. This is not Rome is burning while the barbarians are at the gates. We’re already intermeshed with trade and legal structures. We’re living in a single civilised world with some dictators running amok with impunity. The scenario is very different from that of the Cold War.
Europe and the US have the authority and the power to incentivise world-peace with the right economic and monetary incentives, but it’s a mixture of factors like corruption, incompetency and short-term gains which are dragging us down to complacency. We know very-well how this turns out though. After the massacres in the Balkans it was already very clear that NATO was defunct and our post-World War structures which were meant to guarantee peace had failed. Today, we can sit on our fence and take a look at the massacres being perpetuated on the other side of the horizon and then watch the same murderers coming to our banks to cash-out their blood money.
It is, after all, also in our self-interest to ensure that we are not leveraged by neighbouring dictators who are easily prone to push the button. If international trade and politics are increasingly being dictated by the barrel of the gun we are now at a considerable disadvantage given that Europe has long stopped being a despotic-coloniser and our defense capabilities are, relatively, practically down to 0. The European Union has many problems but at least we didn’t invade Britain when the Brits voted to leave the Union. Sounds funny, right? Well Putin did just that in 2014 with Ukraine despite the fact that he had previously ensured to uphold the Kharkiv Pact supposedly-ensuring Ukraine’s autonomy over its territory and affairs. Practically, Ukraine has been forced to remain fixed with a Russian-trading framework against the potential and alternative choices which Ukrainians had at their disposal. For now, the Ukrainians can no longer chose.
But we’re weak and incompetent. Erdogan scares us by theatening us to flood us with Syrian immigrants. Bring them on the leader with a vision would have said, and we’ll cut your Euros gradually until you start bleeding to death. Our cowering today will cost multiple bombings and deaths tomorrow. And then who knows what the dictators will do next? As long as they have impunity, they can do anything.
The Court found It-Torċa’s editor, Victor Vella, not guilty of libel for a front-page story implying that Pia Żammit, an actress, was a Nazi sympathiser. The implication was made with a picture of her wearing a Nazi-uniform on the front-page of the newspaper and an ensuing article complaining that the actress was making a light-hearted and funny gesture with a Nazi-uniform without mentioning the fact that the actress was wearing the uniform specifically for a play.
Basically, what the magistrate concluded was that the newspaper made a legitimate value-judgement instead of publishing an explicit defamatory statement which is conveyed as a state of fact.
Now, the magistrate may have some very good reasons why the Media and Defamation Act may have not been able to provide the tools for a guilty judgement. The judgment may also be advantageous to the press in general. After all, the advantages of having a liberal-libel regime greatly offsets the disadvantages of having a tight-legal regime which can easily find its defendants guilty. So, in actual fact, and admittedly, the magistrate may have, unwittingly, made a favour to the media in general.
However, there are problems with the magistrate’s sentence and I would not have interpreted the case like her. The judge considered It-Torċa’s piece as a value-judgment and an honest opinion in contrast to a state of fact. The problem with this distinction here is that It-Torċa had clearly implied, even explicitly I would say, despite the editor’s acrobatic manner of delivering it, that the author is a Nazi. Therefore, the newspaper tried to sell the fact that the actress is a Nazi. After all, it is also a state of fact that It-Torċa made reference to an actress as a Nazi without alluding to her acting role. And surely, this was not an honest opinion given that the author knew very well that the actress was wearing the Nazi-uniform for a play, while deliberately not mentioning this fact. It is a deceitful opinion with the intention to deceive and libel on misconstrued facts. I can make many value-judgements which can be relative to the case of affairs, context, philosophies and ideas too. Back in my university-days, when I published the fictional-story, “Li Tkisser Sewwi”, the Nationalists were accusing me and the author of promoting pedophilia. We didn’t sue. We told them to fuck off, but you get my point.
One may debate the distinction between values and facts, but value-free judgments are also hard to come by, and values may be attributable to state of facts with clear implications. The value of being a Nazi comes with a proven and commonly-known criteria of beliefs which have direct and real impacts on society. But, and maybe, the problem here is neither with the law nor with the magistrate, but the entity which is abusing the law’s emphasis on objectivity by circumventing it with not so much ambiguous implications. It’s like stealth libel or what is recently called “fake news”.
The context of the medium should also be considered. It-Torċa is not a newspaper or journal: it is PR-machine for the bad elements of government masquerading as the General Workers’ Union’s independent newspaper. It’s more of a cesspit of fascist diatribes and authoritarian threats than a newspaper. Apart from defending on a consistent basis corrupt government ministers, It-Torċa has, also, on a consistent basis, defamed and libeled artists, journalists and activists in the most vindictive manner possible and many of these people aren’t even public persons. To add insult to injury, It-Torċa, is fully subsidised by the government. Government bank-rolled the Union in 2013 by renting its premises in Paola while the Union supports its press with its resources and personnel. Add up the government-sponsored adverts and you end up with a PR machine which is fully-subsidised by the government.
I write this with sadness, of course, because I had a very good relationship with Union Press. I used to sell my stuff to It-Torċa during my years as a free-lance writer. I was also a regular client at their printing press and also brought them many other clients. I was good money for them and I used to be happy with that knowing I am supporting a workers’ press. All of this changed when Labour entered office in 2013 and editors, Union officials, and people like me who actually brought value at the Union and its press moved on to government-jobs. We were not replaced with younger stalwarts, (Sandro Mangion made a brief stint and left soon after), but with Labour Party and government cronies without any values and principles who were ready to publish anything they were fed. Victor Vella, the current editor is one of these mercenaries. He is the kind of person who will prostrate in front of the powerful-all-to-be because that’s the only thing he knows. At L-Orizzont, Josef Caruana had already degenerated into a fascist-punk bullying other journalists for covering government-corruption. I don’t think the Union Press will change its ways either because its editors today don’t know any better and Union leaders also don’t have the will to use their means of communication in the interests of their members and workers in general. Artists, journalists and writers have always been associated with workers in their daily-economic struggles and the Union should strive to fight for their interests too.
It always better to err on the side of caution, so once again the magistrate may have done the media a favour by delivering this verdict. On the other hand, I’m also convinced the law does provide the necessary tools to define the matter of this case as libelous. It is an untruth to describe an artist as the character he or she is trying to portray. Imagine an author writing a first-person fictional account of a guy who kills the Prime Minister. In his role as servant to the ultimate master, Victor Vella would probably launch a tirade on how an author is planning to kill the Prime Minister. Is that libelous? Maybe not. Is taking the artist’s work literally and implying it as a state of fact libelous? Is a man a pedophile for playing the act of a pedophile in a play? I think that may be more libelous than not.