Monday, 29 June 2009

Stephen Gowans - A Different Voice

I discovered Stephen Gowans's blog, What's Left, around two years ago. I consider it to be an extremely interesting blog that dares to challenge many of the dominant ideas that are broadcast by various pro-capitalist TV channels in the Western world. Furthermore, his posts are usually backed by extensive research.

Sadly, the views of bloggers such as Stephen Gowans do not seem to attract much attention. This could be due to the fact that when one does not have the sort of capital that various TV news channels have, it is extremely difficult to make oneself heard.

Earlier on today, I came across an article that he had written in April 2009. Although the article focused on Cuba, I was struck by the last part of the post. Talking about former East Germany, Gowans stated that "After experiencing two decades of a resurrected capitalism, half of East Germans want to return to what they had before. Reuters, hardly known for promoting socialism, revealed that a public opinion poll had found that 52 percent of East Germans had no confidence in capitalism, and most of them wanted to return to a socialist economy." A 46-year-old IT worker from East Berlin said, "We read about the ‘horrors of capitalism’ in school. They really got that right. Karl Marx was spot on. I had a pretty good life before the Wall fell. No one worried about money because money didn’t really matter. You had a job even if you didn’t want one. The communist idea wasn’t all that bad."

Taking a look at the comments that were left regarding the aforementioned post, I was struck by the first one. More specifically, one of the readers wrote the following:

"I was born in an Eastern European country which was formerly communist. My Dad did not have much love for that system, but even he admitted that there were good things about it.

1. Paid vacations for all. There were government resorts where you paid a pittance to go with your family and not have to worry about being broke after coming back.

2. Free health care. When there was a public health risk because of a disease, ie flu, the authorities immediately setup mobile vaccination units and told people to immediately get vaccinated. If you did not, they came to your house and made sure you got one (for free, of course)

3. You always had a job and when you got old, you were guaranteed a pension and could live out the rest of your days in peace.

4. It was against the law to be unemployed. If someone did not want to work, and they were healthy, the government found a job for you.

5. Public order and a very low crime rate.

This author is right about the fact that socialist countries may not have offered the high end luxuries that capitalist countries offered, but in a socialist country everyone was guaranteed a safe life with all the basics taken care of.
Many people there would like to go back to the old socialist system.
The world has two choices: luxuries and high tech toys in a capitalist system, or do without them but have all the basics taken care of in a socialist system.
It’s really a trade-off."

Using a Marxist-Leninist analysis of current events, I believe that Stephen Gowans does a great job when discussing the nature of journalism. Many people hardly ever seem to pause to question certain features on TV or to go beyond what is written in a newspaper article. Gowans, on the other hand, stimulates the reader to ask a number of very important questions pertaining to the media: who is writing an article? What is that journalist's socio-political background? What message are they trying to convey via a specific article? What issues might have been brushed aside for fear that they could challenge the points raised in the article? Focusing on the two US journalists who were recently tried and convicted in North Korea, Gowans wrote the following:

"Are Ling and Lee politically neutral? No journalist, no matter how hard she strives to be impartial, is free from class or national allegiances. As journalists employed by capitalists based in the dominant imperialist power, it is inevitable their reporting on north Korea would have had a decidedly pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist tilt, at odds with north Korea’s interests. Ling and Lee are every bit as much warriors in the struggle between Washington and Pyongyang over the question of whether the whole of the Korean peninsula will be dominated by US geopolitical interests as US military and intelligence personnel and Washington decision-makers are. Their battlefield, while it may not be one of missiles and artillery, is people’s minds, and is every bit as important. Ling and Lee are not innocent, politically neutrally journalists, who accidentally stumbled across the north Korean border. They are promoters of an imperialist ideology who almost certainly intruded illegally on north Korea with unfriendly intentions. The evidence suggests they are guilty as charged."

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Overwork Culture

Today I managed to listen to some music. A few songs that I really wanted to listen to. I managed to listen to some good music for more than 20 minutes. I have not been able to do something so simple in a relatively long time. Why?

When I return from work during the week (at around 17:30), I am usually so tired and hungry that my first thoughts normally revolve around food. What am I going to eat? Are the necessary ingredients available in the kitchen? How long will the cooking take?

Once the food issue is dealt with, the Insurance Law coursebook on one of the tables reminds me that my exam is only a few months away. And that I still have to memorise tons of cases, some of which date back to the 18th century!

All the above after what is normally a fairly hectic day at the office. I really enjoy what I do, but the never-ending demands coming from above and the ultra-tight deadlines that are sometimes given could easily make one feel pretty squeezed! :)

When surveying various workplaces in Malta (and even abroad), it seems that there has been a great intensification of the work done by several employees over the past decade or so. As far as skills are concerned, it appears that many employers have been expecting more flexibility from an increasing number of workers. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear various individuals saying that they are doing the work that should be done by three people!

The intensification of the work done by thousands of employees could be regarded as a product of the overwork culture. A few months ago, I read an excellent book by Madeleine Bunting about this subject entitled Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (2004). Focusing on the British working environment, the book's blurb states that "Work-related stress is soaring and Britain has one of the highest rates of job insecurity in the world. Over a third of the workforce is so exhausted at the end of a day's work that they can only slump on the sofa...Technology was supposed to create a leisure society. Yet the British are experiencing job intensification in every office, classroom, shopfloor and hospital as a cult of efficiency drives ever more exacting targets. The phenomenon has been masked by a type of management which promises much but delivers one of the most exploitative and manipulative work cultures developed since the Industrial Revolution."

Although the book deals mainly with the situation of many workers in Britain, there are many parallels that could be drawn when focusing on Malta. For instance, I believe that the following assertion could also apply to many employees in Malta, even though the statistics might be a bit different: "Nearly 46 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women work more hours than they are contracted for...For about 2.4 million [people] there's no overtime pay; their organisations depend on motivating the free labour they need because it is one of their cheapest resources. Don't employ more people, just devise an organisational culture which will ensure that people will give you their free time for free" (p. 7).

I yearn for more hours to spend doing other things besides working. It would be so nice if the working day were shorter so that one could have more time to spend with their loved ones. Or to indulge in various activities.

In view of the above, I keep asking myself: where are the trade unions? Where are the organisations campaigning for an acceptable work-life balance? And which political party is really doing something about the overwork culture that has, unfortunately, also invaded our country?

It is now time to go back to my work-related studies...


Friday, 19 June 2009

Another Look at the DPRK

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been the subject of a great deal of criticism for many years. Most of the "news" channels of the Western world tend to repeat the same stories over and over again until most people hardly ever stop to question what they are hearing or seeing. Some of the most popular criticisms are that thousands of people are starving to death, no criticism of the government is tolerated, and that the country is still living in the Stone Age.

I have recently had the opportunity to review some literature that was published fairly recently in the DPRK. More specifically, I am referring to the Korea Today magazine and to The Pyongyang Times. I was struck by how different such literature is when comparing it to several magazines that are printed in other countries (including Malta).

First and foremost, when flipping through the pages, one does not come across countless pages that advertise things that are often beyond the reach of several people. With reference to some of the local publications that are included in the Sunday newspapers, if one had to tear out the pages showing the adverts, one is left with very little reading material.

Second, I was impressed by the content itself. In strongly capitalist countries, numerous magazines focus on the lives of a handful of ultra-rich individuals (company directors, singers, etc.). In such publications, the individual is frequently given much more importance than the society in which they live. A magazine such as Korea Today, on the other hand, is packed with articles about social issues. Furthermore, the individual is almost always depicted as a member of the collective.

In order to show the difference between the literature that is often found in North Korea and that found in strongly capitalist countries, I decided to focus on an article entitled If They Could See Their Houses. The latter focused on Kwangmyong Village, where 35 blocks of houses were specifically constructed for blind people. The article states that "Officials of the district People's Committee and the district Workers' Party of Korea committee decided to build houses for the blind residents first as part of the plan to facelift streets and villages in the district as required by the new century. They had always given primary thought to the blind working at the Sungho Kwangmyong Daily Necessities Factory. With the blind in their district, they had acquainted themselves with every article of the DPRK law on protecting the handicapped whereby they are to be treated preferentially by the public and their life is to be taken responsible care of by the state, and put the articles into practice" (Korea Today, 2, Juche 98 [2009],p. 24). Sadly, it seems that such articles are never mentioned by the most popular "news" channels in the Western world.

It is not true that the literature published in North Korea never deals with certain problems. I have, for example, seen articles that mentioned the food problems that affected the DPRK between 1995 and the year 2000. The difference between these articles and the ones that are usually found in capitalist countries tends to be characterised by the analyses that are carried out; a person who is interested in overthrowing the DPRK's socialist government is likely to argue that any food problems were caused because of the Workers' Party of Korea and might even come up with a few figures that are quite hard to verify whereas a more rigorous study of North Korea's situation during the aforementioned years would indicate that many natural disasters as well as various economic sanctions did contribute to a certain degree of hardship for several people in the DPRK. Such problems do not, however, suggest that socialism does not work and that the government led by the Workers' Party of Korea should be overthrown so that it could be replaced by a capitalist party.

Talking about food problems, I have recently discovered a website called Feeding America. According to the latter, "for 1 in 8 Americans, hunger is a reality. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are struggling with hunger. We all know and are in contact with people affected by hunger, even though we might not be aware of it.

These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days. Most of us simply have no idea. It’s time to educate ourselves about America’s hunger problem." (italics added for emphasis)

In spite of the alarming food situation for millions of individuals in the US, it is hard to come across an article or a feature on one of the popular TV channels that asserts that the US government should be overthrown in order to solve this problem!!!

The aim of this article is not to say that there are no problems in the DPRK. The objective is to get more people to question what life is really like in that part of the world. And to reflect about the fact that just because the government in the DPRK opposes capitalism, it does not mean that it is evil.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

A Blog Award

This beautiful blog award was received from G. She thought that it could look a bit girlish, but I guess that it's the thought that really matters... :))

I would like to present this award to Ninu Hadida and to Progressive Malta. :)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Another Political Party in Malta?

Following last Saturday's EU Parliament elections, many people are debating the future of small parties such as Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) and Azzjoni Nazzjonali (AN). Compared to the 2004 elections, Norman Lowell's Imperium Europa did better this time round, but it still failed to garner enough votes to really make a difference to the way things are done in Malta or on a European level.

With reference to AD and to AN, I have never believed that such parties would go very far in Malta. First, when one is battling with two other parties that have their own newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations, it is incredibly hard to convey one's message to the electorate in the same way that is done by the two biggest local parties (i.e., the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party). Second, even though a party might be excellent at drawing popular attention to certain issues, if that party is not perceived as an organisation that is guided by a specific ideology, many people might not feel sufficiently attracted to it to give it the first preference during an election. Over the past few years, AD had frequently talked about a number of civil rights such as divorce, but the campaigning was not particularly strong and it is highly questionable that thousands of people would vote for AD because of one issue. No ideology, no road map, no vote. That is, I believe, the way many people think when it comes to small parties that only focus on particular issues without displaying the struggle for certain goals as a result of an ideological process.

Sadly, even though the European Parliament contains a group of parties that emphasise the importance of having an ideology, Malta has still not witnessed any organisations belonging to this group. More specifically, I am talking about the GUE/NGL group. The latter consists of a number of parties from various countries that strongly oppose the neoliberal economic model that has been embraced to different degrees by numerous European countries. The parties in this group believe in a different Europe. A more social Europe.

Many people could argue that as a member of the Party of European Socialists, the Labour Party could contribute to the construction of a more social Europe. I do believe that it is better to have a social-democratic party in power rather than a centre-right one such as the Nationalist Party, but the relatively poor performance exhibited by a number of other social-democratic parties in countries such as the UK and Spain could lead to one very important question: how can a party criticise the effects of capitalism and promise a different way of life without locking horns with the capitalist economic model?

Taking Malta as an example, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party stress the need for the creation of more jobs. When the government is unable to create more jobs on its own (possibly because it has sold most of its assets to a number of individuals), it will attempt to lure foreign investors to our shores. The key question here is: why would that person or company decide to set up shop here in Malta? Is it because they are being promised lower taxes compared to other countries? Is it because the "new jobs" would offer ridiculously low salaries to the employees? These are just some of the questions that I ask myself when I listen to the rhetoric of several politicians.

Will Malta witness another political party? A party that could truly contribute to the construction of a more social Europe by implementing a number of genuinely social policies? Only time will tell...


Sunday, 7 June 2009

A Massive Blow to Dr Gonzi's Government

The first result is finally available! And it is extremely clear that the Labour Party has won the EU Parliament election in Malta.

After more than a month of destructive propaganda by the Nationalist Party (PN), a clear message was sent to Dr Gonzi's government in yesterday's election - his administration no longer enjoys the support of a majority of Maltese voters. From this day onwards, Dr Gonzi and the rest of the PN team need to bear this message in mind as they continue delivering one blow after another to countless members of the working class in Malta.

A quick look at the PN's electoral campaign suggests that it failed to address many issues that were affecting thousands of Maltese families. It is not enough to simply promise to create more job opportunities in Malta when several people are struggling to make ends meet. Dr Gonzi failed to offer concrete solutions in terms of how he was going to address the precarious employment conditions endured by numerous workers (especially those in the 18-25 years age group), the incredibly high inflation rate, the water and electricity bills...Instead of focusing on these fundamental matters, a great deal of time and energy were wasted criticising Dr Joseph Muscat's apparent lack of punctuality and on trying to deceive the Maltese electorate that the Labour Party was still sceptical about Malta's position within the EU!


Whilst awaiting the EU Parliament election results, I was thinking about an article that I read a few minutes ago. The article was entitled Shortage of nurses at Mater Dei emergency.

Just a few days ago, whilst listening to one of Dr Gonzi's speeches, he was boasting about Mater Dei, the hospital that has often been described as a "state-of-the-art" one. During his speech, Dr Gonzi seemed to forget that when it comes to hospitals, the most important thing is that patients are given the most appropriate treatment they require. When a person needs to undergo an emergency operation and is constrained to wait for a number of hours due to a shortage of nurses, something is clearly very wrong! According to the aforementioned article penned by Cynthia Busuttil, "Patients requiring emergency surgery are at times made to wait because there are not enough nursing staff to man Mater Dei's emergency theatres..."

Scary and shocking news!!!


The TV has been on since 8:30 this morning. Apart from checking the latest reports on the different channels, I have also been monitoring the news on the Internet.

The vote counting is expected to start pretty soon. I am sure that thousands of individuals will be glued to their TV screens as they look for any signs of the winning party.

The waiting game can sometimes be a fairly tiring process. Some journalists keep repeating the same list of statistics over and over...and over again! *Yawn*

Looking forward to the start of the vote counting in Naxxar!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Big Day Has Finally Arrived!

I went to vote in Ta' Xbiex a few hours ago. I did not see many people at the voting station and I was ready in less than 5 minutes.

Since my wife is still not a Maltese citizen, she was unable to vote. Whilst I was voting inside, she was instructed to stay at a distance of, at least, 50 metres from the voting station. Thinking that I had my mobile phone with me, she sent me a message to let me know that she was going to meet me at home. When I finished voting, I never saw the message since I had left my mobile phone at home! I waited for a couple of minutes near the entrance of the voting station, hoping to get a glimpse of La Delirante. Nothing. When one of the police officers saw me just standing there, he asked me if I had already voted. I replied affirmatively and told him that I was waiting for my wife. He informed me that I could wait for her at a distance of, at least, 50 metres away from where we were standing!

I walked away, hoping that La Delirante was not looking for me inside the building!! I stopped at the street corner, where some political party observers were taking notes. After a couple of minutes, one of them told me, "I think she went home". I had no idea who that man was and I am sure that I looked quite puzzled there. I asked him, "Are you sure that it was her? She was wearing a pink top." The guy replied: "Yes, yes, it was her. I live in the building in front of you and I have often seen you together." Good gosh, I thought to myself! I cannot recall ever seeing the guy and he seems to know about many of my behaviours!!! An excellent example of neighbourhood watch! :-)

When I returned home, I was just zapping from one TV channel to another in order to get the latest news. The different Maltese channels were not saying much. I watched the footage of Dr Gonzi, Dr Muscat, and Dr Abela going to vote. I also heard that compared to the 2004 European Parliament elections, there were an additional 5,000 or so votes that were not collected. This means that even though Malta has been a member of the European Union for 5 years and even though an increasing amount of Maltese legislation is originating in the EU institutions, there are more people who are not interested in the EU today than in 2004.

I just hope that those people who did not bother to collect their vote will not go around complaining that things are bad in Malta and that there is little one could do to change the current state of affairs. I believe that even though one might not agree with all the beliefs associated with a particular political party, it will always be possible to identify a party that shares a good number of one's principles. As we saw in the 2008 general election, every vote counts and every vote is fundamental to either maintain the status quo or to change the way numerous things are being done in this country. Fair enough, the EU Parliament elections should not be regarded as national elections, but with so many laws coming from the EU, many national policies are going to be reflecting decisions that were taken in the EU Parliament.

By the way, for those of you taking a look at the photo posted above, even though there is a PN flag in the background, please rest assured that I did NOT vote for that party! :-))

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Members of One Family

Many years ago, there was a Queen song that I really liked called “All God’s People”. During that time, I was still a member of the Roman Catholic Church and I was strongly attracted to the notion that all human beings are members of one family. It felt nice to think that all the people who have ever lived could be regarded as my brothers and sisters. Believing that life was eternal, it felt even nicer to think that no matter how many conflicts there have been in this world, a day would come when all human beings would be able to live together in an atmosphere of peace and love.

As time went by, I drifted away from the Roman Catholic Church and from all religious organizations. I never, however, stopped believing in how much better this world could be if we all attempted to regard each other as brothers and sisters. It is true that our own imperfections and the faults we perceive in many other people sometimes create a great deal of tension. Yet, if a person is committed to the ideal of living with others as members of one loving family, it becomes easier to overcome various impasses and to seek reconciliation.

Sadly, the cynicism exhibited by several people about human beings and what I have termed as the “individualist cult” have strongly contributed to a society often characterized by a shocking degree of selfishness. It could be that many individuals have become much more selfish because the economic model that has been adopted in many countries promotes such behaviour. Given the cut-throat competition that exists between numerous companies as they indulge their greed, it is not surprising that countless individuals are encouraged to believe that the only way to live decently in contemporary society is by embracing the social Darwinist creed that “only the fittest will survive”. On an almost daily basis, people all over the world are bombarded with TV shows about competing with the proverbial neighbour in order to be considered as more beautiful, more “talented”…and all this done to become rich and to acquire the power that is associated with fame. Nowadays, children below the age of 10 are sometimes gripped by despair when they get a B instead of an A in certain subjects at school!!

The “individualist cult” has pervaded numerous countries. Malta is surely no exception. The sickening number of dance and singing competitions that are held on an almost monthly basis bear witness to this point. Furthermore, various individuals have become so selfish to believe that if another human being ends up unemployed or homeless, it is only “that person’s problem” and “only they should deal with it”.

Considering that many Maltese people still pride themselves on being Catholic, the “individualist cult” exhibited by many individuals might come across as strongly at odds with the principle of fraternal love. What has happened to co-operating with other human beings? What has happened to helping those who need a hand in order to progress? What has happened to forgiveness?

I do not think that I would be exaggerating when I say that there are several individuals in Malta who feel extremely lonely and abandoned. Uncared for. It could be the single parent who gets no help with their child. It could be the 16-year-old who feels that they will have to go through life as a second-class citizen because they do not have any academic qualifications. It could be the person who lost their spouse/partner as a result of an illness or an accident. It could be the university graduate who spends months looking for a decent job. It could be the person who is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Earlier on today, I was talking to a foreign friend of mine who has been living in Malta for many years. She is planning to move to another country later on this year or sometime next year. She told me that she found it extremely hard to make friends here in Malta. Many people would talk to her, but they would not go the whole way to treat her as though she were family. It was only after she joined an Evangelical Christian Church that she met people who displayed genuine care towards her. It was only then that she felt treated as a family member.

I find it very sad that in many countries, several people are only able to nurture the goal of building a more fraternal society by joining religious organizations. At this stage, I do not intend to criticize such groups because I am aware of the admirable work that is done by many of them. My only concern is that many people seem to end up constrained to believe certain things dogmatically just to feel that they are cared for and loved as family members. As far as I am concerned, my questioning mind prevents me from joining a religious organization and accepting various things just because I am told that they are true. Having said this, I yearn to be with people who care about me in a fraternal way.

In the case of those people who prefer a more secular pathway, Malta does not seem to have many organizations characterized by fraternal love. Some individuals might attempt to find a bit of solace by joining a political party, but the excessive ambition displayed by a number of people within a party might occasionally make it quite hard to feel that building a more fraternal world is that party’s top priority.

In spite of the friction that can be witnessed within almost every political party, I still believe that becoming involved with a political party appears to be one of the best options for secular-minded individuals to contribute to the construction of a more fraternal world. Of course, it is important to analyse a party’s ideology and objectives prior to joining. Joining a party could give a person the opportunity to make a number of positive differences in one’s environment.

Hopefully, a day will come when all human beings can live together harmoniously as members of one family.


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

People Should Come First

Malta joined the European Union in 2004. Since then, although several individuals might have benefited from the country's EU membership, it is my impression that the greatest beneficiaries were a relatively small number of business owners. Following Malta's entry into the EU, such people have been able to expand their operations in many other Member States, thus increasing the chances of earning much more money. Having said this, how has the life of the typical Maltese worker changed since 2004?

There is little doubt that the EU provides various opportunities for Maltese workers to improve their skills. Many people have heard about the Social Funds that could be utilised to help various individuals acquire a number of skills. Being a member of the EU also makes it easier for a Maltese worker to move to another Member State where they could earn more money and live more comfortably. Since 2004, new companies have set up shop in Malta, making it possible for new jobs to be created.

In spite of the above, there are still several points that suggest that many Maltese workers are still not doing so well when comparing Malta to many other EU Member States. Indeed, earlier on this week, I heard that Malta presently has the highest inflation rate in the EU. At little over than EUR 600 a month, the minimum wage in Malta is a joke and a strong slap in the face to thousands of Maltese people, especially those that have dependants. Although there might have been an increase in job opportunities within certain areas of the Maltese economy, the Nationalist Government rarely talks about the conditions associated with many jobs that are being created in our times. What is the point of boasting about how many people are working when several of those individuals might be on short-term contracts, earning relatively low salaries, and working under very stressful conditions?

When politicians face each other during various debates, it is quite common for numerous spectators to feel lost or confused. Given that many politicians are lawyers or economists, it is plausible to expect a great deal of jargon about the Euro, the calculations underlying countless figures, and so on. To a specialist, such discourse is likely to be interesting, but wouldn't the typical Maltese worker prefer to listen to a different type of talk?

The EU needs to ensure that people come first. Of course, it is fundamental to safeguard the welfare of every citizen, but when we know that there are so many workers all over the EU that are yearning for a brighter and more secure tomorrow, it is so important for politicians to dedicate more time as well as energy to focusing on various issues. Could there, for example, be more talk about the possibility of creating a decent minimum wage across the entire EU? Could there be more talk about preventing work from spilling increasingly further into one's home life? Could there be more talk about specific strategies aimed at ensuring that there is full employment in the EU?

Next Saturday's EU Parliament elections are another reminder that we have the possibility to do something to change this Union. Next Saturday is another reminder that your vote could contribute to ensuring that the EU becomes an organisation that truly promotes the message: "People Should Come First"!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Fortress Europe or a Social Europe?

Over the past few months, many EU citizens have been discussing the impact of illegal immigration on various countries. Malta has been mentioned by a number of EU politicians on countless occasions even though not everyone thought that enough was done to address the issue in the best possible way. As shown by the photo posted above, one of the key questions for this year's European Parliament elections is: What kind of borders should we have?

In view of the fact that I consider myself to be a citizen of the world, I strongly believe that human beings should be allowed to move from one corner of the planet to another without having to face a shocking number of hurdles. At the end of the day, no person gets the opportunity to choose the country that they are born in; why should one be constrained to spend all one's life in a specific country without the opportunity to move easily to another place? Why is it that if one is born in an EU country, they are able to move freely to over 25 other countries whereas an individual born in, say, Sudan would probably have to face an incredible amount of bureaucracy to attempt to move to another country?

People decide to move from one place to another for various reasons. One of them is that an individual could nurture certain beliefs that are much more popular in one country than another. One country could offer more job opportunities than another. One country could provide more space, more greenery, more cultural organisations...

If capital can move around the world so swiftly and, in many cases, with hardly any obstacles, why can't human beings also be allowed to move around so easily??? Is money more important than human welfare?

The immigration issue is not a Maltese one. It is affecting several other European countries such as Italy and Spain. In my view, it is extremely important for EU politicians to be able to come together to find solutions that will avoid creating first-class and second-class citizens. Perhaps the time has come to revisit the various laws regarding immigration so that the world could become a fairer place. Is it fair to treat an individual who simply wants to move to another country in order to work and live there like all other law-abiding citizens as a dangerous criminal?

Over the past few weeks, some people have strongly criticised the ways in which a number of supposedly socialist parties have reacted to the illegal immigration phenomenon. Real socialists, it is often said, should try to tear down the artificial barriers that separate human beings from one another. Having said this, it is still comforting to know that even though some socialists could sometimes appear to have been injected by a heavy quantity of nationalism, their parties represent much greater hope than others that are also contesting the European Parliament elections.

The European Union should not become a fortress. It should serve as a model of fraternity to the other regional blocks around the world.