Friday, 19 March 2010
The Rise of the Communist Party of Malta
Last Monday, the Times of Malta published an interesting article regarding the Maltese Communist Party. Although this party has been in existence since 1969, it never enjoyed the popular support that could easily be witnessed when talking about the country's two biggest political parties (the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party).
Although the Labour Party in Malta never embraced Marxist-Leninist principles, the Mintoff and Mifsud Bonnici administrations were clearly more leftist than the Sant and Muscat ones. During those times, the most prominent Labour Party representatives stressed the importance of doing things within an ideological context. Hence, if a measure was going to be implemented, it was fairly easy to fathom how such an action was intended to coincide with the party's ideological objectives. The speeches about the benefits of Socialism helped to distinguish the Labour Party from the Nationalist one. As stated above, the Labour Party was never a Communist organisation, but the discourse used by individuals such as Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici sometimes overlapped with that utilised by a number of Communists. By using this strategy, several Maltese people perceived the Labour Party as being sufficiently leftist and did not feel a strong need to move to another party that also talked about the fruits of Socialism.
With the introduction of Alfred Sant's New Labour strategies during the 1990s, there was a fairly evident desire to move away from the anti-capitalist rhetoric that was quite popular during the 1970s and the 1980s in order to embrace a more pro-capitalist stance towards various issues. Almost from the start, this change led to varying degrees of friction within the party. To many people, the key question was: if the Labour Party was planning to desert "the Socialist Cause", what really made it so different from the Nationalist one?
Over the years, the Labour Party developed into an organisation that would talk about social justice and about a number of topics frequently mentioned by leftist parties, but it would hardly ever specify how it seriously intended to remedy countless social ills. Furthermore, even though it was clear that numerous problems were being facilitated by the increasing penetration of capitalist practices in Malta, the bulk of the Labour Party politicians never dared to criticise this economic model. Once capitalism was embraced in the most dogmatic way, politics was reduced to a competition between who could be the best manager of a fundamentally capitalist society.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of Malta went underground. Although it was never disbanded, it became largely inactive.
When it became clear that the Labour Party had become just another pro-capitalist organisation, several individuals started feeling as though the country lacked a political vehicle that could seriously challenge the capitalist model that formed the basis on which the Maltese economy was built.
Aware of this reality, the Communist Party of Malta started noticing a growing degree of interest in a party that was seriously interested in preserving and/or ensuring free education, health care, stable and decent employment, proper housing, and so on. Unlike the other huge parties, the Communist Party of Malta was not going to pay lip-service to workers' rights and then fail to review the country's appalling minimum wage.
More and more people are losing faith in Malta's two biggest parties. As such individuals feel that neither one of those parties is truly working hard enough to ensure that ALL people residing in Malta have a certain level of welfare, the Communist Party will continue to grow day by day...