Citizen Jack

The noise had almost begun to subside and the metaphorical dust seemed to settle around the result of “53% IVA 47% LE” it became increasingly unclear whether another showdown was underway. The definitive conclusion that could be drawn from the last 72 hours is that this is definitely a crisis moment for Maltese society. Echoes of this conclusion can be heard all over the place and there is definitely no going back.

Interestingly enough in our multifaceted society of victors and defeated (because there always has to be a winner in our mind) the assumptions being made through the grapevine all the way to the reported ideas in the press do not seem to take in the wider picture. The citizen, the netizen, the reporter, the church, the politician, the party, the government – might all be engaged in a short-term assessment and quick recalibration of immediate requirements. This article looks at the impact on the Citizen… Citizen Jack.

Shaken. Very stirred. The divorce debate catapulted Jack out of his default position of “politics ain’t for me”, “it’s all the same anyway”, “they’re all a bunch of time-wasting egotists”. Was Jack aware that the question was more about emancipation and less about divorce? Maybe. For one thing he got to ditch his long-outdated political compass and was obliged to think for himself. No default/lesser-evil position would allow him to make ethical compromises.

Lacking the classical reference points Jack went solo. Where possible he found the comfort of numbers – from facebook movements to processions - yet this did not dispense him from having to think and think hard. It was hard to get a crash course in constitutional law and social mores what with all the noise: the perennial dilemma of the uninformed (a euphemism for uneducated? – but then how many are there?). The planes of discussion were at times too many for Jack to follow: Was this a battle between the devil and the Lord for his soul? Or was it a battle between the controllers and the controlled over a more liberal society?

As in Aesop’s fable the battle between the sun and the wind to strip one man of his vote escalated with worrying consequences on the man’s constitution. As the dust of the first battle settles you can sense an eagerness to end all this. Shouldn’t it be over by now? Hasn’t the YES won? Isn’t the parliamentary debate a formality? The people have spoken (the bastards) haven’t day? It’s time to get back to the cocooned life of casual complaint and leave it all to those who know best no? Jack might begrudge the very existence of your average MP but he sure is grateful not to have to carry his responsibilities.

The question we should be asking at the moment is whether the multiplicity of virtual and real movements have brought the message home to Jack that there is an underlying, deeper battle than the one that has just closed. Censorship, minority rights, social freedoms, respect for the environment, the battle against the networks of corruption, the stranglehold on representation …. and much much more. Is that too much for Jack to handle? Will he be wishing that the monster vanishes or that it will be swept under the carpet for hopefully another 50 years?

Can Jack be stirred further? Is Jack aware that cashing the change cheque will imply much more than simply ticking the yellow box in one referendum?

Se vogliamo che tutto cambi bisogna che tutto rimanga lo stesso.

This article also appears on J’accuse.

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