Some of these must-reads will make you laugh, some will challenge your perceptions of the world and others – encourage you to question the status quo.
by Raisa Galea
The lavish Christmas lunch and Boxing Day are over, meaning that you finally have some time to spare. It is windy outside so you might wish to enjoy a few cozy moments at home, reading. Here are a few memorable articles of 2017 which make a delicious, insightful read.
Culture and Society
Not too long ago, science fiction and fantasy were capable of bringing a better, fairer world to our imagination. They challenged the accepted norms and refused to settle for the status quo. “Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and the Status Quo” by Lyta Gold suggests that today’s popular works of science fiction and fantasy rather reaffirm the state of affairs, while Game of Thrones-like characters occupy positions of power in the real world.
If you have not read “Cities of Justice: Reclaiming Valletta From The Market Forces Of Gentrification” – the interview with Amsterdam-based professor and writer Sebastian Olma – by Teodor Reljic, you better do it now. Sebastian Olma talks about the possibility of making the urban spaces more egalitarian and about the need for the true citizen’s empowerment.
[…] the imagination of the younger generation has been hijacked by the ideology that our current problems are not political problems, but mainly technological problems that we can solve by a mixture of, say, urban gardening, 3D-printing and digital innovation. […] economic inequality and social segregation are not “problems” to be solved by smart social entrepreneurs. These are essentially political problems that have to be addressed by politics. I am aware that our current political elites are not very keen on doing this, mainly because they have come to understand themselves as managers rather than politicians. What we as concerned citizens of a democracy can do in this situation is force these vital questions back onto the political agenda.”
“Cash Loans Czar’s Maltese Tax Escape Plan” by Blaz Zgaga, Vlad Odobescu, Matthew Vella and Sergejs Pavlovs could have been missed due to its release during the feverish general election campaign. This article and MaltaFiles at large reveal the dark foundations of Malta’s booming economy. The complicated web of financial operations, facilitated by Malta’s financial services, is rooted in exploitation of vulnerable individuals and results in near zero-tax on small loans operations for a billionaire.
If you find apocalyptic predictions frustrating and would rather read something that might give your hope for humanity a boost, this article is for you. “Tax Competition Undermines European Values Of Solidarity” by Rositsa Kratunkova is one of six winning student columns for the Financial Times’ Future of Europe Project.
“The United States Is Polluting the World and Locking Refugees Out” by Todd Miller is a must-read for everyone interested in the climate change issue and its present and future impact on the lives of the millions of people globally.
“The Best Time To Act Is Now” by Martin Galea De Giovanni pledges to designate 24 sites in Malta, Manoel Island included, for recreational purposes – to improve health and wellbeing of the country’s population.
Wolfgang Streeck’s “Trump and the Trumpists” is a must-read. Brexit and the US elections 2016 shocked and shook millions of people across the globe. The German economic sociologist offers analysis – most comprehensive and detailed of its kind – of the conditions which led to Trump’s presidency.
The photo essay “The Cost Of Liberation. Documenting Life Amid the Battle for Mosul” by Cengiz Yar and Murtaza Hussain is a record of a war-thorn, fatalism-stricken Iraqi city after the liberation from the three-year long takeover by Islamic State militants. This article includes graphic images some readers may find disturbing.
“Pushing People Into Precariousness” by Andre Callus is a powerful critique of the Maltese government’s immigration policies. In defense of the rights of asylum-seekers, stripped from Temporary Humanitarian Protection in November 2016, he wrote:
This awful treatment of migrant workers contrasts sharply with how representatives of the party in government, which once claimed to be the workers’ party, salivate at the idea of billionaires buying Maltese citizenship, and with the narrative they deploy hailing the virtues of the greedy one percent – the global rich. Simultaneously, those who are victims of this unjust global system and its obscene unequal distribution of wealth – migrant workers – are being stripped of their rights and rendered more vulnerable to exploitation.”
“The Queer Poor Aestethics” was written by Shak’ar Mujukian in 2016, but in case you have not come across it yet, here is your chance. It is a confession that cannot leave you unmoved. In their story Shak’ar says that
it wasn’t okay to romanticize or aestheticize poverty; that it wasn’t “cool” to appropriate real people’s struggles for social points; that class privilege isn’t something you can simply reject, and it’s something you can’t just check once; that poverty only looks and feels good on wealthy people.”
“Rise of The Machines: Who is The ‘Internet Of Things’ Good For?” by Adam Greenfield is a thought-provoking account of the effect of technology on our daily lives. The internet of things is becoming part of contemporary routine. One such example is the Amazon’s Dash Button, a Wi-Fi-connected device which reorders your favourite item with a single press of a button. Besides collecting your personal data, devices like Dash Button shape behavior of consumers by making convenience as available as never before.
Internet of things devices short-circuit the process of reflection that stands between having a desire and fulfilling that desire by buying something”.
Another must-read is “Forget Far-Right Populism – Crypto-Anarchists Are The New Masters” by Jamie Bartlett. Crypto-currencies and other technological advances have began reshaping the world. Society and politics as we know it is about to be radically transformed within a few years time. The question remains “Whom will these changes benefit?”
Which articles do you think capture the essence of 2017 best?