Apart from being a right (and sometimes a duty), protesting is also fun. It’s a celebration of people from different walks of life coming together for a common cause.
by Kurt Borg & Leo Busuttil
Collage by the IotL Magazine
1. Because We Know that PL/PN are Ridic
Many people feel that, despite their vote, they’re not really and properly represented by their elected political reps. On the other extreme, sadly, too many people adore and idolise politicians as if they can do no wrong. We need to make politicians fear us the people, not expect us to bow down at their feet in adoration. Politicians ultimately depend on us for recognition, and they should serve us, not vice-versa. But we mustn’t forget that, in the current state of democracy, politicians of all colours serve economic interests—which are not the interests of us the people (see point 2)—above all other considerations.
Let’s face it: the PL/PN establishment have let us the people down for years. They suffocate and hijack all spaces where a politics that is not destructively partisan can happen. Many of us have heard partisans utter boring mantras such as “fejn kontu…?” (“where were you when…?”). In an attempt to discredit and tarnish the credibility of activists by making them appear driven by partisan interests, these trolls imply that activists were not protesting when the other party was in power. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Most activists protest irrespective of who’s in power.
Let’s destroy this boring mantra by being able to say that we were there, and it’s them who were busy trolling and lying on FB while we the people did their work of resistance.
On the contrary, it’s such partisan trolls who have no ounce of credibility since it’s them who change the tune depending on who’s in power. So let’s destroy this boring mantra by being able to say that we were there, and it’s them who were busy trolling and lying on FB while we the people did their work of resistance.
2. Because We the People Aren’t Just Shitty Economists
Quality of life is booming, they say. Pull the other one. What quality? Whose lives? And what about all the environmental concerns that have been raised and discussed? These bulldozers focus on the ‘built’ part of ‘built environment’, ignoring the fact that not any environment is conducive to social and personal well-being. And since when did we agree to place more value on (allegedly) shorter travelling times than on clean air?
On a few cents off our fuel bill at the cost of shaving off a bit of our life expectancy? We are objecting to this ‘anything goes’ attitude that doesn’t give a shit about how and where people are living. We are resisting the destruction being done in the name of the economy, as if anything can be justified for economic growth. Environmentalists and critics who object to the current political reality are often called names such as the following: hippies; unrealistic; not pragmatic; idealists; negative. If these destructive measures are necessary for the economy, it’s the economic arrangement that’s unacceptable, not our refusal of these measures.
3. Because We Think It’s Intolerable That a Supposed Building ‘Boom’ Is Destroying Houses
Who’s not sick and tired of all the dust, all the noise, all the breathing problems that are a direct result of this construction frenzy, all the jack-hammering, all the unsustainable road-widening obsession, all the illegalities and slacky work, all the fucking FALLING HOUSES?
These arrogant bulldozers think they can pass on top of anything and anyone. We need to stop them. And we need to stop the alarming neglect for workers’ safety on these sites. Developers are abusing precarious labour, and a laissez-faire planning authority is harming the many for the benefit of the few. This protest is calling for more regulation, policy changes and planning. We simply won’t accept the arrogance of MDA et al, who think that they can take us for a ride (and get stuck in traffic) with their BS excuses. We also won’t accept the excuses of politicians who tell us that this over-development is inevitable and ‘for our own good’ (the cheek).
4. Because We’re a Truly Progressive Movement of the People
Don’t pour cold water over such initiatives. Some might be tempted to complain that “the demands weren’t sufficiently articulate,” or one might say “I’m not protesting alongside those guys,” or even “Why bother? It’s not like it will make a difference anyway.” It’s not news that social movements are ridden with in-fighting. Theoretical elaboration (and not ‘just’ action) is important, but it shouldn’t hinder action. There are disagreements and clashes in any social movement. A difference in outlook is, indeed, democratic.
There are disagreements and clashes in any social movement. A difference in outlook is, indeed, democratic.
Only uncreative and uncritical MPs strive for homogeneity, bow their heads to the whim of the leader (they call it “loyally toeing the party line”) and shun dissenting voices. In any one protest, it’s impossible to meet everyone’s expectations, or that the demands are articulated to everyone’s liking.
Demands can be re-articulated; it’s actually important that everyone makes the demands their own, in their own words, in relation to their own contexts. The demands are there to bring us together. But they are not a blanket statement; we’re the many, not the One. It’s actually very dangerous when a political movement presents itself as unitary, as if everyone in it believes the same things in exactly the same way. Embrace plurality and diversity, and let’s get marching.
Graffitti’s demands are simple and to the point. Have a quick read here.
5. Because We’re Fucking Outraged
Many people feel a desperate sense of helplessness when faced with all this. People feel angry, sad, hurt and outraged by the current state of Malta. Emotions are a key part of politics. We rant because we care. Let’s voice these rants through the right channels. Let’s voice our demands politically. Let’s politicise our emotions by bringing them with us in public, and not hide them in private or among our friends. It’s OK (and important) to feel outraged in the face of this intolerable situation. Find the motivation to join this protest in your own experiences. But you are not alone. Your experience connects with that of others; let’s collectivise our irritation and organise ourselves. We are the multitude.
6. Because We’re the Change We Want to See in the World
Resistance isn’t easy. It’s an uphill struggle. The powers that be are strong. But together we’re powerful too. Let the ForOurTrees protest of last July be the springboard for further civil action. Let’s keep the momentum going and rally our voices and calls for change until they reverberate around the halls of power. Let’s get together and exercise our right to assembly. This is a celebration of democracy; embrace it. Feel proud for doing your bit, no matter how large or small it may feel. This is not a battle that can be won or lost in a matter of a few weeks—our pressure must be constant, consistent and confident. Know that any change that can come about from this movement is thanks to you, because you cared.
7. Because We’re Fun
Emma Goldman, an anarcho-feminist, is often quoted as having said: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” She probably never said so, but it’s a great slogan. Apart from being a right (and sometimes a duty), protesting is also fun. It’s a celebration of people from different walks of life coming together for a common cause. Join the crowd, create havoc, be loud, shout, scream, sing, bang your drums, feel the joy of being part of a crowd with real and genuine interests at heart. The protest will be in Valletta—you can reclaim and enjoy your capital city and hang out. Bring your children, your parents, your nanna and nannu, your cat or dog. It will be a nice September Saturday morning. It will be nicer with you there. Join us!
The protest will be in Valletta—you can reclaim and enjoy your capital city and hang out. Bring your children, your parents, your nanna and nannu, your cat or dog.
Pro-tip: If possible, leave your car at home. The capital is easy to get to either by walking, cycling, or catching a bus. If you need more convincing, refer back to point 6!
If you are part of a group (NGOs, resident associations, student groups, workers’ associations, farmers etc) you’re still in time to register your participation in the protest. See here for more info, and follow the FB event for updates.
Kurt Borg is a PhD candidate in Philosophy and lectures at the University of Malta. His interests are in political theory, ethics and the art of living.
Leo Busuttil is a member of the Bicycle Advocacy Group Malta, which aims to improve cycling infrastructure and general road safety. A concerned citizen and avid nature enthusiast whose ability to enjoy the outdoors is slowly but surely being deprived.