Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Hideous Monument

Let's face it the sette giugnio monument is hideous and essentially patriarchal as it glorifies mythical muscular men. It is down right ugly. Its removal from Palace Square is not bad news as far as am concerned.
Europe is full of such monuments mostly dating to the 19th century but this one dates back to 1986 when we should have known better.
I am not saying the Sette Gignio has no significance-mainly as an episode of popular rebellion triggered by economic rather than constitutional reasons.
I find the connection between the riots and Malta's constitutional development tenuous. Essentially what we had on that day was a bread riot by hungry unrepresented people which coincided with a parallel meeting of Maltese notables clamouring for a constitutional reform to suite their very limited conception of democracy.
I won't judge by the standards of today when mob rule and violence are abhorred. Probably a mass of uneducated and hungry people deprived of any real representation had no other option but violence to make their voice heard. Anger at merchants who were profiteering while people were hungry has triggered riots throughout European history.
The riots did coincide with the convocation of national assembly by a conservative elite but the target of popular anger were Maltese merchants and the Brits intervened to protect their property and life.
The fact that the Brits shot at the Maltese obviously had a symbolic effect.
The National assembly did not have universal suffrage in mind. What they wanted is a greater share of power for the elites.
Real self government only came after the war when universal suffrage was introduced mainly thanks to the labour party.

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