By Charles Schembri. Needless to say the views of guests are not always entirely consistent with the editorial line of this site. But debate, if backed by cogent argument, is always welcome.
Particularly in a liberal democracy a country’s statute of laws, the executive and its agencies, especially those institutions that enable and ensure the sustainable compliance with the rule of law, could very well be considered as the country’s recognised Gospels.
Understanding the Gospels and moreover interpreting them is no easy task. St Paul’s epistles would call for a socio-political thinker who could subjectively enlighten the readers. St Mark’s gospels would call for someone with a deep sense of creativity who would assist the reader to read between the lines and to moreover appreciate the resolve backing the stories told. The Gospels call the reader to have faith while perusing and trying to live them.
When democracy is stable, it is in good part because all major political actors are willing to adhere to the basic rules of the democratic game most of the time. (Yascha Mounk, lecturer on government at Harvard. The Guardian March 2018) . Moreover, many of these rules are informal, making it less clear-cut when they are violated.
“For democracies to work,” Michael Ignatieff, the political theorist “politicians need to respect the difference between an enemy and an adversary. An adversary is someone you want to defeat. An enemy is someone you have to destroy.”
This reminds me of a brief chat that as a young man I had had with a certain Giulio Andreotti in late seventies during the Mintoff governments and his intermittent fiddling with our democracy. Andreotti calmly advised never to consider an adversary as an enemy and the way forward was to always project “the truth”.
Where does this leave our islands in a political scenario that long months ago I foretold would be worse than the years following the 1981 election result?
This government is in a mess. Apparently this is no longer hearsay. And being one always prepared to give others the benefit of the doubt, this amalgam of having to bear with Truth (or Un-truth), as Martin Heidegger the political philosopher would expound in his concept of truth, leaves one breathless and with deep sense of loss and guilt.
It is time for decisions to be taken and for remedial measures to be embarked upon even if apparently this goes against the apparent massive support of the party in government that at the end of the day is nothing but the result of coercion and bribery exercised on an electorate, that faced without a viable alternative, opted for the material gain in the wake of continuity.
And the way forward for our islands is not written in our gospels. The track record of our liberal-democratic informal rules has been intentionally cast away.
This aura of indecisiveness prevailed too following the 1981 perverse election result. Those voting PN were stunned; rather crippled. People in public sector, particularly, felt like introverts. Frightened and scared. Few visited the Stamperija during the following days. But people need to be led. Led by leaders who can take decisive actions, leaders who are prepared to take risks even if the political career could be at stake and the Damocles’ sword could be highly threatening. And if rumours doing the rounds then were truthful, it was the resolve of Eddie Fenech Adami that led to the famous Dingli square meeting that kicked off the noises that were required at that particular time. It was what effectively further united the party even if then endowed with diverse opinions for further political initiatives.
The PN is in no better situation today. If one can read the writing on the wall correctly the problem with the party is no longer one relating to what I consider the valued party factions. It is the identification of the new way forward; a programme for political initiatives that almost all of a sudden has changed the raison d’etre of the party and its future.
I still do not consider the party in government as the enemy of the public. But a defiant adversary he certainly is; an adversary that requires to be defeated. PN’s required political action cannot bear fruits if the cohorts remain disjointed. This calls for party leaders to rally around the party leader to identify a path of righteousness. It is no use further discussing the leadership. That is what we have; a leader that irrespective of one’s opinion was elected by the majority of tesserati. I would dread to even perceive him as anyone’s clone. He is new to politics; he still needs to familiarise himself with the difficult political language; and faced with initial internal opposition he mistakenly rallied around him people of trust as a defensive shield.
John Major as party leader instilled scepticism notwithstanding the vote. And yet the party rallied around him, advised on correct action and limited the damage. Again, Andreotti. He was never part of the Fanfaniani, Dorotei or Moroisti factions. Often he distanced himself. And yet he never failed to assist the Prime Ministers and their cabinets when it was required that the party’s interests were not jeopardised. He was the Prime Minister nominated by Aldo Moro in 1978 when the DC would lead a government with the support of the Communists, even if he had initially opposed the project of the convergenze parallele.
With Adrian Delia at the helm, irrespective of our likes and dislikes, our preferences and our dreams, the party is not diagnosed with a malign disease. Distancing ourselves from the party, laying down arms without a fight or going over-board from a ship that is not a wreck but that is facing turbulent weather is no solution. The priority of the party and its followers is just to stand up to be counted and embark on a long process of persuasion to instil faith in others and to have a change in our islands’ socio-cultural mentality. Former party senior leaders need to leave their hibernation mode and help; if need be taking a calculated lead.
The current political scenario is calling for action. This could be the beginning of the end. People need to start making noises. And the vast silent crowd that had stayed away from the PN at the last election and others who opted for the short lived material gain shall join.
To conclude, any initiatives need to be carried out in empathy with others who see things differently. This is not a battle cry and the party in government is just an adversary not an enemy.
And all this the Gospels will not tell. Yet they would be the guiding light.