The Malta Independent 20 January 2022, Thursday

The PN’s woes

Mark A. Sammut Sassi Sunday, 5 December 2021, 10:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

This topic is complex. There are many elements to it. For instance, bubbles and echo-chambers; a remarkable strain of historical understanding; an equally remarkable type of familiarity with current developments in Europe. I propose to tackle a few of these elements, within the constraints of a newspaper article.

 

Bubbles and echo-chambers

For some reason, some liberals think that their views are shared by all enlightened members of society. The truth is that not all enlightened people are necessarily liberal. One can be enlightened and still be a conservative, a Catholic, or a communitarian. At the same time, not all liberals are enlightened. Quite a few radical liberal values wear a black shirt.

Espousing Christian values doesn’t mean one is benighted. Being a conservative or a communitarian doesn’t mean one is backward. This is a slander spread by the progressives and the liberals who believe in the relentless, destructive-creative course of history, the driver of progress that makes existence better and better.

But history doesn’t move in a linear fashion toward its end. History is a spiral, at times; at others, it’s a pendulum. The excesses of liberalism we’re witnessing today aren’t the signs of progress, but rather of excess. Liberalism is like alcohol. Drink a shot or two and it’s fine; become a drunkard and you ruin not only your liver but your entire life.

The radical liberals – a minority in this country – are getting intoxicated on their radical liberalism. As such, they cannot gauge the situation properly. Labour needed only a few liberals to win the elections because its hard-core electorate doesn’t understand politics since nobody cares to explain politics to them. Labour ditched socialism – even withdrawing from Socialist International – and the workers who were ready to die for Mintoff’s socialism didn’t bat an eye, showing how little understanding of politics they possess.

The local conservatives should say mea culpa. They didn’t use the Maltese language to the degree necessary to open the eyes of the workers, most of whom are conservative by necessity – being liberal is too costly for the working classes.

Some liberals voted Labour in 2013 and possibly in 2017 too. Chris Peregin is one of them. He now believes he can convince other liberals to vote for the PN because he has decided it’s time to stop punishing the PN. Clearly, he’s miscalculating.

For two reasons.

One, the PN is the natural home of the educated conservatives.

Two, why should the liberals who switched to Labour switch back to the PN, when among PN supporters there are conservatives who don’t give in without a fight whereas among PL supporters there are conservatives who are unable to think autonomously?

So there’s a liberal cohort who can’t see beyond their immediate group of friends and acquaintances. They depend on surveys and anecdotes, not on what people outside their circles think. Middle-aged parents, and their parents, are obviously worried that teenagers might get hooked on drugs, starting with the soft variety (cannabis) and possibly falling into the temptation of exploring the hard ones. Parents are also obviously worried that their daughters get pregnant and resort to abortion – nobody in his right senses believes that you can feel nothing when you kill one child but then manage to bond seamlessly with another child when “the time is ripe”. Life is not a fairy tale and actions that destroy life leave scars – just ask veterans who come back from the horrors of war.

There’s too much airy-fairy ideology around, and not enough common sense.

 

History

The big problem the Nationalists are facing is not peculiar to them. It’s a two-limbed problem that the (centre-)right faces all over Europe.

The first limb is souverainism. This political current isn’t limited to Europe, but we shall obviously concentrate on the European strain. Those who belong to souverainism are sceptical about the European Union and would prefer unfettered sovereignty for the Nation-State. It’s not only the conservatives who belong to this current; there are others too. But many – though not all – conservatives are, instinctively, souverainist.

The second limb is the contradiction between Christian-Democracy (the founding fathers of what eventually became the EU – De Gasperi, Schuman, and Adenaeur – were Demo-Christians) and the fact that the European common market is a neo-liberal project, requiring a nihilist philosophy to succeed. Nihilism means, among other things, that there’s no inherent morality and that morality is artificially contrived. This obviously goes against Demo-Christian political philosophy.

The common market neo-liberal philosophy is mostly anti-family, because family obligations hinder the seamless functioning of the market. Family ties down people to places and situations, and a pure free market requires workers to be free to move and react in order to work harder and maximise profits.

Just consider the need to transfer multinational company employees from one country to another; or the horrific choice presented by that particular low-cost airline a couple of years back to its female pilots: they had to forgo either motherhood (by aborting) or their employment. Consider something closer to home: what has society gained from the chase for the top of the career ladder mirage while children are raised by well-meaning but complete strangers in day nurseries? Or from couples not having the time required to iron out their relationship issues?

So the contradiction between Demo-Christian political philosophy and free-market nihilism is one of the problems the centre-right, and the PN, have to solve, by striking the balance between being pro-EU on the one hand and being the natural home for conservatives and communitarians, on the other. Perhaps the EU needs to change, not through a strengthening of the Nation State but through a humanisation of the market.

 

The situation in Europe

The centre-right’s problems aren’t endemic to Malta but common to all of Europe. Strong currents, however, are taking shape, moving toward traditional family values and a moralisation of the common market. Strikingly, this isn’t limited to older generations inspired by “nostalgia”, but it’s attracting the younger generations, who’re the ones bearing the brunt of an amoral market that puts profits before persons.

The market in its current form has also led to widespread environmental deterioration. On this too the conservatives/communitarians can offer solutions, because ultimately salvaging the environment too requires a sense of morality.

 

Reasons for the PN’s vote haemorrhage

One reason is that the PN’s message to conservatives and communitarians is not at all clear. There are other reasons, of course, such as the monotonous insistence on corruption (this insistence is like sugar: one sweet brings comfort, too many sweets rot your teeth and open the door to diabetes); the as-yet-unconvincing contrition at past mistakes; and a lingering, inaccurate interpretation of the 2011 divorce referendum results.

To the astute observer it’s clear that the haemorrhage isn’t due to the PN not embracing radical liberal ideas, as some quarters would have it, but, on the contrary, to its flirting with them.

Furthermore, issuing morally-neutral proposals is only helping Labour consolidate its position, as happened a few days ago when the Government appropriated a brilliant PN idea with the intention of implementing it straight away.

If the PN wants to regain relevance, it must position itself as a moral alternative to the degenerate positions concocted by Muscat and now continued by his successor. Dr Abela is not a convinced liberal but a cynic aware that the formula works for Labour. For the local liberals, Dr Abela could be the King Cyrus that President Trump was for American conservatives.

The PN must propose ideas that Labour cannot implement in a matter of months, but require longer timeframes. Like the real simplification of the administrative burden, say. Malta buries anybody who needs anything under a ton of documents and forms… Why?

Excessive administration was a favourite tool in the colonisers’ toolkit, more effective than violence and coercion in controlling subjugated peoples. To grow out of the colonisation mindset, we need to reduce administrative burdens to a minimum. I’m not advocating a free-for-all, but less bureaucracy, less burdens on businesses, less burdens on individuals, more trust – but then harsher punishments for the dodgers. In other words, the country needs a balanced business-friendly Government.

The PN could offer itself as an alternative Government that doesn’t poach talent from the private sector, that passes laws granting and guaranteeing the freedom to operate and grow rich, and punishing the fraudsters while reining in those who dominate the market.

 

Today’s Pro-Life March

There’s a Pro-Life March being organised today in Valletta, at 3 pm. I shall be going, and encourage all those who treasure pro-life values to do the same.

Why am I going?

I don’t believe that these marches will stop abortion. Abortion, like everything else, is here to stay. Punishments, incentives, campaigns, and so on, do not stop people from destroying life. If punishments, incentives, and campaigns were effective, prisons would be empty. It is true, yes, that studies have found that cities which the Pope visits experience a marked decline in the abortion rate for some months after the visit, but the Pope won’t be in Valletta today.

No, I’ll be there today because I’m stubbornly against the normalisation of abortion. In 2019, The New York Times reported on a study that found that series and films depicting the procedure as an everyday occurrence had markedly increased. The baby has been thrown out with the pledge that abortion would be “safe, legal, and rare”. Now it’s increasingly becoming mainstream to abort children.

I find this inhuman. Beasts do it, not humans.

So, for me, it’s not a matter of religion, or morality, or bigotry, or patriarchy, or Palaeolithic “dinosaurship”, or all that nonsense that the Left-Liberals whine about. For me it’s a matter of humanism.

If indeed Man (or, rather, Humanity) is the measure of all things, then our values can only be human. And it is not human to kill your own offspring. The beasts do it, and humans are not beasts.

Are we above beasts because we are made in the image of God? I don’t know. And it’s not for me to say, I know pretty little about these things. But what I do know is that humanity’s achievements are unique, distinguishing us from beasts.

Consider that only we humans bury our dead (the philosopher Vico used to say that humanus  “human” – comes from humare, “to bury”); consider that only we humans can create sublime art (Michelangelo’s vision of the Human’s finger touching the Deity’s comes to mind) – and you see that such beings, if true to themselves, cannot kill their own offspring.

How can we be superior to beasts and then behave like beasts?

So, I’ll be there because I’m a (Christian) Humanist.

Because I believe in Humanity as a species that can control its urge to destroy.

 

  • don't miss