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Celebrating a shipwreck?

Crowds will throng the streets of Valletta today to celebrate the feast of one of Malta’s patron saints. The destiny of our island has forever been intertwined with the Saint from Tarsus ever since his hapless shipwreck around two millennia ago. By some twist of fate, hurricane Ciara forces Western Europe to hold tight on the very day that we commemorate a storm that brought Paul to our (then) welcoming shores.

Shipwrecks seem to be the order of the day. Throughout the week we have seen the Nationalist Party ship roll and turn in the high seas of political desperation. Resignation followed resignation as Adrian Delia’s leadership seemed to be under siege.

As his lieutenants jumped ship for different reasons, Delia remained adamant – tying his fate to that of the Party. Delia did use the metaphor of the captain who would not abandon a sinking ship and that, in the very least, shows a sense of awareness that had hitherto not been so forthcoming.

On Sunday, Captain Adrian took to the village of Mellieha where he delivered the most predictable of appeals. There stood the captain on the bridge of the flailing ship and his appeal was to none other than the Party diehards. He rekindled the siege mentality that had rushed him to “power” by stating unequivocally that either you were either on his side or you were out. This was his shipwreck and only his.

For the love of the Party he would stay on and he urged those who love the Party to go down with him.

On the Abolition of Parties

I do not blame Delia. He is a product of our partisan party-political system. What Delia and his followers within the PN want and desire is a survival of the Party system.

That is also why Delia finds support from the so-called illuminati on the other side of the political divide. It is not that the Labour Party would bemoan the loss of a Jonas on the PN’s side but rather that this Jonas’ loss would eventually be the loss of the partisan system that has become the willing bedfellow of the corrupt and the criminal.

Three years ago, at the height of the first wave of corruption manifestations I had words of advice for the ‘rebel faction’ within the PN. One word actually: Leave.

The Party had just been captured by the Delia crowd who inherited a morally and economically bankrupt structure – an empty vessel for whom the kindest fate would have been the scuttling to the bottom of the ocean for viewing by amateur divers.

Leave! By leave I meant that a Party is not made up of structures and statutes, but values. The rebel faction needed to leave and form a larger movement against corruption and in favour of political reform. They were after all seasoned politicians who did not need to be boxed into the confines of a dying institution.

Mine was also an appeal to them to realise that the institutionalised Parties were part of the malaise itself and that like a cancer they must be cut out and left to die.

Leave! Leave the carcass and the remnants of the Party made up of the diehards who never once spare a thought for values and ideas, but rather support the concept of a Party with the kind of blind fanaticism best described by Simone Weil in her masterpiece On the Abolition of All Political Parties:

“Political parties are a marvellous mechanism which, on the national scale, ensures that not a single mind can attend to the effort of perceiving, in public affairs, what is good, what is just, what is true. As a result – except for a very small number of fortuitous coincidences – nothing is decided, nothing is executed, but measures that run contrary to the public interest, to justice and to truth.”

The PN was and remains in its death throes. ‘The PN must die’, I insisted, because it must clear the space for grassroots movements that are aware of the changes that need to be done to renew the republic.

My words of advice were ignored – my guess is that it is impossible for the current batch of politicians to conceive of life outside Parties. They still yearn and strive for legitimacy via the Party system. What ensued was an unwilling endorsement of the old-style Party system. Because no one, apparently, is bigger than the Party.

Toe the line in the best of all worlds

“No suffering befalls whoever relinquishes justice and truth, whereas the Party system has painful penalties to chastise insubordination.” That’s still Weil.

For years under Delia’s guidance, the Party almost abandoned the fight against corruption only to regroup with the new revelations in November. Until then, the marginalisation of the few within the Party who were determined to pursue the truth was almost complete.

Joseph Muscat’s Panglossian philosophy of the Best of All Worlds (and times) had found its way to the heart of the Labour Party’s only adversary. By joining the battle for the survival of the Party and bipartisan system, Delia played into the hands of the reactionary movement begun by Muscat and now inherited by Abela.

Leave

The invitation is still open. It is not an invitation to abandon a sinking ship. It is an invitation to leave an empty vessel that no longer serves its purpose.

It is an invitation to renege the system that is holding our country captive and to have the courage to join and lead a movement of different ideas that will lead to a change in the political landscape of the country.

“One recognises that the partisan spirit makes people blind, makes them deaf to justice, pushes even decent men cruelly to persecute innocent targets. One recognises it, and yet nobody suggests getting rid of the organisations that generate such evils,” according to Weil.

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