Robert Trump: The politics of the absurd

Here is something to think about: there were less new COVID-19 cases (14) on Sunday than there are rebel MPs active in by the now infamous anti-Delia coup. I am sure that if we put our minds together, we can use this random fact to conclude that the new wave is nothing to worry about.

This kind of false equivalence is the kind of logic underlying most political arguments.

Take Robert Abela. Addressing the Labour conference at the Rialto Theatre, he reaffirmed his determination to ‘maintain the level of normality’ and ‘keep the country open for business’.

That such words were uttered in a theatre only serve to compound the dramatic absurdity of it all. Abela’s obsession with peddling an idea of fantasised normality is second only to his Quixotic thrusts against the hidden enemy.

Having practically whipped the new waves of the pandemic back into the sea as a prelude for the return to Abela’s ‘normality’, he is now determined to fight against any renewed attempt to flag any possible dangers and risks that are still being taken.

“We know what we are doing,” said Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli even as the partying and revelling over the weekend pointed to anything but confident administration.

“People will enjoy the summer,” said Abela as the delegates of Normal Malta burst into enthusiastic applause.

Abela loves to be seen as the latter-day-Churchill battling to save the free market, business and entrepreneurship from the dastardly claws of science, logic and public health concerns.

The pattern is clear: Abela will give in the moment the business community turns up gnarling angrily that its creative wings have been prematurely clipped.

A smoking ban on outdoor areas in restaurants is keeping away the tobacco-dependent clients? No problem. We scrap it. Nothing shall stand in the way of business. Not even public health. Especially public health.

Also, people will enjoy the summer. Cue parties from hotels all the way to that den of iniquity at Girgenti.

This is what the ‘return to normality’ is about. It is a race to the absurd world of moral relativism where money and avarice trump any logic.

Abela gladly wears a Trumpian mask shooting pathetic slogans, devoid of any rational sense, to the ogling masses of adulators.

Like Trump, Abela prefers lending an ear to business and the epicurean needs of the part of Malta that easily throws caution to the wind.

The absurdity virus is spread far beyond the government benches. An unofficial sidekick of Delia’s who has upped the ante during the renewed leadership race was quoted saying that Health Minister Chris Fearne was right in keeping his disagreements on the management of the COVID-19 crisis to himself.

Basically what this political advisor of sorts implied was that if you had serious doubts about whether your own Party Leader was acting in the public interest (and in the interest of public health) you would do best to shut up.

This advisor, like many others from the old wave of PLPN politicians, played to the original score perfected over decades of Party politics. It is the same score that will be used to fight tooth and nail against renewal. The contribution of such political methods to the politics of the absurd cannot be underestimated.

The hot summer sun will see the PN battle reach its apex and this will indeed be a moment of truth for Malta’s political system. All actors in this race run the risk of clinging obstinately to the absurd system on which they feed.

The latest mantra being bandied about concerns the all-empowering sovereign decision making of the tesserati.

Tesserati are that political chimaera that flock to fill the theatres and halls when required. They are the thunderous applauses of unanimous acquiescence. They are the infertile ground of illogical reasoning that time and again fails to provide a real litmus test for their leaders.

They are the hordes of flag-waving partisans who subscribe blindly to the ‘Party first’  philosophy. They are the fuel that allows our bipartisan system of pathetic alternation to continue to burn.

Summer is always a silly season in politics. Were the people not lost in the follies and absurdities of this particular season, they would open their eyes to the fact that all is not well in the State of Malta.

Nooses hang outside the law courts, a calamitous event to a State witness risks prejudicing (or delaying) his participation in the rest of the proceedings, power cuts are still a part of the normality and the construction death tally continues to rise.

The small percentage of the population that does not readily subscribe to the shenanigans of the theatre of the absurd might not be enough to bring about change.

The news on the Rialto is dire… and it’s not just that Antonio’s ship is sinking.

Follow Jacques Rene Zammit on his blog J’Accuse.

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