Party like there’s no tomorrow

By my wristwatch, the current time is exactly two minutes to party o’clock

Marlene Farrugia wants to party. Salvu Mallia (pictured) wants to party; the conservatives want to party; the liberals want to party: heck, even the Doomsday Prophets of Armageddon now want to party “like there’s no tomorrow”.
Marlene Farrugia wants to party. Salvu Mallia (pictured) wants to party; the conservatives want to party; the liberals want to party: heck, even the Doomsday Prophets of Armageddon now want to party “like there’s no tomorrow”.

Unnoticed by (almost) everybody, the ongoing political corruption scandal has placed its finger squarely on the single most deeply philosophical question known to man.

What, exactly, do you do when everything goes to the dogs – good governance, decency in public administration, accountability, democracy, the separation of powers, etc. – and the dogs send it all back marked ‘substandard’?

The wording may have differed slightly, but it is the very question posed by Hamlet when contemplating his own circumstances 500 years ago. Do you suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Do you take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end it? What do you DO?

But that was Hamlet, and he was something of a drama-queen. Depression, paranoia, extreme delusions of grandeur… not the most auspicious combination for rational decision-making in times of crisis, I’d say. So unsurprisingly, he went for option three: “Execute every last mother***ing one of the them.” Which included his mother, his ex-girlfriend’s father, her brother, two innocent former schoolmates, and ultimately himself. Oh, and his father’s murderer, whom he almost forgot to include in the hit-list.

By today’s standards, that makes Hamlet the Anders Behring Breivik of his age. Not even Inigo Monto managed to so utterly screw up a single, fairly uncomplicated murder-revenge plot (and that was in a fantasy movie).

There are, however, less daramatic options to take. Consider John Belushi in ‘Animal House’, for instance. Now that’s what I call a level-headed, mature approach to the same question. What do you when everything falls to pieces? Why, you have a party, of course. What else…?

Yes indeed. By my wristwatch, the current time is exactly two minutes to party o’clock. And already I hear the chant of ‘Toga! Toga!’ being taken up in the background; Marlene Farrugia wants to party. Salvu Mallia wants to party; the conservatives want to party; the liberals want to party: heck, even the Doomsday Prophets of Armageddon now want to party “like there’s no tomorrow”.

How utterly apt, as a response to a corruption scandal that has signalled the end of all norms of public decency as we once thought we knew them. It’s like Jim Morrison ‘having his kicks before the whole shithouse goes down in flames’.

But wait, before you all book your baby-sitters and rush to your wardrobes in anticipation. I said these people (and more) WANT to party. I didn’t say the event itself is actually happening… nor that it even will.

And in any case: what sort of party are we talking about, anyway? It’s no use just saying you ‘want to party’, without clarifying details such as the venue, the dress code, the theme and whether it’s open bar or not. Just because all sorts of people out there also ‘want to party’, it doesn’t follow that they’d all flock to any old gathering without questioning what, if anything, it is actually in aid of.

At this point, I see two options opening up before us. Do we want to party? If so, what sort of party do we want?

Naturally, there are plenty of party-poopers out there who’d answer ‘No’ to the first question. Some have even taken to the newspapers to warn us all against the dangers of too much choice in the entertainment sector. Now is not the time for a new party, they argue. “Banish all talk of it at once”, they add.

And let’s face it, they may well have a point. After all, if there were two parties to choose from on the same night, and both had not only become crashingly boring and cheesy, but also downright dangerous… the last thing you’d want is an alternative venue that was fun, exciting, safe and – above all – ‘new’. Right? 

Yeah! It’s the same logic very often used by men in response to nagging. “Just because the bathroom taps no longer work properly is no reason to goddamn change them, is it? We just keep making the best of a leaky, faulty system, that’s all…”

But in any case. Party-poopers certainly don’t have to come along if they don’t want to. They’re happy with the current fare? Great, they can run along to their own parties and have as much fun as they like. It’s the second question that arises from this point on… and it is aimed at those who are very clearly NOT content with either of the parties on offer, and might be interested in going to something slightly different.

What type of party? Before even getting to the ‘theme’ – i.e., whether it veers to the left (Classic Rock, Punk, Hip Hop, etc) or right (Pop, Country, New Romantics, etc), you have to decide whether it’s going to be a one-off event, or a regular, recurring festival. What is the actual aim here, anyway? To ‘drive a wedge between the two other parties’… as has been tried unsuccessfully for years? Or to genuinely capitalise on those disgruntled party-goers who no longer feel represented by the existing DJs’ choice of music? 

If it’s a case of simply throwing a spanner into the works of the prevailing party system – and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that aim, seeing as the system clearly needs an update – then it should be marketed as such, and given a sell-by date. 

This would be a novelty, in a country where ‘parties’ have always traditionally been associated with very specific ‘themes’… and tend to go on forever. Here, we would be looking at a party which [to momentarily drop the analogy] exists solely to get elected in a single election; and even then, solely with a view to forcing a coalition government which would implement a single plan of reform. A single-issue party, motivated only by a national demand for higher standards of governance and public administration. Not being tied to any particular ideal or viewpoint, it would be free to unite different types of party-goers under a single banner… provided they all agree with the political programme.

What happens to this sort of party once its objectives are achieved (or, for that matter, failed) is another question: it could conceivably coalesce into a coherent whole … but it would be much more credible if it stuck to the original plan, delivered the programme of change (which, among other things, would facilitate the election of smaller parties), and then disband to regroup separately for future elections.

The alternative is to go for a traditional ‘themed’ party… which is in fact what AD did when fighting for their own right to party back in 1992.

Here, the landscape changes considerably. The obvious first thing to do would be to identify the niche; and it is also where we run into our first snag. Bearing in mind that the two main parties have lost so much of their appeal because they converged on so many things… the disgruntled, unrepresented or unenthusiastic party-goers would in the main belong to smaller, fringe niches that are very often incompatible.

One niche I certainly see is the disillusioned Christian right, which was vocally dismayed when its own traditional party changed door-policy on (among other things) gays, divorcees, atheists, witches, warlocks and so forth. A not-insignificant number of these would definitely flock to a new party which went back to all the old policies… but the resulting event would be instantly off-putting to an equally sizeable minority of ‘liberals’ (I use the term very loosely) who generally favour the ‘progressive rock’ played by DJ Muscat… but who have been dismayed by his multiple failures elsewhere.

 So an already wafer-thin slice of cake would have to be further divided. And there are other niches, too: not least, the far right.

Under the current circumstances, I see plenty of people raring for a ‘new party’ to go to, even though their tastes and demands may be completely incompatible in all things but one: the need for a cleaner, healthier political system to replace the one that has gone belly-up on us.

On that basis alone, I myself would go for option 1: A ‘party like there’s no tomorrow’… which will exist only to clean up the current political mess, and only last as long as it takes to get one specific job done.

 After that? We do what we do after every party, and go our separate ways home.