It is much easier to destroy than to create

The Adrian Delia faction is visibly stronger than its detractors; and this is hardly surprising, because the anti-Delia faction doesn’t seem to have any leadership of it own

‘The PN must die’. It sounds a bit like the strapline of an old James Bond movie, doesn’t it? From the time when Bond movies were still all about ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’… with all the bad guys getting elminated at the end, by a glorified government hitman with a ‘licence to kill’.

To be fair to the James Bond franchise, however, that formula has been somewhat revisited in the more recent films. Daniel Craig’s version of 007 is a good deal more nuanced than Sean Connery’s and (especially Roger Moore’s) ever were. And Bond villains are no longer just deranged evil masterminds, simply getting a kick out of total world domination. They are now given background stories and complex ideological motivations … acknowledging, perhaps, that today’s movie-goers are no longer satisfied with ‘motiveless malignity’ as a driving force in its own right.

There is, in brief, a movement away from the old, tired formulae of yesteryear… at least, in cinema. In reality, however, it seems to be the other way round. Let’s go back to that strapline, shall we?

‘The PN must die’ is actually the title of a post on Jacques Rene Zammit’s blog, ‘akkuza’. Most of you will also recognize the general sentiment as the battle-cry of that increasingly militant faction of former Nationalists who now just want to tear down that party with their bare hands.

In any case, the gist of Jacques’ argument can be summed up by this excerpt: “The PN must die is really a call to rebuild from scratch.

Thinking within the confines of an age-old mentality of parties wired to mirror and milk the state machine can only cause further damage.

Instead the PN must rebuild as a party that owns the biggest cause at the moment: the need for a radical constitutional change that inoculates the nation against state capture…”

Whether he knows it or not, his thinking mirrors a few basic tenets of classic Oriental philosophy: namely, that ‘creation’ and ‘destruction’ are flipsides of the same coin – e.g., ‘the seed must be destroyed for the plant to grow’ – and that the forces at work behind both are ultimately the same (in Hinduism, ‘Shiva the Destroyer’ is part of a trinity including ‘Brahma the Creator’ and ‘Vishnu the Preserver’.)

But with a crucial difference. The above equation only works out when the powers of creation, destruction and preservation are in equilibrium. Upset the balance in favour of any one of those three pillars… and the edifice invariably crumbles.

This is, in fact, precisely what happened within the PN over the past few years. Formerly a ‘creative’ party – the one that created today’s entire economic mindset, among other things – and always a ‘preserver,’ in the politically conservative sense of the word… the Nationalist Party has increasingly allowed the destructive side of its nature to take the upper hand.

First it sought to destroy the Labour Party… and failed. And then – significantly, when its destructive forces were no longer content with the new leadership after September 2017 – it turned its guns onto itself.

In the meantime, no corresponding effort has been put into creating anything new. No new policies, no new political direction – indeed, last month’s European Election was fought on all the same destructive strategies of 2017. And no new people, either. Quite the contrary: if the Stamperija had a revolving door, you’d almost be able to use it as a dynamo to power up the entire country. It would be in perpetual spinning motion, as more and more people continually bolt (or are booted) headlong out of the building…

Which brings me back to Jacques’ blog. He is, of course, perfectly right to point out that - unless radical change does come, and soon – this will only lead to the total and utter annihilation of the PN (with or without any input of his own, or any other outsider).

But then, he goes on to suggest that the only way to bring about that change is to speed up the destruction process. In a nutshell, Jacques Rene Zammit recommends smashing the PN to atoms (or just sitting back and watch it scuttle itself: either way, same outcome)… and, erm… then what?

Let me guess: a new, resplendent PN will simply grow from the husks of the old, destroyed seed, huh? Just like that, on its own… by magic…

I’d be curious to know what, if anything, people like Jacques expect the PN to ‘rebuild itself’ from… seeing as there will be precious little of it left by the end of all this destruction. Even today – with the demolition job only three-quarters done – there is nothing to suggest the party will ever be able to renew itself at all.

For starters, the Adrian Delia faction is visibly stronger than its detractors; and this is hardly surprising, because the anti-Delia faction doesn’t seem to have any leadership of it own. It exists merely to ‘destroy’ Delia… with no forethought to what (or, more specifically, WHO) should replace him.

Nor has anyone from that faction ever come forward with a workable strategy to get the party back on its two feet. They have clearly forgotten the first and most basic rule of politics: i.e., if you want people to support your cause… you have to give them a cause they can believe in.

Ironically, Delia seems to be the one understanding this principle right now. Whether he is going about it the right way (by appointing Louis Galea) is another question; but he is at least trying to address the Nationalist Party’s most glaring lacuna… it’s lack of any discernible reason to even exist.

The others? Zilch. Not a single idea, not a single proposal, not a single alternative route for the PN to take… not even a contender to actually step forward and challenge Delia for the leadership, in a contest they are calling for themselves.

Naturally, a party led by someone who has both a name and a face – however uninspiring either may appear, right now - will always remain preferable, in the eyes of the electorate, to a shadowy, cloak-and-dagger society of nameless, faceless conspirators, hell-bent only on destruction.

So by annihilating the Delia faction, the rebels would actually be severing its last remaining lifeline to the party’s own grassroots. Boot Delia out today, and – like it or not – he takes the majority of PN supporters with him: with no hope of them ever returning to a party led by any of the people who had conspired against him.

Even in purely pragmatic terms, then, the ‘rebirth of the PN’ remains an impossibility, at this stage. What would really happen is an instant rescaling of the PN down to more or less the same size as AD or PD (only with less in the way of long-term survival chances).

It would, quite simply, become the ‘Occupy Justice’ party – representing only that microscopic socio-economic bracket, and nothing more - and its public meetings will dwindle to roughly the size of those monthly gatherings at the Great Siege Monument in Valletta.

Meanwhile, any other ‘new party’ that arises from the old will actually be spearheaded by the Delia faction. And while it will likewise (for the same reason) be condemned to an eternal minority party status… it will, a) consider itself the ‘true’ inheritor of the PN legacy, and b) probably outnumber the new ‘Occupy Justice Party’ by around 1,000 to 1.

Even so, however… I haven’t even got to the real problem with ‘The PN must die’ yet: i.e., that inexplicable, underlying assumption that any form of creative process will even take place at all after its death.

One thing is certain: parties do not create themselves out of nothing. They have to be created by people; and out of something tangible, that can be seen to exist.

In this case, the people calling for the rebirth of the PN only seem to have an aptitude for destruction: and they are destroying the very materials that any ‘new PN’ would later have to be created from.  

And I can more or less understand why, too. After all, it is very easy to destroy a political party that is on its last legs anyway. But to create something new? That is the truly difficult part; the part that actually involves things like vision, determination, drive, creative flair… and, above all, a tonne of hard work.

Not to mention those other things called ‘people’. Who is going to do all this hard work, anyway? Who is going to come up with the vision, the inspiration, the team-building, and all that?

I somehow doubt it will be any of the ‘Euro-technocrat’ generation of younger Nationalists… who all just buggered off to cushy jobs in the EU at the first opportunity. As the David Stellini experience so recently illustrated, it is difficult to relinquish the salaries of perks of the EU gravy-train, to come back to Malta and toil in the political salt-mines under the hot sun.

This leaves us only with those Nationalists who actually stayed here doing that all these years; and, well, those are the very ones currently being pushed out by the anti-Delia forces…. and they will certainly not come rushing back to anything ‘new’, which was created by the same people they perceive to have destroyed ‘their party’ to begin with.

So may I humbly suggest a small change to that blogpost headline. Not ‘must, but ‘will’. The PN will die… that is now a certainty… and nothing at all will arise to take its place; unless, that is, the people involved just snap out of this easy ‘destructive mode’ once and for all, and start concentrating on the difficult part for a change.

Creation…

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