Sociologist from Malta

Monday, January 15, 2018

Should the PN have an ideology? Michael Briguglio

Appears as 'A Nationalist Ideology' in Times of Malta, 15 January 2018.

Roderick Pace (January 9) makes a very important case for the ideological direction of the Nationalist Party.
Pace says that the PN should not anchor itself into monolithic dogmas, but should instead promote Christian Democratic values such as the respect for human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity and future generations. He also says that such values should be accompanied with evidence-based policymaking which can help respond to the changing society of our times.
Pace adds that in today’s secular societies there are both different value systems as well as overlapping commonalities. He adds that moral dilemmas should be resolved through pluralistic, democratic methods and people should be entitled to follow their personal moral codes “as long as they do not hurt others or undermine the common good”.
I personally agree with this perspective, and like Pace, I add that both Christianity and Catholicism themselves are subject to plural interpretations and orientations. Hence, I believe that while the PN should not shy away from its Catholic inspiration, it should do this within an ideological framework that respects diversity and the values referred to above, which I will elaborate upon.
Human dignity and solidarity should be seen within the context of an open and free society. Support should be given to plural family forms as well as to those who are living precarious lives. Rather than having such support being based on top-down impositions which can encourage welfare dependency, the State should encourage self-help and individual advancement. Education and training play key roles in this regard.
Subsidiarity is the principle through which matters ought to be handled by the smallest competent authority. Hence, for example, local councils should have proper authority over their respective localities, and the state should not usurp their power through excessive centralisation. On the other hand, decisions which are best left to the European Union, such as those with global or federal implications, should be decided upon accordingly.
Subsidiarity also holds that governments should only intervene when individuals, families, civil society or private groups cannot act independently. In short, this principle puts the autonomy and the dignity of the individual before the dominance of the State.
The PN should be the voice of the disenchanted, the precarious, those who want good governance
The protection of future generations can be carried out through the politics of responsibility. Here, policy making should not be based on short-term quick fixes and ill-advised instant gratification. It should be guided by concepts such as sustainability, dignity and the common good.
Other principles may be added to this list, for example the promotion of a social market economy. Here, economic competitiveness should be tied up with a social model that gives importance to decent employment and opportunities, rather than a cutthroat race to the bottom dictated by greed and precariousness.
A social market economy should look at individuals not simply as consumers with instant disposable needs, but also as citizens whose rights are accompanied by responsibilities towards present and future generations.
Such values and others may represent a tall order for the PN, but I believe that they also represent a window of opportunity in the party’s construction of a true alternative to the Labour Party.
Labour has introduced various positive reforms, but it is also emphasising promotion of endless construction at the expense of the common good, the selling of Malta’s national heritage and assets to dubious investors, the fiscal dependency on passport sales, and the expansion of the public sector through partisan patronage rather than real need: all within an economic bubble that is dictated by the electoral cycle and poisoned by corruption. Will this result in a generational malaise?
The PN should be the voice of the disenchanted, the precarious, those who want good governance, and those who feel that Muscat’s government represents a soulless State. It should reconcile workers who feel left out of Muscat’s bubble with middle class voters who may be enjoying a good quality of life but feel disenchanted with the Muscat model of governance.
The PN should also carry out an extensive sociological exercise to verify, gauge and investigate key concerns, identities and aspirations of our times. I will write about this in a future article.

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