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When we lost our politics

Joseph FX Zahra  -  12/12/2016 17:32

Once upon a time politics used to have a noble purpose. It was a sensible and civilized world just emerging from the ravage of the Second World War. The real concern of politics was rebuilding economies and property, the welfare of people who suffered during a period of deprivation from food, schooling, health care and employment. Politics once was a vocation, a mission practiced by persons in the traditional professions who dedicated their time and money to design policies and put into practice programs that raise living standards to levels that guarantee human dignity. 

We also believed in the European dream, where the continent was inspired by a handful of idealists. It was a Europe of a humanist and social spirit, and not one of rules and regulations, technocrats, templates and check lists. This is a politics of power that has lost sight of the meaning of being human. 

Ideology had a sacred aura, whether it was inspired by Christianity or socialism. Even socialism or communism was transformed into a sort of secular religion with child brigades, and pseudo spiritual rules of what can be loved or hated, of what can be accepted or rejected. Christian Democracy opened the road to freedom of speech, invested in education, promoted civil rights and human freedom, encouraged subsidiarity and practiced economic liberalism. Socialism put the old concept of workers first, nationalised banks, airlines and utilities, improved welfare programmes and promoted social nationalism. Both sides were genuine in intent, and the politicians on both sides worked with restraint and discipline, without self-interest and with a great sense of dedication and loyalty. Well, I know what you are thinking. At least most of them did. 

When you consider politicians and politics today you are bound to become nostalgic about the past, when Socialists were genuine socialists, and Christian Democrats were true Christians. The neat divide is over as social liberalism seeped through the various levels of political thinking, and marketing strategy and tactics prevail over political thought and ideals. Politics has been transformed into a money making profession, a business subject to well financed lobbying, results of opinion polls and focus groups and of course, spin. What is even more worrying is that all this is done without a trace of inhibition or remorse. What we see in Europe today are politicians guided by self-interest. Well pampered children of parents who had experienced the war and its aftermath with great sacrifice and restraint becoming the new politicians that are winning elections and turning themselves, families and friends into modern day celebrities. 

We have lost sight of policy making, socio economic strategy and plans. It is politics without a heart or soul.

Our generation has failed miserably. And the situation has run out of hand. The net result has led to populism, racism and nationalism. A politics of anger without hope. The children of Christian Democrats and Socialists have turned to chauvinists and racists. We are turning to one extreme pole, characterised by intolerance and moral primitiveness. 

Europe needs to turn this appalling page in its history. We need self-confident and respected politicians guided again by social and Christian principles. This can only be done by intellectually powered persons acting prudently but with perseverance for the sake of all people regardless of social class and race.