Religion and the Fatherland (Religio et Patria) – time to get rid of that one

Published: June 24, 2011 at 11:55am

Religio et Patria recalls this era and does not belong in the present. It reminds present-day PN supporters of the reasons why their parents and grandparents did not support the Nationalist Party.

This was my column in The Malta Independent yesterday.

When Lawrence Gonzi spoke at the Nationalist Party’s general conference last Sunday, he demonstrated that he has failed to grasp the most fundamental issue which his party faces right now: not so much separation of church and state as separation of party and churchy thinking.

His failure to understand that the Nationalist Party is no longer a party for Catholics and so cannot be a Catholic party if it wishes to be a catholic party, with a small ‘c’, was encapsulated in these of his words:

We are a party that loved and loves our religion. It is not a coincidence that our emblem carries the Latin phrase: Religio et Patria (religion and country), which we did not remove… We should never be ashamed of saying we are a democratic and Christian party, democratic and Christian.

The first mistake he makes is the very one made by many Maltese who are raised in the duttrina style of thinking that only Roman Catholics are true Christians. They use the words ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘Christian’ as synonyms when they are not. All Roman Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Roman Catholics.

Besides, he is right that the motto is not a coincidence, but he is wrong in thinking that it is about religious belief. It is not. It is about cultural identity, and the motto was put there when Malta was at the height of its battles on socio-cultural identity.

The ‘religio’ on the party emblem is not Christianity but Roman Catholicism, and that is precisely why it is no longer appropriate in the 21st century. Christianity might, at a stretch, pass muster for a little while longer, but narrowing it down to the specifics of Roman Catholicism does not.

The essential point, however, remains that there is absolutely no need at all for a political party to have, espouse or proclaim a religion. Rather, it is undesirable.

To understand why, because it seems he is not clear on the issues and reasons, all Dr Gonzi has to do is substitute the word ‘Muslim’ for ‘Roman Catholic’ or ‘Christian’ when he is working on his speeches and rationalising his thoughts. Then he will understand how he comes across and why his arguments are badly received.

I recommend this exercise to other politicians who think as he does.

Politicians who are motivated by religion – any religion, it doesn’t matter which – are disturbing. Islam does not bother people but Islamic parties do. Roman Catholicism does not bother people, but Roman Catholic parties do. Religion is no longer a matter of cultural identity, but is something private and personal, except to a minority of the population who have not yet evolved.

The second mistake that Dr Gonzi makes is in implying that only Roman Catholics, people of the ‘religio’, are good, decent, fine and upstanding citizens who have a sound moral code which lazy thinkers describe as ‘values’. He may be surprised to discover that some of the finest and most upstanding citizens have a moral code that exists independently of any religion, while some of the most overtly religious people have a moral code that is best described as flexible, the result of its being rooted in a Roman Catholic culture of sin, temptation by the devil, confession and forgiveness.

This linkage of a sound moral code to ‘religio’ is offensive to others who do not subscribe to the same ‘religio’ or to any ‘religio’ at all.

The third mistake the prime minister makes is not to understand that the vote for divorce was not so much a vote for divorce as a vote for the final separation of church and state.

This was a clear message.

When people want the government to act to separate church and state, they will not trust to do it somebody who will not separate church and party – but who, on the contrary, thinks that the refusal to do so is something of which to be proud.

The fourth mistake Lawrence Gonzi makes is in failing to understand that large numbers of practising, non-lapsed Catholics, church-goers like he is, do not demand Catholicism of their political parties. They expect only, just as the rest of us do, that the political parties should leave the Catholic Church (and indeed, all other churches and religions) unmolested in line with the right to freedom of worship.

Growing numbers of such people are in fact suspicious of any attempt by a political party to confuse religious talk with political talk. They want politics from politicians and religion from priests. They no more want religion from politicians than they do politics from priests.

The fifth mistake Dr Gonzi makes is in not being aware of the signals conveyed by the party motto ‘Religio et Patria’. This does not translate as ‘Religion and Country’, as it generally and erroneously is, but as ‘Religion and Fatherland’. This more accurate translation renders absolutely unnecessary any explanation of why it should have been ditched a long time ago – and more to the point, why the motto was adopted in the first place.

Put simply, fascism was fashionable in Europe back then. It no longer is and hasn’t been for some time.

The sixth and most crucial mistake Lawrence Gonzi makes is not to understand exactly who votes for his party. The Nationalist Party’s voter-base is not really the much-touted ‘coalition of liberals and conservatives’, but more accurately a coalition of actual Nationalists and former supporters of the Strickland Party and their now numerous descendants.

The Strickland Party and the Nationalist Party were ideologically opposed and each regarded the other as the arch enemy. Supporters of the Strickland Party considered the Nationalist Party to be so alien to their way of thinking and to their political beliefs and socio-cultural identity that, when their party was dissolved, they were left floundering.

Those who were working-class – and the Strickland Party had strong working-class support – switched almost immediately to Labour, in 1971, the Strickland Party’s one-time ally in coalition government or, at least, not its perceived enemy. A few non-working-class families switched from Strickland to Labour (I have in mind the families of two particularly prominent Labour politicians from tal-pepe backgrounds), but they were few and their move to Labour turned out largely to be temporary after they saw Mintoff’s performance between 1971 and 1976.

Strickland supporters who were not working-class, after a great deal of soul-searching and mainly because they couldn’t stand Dom Mintoff and were horrified by developments post-1971, began to vote for the Nationalist Party. They did so first by default, as the means of getting rid of Mintoff, and then out of conviction as the PN moved away from its Religio et Patria rut and began to embrace a more liberal outlook on the economy, education, society, and of course, the European Union.

Starkly put, and there is really no other way to put it, the Nationalist Party only became a serial election winner when it secured the thousands of votes of those old Stricklandjani families and through them, their children’s votes and now even their grandchildren’s. My own family is a textbook example of this.

The Nationalist Party has either failed to make the connection or it prefers to ignore the fact. Yet those people are there still, and they think very differently to Tonio Borg, who has come to epitomise all the reasons why they and their antecedents never voted Nationalist.

Even though their children and grandchildren never knew the Strickland Party or even what it was or stood for, their outlook is different because they have been raised in that kind of family, and attitudes to life tend to get passed down the line, shaping our political thinking.

The Nationalist Party tends to be nonplussed by this anomalous section of its voter base and believes that certain electoral districts are at once ‘PN strongholds’, while at the same time obviously not averse to pulling against the party line, because that is where “liberals” choose to live.

But it’s not because liberals choose to live there.

It’s because that’s where former Stricklandjani who now vote Nationalist still live en masse, as do many of their children and grandchildren. Scratch a ‘Sliema liberal Nationalist’ and you’ll most likely find somebody whose grandparents voted for Lord Strickland – or at least, their grandfathers did because their grandmothers didn’t have the vote – and whose parents voted for Mabel. Again, I am a textbook example of this. Both my grandfathers voted for Lord Strickland, and both my parents voted for Mabel.

Talk about Religio et Patria with such people and the Pavlovian response is negative, not because of religion (Mabel Strickland’s party embraced Roman Catholicism in its manifesto), not because of the Fatherland, but because the contextual coupling of the two encapsulates the historic differences that made people vote for the Constitutional Party, or for its splinter Progressive Constitutional Party, and not for the Nationalists, in the first place.

Boiled down to their essence, these differences in thinking have little to do with political ideology and everything to do with personal attitude and mindset.

We choose our politics and our politicians because of the way we think, and not the other way round. It wasn’t so much that the Constitutional Party was pro-British and the Nationalist Party pro-Italian, but that people whose way of thinking and mindset were more culturally attuned to the British way voted for that party, while those whose mentality and outlook were closer to the Italian way voted Nationalist.

What we are seeing now within the Nationalist Party itself and among its supporters, and it is unmistakeable, is the two mindsets in direct, head-on conflict. The socio-cultural split in Malta is real and not imaginary, and the Nationalist Party has to carry on accommodating it or shrink back to what it was before the ‘Sliema Stricklandjani‘ joined it.

Joe Friggieri, the university professor of philosophy, was asked by The Times – the Constitutional Party’s surviving legacy, ironically – what he thinks about Lawrence Gonzi’s pride in the motto ‘Religio et Patria’. His response was that it is “an old slogan well past its sell-by date. The sooner the party gets rid of it, the better.”

He’s right.

58 Comments Comment

  1. Steve Forster says:

    I agree – when you say the words the images of the 30s come straight into your mind.

  2. Dominic Chircop says:

    A very illuminating article, and which has put its fingers onto the present gaping wounds of the Nationalist Party.

    After having voted Nationalist for the last forty years, I do not feel welcome any more in the party.

    Rather, certain of the Nationalist MPs, with their holier-than-thou attitude, are driving Nationalists away from the party.

    It is such a pity that the present intransigence in the party executive will hand the PL a victory at the next general election. At the very least, by default.

    I am still awaiting another Gonzi gaffe; this time on IVF.

  3. Interested Bystander says:

    Where would Simon Busuttil have been more at home in the old days, do you think?

  4. H.P. Baxxter says:

    Well yes, brilliant article and all, but is Lawrence Gonzi (definitely not a Strickland type) listening? If RCC wants my help to hold the PM down and give him the Clockwork Orange treatment, I’m willing and able. I don’t know what else can save the PN from a massive electoral defeat .

  5. A. Gouder says:

    I listened to Dr Gonzi’s speech on radio on Sunday hoping that he would declare that he will be voting Yes in Parliament. I still believe that this is possible, based on last Sunday’s speech.

    I believe his mentioning of the Religio et Patria slogan should not divert us from what Dr Gonzi meant to say.

    This discussion came just after Dr Gonzi mentioned how proud the party was of its previous leaders, of course mentioning Dr Fenech Adami. He then spoke about the party’s democratic and Christian roots.

    The party was Christian, he said, but it was also democratic; democratic and Christian, he repeated a number of times. He actually seemed to hint that first the party is democratic, then Christian.

    I took this to be a reaction to Dr Fenech Adami’s statement on how PN MPs should vote on divorce. I invite you to listen to the speech since I thought this was very significant.

    • Stefan Vella says:

      If you delve deep enough, “Christian Democratic” is an oxymoron. No religion that imposes “the one and only truth” through blind obedience (faith) can ever be truly democratic.

      Eddie Fenech Adami hammered in the last nail in that coffin.

      @Daphne: spot on!

  6. carlos says:

    Dominic, the prime minister has explicitly said that there is room for everyone in the Nationalist Party . For the past forty years you have been at home in the PN and your position will be the same in the future.

    The PN is like a rainbow embracing all colours in spite of its founding principles.

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      A Christian Party, by definition, excludes non-Christians. Perhaps its time to drop the “Christian”.

      Now I anticipate Andy Farrugia telling me I’m an evil secularist intent on destroying Christianity and denying freedom to Christians.

      • Andrew Farrugia says:

        Not all, you see i have got used to your spinning, weaving and equivocating and i do not really like my name to be associated with the blog of this “hadra” (meaning Hecate).

        [Daphne – Mr Farrugia, do you have psychological difficulties? Should you perhaps see somebody, take time out – or more pertinently, be made to do so? I ask because your behaviour is very odd for somebody who teaches English to vulnerable students at the state sixth form college. You appear to be a little…..unbalanced.]

      • Andrew Farrugia says:

        Thanks for the unsolicited advice dear Gorgon; i’m very grateful, no doubt.

        [Daphne – It’s not advice, but a statement of fact and established practice: people with mental problems should not be placed in authority over students. I am more than a little surprised that nobody has yet drawn the attention of your superiors to your very obvious psychological challenges. At least I assume they haven’t. It really would be unacceptable if they know and do nothing about it. ]

      • Kenneth Cassar says:

        I knew Andy would come and make a fool of himself.

      • Andrew Farrugia says:

        I am sure you have better things to do with your broomstick at this time of day, so why don’t you?

        [Daphne – Yes, I would have, if I knew where to find you.]

      • Kenneth Cassar says:

        Funny how someone who says he does not wish to be associated with this blog, actually spends a lot of time reading and commenting in the same blog.

        [Daphne – Not just that, but he’s obviously breathing down my internet neck, because the minute a comment appears with his name in it, he’s in there like a shot, reacting.]

  7. silvio says:

    Are we rewriting history now?
    Yes,when the Strickland party was dissolved they(the supporters) were left floundering. The question is,why was it dissolved? Because it was never built on sound patriotic principles,it was only interested in helping the British Crown.
    The Maltese soon realised that” Religio et Patria” was the only way forward. It has little to do with religion it is a rallying call,to all who had their country’s interest at heart.

    Yes some Stricklandjan,joined the P.N. they had nowhere else to go.The Labour party got the working class ,while the Nationalist got some of the PEPE supporters. These were accepted,not I must say,with much joy. The way that their ex-party had supported the exile of most of our prominent founders,was,and still is too fresh in our minds.

    [Daphne – Might I remind you that the judge who ruled against the internment outside Malta of those believed to sympathise with Italy was a prominent member of the Constitutional Party and supporter of Lord Strickland, Antoine Montanaro Gauci, my great-uncle. The Nationalist Party did not ‘accept’ former supporters of the Progressive Constitutional Party, but the other way round: former supporters of the Progressive Constitutional Party accepted to vote for the Nationalist Party and helped make it electable post 1971.]

    Irrespective of what Joe Friggeire has to say, we are still proud of our RELIGIO ET PATRIA. Why should we replace it? perhaps just to please some ex -strklandjani who found shelter in our party?

    [Daphne – Found shelter in your party, Silvio? If you want to shrink ‘your party’ back to what it was in the 1960s, when it was the party of lawyers, doctors, architects and farmers, by all means go ahead. The point you don’t get is that when new thinking entered the mix, then the Nationalist Party had to change, and did so brilliantly while economic and educational achievements were made. Now that entry into the European Union is done and dusted and other major items on the To Do list ticked off, it’s back to the early 1970s again. All that’s left to happen is the equivalent of the coup which removed George Borg Olivier in 1976 when the party failed to see the signs of the times.]

    I would prefer going to the opposition benches,in the next election,than changing our party slogan and flag under whose rallying call we have suffered and fought for these last 100years.

    [Daphne – Oh come on, Silvio, get a grip. Suffered? What – were PN supporters in the trenches in WWI? Seeing active service in WWII? Oh, no, sorry, those were mainly Strickland and Labour supporters. The PN supporters were toddling between the law courts and the Casino Maltese. I don’t mean to be rude, but honestly. I don’t know how you define suffering, but to my mind it isn’t a game of bridge over tea in a house by the sea while the parlour maid clears up. In all the hard times which this country went through over the last 100 years, affliction didn’t distinguish between different political persuasions. I really hate this pseudo-heroism linked to partisan politics. It sets my teeth on edge.]

    Dr,friggieri why don’t you have the courage and say that what our party need is a change in leadership, not our slogan or flag.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Silvio, you’re either badly informed or deliberately thick. ALL of last Sunday’s speeches, bar those of Lawrence Gonzi, Paul Borg Olivier and Pierre Portelli, followed Joe Friggieri’s main thrust. Jean-Pierre Farrugia even got heckled by the audience (“Dak int qed tghidu!”)

      So if you want to challenge anyone to “have the courage”, you could start by challenging a sizeable number of PN MPs, local councillors and MEPs.

      • Joseph Vassallo says:

        I agree that the Nationalist Party strongly needs a change in leadership. MPs should take note rather than continue to put into danger the Nationalist government. When Margaret Thatcher was challenged and toppled, the Conservative Party went on to win a fourth term.

      • silvio says:

        Yes I have to agree with you I must confess I AM THICK.

        In fact I am so thick I can’t even understand what you want to say.

        I actually think you must have quite a mixed up mind. I was there and did not hear anyone heckling Jean Pierre. Were you there? I doubt it.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        I meant the economist who spoke just before Joe Friggieri. I thought that was Jean-Pierre Farrugia.

    • Steve Forster says:

      I knew this reply was coming as soon as I read your brilliant article. Pity people nowadays read so little.

    • David says:

      I see no value in resurrecting the old Italy vs England cultural and political dispute. This dispute is largely dead and buried and its relics are only found in football allegiances. Many Maltese today, I suspect, have no idea who Lord Strickland was.

      [Daphne – Wrong. If you think attitudes can change in even two generations, you are mistaken. Whether my sons know who Lord Strickland was or not (I use them purely as an example, given that I have used myself as one in this discussion) is irrelevant. The fact remains that my great grandparents brought up my grandparents, my grandparents brought up my parents, my parents brought me up, and I brought up my sons. The attitudes which shape our politics, our mentality, our believes, our way of thinking, everything, get passed down the line, whether we are aware of it or not. The Maltese cultural division between Italy and Britain is not really between Italy and Britain but between different mentalities and attitudes, the one being closer to British ‘thinking’ and attitudes and the other being closer to Italian ‘thinking’ and attitudes. The division would not be so obvious were not the two social cultures – Britain’s and Italy’s – so very different. And I’m not talking food or fashion, either. I literally cannot understand some of my fellow Maltese; they might as well be from a different country. And they can’t understand me.]

      Dr Herbert Ganado has written on this subject in Rajt Malta Tinbidel, and explained that Maltese intellectual society had, till the British arrived in Malta, a strong Italian cultural influence.

      [Daphne – It didn’t. He said that because he was fervently pro-Italian and sought to propagate the myth. The reality is that Herbert Ganado was not a social historian or academic and had no way of knowing what Maltese society was like from the 11th century to the beginning of the 19th. He relied on hearsay and wishful thinking – and propaganda.]

      Italian was the language of the Courts in Malta till 1934, notaries used to write contracts in Italian and Masses were said in Latin till the 1960s. The pro-Italian professional classes were opposed to the British, who naturally sought to spread British culture and therefore eliminate Italian cultural influence.

      [Daphne – Masses were said in Latin the world over before Vatican-mandated democratisation, David. It was the language of the Roman Catholic Church. Latin is not ‘Italy’ or even a form of Italian. As for the language of the courts being Italian and notaries writing contracts in that language, I was embroiled in an argument about that the other night. I pointed out that notaries wrote contracts in Latin between the 14th and 18th centuries in Malta, but that does not mean that anyone spoke the language. It was merely the formal ‘recording’ language, just as classical Arabic is throughout the Arab world, though nobody actually speaks it. Post Latin, Italian became the formal ‘recording language’ in Malta for one reason only: Maltese was not a written language. It was, however, the spoken language, which is why we speak Maltese today and not Italian, and the people who speak Italian here do so because they learnt it off the television and not at home. Italian was spoken in the home by very, very few people, and it was largely an affectation. The situation was in no way comparable to the use of English post the arrival of the British, for the simple reason that English then became a functional language in what was, after all, a British colony. You had to use English and it made sense to learn it. Malta was never an Italian colony and the use of Italian here was anomalous. Our contact was with Sicily, where Italian was not spoken except in a formal context.]

      The British had appointed a British Chief Justice. It is said that lawyers protested and refused to attend cases before this British judge. They argued that an English judge would not know Maltese law, which is very different from British law. So a Maltese Chief Justice was then appointed.

      [Daphne – David, when you’re talking about these things, it’s important to be specific. History is not gossip and context is all.]

      As regards your great uncle judge, to my knowledge he was one of Lord Strickland’s lawyers and was appointed a judge at a young age. Many lawyers, owing to his pro-British sympathies, did not attend his inauguration ceremony. Nevertheless he was reputed a competent judge.

      [Daphne – Yes, some lawyers were extremely envious and reacted in a petty, childish and unbecoming manner. But there you go; what’s new. He was more than a competent judge. He was rather a good one.]

      I think Dr Ganado also states that in the past Italian was widely spoken in Sliema, and now English has substituted Italian.

      [Daphne – Utter and absolute rubbish. I don’t know why you rely on Herbert Ganado when you’re talking to somebody who grew up there at a time when Sliema was still completely unchanged from Herbert Ganado’s time. I never heard a word of Italian, not even among the oldest generations. Herbert Ganado’s family spoke Italian, yes, but his children certainly don’t. I would know, because I grew up a few doors away from one of his sons, in the same street.]

      • David says:

        I understand you have anti-Italy prejudice. However I think the Italian influence in Malta is a fact.

        Maltese literature is not only written in Maltese but also in English and Italian. Our national poet Dun Karm started writing poems in Italian and later on in Maltese.

        Besides we still have traces of this influence in our language as many still say Strada Rjali, Strada Merkanti and is-Sette Giugno.

        [Daphne – If there really were Italian influence, then the streets of Valletta would have been Via and not Strada.]

        Italian till 1934 was the official language of Malta. In fact Italian was the official language of Malta before it was the national language of Italy.

        [Daphne – Precisely because Maltese was not considered a proper or written language, and not because we were influenced by Italy. They cast around and decided to use a language that wasn’t even used next door. It might as well have been Spanish or French.]

        On the other hand I agree with you that the vast majority of Maltese in the past as is the case today spoke Maltese as their main language.

        [Daphne – All Maltese did, David. Very, very few people spoke Italian. Certain families, that’s all. What you should say is how dreadful it was that people were put on trial in a language (Italin) they did not understand.]

        During the Italian risorgimento many Italians escaped to Malta. They probably influenced Maltese political leaders.

        [Daphne – No. They influenced certain individuals who were predisposed to it in any case.]

        In the words of Prof Oliver Friggieri _”Whilst Maltese has the historical priority on the level of the spoken language, Italian has the priority of being the almost exclusive written medium, for the socio-cultural affairs, for the longest period. The native tongue had only to wait for the arrival of a new mentality which could integrate an unwritten, popular
        tradition with a written, academically respectable one”

        [Daphne – My point exactly. Except that you forget that around 90% of the population was illiterate, so it made no difference whether Italian was the written language or not. Effectively, Maltese was the only language for 90% of the population, and of the remaining 10%, most knew Italian in the same way that we learned it at school (because they learned it that way – through governesses or teachers). The percentages are very rough, but there you go.]

      • johnnie tal-pipa says:


    • pietru says:

      The Constitutional Party dissolved mainly because of infighting, particularly between members of the Strickland family. Most Stricklandjani started voting Labour just after WWII. Even Lord Strickland’s daughter (not Mable, of course) was a candidate on Mintoff’s Labour Party ticket in the 1950s. The few Stricklandjani that were left formed another party that was split In the 1950s, with Mabel forming her own party. Mabel’s party survived into the 1960s. The maternal side of my family staunchly supported Strickland in the 20s and 30s, but started voting Labour in the 40s. They supported Labour all along, and they seemed to have a love-hate relationship with Mintoff, lauding him for some of his stands (mostly Church-related as well as on issues related to social problems and such), and despising him for others (such as corruption/circles within circles). By the way, a great number of Lord Strickland’s supporters had little admiration for Mabel…..

  8. Edward says:

    Although I am not a practising Catholic, and I am aware that the majority of PN supporters are religious, I do not feel uncomfortable being a Nationalist.

    Religio et Patria may still exist somewhere in the PN’s statute, but Lawrence Gonzi got it wrong when he said that it’s inscribed on the emblem. It wasn’t there the last time I checked.

    I do agree with you that ‘Religio et Patria’ is an anachronistic slogan for a 21st century mainstream party, and should be dropped. Where I disagree with you is when you imply that this is a fascist slogan. Religio et Patria could easily have been coined as the rallying call of Poland’s ‘Solidarnosc’.

    [Daphne – Not the ideal comparison, but there you go. ]
    In the 1880s, well before Mussolini’s time, Malta’s links with southern Italy and Sicily were much stronger than they are today. I think that it was only natural for the Maltese to resist the growing influence of English culture and language, and at the same time demand self government. Remember our resentment when Arabic was imposed at school – and this was done by a Maltese (..well Mintoffian) government, and not yet introduced at work, Court and business.

    When the British base in Malta grew, and started employing a larger number of people, many started feeling a strong sense of dependence on and gratitude to Britain, leading to Strickland’s party gaining wide support. I am not sure if the Constitutional Party had a slogan, but ‘God save the King and the British Empire’, would have rallied some Striklandjani. ‘God save the King and the British Empire’ sounds quite reactionary today, but I wouldn’t imply that the Constitutional Party was fascist.

    [Daphne – Fascism and the British mindset were and still are completely incompatible, Edward. There are multifarious social and historical reasons for this, but the main one is that British culture has an inbuilt resistance to autocracy and to humourless people who take themselves too seriously. Britain was the only majorly influential European country that was immune to fascism in the 1930s as other countries went down one by one. When Oswald Mosley tried it with his brown shirts, he was mocked and treated as a figure of fun. What we are seeing today with the division in the Nationalist Party over divorce is just that, which is why I made the comparison: the opposition to divorce has its root in the autocratic desire to control the lives of others; the opposition to the opposition to divorce, if I might put it that way, comes from the belief that other people’s business is not one’s business.]

    World War II changed the political landscape, and just as you said, many Sliema Strickland supporters had to do much soul-searching in the 60s. Many Nationalists likewise had to do much soul-searching in the 40s.

    Many pro-Italian-language Nationalists, particularly ‘Sliema Nazzjonalisti’ switched to English. This group also felt less antagonism towards the UK, especially after Independence. The most positive outcome of this historical turmoil is that many of us now feel a closeness with both Italy and England.

    The Nationalist Party must resist all temptation to entrench itself in the past. If it does, and my feeling is that after some heated debate it will update some important issues, ‘Sliema ex-Stricklandjani’ will continue to support PN. A fragmented opposition to the Great Leader has to be avoided at all costs.

    [Daphne – I agree with you there, but a tipping-point has been reached. Refusing to adapt to the very different mentality of core groups who have made the PN electable is rude and dangerous because if there is one thing that people hate, it’s being taken for granted. Basically, the Nationalist Party is now behaving like the producers of Tower Tea (one example of the import substitution economy) in 1980: there is no need to improve their product to make it more acceptable to more consumers, because consumers have no choice but to buy Tower Tea or its ‘competitor’ Fortress Tea, which is worse.]

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      That it was Malta which had links to Italy and Southern Italy in 1880 is debatable, Edward. Rather, it was the Catholic hierarchy and part of the judiciary (not all).

      Malta’s bourgeoisie at the end of the XVIIIth century, when migration more or less stabilised itself, was of Provençal-Marseillais extraction (The Isouard-Xuerebs are a prime example).

      I have always held the view that Malta’s supposed links with Italy and Sicily are a historical fiction, unless one is talking of the period up to the 17th century of course. Quite apart from the fact that Italianism and irredentist support could only arise once Italy was united as a single kingdom with imperialist aspirations.

      In any case, this Italophilia was agitprop more than anything else, set in motion by a relative handful of individuals, backed by the clergy.

      It succeeded brilliantly, and gave us today’s Mifsud Bonnicis and Tonio Borgs, and ridiculous shop signs in Italian.

      • A.Attard says:

        H.P. Baxter you are in denial. Malta was linked to Sicily since prehistory. The lifeline was cut by the British. Even Napoleon had to publish in Italian to be understood in Malta. There isn’t one aspect of Maltese culture which isn’t Sicilian.

        [Daphne – Napoleon had to ‘publish in Italian’ because Maltese was not a written language. And publishing in Italian meant that he wasn’t understood by ‘the Maltese’ but only by some people in Valletta and Mdina. We had this argument last night over supper: the assumption that all ‘educated’ people spoke Italian at home because it was the official language of Malta is just that, an assumption. The reality is that we cannot know what people spoke and we have no way of knowing because a few surviving personal anecdotes are not enough. At best we can assume that the situation was what it is today with English, which is spoken naturally and fluently by not more than 5% of the Maltese population, with the other 95% speaking Maltese even though they read ‘official’ publications and newspapers in English. If Maltese were not the consistent mother tongue in these islands, and was just the ‘kitchen language’ as some fondly assume, it would not have survived and thrived. ]

        The PN was the the only political entity whose sole reason of existance was to fight the oppression of the coloniser, and its supporters and members suffered terribly.

        [Daphne – Every time I go to Sicily, A. Attard, for all its natural beauty and fabulous food I say the same thing: thank God they didn’t succeed before time in ‘fighting off the coloniser’, given that 160 years of British systems, British rule and even British thinking are the main reason we are not another Sicilian island. You may bang on about the coloniser but at least have the good grace and sound sense to acknowledge that that’s precisely where we got the tools to get where we are today – including, might I add, the language.]

      • Steve Forster says:


      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        You’re only partly correct, A Attard. Malta was linked to Sicily from prehistory up to the early 17th century. Then the links shifted to France. The population explosion from 1530 to 1798 was mainly due to immigrants from Provence and Marseille.

        Now don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Sicily=Italy and Marseille = France = Ooh la la.” It’s the 17th century we’re talking about, not the 21st .

        To recap, no links to “Italy” so far. You had the nobility at Mdina which was of Catalan/Sicilian extraction, and a bourgeoisie at Valletta which was Provençale.

        Then came Bony and the British. For the first 50 years of British rule at least, there was no attempt to co-opt the “Maltese” into the administrative system. The clergy was still tied to Sicily of course, which is why their lingua franca was Italian, or some dialect of it.

        After Italian unification some fecker remembered that Malta had once been part of the Kingdom of Sicily. And it was close enough and small enough anyway.

        Italy started pushing its weight around after the other European nations got their slice of the pie at the Berlin conference (“Mhux fier…”) and strengthened its fleet, so a cold war developed between Italy, Great Britain and France in the Med. We’re at the end of the 19th century here.

        Roll on the 20th century. The British are starting to think of the post-imperial system (yes, even at that early stage, they were planning ahead). Some jumped-up lawyers and clergymen thought that nothing could be more natural than to be reattached to glorious Sicily – er, Italy.

        And the rest is history, complete with the rise of Fascism, Italy’s defeat in WWII, and the greatest disaster ever to befall Malta: independence.

        So you see, when you claim that all aspects of Maltese culture are Sicilian, it riles me.

        Of course all church paintings are going to look Sicilian or Neapolitan. Because both were a short way off and provided a supply of cheap artists. Ditto for music. We were too far removed from the brilliance of the major European cities like Paris or Potsdam or London or St Petersburg (even they had to import truckloads of Italian artists, which goes to show…). And food? Elementary: if you have the same ingredients as your neighbours 90km across the straits, you’ll be cooking them the same way, more or less.

        Our festa culture? When exactly did it start? And what makes you think it’s exclusively Sicilian? Go to any place from Lisbon to Bayonne to Marseille to Nice all the way down to Sicily and you’ll find the same thing. Why, they even have Good Friday processions down on France’s Mediterranean coast.

        Look here, A. Attard. If this were just some musty academic debate, it wouldn’t matter. But these supposed eternal links to Italy are being used to justify an extremely dangerous political mindset in the 21st century. Le ghad-divorzju ghax ahna Kattolici. Ghax Religio et Patria u kburin minnha.

        Guido de Marco was patron of a club set up by Edgar Micallef Figallo, which was a sort of MZPN splinter group. Its name? “Giovine Malta.”

        Now go ahead and tell me that’s normal.

        It bloody isn’t.

    • El Topo says:

      Fascism: Religio et Patria

      British mindset: Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll

      • Interested Bystander says:

        and not necessarily in that order

      • El Topo says:

        Sure. In fact of the three, it’s the “rock ‘n’ roll” element that highlights the difference in mindsets. The 60s and early 70s saw a rock music boom with dozens of English bands as top exponents. The number of equivalent bands in Italy at the time? The number of men who continue living with their parents (read “mother”) after the age of 30 is another indicator of the different mindsets.

  9. silvio says:

    The fact that your great-uncle ruled against their exile not only does him honour, but it took courage to stand up to the British Crown.

    [Daphne – I don’t think courage played a part. Courage implies the existence of fear, and that didn’t play a part either. This is what I mean when I say the mindset is different. It really is. ]

    We must ,however,remind your readers,that when the sentence was given,the ship with the exiled men had already left Malta. Thi just to keep the records straight.

    • Steve Forster says:

      Stand up, and live to tell the tale….bit of a difference from Italy until 1943 (Emilio De Bono, anyone) and Germany till the virtual last days of the Reich.

    • silvio says:

      This is what H.Ganado had to say about Judge Montanaro Gauci.

      “Bniedem ta kuxjenza u bniedem KURAGGUZ uriet il-gustizzja taghha”

      We could do with some people of that calibre,in our courts.

      [Daphne – Exactly. He had a different mentality. Perhaps for him, doing what was right and applying the law involved courage if it could get you into trouble. I suppose it doesn’t occur to you and might not have occurred to Herbert Ganado that to others there might be no courage involved because there is no fear because, in turn, there are no perceived reasons for fear. It’s the same reason I write the way I do – not because I’m ‘courageous’ but because to me it’s normal behaviour.]

      • silvio says:

        It is not so difficult to define it as “different mentallity”.

        There is quite a difference in writing what you feel in year 2011, when our right to do so is defended in our constitution, when we are living in a democracy,when freedom of speech is taken for granted.

        Try writing the way you do (something I admire} in the war years. I can assure you that times where different and our mentallity had to adapt to the than prevailing situation.

        [Daphne – Why, would it have been any worse than it was in 2006, when an attempt was made, using several truck tyres and cans of petrol set against a glass door next to our groundfloor bedrooms at 3am, to burn the house down and kill us all? Would it have been worse than the anonymous targetting with vicious lies and horrible slander, of every single member of my family, with the people who do this actually saying that they are doing it to bully and pressure me into not writing any more? Worse than Super One’s harassment? Worse than the consistent use of the police by people who work for or are associated with the Labour Party to have me prosecuted repeatedly for criticising them – effectively abusing the ‘kwerela’ facility to harass me? You really don’t know what you’re talking about here, but I can’t help thinking that doing what I do in the war years would have been simpler, unless you’re suggesting that Herbert Ganado would have tried to burn me alive in my bed.]

        Of course it took courage especialy when you had people shouting for the blood of the internees,just ouside the courthouse.

        [Daphne – If you think so, then you didn’t know him and you certainly don’t understand the mentality. Or mine. I don’t sit here thinking, ‘Oh, I’d better not write this because Super One will be baying for my blood again/somebody might set fire to my house. I just get on with it. Similarly, Antoine Montanaro-Gauci would not have sat there thinking, ‘Now, do I do the right thing or the wrong thing to keep the mob happy?’ Honestly, Silvio. I don’t think you realise what you’re actually saying here.]

  10. Zanzi says:

    Attempts of Nationalist liberalisation come from all sorts of corners. The Tal-Pepe who immigrated from Sliema to Soho during the late 1950’s became influenced by the liberalisation of British society in 1960’s. Unable to influence the Sliema PN powerbase they switched support to elements of the PL. Together with building permit incentives offered by PL , the switch became a profitable option-they never had it so good.

    It became an occupational hazard being an ‘Epsom Salt’ ( slang , for Malt – Maltese) in Tas-Soho during Mintoff’s Movement towards Independance , because the British establishment were cracking down on Maltese business interests in the form of the infamous newly formed Flying Squad. They were labeled as Pimp’s and Ponces by the press, when infact the majority were just nice Tal-Pepe boys going about their daily business. Mintoffian support was a way of saying ‘up yours’ to the British establishment.

    During the 1980’s it became evidently that a liberal Malta was far from being achievable and support started to wane , it was even alleged that elements of the SMU were attempting to recruit operatives within Soho Maltese community.

    By default and mutation across the Maltese diaspora , liberalisation will always filter itself back to the Island one way or the other but what evolves is not always the intended outcome.

  11. mc says:

    On another subject, I would like to ask a few questions to those Nationalists who are now riding on this new bandwagon called ‘liberalism’.

    Let us take a hypothetical situation. A man leaves his wife a few months or years after the birth of their child to set up a new household (poggut, divorced and remarried or whatever). Which takes precedence the right of the man for individual freedom and to do as he pleases when he pleases?

    Or is it the right of the child to have a stable home environment where he or she can grow and develop life skills? What about the wife? What about her right for support and sharing of responsibility in the upbringing of the child?

    Is this new allegiance to liberalism and individual freedom a convenient excuse to run away from one’s responsibilities?

    [Daphne – I think you will find that there are no laws to prevent a man leaving his wife, nor have there ever been or can be any such laws. Men don’t leave their wives because they are liberal. Liberalism is something else entirely. Please look it up.]

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      Let me give you another example from personal experience:

      A wife leaves her husband (me) six months after the wedding, pregnant with what the husband believes is his child (she wasn’t). The wife makes it clear, after several attempts by the husband, that she is not even interested in discussing things over.

      Now, you tell me, what should the husband have done:

      1. Stalk the wife?


      2. Accept the situation and get on with his life?

      I chose option 2, and thank goodness that I did. I am now happily married (11 years).

      You can’t (and shouldn’t) tie anyone to your bed, unless both are into BDSM).

      And no, this has nothing to do with liberalism. It’s about being realistic and a positive-thinker.

    • mc says:

      My questions were based on some of the comments posted in various blogs and sites during the recent discussions.

      My intepretation of these comments is that some people equate being liberal with individual freedom. The right for individual freedom is seen by some as the right to do as one pleases without interference from anyone.

      I have no problem with that except that when people speak about individual liberties they conveniently fail to mention that:

      (i) People should take responsibility for their actions. As much as people have the freedom to take their own decisions without interference or imposition from the state or the church, they should also understand that decisions bring with them consequences and that people should take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions.

      (ii) The right for individual liberty should also take into account the rights of others and in particular ensuring that in exercising one’s rights, one should not deprive others of their rights. For example, the right of the child for a stable home environment is, I believe, supreme.

      It is true that men don’t leave their wives because they are liberal. From some of the comments made, however, there may be some who use liberalism and the right to individual freedom to justify, at least in part, actions which at face value seem to be irresponsible.

      In making these arguments, some are actually using the right for individual freedom to justify the deprivation of other people’s rights. In the case of abandonment, the rights of the abandoned wife or husband and the rights of the children are being trampled upon.

      [Daphne – No, they aren’t. The maintenance of one’s children is obligatory regardless of marital status. And divorce law provides for the wife’s rights and even beyond that, as famous examples like Heather McCartney show. As for the rest, we agree. Aside from that, liberal politics are mainly about the economy and education and have nothing to do with sex and marriage.]

      • Kenneth Cassar says:

        @ mc:

        I’m a liberal. I believe people should take responsibility for their actions. I also know that decisions bring with them consequences. The only difference is that sometimes consequences are artificially created by people who want to control other people’s lives. Liberals will have none of that.

        I also agree that the right to individual liberty should also take into account the rights of others and in particular ensuring that in exercising one’s rights, one should not deprive others of their rights. However, I do not acknowledge the pretended “right” of people to control other people’s personal lives (as long as one is doing nothing illegal).

        I’m also not interested in the misuse of the word “liberalism”. I know what it means, and that’s all that matters for me.

        As for cases of abandonment, I don’t speak hypothetically. I have already given you my own personal experience (in brief, of course). My rights were not being trampled upon when my ex-wife abandoned me. She was never my property.

        The only instances where my rights were actually being trampled upon were when she made me believe the child she carried in her womb was mine, and when she was having an affair but went ahead and married me.

        In any case, no one would suggest that people intending to desert their spouse should be locked inside their matrimonial homes. So why bring this up?

    • yor/malta says:

      Are you saying that because a mindset is liberal, one runs around naked and drives on the wrong side of the road just for the fun of it?

      Have a look around you and you will realise that the Maltese tend to prefer a form of random anarchy.

  12. Albert Farrugia says:

    So now it’s no more question of Labour having to win over the “middle class” to win an election. Now its the Nationalists who have to mainten the “liberals”. But then again, why don’t the “liberals” just pluck some courage and simply establish their own party, like anywhere else in Europe?

    [Daphne – Because this is a two-party system and two-party systems work. Besides, the fragmentation of one party into two or more just leaves one big party to do as it pleases. Coalitions are crap: even Britain is now discovering that.]

    What we are witnessing today is, yes, a battle for the soul of the PN, but also the possibility of some breakaway new party. If the PN becomes a “liberal” party, then we would most likely see the establishment of a “conservative” party. Malta’s poltical landscape would begin to look more European.

    [Daphne – How so? Please don’t quote Germany and Italy at me.]

  13. MikeC says:

    I’m all for getting rid of the religio et patria, more the religio than the patria, but really, how recently was the Constitutional Party actually relevant? When was the last time it actually managed 5% of the vote? 1950?

    [Daphne – The 1960s. Five per cent of the vote swings an election. Which is exactly what I am saying here. People raised in families that originally supported the Constitutional Party tend to have a different mentality because attitudes and outlook get passed down the line. This different mentality was not shaped by politics but the other way round: the different mentality led to the formation of different political views. I’m a case in point which is why I recognise it in others. I was born around the time the Constitutional Party was dissolved, but my hackles rise at Italianate religio et patria talk and behaviour, over-emotional nationalism, and especially when I hear Maltese spoken with a disproportionate Italian influence and pseudo-accent. Tonio Borg epitomises all this, unfortunately, and is largely responsible for the alienation of people like me.]

  14. “some of the finest and most upstanding citizens have a moral code that exists independently of any religion, while some of the most overtly religious people have a moral code that is best described as flexible”

    how can you use words like “finest”, “most upstanding” in an evidently positive sense and “flexible” in an obviously pejorative sense without establishing

    a) that it is good – or at least desirable – to be described as “finest” and “upstanding” and that it is bad – or undesirable -to be called “flexible”
    b) what “ruler” you will be using for establishing the above

    [Daphne – This is a blog, not a doctoral thesis.]

    Religions the world over – the values of which you like to ridicule as old and irrelevant – have perfectly defined and absolute reference points.

    [Daphne – Reuben, I am speaking of religious people not religions. The moral codes of religions are not necessarily the moral codes of those who espouse those religions, or rather, claim to do so.]

    Unless you offer another set of references, your statement is nonsensical. It is only a meaningful proposition within the framework established by said “religion” – Roman Catholicism in European (directly) and mainstream North American (indirectly) culture.

    Protestantism came relatively late in the day and that in itself stemmed from Roman Catholicsm. (Which is why it is called Protestantism, incidentally – the various sects that popped out since the reformation were all protesting gainst something or other in the RCC’s hierarchy or teachings. Which doesn’t make them independent entities, obviously.)

    Our notions of what is “right and wrong” or “fair and unfair” only make sense in that context. It’s a ridiculous stance to pronounce an ethical judgement without reference to an absolute point.

    [Daphne – No, you are completely wrong and unwittingly illustrate my original point. Contemporary European notions of what is right, wrong, fair and unfair are post-Enlightenment. People who tend to think in a pre-Enlightenment fashion even in the 21st century, because they have learned their moral code through religion, tend to have – yes – a flexible code. Look all around you in Malta, which is the perfect illustration of this.]

    This post of yours has shown another inconsistency in your line of thought. On the one hand you criticise Labour for being a party without an “identity”, while at the same time you take the PN to task for sticking to its identity.

    [Daphne – The PN is NOT sticking to its identity. It is acting in direct contradiction to it. When the religious code of party leaders comes into conflict with the democratic principles and respect for the dignity of the individual by which that party has come to be identified, then the party has a serious problem to which the solutions are obvious.]

    What you say about people wanting to “twist” church rules to suit their conscience may be well applied to your position on this one. If you don’t like the PN’s identity you can “leave the party or start your own”.

    [Daphne – A false and utterly ridiculous comparison. Political parties are not religions, and when those who lead them, and some of those who support them, begin to think of them as such, then we are in trouble. You mention the Labour Party: that is its biggest problem. Its supporters think of it as a religion and so will put up with literally anything.]

    This is not the time for taking potshots at a party going through hell for sticking to its principles.

    [Daphne – The point at issue, and this bears repeating, is that it is going through hell precisely because it is NOT sticking to its principles. The principles of a political party are political and not religious. The political principles of the Nationalist Party are democracy, liberty, and respect for the dignity of the individual, which dignity must not be sacrificed to the common good. Political parties do not have religious principles and so any such religious principles are imagined and cannot come into play. Hence the Nationalist Party’s current difficulties. The religion of the party leaders is being projected onto the wider sphere as the religion of the party itself.]

    The reaction many people have shown to the party’s anti-divorce stance (i’m not talking about the post-referendum discussion) has “strengthened” my disdain for the local political dilettante. He supports the PN only because it is against the MLP/PL or whichever name it goes by these days. He is obviously completely unaware and oblivious of what the PN really stands for.

    [Daphne – I am perfectly aware of what the Nationalist Party stands for in the same way, if you must use a religious comparison, that religious converts are more aware of what their religion stands for than those who are born into it. Its position on divorce is entirely inconsistent with that and equivalent to Mintoff’s position on import substitution.]

    • You keep using words that unless otherwise stated only make sense in an established moral “framework”

      You are trying to argue against the very framework that is upholding your language.

      [Daphne – There is an established moral framework outside Roman Catholicism. You’re just not aware of it because you learned your moral framework INSIDE Roman Catholicism. I didn’t(despite being brought up as a Catholic – albeit rather nominally, I now realise). If I think about it – forced as I am to do so by your persistence – I see that the main underpinning is breach of trust and betrayal. Most wrongs – outside the criminal code, which I am taking for granted here – seem to be rooted in a variation of that.]

      • David says:

        This reminds me of the phrase attributed to Dostoyevsky that “If there is no God, everything is permitted”. A former chief justice has written on this subject

        Outside Catholicism or even outside Christianity or outside any religion or faith there can be a moral code. However as history teaches, this code, especially if it is not based on objective values, is rather weak and can change according to fashionable trends and tends to be subjective and very relative. There is a greater risk of moral nihilism.

        [Daphne – I don’t agree with you or with Dostoyevsky. History and current experience have shown, and you will understand this if you think about it, that it is the other way round: that religion/s give people the excuse and the framework for any number of horrors and wrongs.]

    • El Topo says:

      You make me feel good, Daphne. I love you.

  15. Richard Muscat says:

    There are some issues raised in your article that need to be clarified at least for historical reasons. One of these is the Religio et Patria motto of the PN.

    I would like to quote Oliver Friggieri, author of “Il-Kuxjenza Nazzjonali Maltija”, hoping that this motto be understood better for the real reason it was chosen by the Partito Nazionale of Fortunato Mizzi, founder of the party in 1880:

    “It-twelid tan-Nazzjonalizmu Malti” pg. 30,31
    ” Il-qawmien tac-civilta’ rivoluzzjonarja tar-Romanticizmu gieb mieghu vizjoni gdida mhux bizz tal-kultura izda ukoll ta’ l-umanita’…Ir-romanticizmu hu, qabel xejn, demokratizmu, programm mahsub fuq il-livell politiku, morali u estetiku biex jitbiddlu mill-qiegh l-istrutturi ta’ l-ghajxien u tal-hsieb…Hawn dahal bis-sahha kollha il-kult tan-Nazzjonalizmu, reazzjoni harxa kontra l-kosmopolitizmu tac-civiltajiet ta’ qabel, u l-aktar ta’ l-Illuminizmu. Ghalhekk ukoll il-qawmien tal-kuxjenza politika Maltija wassal ghall-ghazla tal-kelma Nazionale jew Nazionalista bhala l-isem ta’ partit. Ghalhekk ukoll il-motto “Religio et Patria” m’hux ghajr il-motto Mazzinjan “Dio e il Popolo” li nbniet fuqu d-duttrina patrijottika tar-risorgiment Taljan.

    This just to put things historically right.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Friggieri may be a genius, but his reference is always Italy. It was not “il-qawmien tal-kuxjenza politika Maltija” which led to that unfortunate motto, but “il-qawmin ta’ kuxjenza politika direttament ispirata mill-Italjanizmu.

      Had history taken a different turn, that motto might have been “Res Publica” or “Res Publica Utriusque Nationis” or “Civilisation through industry” or whichever motto suited the flavour of political discourse.

      Ours was the worst possible, and it’s spread its dark shadow right through the present day.

      Mazzinism laid the foundations of Fascism, and our dame de salon (in the Enlightenment sense) Daphne hit the nail on the head when she said that it’s all about the great divide between those nations which can poke fun at authority, and those which crave authority.

      We came down firmly on the side of the cravers, and Mazzinism is precisely that masturbatory glorification of giovine nazione this and that which led to the excesses of Fascism. A sharp-witted British rationalist might have remarked “Risorgimento from what? To rise again implies a death, and Italy never really existed as a political entity except for the Regnum Ithalicum which was more of lose federation of states than a centralised kingdom.”

      “La Giovine Malta” was founded and bankrolled by many Mazzinist Italians of the Giovine Italia circle, and it soaked up Mazzinist rhetoric. I have to be blunt here, but here’s an anecdote: Ugo Mifsud Bonnici is fond of describing how he wept with joy when he saw “il-Gakk Ingliz niezel”.

      A cynic might point out how his family built its political fortunes precisely in colonial Malta, run by the evil British, and he wouldn’t be there to regale us with his anecdotes hadn’t it been for British indulgence and British freedoms.

      This just to put things historically right.

  16. Spagu says:

    The main reason far right political parties do not make an impact in the UK is their first past the post electoral system. In today’s political scenario a PR system would give a surprising amount of seats to both the UKIP and BNP parties.

    As to the 30s do not forget that the heir to the throne dangerously sympathised with Hitler.

    [Daphne – Yes, and was got rid of. He didn’t only jump to marry. He was pushed because he wasn’t trusted.]

    It is true about the British character. It would stop short of going extreme but the transformation of the UK is pushing decent UK citizens to new boundaries.

    • Spagu says:

      Agree with you there, Daphne. The marraige was only part of the story but a lot of the British establishment were quietly approving of Fascist dictators. Not so much Hitler but both Franco and Mussolini were quite popular amongst the upper classes.

  17. Jozef says:

    Late comment, (as usual);

    Brilliant article – I sincerely hope the Nationalist Party takes notice. It seems to me that this nation deserves (needs) the use of all three languages, thus the multiplication of mental space, which i’m sure is what everyone yearns for.

  18. Alexander Morana says:

    Put simply, fascism was fashionable in Europe back then. It no longer is and hasn’t been for some time.

    Really and since when DCG?

    [Daphne – Your Norman Lowell is a niche interest. Hardly what I would call fashionable. The last time I looked at one of your videos, all I could see were extras from some freak show and my old classmate, the very weird Arlette Baldacchino. Oh, and one never addresses a person by their initials.]

  19. Chris Ripard says:

    Islam doesn’t bother people? Ask the women – unless they’ve already been stoned – who have to put up with it!

    [Daphne – That’s not Islam. Widen your horizons a little, Chris, come on. My Muslim women friends live lives identical to my own. What you’re talking about is the equivalent of what would happen if the Vatican were to take over the running of, say, Malta. ]

    • Christopher Ripard says:

      Do your Muslim friends live lives like yours in Muslim countries, or do they live lives like yours in a Western democracy? (Imagine the last four words in italics, please).

      [Daphne – That was exactly my point, Chris. They live lives like mine outside Muslim countries because IT IS NOT THE RELIGION THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Problems are caused when a religion takes over a country. Malta in the grip of Roman Catholic law would be no different. And so stop it with the stoning. When was anyone last stoned outside Nigeria, Saudi or Iran?]

      I won’t go into this argument any further, as you are not for turning and as you don’t have any daughters who could marry a Muslim and go live in a Muslim state. Let’s agree to disagree.

      [Daphne – Then it would be up to them, wouldn’t it. The world is full of people who are afraid of diehard Roman Catholics, and I can’t say I blame them.]

  20. AP says:

    The idea of State and Church separation is a noble one, but the idea of seperating politics and religion is not.

    To me this seems impossible to achieve and should not be attempted. Everyone has a universal view of all things and that constitutes religion.

    This applies even to atheist or liberal secularists who at the end of the day embrace another particular view and thus ‘religion’ of their own. Political beliefs emanate from such a universal view and hence it is only natural that political parties should also reflect such ideas.

    With regards to Christiany and Catholicism it is true that sometimes terms are interchanged. At the same time one has to remember that demochristian thinking saw its beginning with the hugely inspiring encyclical by the name of Rerum Novarum in the late 19th century.

    Catholicism with its social doctrine influences politics even up to this day. Concepts heavily in use and fought for such as that of subsidiarity was formally developed in Rerum Novarum and from then onwards a string of encyclical by other popes continued to build and formulate the Church’s Social Doctrine which is considered an influential source for many people.

  21. Richard Muscat says:

    With due respect to all concerned, I beg to differ from the historical interpretations found in this correspondence. I prefer to enlighten my mind reading researched works from historians and intellectuals of repute.

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