International politics is something that we in the United States barely pay attention to. It is an appalling window into just how hollow and ignorant we are as a culture, so self-absorbed and self-important that we can only see elsewhere as something vague and beneath our concern–certainly below our flickering interests. Most of the rest of the world is aware of this (other than the numerous equally self-obsessed nations that have taken a page from our burning book and pointed a finger at the outside world as the impurities that ruin their selfish vision of the world.) It is why there is so much resentment across the globe, so many more closing borders, and so much paranoid hatred swathing through the huddled conversations in bars and households every single day.
But perhaps we should all take notice of the recent and easily predictable ascension of Boris Johnson to the head of the UK government.
Do not get me wrong; regardless of the image I selected for this man, he is certainly not stupid. No, this was selected because it is the closest to a picture of Donald Trump that I could find. Boris Johnson is a Trumpian figure, regardless of his much longer and far more successful experience as a long time right-wing opposition figure.
Interestingly, Johnson was actually born in New York City, something that here in the States would have immediately disqualified him from becoming head of the government. He was then, of course, still a British citizen (actually granted dual citizenship in the US), his parents wealthy enough to offer endless opportunities to their son. They seem to be decent enough people, caring for their child and educating him for the success he would eventually plunder.
He went to Oxford, and at the time followed in his mother’s side of the family’s intellectual path of embracing liberal politics as the salvation of the world. Johnson’s family background is remarkably diverse and the end result of what he has become is thoroughly baffling, his hard-line one-nation (“Make England Great Again,” or something along those Brexit infused lines) stance contradicting not just his family history, but also his own youthful ideals. He comes from Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christians.
Johnson’s great-grandfather was a secular Turkish Muslim named Ali Kemel.
He was at first a very liberal journalist, condemning the rising tide of Islamic extremism in his homeland. Forever an opposition figure (and something of a hedonist), Kemal was once exiled from Turkey for a few humiliating editorials he wrote about Sultan Abdul Hamid II,
but when the Sultan was deposed by the revolution of 1908, Kemal returned and became at first one of the most famous journalists in the nation, before abandoning his convictions to join the new government. He remained steadfastly opposed to the radicalism of the Young Turks,
the party who had led the revolution. While Kemal sat on the sidelines, the Young Turks rapidly splintered into warring factions seeking absolute rule, from the Liberal wing to the far Liberal wing, with a handful of absolutist radical terrorists thrown into the mix. Eventually the government of the entire Ottoman Empire was overtaken by “the Three Pashas”
who, as the above states, were responsible for the Armenian Genocide, which saw as many as 1,500,000 people slaughtered, most of whom were starved to death.
Kemal, meanwhile, had become the editor-in-chief of Serbesti, a liberal newspaper that seemed to condemn everyone, from every side, attacking the stinking extremism that was overtaking everything on the build up to World War I. Kemal got the job, in fact, after his predecessor, Hasan Fehmi,
was murdered by unknown assailants while crossing a bridge into Istanbul. Kemel himself was murdered in 1922 after being kidnapped in a barber shop while being groomed en route to his own trial for treason. Two days later the military managed to intercept the kidnappers, and claimed Kemal. They dragged him into a town square where there was a mob waiting for him. The hired, outraged people began kicking and beating him, eventually hanging him from a tree. People hurled rocks while he was choking there, against a tree. They beat him with sticks and jabbed him with knives. Eventually thick cudgels were used to bash his head in while larger rocks crushed his ribcage, and eventually his heart. His bloody corpse was then hanged from a wall into the city with a parody of his name on a sign hanging across his chest.
But how does this impact the modern day Boris Johnson? His maternal grandfather was Sir James Fawcett,
a master of international law, who served as the UK’s first representative at the United Nations. He later became the chief counsel for the International Monetary Fund, then a member (eventually president) of the European Commission of Human Rights, where he was a frequent barrister arguing at The Hague, accusing numerous figures of crimes against humanity. Fawcett was yet another liberal in Johnson’s family history.
Johnson’s mother, Charlotte,
is an artist. She married Stanley Johnson,
who is a well-regarded author, and served as a Conservative MP for a number of years, opening up the divided political influences in young Boris’ life (by the way, ‘Boris’ is the man’s middle name, Alexander being what he was known as in childhood. ‘Boris’ was selected as a result of his Grandfather and mother’s friendship with a Russian diplomat. The name is used because Boris believes it has a more populist flair to get to the “ordinary folks” behind him.) Stanley has written heavily on environmental issues, even being awarded a Greenpeace award for his diligence. Also, with six children of his own, he has become a loud voice for population control. These days he wanders around, writing his books, and enjoying a heightened celebrity status because of who his son is. The above picture is from a British magazine. The article that accompanies it is titled “I Am Cooler Than Boris.”
Boris himself has always been opposed to the majority views surrounding him. He resented his mother’s liberalism and began turning right. But his father’s conservatism put a stop to that, gearing him to left-wing issues in a state of confusion over what defined morality and human decency. Boris has subsequently become something of a ranting clown. This upper class, extremely well-educated and articulate man has decided that what the British really want is a buffoon leading them into an uncertain future where it is every person for themselves. He plays this part marvelously. He attempts to charm some of the dictators that Donald Trump has befriended, and has even kissed Trump’s ass enough to allow the sociopathic US President to let Boris kiss his ring.
But Boris Johnson, for all his many flaws, and every stupid thing he has to say publically; for all of his open prejudice and bigotry (clearly politically expedient moves in a divided society)–for his obsessive focus on leaving the European Union without a single idea of how England can possibly economically survive, listening only to a froth-mouthed, rage-filled radicals shouting for blood, Boris Johnson is destined to be yet another in the long line of British political failures, his government I suspect collapsing in less than a year. Once Trump abandons and condemns him for his environmental policies (most likely, if not some stray humane suggestion Boris makes that he does not truly mean), the truly hard-line followers of his movement will abandon Johnson too, seeking someone far more radical, someone less of a cartoon character and perhaps an actual true monster, someone looking to end Democracy throughout the United Kingdom (and the rest of Europe if they are lucky.) Boris Johnson is merely an interlude, I fear, before the world truly cracks open into the next all-consuming war. He is yet another symptom of the decline of human civilization.