The way down

:: politics, doomed

The idiot child god and where he will lead us.

A five-year-old boy

Something I’ve recently realised is that to understand the johnsonites you need only to understand that Boris Johnson is a rather dim, extremely spoilt, five-year-old boy from an extremely privileged background. He may look like an adult but he’s not: he’s a small child wearing an adult suit.

I remember being five, more-or-less. When I was five I had no notion that other people were really people: I thought that I was perfect, that I was infallible, that I was a little god who one day would grow into a far greater god. I thought the world, and my parents who made up most of it, existed to serve me; that my siblings and the people at school were lesser beings who also, in due course would exist to serve me as I grew into my godhood. I thought, in other words, what all five-year-olds think. I remember, vividly, the time during which I realised that this was not true: that I was just a person like all the other people, that I wasn’t as good or as clever or as handsome as some of them, perhaps as most of them.

I think this happens to almost all people: almost every small child thinks that they are a tiny god and that the world is built around them. At some age larger children realise that this is not true and this is a huge shock to them. Except, for some few people it never is: some people simply never realise that they are not god. Johnson is such a person: he has, quite simply, never realised that the world, and everything in it, exists for any purpose other than to serve him. He was not helped, of course, by growing up to a life of extreme privilege: much of his world did indeed seem as if it existed to keep him and his class in their state of comfort and idleness.

If Johnson was clever rather than merely glib he would be absolutely terrifying: he is pretty terrifying as he is, but you really do not want clever people who think they are gods anywhere near you1.

Johnson’s purpose in life is to maximise Johnson: everything, for him, exists only to further his own ascension to godhood and nothing must interfere with that. Nothing must ever be allowed make him feel bad about himself or question his own judgement – as an incipient god he is, of course, infallible and no questions must ever be asked or, if they should be asked then the questioners must be derided as naysayers, disruptive influences or worse.

The johnsonite revolution

So Johnson’s purpose is Johnson: more money for Johnson, more glory for Johnson, more acolytes for Johnson, more power for Johnson, more sex for Johnson2, more children for Johnson. That is all he cares about: nothing else matters, at all.

Sadly for Johnson and us all he is not actually very good at anything. Achieving maximum Johnson is hard when the only Johnson you have available is, frankly, second-rate. Like his idol Churchill he wants to be a great writer of history but he is very far from being that. He can write witty articles full of subtle bigotry and offence, but his talent, such as it is, is no more than any number of other journalists and far less than the best of them3.

In 2015 he must have wondered how he was to bargain this base johnsonite ore into the gold of godhead which he never doubted he deserved. We know the answer he came to: brexit. Brexit was never a good idea, and a botched brexit was likely to do very serious damage to the country. But it also might give him power, which was far more important: Johnson was happy to sacrifice his country without a thought.

And it worked: brexit did give him power. And the cost of that power for us all was altogether predictable but terrible nonetheless. Enthusiasm for brexit, with perhaps a few exceptions, is not normally associated with great intellect among politicians but Johnson, believing himself now a very god, could tolerate no dissent, no questioning, any more than any other spoilt five-year old boy could. And so he purged the parliamentary Conservative party of anyone who might doubt him, of anyone who might be cleverer than he was: constructing a government of the inadequate, a government of incompetents, ideologues and the dull-witted. Johnson has laid his eggs in the Conservative party like a parasitoid wasp, and now this new johnsonite party is growing in its body, consuming it from within while it still lives.

This is the maximum Johnson revolution.

Like Saturn

Rule by spoilt five-year-old boy was never going to end well. And it is not ending so well, is it? A child, seeking personal power and glory at any cost, does not make decisions which are good for anyone but himself. And as he is a child he doesn’t even make decisions which are good for himself in the long run: there is a reason why parents have authority over their children, it turns out. Being unable to be wrong means that he can never correct errors: he can never learn from his mistakes since he believes himself incapable of them. Surrounding himself only with people who are unwilling or unable to challenge him makes this worse.

Brexit was always going to make the UK poorer and weaker, and was always going to imperil the UK’s relations with its much larger and more powerful neighbour. The Northern Ireland situation probably had no really good solution. But Johnson hasn’t even tried: he, or his stooge David Frost, negotiated a minimal deal which, less than a year later, they are going back on, demonstrating in the most public possible way that they have either acted in bad faith throughout or were simply not competent to understand the implications of what they were doing4.

But Johnson can never be wrong, so the catastrophes of the brexit he chose will always be the fault of other people.

And then of course the world throws something unexpected at him, in the form of CV195. Something he is even more utterly incompetent to deal with than the fallout from the brexit he engineered. It is hard to know how many people he has now killed due to his lack both of competence and of care, but it is safe to say that it is tens of thousands. And it is not over: the omicron variant may escape immunity through vaccines or previous infection6, in which case, if it is as deadly as previous variants, we are starting again.

And Johnson can never be wrong, and Johnson can never learn so all the mistakes must have been made by other people. And he will make exactly the mistakes he made before, and the corpses will pile up in his wake. And these mistakes, too, will be someone else’s fault.

Like Saturn, Johnson’s revolution is eating its own children7.

The way down

Where do we go from here?

Johnson is vastly incompetent but can never be wrong. If he is not removed by some kind of coup within the tory party8 then he will continue to lead us on the way down: the only way he knows. As disaster follows disaster, he must find endless new people to blame. So when the Northern Ireland agreement turns out not to work very well, somehow this is the fault of the EU, and the EU is duly demonised. So he will publish a rather stupid letter he wrote to the French president, causing the French to react, he hopes, badly. So now he can blame the French for the invented refugee crisis. So he will blame ‘remoaners’ who, somehow, are to blame for the ills of brexit. So he will blame the judges for getting in the way of his idiot brexit. So someone will be found to blame for the mounds of the CV19 dead. And so it goes on, for ever, with Johnson and his acolytes finding ever new groups to blame, waving their idiot flags and working their supporters into an ever stronger frenzy of resentment and hatred.

This strategy of finding identifiable groups to blame for your mistakes is familiar because it has happened before. It is the strategy of authoritarians, both those we call fascists and those we call communists, everywhere and always. And it ends with camps, pogroms and death. Not yet, not even soon, and not yet inevitably, but we are on the way.

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

  1. No-one would want to be very near Elon Musk. 

  2. Although his mentality is that of a privileged five-year old boy, his body is not: like most physically-adult people he wants sex. And he behaves exactly the way you would expect: he has limited or no self control. Who knows how many children he has by how many different partners: perhaps not even he does. Who knows how many partners he has had and how many he has been unfaithful to? 

  3. I freely admit my talent for writing is very slight. But I do freely admit it: something Johnson could never do. 

  4. Or, of course, both: David Frost is some kind of poster child for a person promoted far beyond his rather limited competence. 

  5. For Johnson CV19 is perhaps a blessing in disguise. Many thousands have died and many thousands more will die through his incompetence and carelessness. This is something he cares nothing about of course, since these are other people. But the enormous costs of CV19 will obscure the true costs of his brexit, and he does care about that. 

  6. But it may not: I don’t think the data is clear yet, although people who should know such as the CEO of Moderna are clearly quite worried about it. It may also be less deadly. 

  7. A l’exemple de Saturne, la révolution dévore ses enfants – Jaques Mallet du Pan 

  8. A coup within the tory party is probably our last, best hope. But Johnson has such a strong grip that it is by no means certain: it is frightening to plot against the man on whom you depend for career advancement. Still, we must hope.