Make the UK great again – it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as MAGA. But, new PM Boris Johnson is keen to channel his inner Trump populism by promising this elusive greatness. Perhaps they can find it behind all of those austerity measures… or in the biscuit tin of a racist grandma…
It really is a tragic indictment on the education systems of the West that so many people seem to be susceptible to such glaringly obvious political slogans. It’s all well and good to quote Orwell, but if you do so while throwing your support behind the various conservative governments then I’m afraid you know nothing of the man or his work. And yet the phrase “MAGA” can excite a crowd, and (to a lesser degree) a similar sentiment permeates the UK and Australia.
But how exactly was the UK great again? Ah yes, Empire – just like the current US one. Large, influential, wealthy, built on the backs of oppressed people of colour. Contrary to what some would like to tell you, ‘losing influence’ on the global stage is, generally, a good thing. Influence, in the context politicians like Johnson or Trump use it, tends to mean control. The British Empire exerted influence over India and starved a large portion of the country; the US has incredible influence over Latin America, toppling and buying out governments at will.
This all very much reminds me of a quote I’ve used on this site before by E. H. Carr, a British historian:
“But relative decline [of Western European influence] is not absolute decline [of global progress]; and what disturbs and alarms me is not the march of progress in Asia or Africa, but the tendency of dominant groups in this country – and perhaps elsewhere – to turn a blind or uncomprehending eye on these developments, to adopt towards them an attitude oscillating between mistrustful disdain and affable condescension, and to sink back into a paralysing nostalgia for the past.”
The above quote is from his book/lectures on What Is History? – a worthwhile read for any history buff. He is, of course, referring to dominant groups in Britain, and similar accusations could be made regarding many in other Western nations today. The greatness of Empire, from Roman to British (and now US), always relied on a level of subjugation of the people whose lands they exerted control over. If that is the metric with which one wishes to define their nation, then so be it – but expect, as we have seen, violent opposition.
With Boris Johnson at the helm, the UK will likely never reach greatness, or if it does it’d be leftover glory in the shadow of the US. If they do leave the EU (it’s highly likely a general election might be called to put Brexit to the test a second time) then the influence they currently have will drop considerably; they’d become another vassal of US hegemony, really. Will Johnson win an election if one is called? Who knows – I wouldn’t trust the polls. Given the beating Corbyn has received in the media and how divided his party is, I think it would go the same way as my US 2020 prediction.
Unless the Democrats pull themselves together (i.e. drop Biden, and slap Pelosi down a few steps), Trump has already won the election. In the UK, Corbyn’s enemies need to back down or Labour will never see another election victory – unless the UK is suddenly disgusted by Johnson. Sadly, I have little faith.
Only time will tell, however, and for ill or worse we are stuck with yet another buffoon in a position of power. Let’s hope none of them ever reach the level of “greatness” they truly aspire to – it would be a dark, dark world.
Liked this? Read my comments on What Is History? starting HERE
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