Authorities everywhere speak in measured tones about calm, unity, and moving forward together as the atrocities mount. Their words are empty. Their analysis of what’s behind the current chaos couldn’t convince a five-year-old. They are shilling for their establishments, and everyone knows it.
What actually exists is murder most foul, and now hideous vengeance, in places like Baton Rouge; police execution and aggrieved fury in Minnesota; a police massacre in Dallas; mayhem on the promenades of Nice; slaughter in Paris; coups (or false flag events if you believe Fethullah Gulen) in Turkey; the Middle East as the slaughter-house of hope; and who knows what might come in Cleveland.
Through all this, one burning question looms. Where have all the leaders gone?
As the apocalypse beckons, the need for real political wisdom has never been greater. But no Titans have emerged. Instead, obscene caricatures of political leadership have risen to the top of several world establishments.
In Britain, Theresa May sits astride the absurd political ascendancy of the post-Brexit-referendum era. One of her first acts was to shut down the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Britain’s Tin Lady made another decision which is even more dangerous to the planet on the short term: putting the Brexit Boor and “serial liar” Boris Johnson in charge of foreign affairs.
Johnson is the man whose claim to fame is a bad mop of hair, pants that are perpetually on fire, and a yen for racism. Making him the country’s chief diplomat is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of pension plan. After Barack Obama stuck his nose in the Brexit debate, urging the UK to remain in the European Union, Johnson responded by talking about the U.S. president’s “part Kenyan” ancestry.
It mightn’t have been full ‘Birther BS, but it smacked of Trump Lite.
Johnson’s previous remarks though made clear that his jibe wasn’t meant as a compliment. As reported in the Guardian, Johnson went on to describe Africans as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles.” Their problem, he opined, was “not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”
Sounds like good Foreign Secretary material to me – back when Rudyard Kipling was the poet laureate of jingoism, and the sun never set on the Empire.
Across the Channel, things are not much better. The big stuff is getting decidedly dark. The French president has put his country under what looks more and more like a permanent state of emergency. The government has used its extraordinary new police and anti-terror powers to round up and arrest hundreds of its own citizens. Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality — the clarion call of one of the world’s most famous revolutions — has morphed into an obsession with policing. Strange that. Civil rights are cancelled but terrorist attacks increase. The French once exported the Statue of Liberty to America. Today they are building a Statue of Oppression at home.
Even the little things have become outrageous in the land of Flaubert and Napoleon. What sort of a leader, or socialist for that matter, would spend 10,000 Euros a month of the public’s money on a hairdresser? Boris Johnson this guy is not. You will see more hair on a pork roast than on Hollande’s publicly maintained, well-quaffed pate. You could cut it with tweezers.
But if you really want to understand the art of political sinking you have to bring the United States into the conversation.
Look at the choice facing Americans in this November’s presidential election — a political lifer investigated by the FBI for possible breaches of national security while Secretary of State; versus a to-the-manor-born ignoramus with a Jesus complex whose idea of big, international news is a new irrigation system for his golf course in Scotland.
Canadians shouldn’t feel superior. The country’s biggest city was smitten with the late Rob Ford, a boozing crackhead who made Sarah Palin look like a mental giant. For a decade, Stephen Harper ran the big show in this country like Tayyip Erdogan’s older brother, smothering democracy, diminishing and domesticating the media, and telling more stretchers than even Trump.
Depending on the outcome of the momentous Muskoka Summit, Canadians may yet have the opportunity to vote for their very own venal reality TV star, or rather asteroid, in the person of Kevin O’Leary. It all depends on who has the bigger ego — Gazebo Tony (Clement), who has thrown his hat into the CPC leadership race, or Canada’s very own Little Donald.
There are lots of theories to account for the emergence of the idiot factor in politics, including bad TV, lazy journalism, and disengaged citizens. Here is mine: When things get so bad that the leaders can no longer be honest with their citizens about the true state of affairs and the real causes for it, and the citizens are either too fatigued or too cynical to figure things out for themselves, a search commences for scapegoats.
Next to money, scapegoats are the mother’s milk of modern politics.
When created (and test marketed), scapegoats provide the simple, easily understood explanation of why things have gone in the crapper – and much more importantly, the simple and easily understood remedies for setting things straight. These remedies are about as intellectually sound as phrenology and faith-healing. But they are emotionally appealing, particularly when every government in the world now uses fear to keep the Plankton People under control.
Frightened people always have an index finger ready to point to the external causes of their woes. They’re also more likely to ignore any part they played in creating the morass like, say, invading Iraq in the first place.
So with this clever mix of fear, amnesia and a penchant for inflaming passions, can the Trumpian connection between ISIS and racial tension in America be far behind?
Author: Michael Harris