In which I revisit Boris Johnson and use him as a lense through which to explore my thoughts on history.

Oh Boris, you spoil me. Are you reading my posts? You should. My IQ is so high I don’t even know what it is don’t ya know…Seriously, where to start in all this hideousness? What is going on here? Just the same thing as always I suppose…

People often ask me if I will ever go back to my PhD. (yes that’s right Boris, PhD! after two degrees in RUSSIAN no less. Not much shaking needed for this big juicy cornflake!) The answer is always a resounding no. For a number of reasons, I can’t be bothered, I can’t afford to, I don’t want a career as an academic and so on. But there is One Big Main Reason: I found the answer to the question I was asking. And having found it out, the last thing I feel the need to do is spend a hundred thousand words writing it in a book no-one will ever read…

I had spent years pouring through the travel journals of Scottish missionaries who travelled round Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century. (I am, as you can imagine, a hoot at dinner parties) My issue was, why do such a thing? Russia was a Christian country, why evangelise people who were already Christians? It was in some ways classic orientalism, the Russian peasants may have been nominally Christian but they were still depraved, backward, sensual, illiterate and massively poor. Their rituals, icons and traditions made them little better than pagans, or worse, Catholics. But what ripples through every mage of these writings is insecurity. There is a little too much fascination and ambivalence towards the emotion, the feasting, the liquor and the singing, and there is a marked discomfort with a people who seemed so content to believe their lives of humble service and ritual were bringing glory to their God. And so it became apparent that to mask this insecurity they had a carefully construct a system whereby God had deemed that these people should be poor, therefore it would wrong to help them materially, all that was to be done was to give them bibles so that they might learn the error of their backward barbaric ways. And this construction would become the work of their lives.

And that was my answer. The problem was that rich men needed to find away of making it ok for them to be rich and Christian at the same time. This was done by viewing the perceived backwardness of others, their promiscuity, there depravity, their illiteracy. Over the years, pretty much any historical nastiness can be attributed to this same cause. Because whether you believe a word of it yourself, whether their is a grain of truth in it or behind it, ours is a history shaped and ruled by Christianity in many of its shapes and forms and also by the pursuit of wealth. This is the great clonking insecurity at the centre of pretty much all of it. And nothing which is truly good or creative or beautiful can be borne of insecurity, nothing profound and solid and honest can be built on lies.

I have been keen to explore how boarding schools, nearly always religious in their outlook, have approached the thorny problem of  of justifying having enormous wealth while at the same time professing a faith which states that those who are first will be last, and that those who ignore the cry of the poor have something pretty nasty awaiting them. Again, the processes are lengthy and complex but again, whole systems have been constructed to produce a kind of super masculine, un-miraculous and war-mongering general of a deity, and a religion which is all about the very order and structure of things, rather than people, compassion or emotion. When Darwin came along he was co-opted, not to prove that God did not exist, but to show that God would reveal his favourites through outward signs of their superiority, their looks, their physical strength, their aptitude for rugby and so on.

Does this ring any bells? After all even today Boris, Dave, George et al all claim themselves to be Christian, they will all sit in church and have a little weep to mark the passing of their matriarchs of yesteryear.  Boris is drawing on a long tradition of a little bit of Social Darwinism, the poor are poor because they are somehow naturally inferior, the rich are wealthy because of the mathematical abilities and high IQs, just has the popular boys at school were to be hero-worshipped for their sporting prowess and nice hair. Might our newspapers full of teenage girls prostituting themselves for drugs, our dismissal of whole portions of society as cider-guzzling Jeremy Kyle-watching iliterates might be part of a similar agenda? I have argued before that our whole society is being shaped by a desire for certain men to void the painful truth of their own abandonment, and I would also argue that we are manipulated to help rich Christian gentlemen sleep at night. After all, it is easier for Boris Johnson to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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2 thoughts on “In which I revisit Boris Johnson and use him as a lense through which to explore my thoughts on history.

  1. Robert Hare’s Checklist of Psychopathy Symptoms:

    1. GLIB AND SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. He can also be a great listener, to simulate empathy while zeroing in on his targets’ dreams and vulnerabilities, to be able to manipulate them better.

    2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH — a grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

    3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM — an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

    4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING — can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative and dishonest.

    5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS: the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

    6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT: a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

    7. SHALLOW AFFECT: emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness and superficial warmth.

    8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY: a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

    9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE: an intentional, manipulative, selfis, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline and the inability to carry through one’s responsibilities.

    10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS: expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

    11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR: a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of numerous, multiple relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity (rape) or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits and conquests.

    12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS: a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use and running away from home.

    13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS: an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

    14. IMPULSIVITY: the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations and momentary urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic and reckless.

    15. IRRESPONSIBILITY: repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

    16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS: a failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

    17. MANY SHORT-TERM RELATIONSHIPS: a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including in marital and familial bonds.

    18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

    19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE: a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation or failing to appear.

    20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY: a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes or wrongdoings.

    That the above individuals so described are born not made is a worry……… most folk are predisposed to altruistic behaviour psychopaths are not; they are innately selfish. The evolutionary process on the savannahs did not manage to see off all this people so we “as a species” are stuck with a small number of people like Boris who in his case hides his lack of empathy in his role of “likeable” buffoon

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