The Sunday Mail
It’s quite oxymoronic, isn’t it? Many had hoped that the emergence of populist leaders or political rank outsiders in the United States and Europe would usher in a new wave of liberal pluralistic politics.
Sadly, instead of broadening a futuristic modern democratic system, Western democracies appear to have taken a regressive slide where mendacity is becoming the norm.
It must be saddening to think that the West, which is supposed to be the paragon of virtue, is rescinding into a politically pugnacious state. Things that were once regarded as obnoxiously primitive are coming back to the mainstream discourse couched in all manner of pseudo-nationalistic armour.
It now takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to go through all international news today from the West where United States President Donald Trump is seeking re-election and the Conservative MP Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May.
And all the progressives who are expected to be the guardian angels of this apparent regression appear to be in hypnotic mode typical of an audience anxiously waiting for a different ending to a bamboozling motion picture.
One cannot discern policy from bluster and sadly the advent of social media has not made people more aware, more knowledgeable or more conscious of the regressive spin-along unfolding right on their nose.
Instead, the relentless ferocity at which information is peddled on social media has made millions mere zombies of mediated information as they neither have the will nor the literacy required to verify the information.
As long as any piece of information confirms their biases or confirms their anxieties, then it must be true. We have entered an era where alternative truth is entrenching itself in daily discourses.
Things that were once on the fringes of Western political discourse- overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism- are once again creeping to the centre.
It appears one local politician is doing a very good job of copy and paste this sort of mendacious disposition where facts don’t matter. One simply needs to appeal to the hollow and sometimes the phantasmagorical aspirations to whip people’s motions and sway them in a certain direection.
Already, President Trump has launched his campaign for re-election in 2020.
And if anyone thought his stay at the White House has refined his raucous attitude, then they stand disappointed as the man is not only trying to rekindle his divisive 2016 narrative but has already issued a vague threat to start deporting millions of undocumented migrants next week.
He has already accused Mexico of sending criminals and rapists to the US in his kick off speech. Of course, none of his allegations are empirical but his constituency believe him as this creates some siege mentality in them.
It appears that President Trump thrives on cresting crises abroad, endless scandals and personal feuds.
And across the Atlantic, another rabble-rousing politician is set to be the new Prime Minister of Britain. A former journalist and popular historian, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has been a Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015.
Mr Johnson is also a former Mayor of London and once served as Foreign Secretary between 2016 and 2018. He is one of the few Conservative Party members who has adopted a more socially liberal stance.
Just like Mr Trump, Johnson’s persona evokes both admirers and those reviled by his unconventional antics. His supporters like him for his humour and his appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. However, a large chunk of people on the other political divide accuse him of dishonesty, racism and homophobia.
Writing for the Washington Post on December 6, 2016, “The Danger of Complacency when Liberal Democracy is in Decline,” James Scaffer warned that: “Populist and authoritarian movements might be the very trigger that is needed to reinvigorate democracy.”.
It might be too late to save the empire from a spiralling post-modern political regression sweeping across Europe.
The civilisational mantra of Europe is being shredded into smithereens by political rank-outsiders who are not ashamed to express their homophobic sensibilities couched as nationalist fervour.
What is clear is that real hope for a humane existence lies in Africa. Africa must reinvent new ways of existence and realities as there is growing awareness of political regression taking root in Europe. One gets the sense that capitalism no longer guarantees order; that nothing really exists outside of capitalism beyond a void and Mafioso feudalism that favours authoritarianism.
One really shudders to think of what will become of the West if Trump’s friend, the gaffe-prone Johnson assumes the Prime Minister’s position in Britain.
Besides the fear of Johnson, there is also Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party. Farage was the first British citizen to physically visit and congratulate Trump when he won the U.S 2016 presidential elections.
Like Johnson, Farage is known as an anti-establishment figure who masquerades as having the interests of the common man. But his critics view him as a hard-right demagogue who “flirts with racism.’
Trump, Farage and Johnson have something in common. They all don’t like the EU and we wait to see how Johnson’s leadership of the Conservative Party will pan-out.
Meanwhile, Africa is enjoying the spectacle, munching the popcorn as the debilitating drama in the West unfolds.