Last week, I noted that Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London—which is not, by the way, the same thing as Lord Mayor of London, for reasons it would take much too long to explain—was being spoken of as the likely next Prime Minister over there, David Cameron having said he will step down after the triumph of Brexit.
I murmured my disapproval of this, as Boris Johnson was an Open-Borders guy last time I looked. I also had some slight personal intercourse with Mr. Johnson when he was editor of the London Spectator ten years ago. What with one thing and another, my impression of him was of an unprincipled lightweight.
Well, midweek Johnson took himself out of his party's leadership contest. The official reason for withdrawing was that he couldn't find enough support from colleagues. Boris, if you'll excuse an operatic pun, was not good enough.
I'm skeptical about that; but maybe just because I'm skeptical of anything this guy says. Whatever: his dropping out makes me happy.
If there truly is an afterlife, it will also make the shade of Sir Winston Churchill happy. Apparently aware of the fact that a great many people, not just me, regarded him as light as a feather, unreliable, and not a team player, Boris Johnson seems to have been trying to work the analogy with Churchill. It's been forgotten now, except by historians, that Churchill was not a popular figure in his party before WW2. Many of the unkind things being said about Boris Johnson were said about Churchill.
Johnson's been mining that little vein for all it's worth. Two years ago he actually published a book about Churchill. "You see," he's been saying, "they were dubious about this guy, too, but he won the war and got a state funeral at last!"
The strategy didn't work. Once again, I'm glad, and so is Sir Winston, somewhere.
More Brexit echoes (Brechoes?): The fun thing for us red-pill types has been watching as progressives' heads explode. "Britain's senseless, self-inflicted blow," wailed The Economist over Britain's decision. It was particularly upset that the flood of people into Britain from poor countries in Eastern and Southern Europe was a factor in the vote for leaving. Those stupid voters! Quote:
Without migrants from the EU, schools, hospitals and industries such as farming and the building trade would be short of labour.Well, here's a funny thing. When I was a kid in England, back in the 1950s, immigration levels were very low. In fact there was net e-migration to Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Yet England somehow found enough schoolteachers, doctors, nurses, farmers, and construction crews.
A tragic split, June 24th 2016
Amazing! How did we manage? I guess we defied the laws of economics somehow.
In the New York Times, hardcore progressive nitwit Roger Cohen declared himself "overcome by gloom" at the Brexit decision. Further quote from Cohen, who lives in London:
It's not just the stupidity of the decision. It's not merely the lies of the charlatans who led the "Leave" campaign … It's not even the betrayal of British youth. It's far more: a personal loss. Europa, however flawed, was the dream of my generation.Mr. Cohen [Email him] was born in 1955. The dream of his generation, huh? Well, it was the dream of metropolitan transnationalist progressives of his generation, no doubt.
Britain to Leave Europe for a Lie, June 27, 2016
After 700 more words of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Cohen concludes:
The union … will not die because of this imbecilic vote, but something broke—a form of optimism about humankind, the promise of 1989.Oh my gosh, I'm coming over all verklempt. Could we have some sad violin music, please? [Sad violin music] …
My children will not inherit the Europe I hoped for. I look at my hands and see my father's emerging, the veins now more pronounced. Life feels diminished.
OK, that'll do.
The New Yorker, though of course full of contempt for the nativist rubes who want to live in a familiar and distinctive nation-state rather than a gigantic airport departure lounge, none the less managed to locate one of the key points in its July 4th issue.
The older you were, the more skeptical you were of the European project. The working-class vote in the North of England, traditionally loyal to the left, swung unmistakably away from the E.U. … Londoners leaned heavily toward the E.U., whereas, along the east coast (the stretch that faces Europe), fears about immigration engendered a vehement vote against. Rural folk, visiting London, have been known to complain that it feels like a foreign city—a Babel of competing tongues, where your latte is brewed by an Estonian and served by a Pole. That is precisely what Babel-dwellers love about the place; the hubbub, to a Londoner as to a New Yorker, is a mark of the cosmopolitan experience—ideal background noise, for the beat of a tolerant heart. If you don't like the soundtrack of otherness, go back to the land.Well, yes. There are big multiethnic cosmopolitan cities, and there's a quiet, conservative heartland. Some people prefer the one, some prefer the other. What's more, a lot of people prefer the one thing when they're young, the other thing when they're older.
E.U. Later, by Anthony Lane, July 4, 2016
When I was eighteen I couldn't wait to get out of the sleepy provincial town I grew up in. I moved to London; and thereafter, through my twenties and thirties and some of my forties, I lived mostly in the…hubbub of big cosmopolitan cities: Hong Kong, London again, New York, London again, New York again.
Then I decided to start a family, so I moved to the 'burbs—to one of those places that progressives sneer at as "white-bread."
So what had happened to my heart there? According to the New Yorker’s Lane, it went from being tolerant to being intolerant at age 47. What, I got a heart transplant?
And, again according to Lane, I suddenly stopped liking "the soundtrack of otherness."
But no I didn't. I just thought that for raising kids, somewhere quieter, more stable, more uniform, more…Go ahead, say it, Derb! Say it!—more white-bread would be better.
Of course a writer for the New Yorker favors that cosmopolitan hubbub. The name of the magazine is New Yorker, duh. But not wanting that doesn't make you an evil person with an intolerant heart. And if you want it when you're 27 but not when you're 47, you didn't become an evil person with an intolerant heart by some kind of physiological transformation, like a menopause.
Good grief, it's like talking to little children here.
And no, it's not so much the Estonian brewing their coffee or the Pole serving it that Brexiteers mind. It's whole neighborhoods purged of white English people, turned into Little Pakistans, Little Bangladeshes, Little Somalias. No, those aren't immigrants from Europe. But if Angela Merkel has her way, they soon will be, tens of millions of them. That's what people voted against.
When you're young and carefree and not very serious about anything, a cosmopolitan city is a fun place to live. As you get older, more settled, and wiser, the heartland pulls you back—unless, like Roger Cohen, you never knew it in the first place.
Brits voted to leave the EU because they saw their heartland disappearing, swamped by strangers. It dawned on them that the transnational elites who run the world hate heartlands and want to destroy them. The elites want everywhere—every town, every village, every street—to be just like a big cosmopolitan city.
The elites are uniformitarians. They know what they like, and they insist everyone else like it too.
Well, sorry, but a lot of us don't like it. Some of us never liked it. Some of us liked it in our twenties but don't like it any more.
Is this so hard to understand?
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He's had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
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