Commentary. Whatever comes of the referendum, the Leave-Remain divide has split the conservative party in two.

Johnson strikes again, comparing the E.U. to Hitler

We might call it “Hitler-lalia”: the compulsion to mention Hitler during a contradictory argument. That language dysfunction lately has hit former London mayor especially.

Once again, Boris Johnson was in the spotlight. In his pompous verbosity, he took Hitler out of the hat, rivaling with his former adversary — also a former mayor — Ken Livingstone. But, while Livingstone has only mentioned the Nazi dictator among the “Zionists” — a misstep he paid for with a temporary suspension from the Labour Party — Johnson thinks the E.U. is the one deserving of comparison to the Austrian dictator.

Interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, the newspaper where he writes, Johnson expressed himself this way at the end of last week, in relation to the attempt to unify Europe, a constant Chimera attained only by Imperial Rome and, since then, tirelessly avoided by Imperial London; “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The E.U. is an attempt to do this by different methods.”

This historical-populist faction of the pro-Leave movement is suffering from the Trump effect. It’s a cultural sub-product of the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain in a moment in which, on both sides of the Atlantic, the two biggest liberal democracies in the Anglo-sphere are getting ready, respectively, to elect the U.S. president and to decide whether to remain in the E.U.

In Johnson’s recipe, the Yankee billionaire politician’s cruel rhetoric is marinated in an Oxford-style brainiac quotation — into which the aspiring future premier has fully tapped in his recent biography of Winston Churchill. In fact, for Johnson, the alternative to an actual climb toward the leadership would be a miserable senility as a backbencher-hagiographist of Churchill himself, the symbolic and multi-usable leader employed by him with an enviable comfort in sustaining this assertion now, and that assertion later.

For example, the porno-libertarian TTIP treaty, defined by Johnson a year and a half ago as “Churchillian” is now ill-fated because it’ll end up damaging the public health. Everything can be useful to the Euroskeptic Tories as long as they can inebriate the anti-political masses in an epic national self-determination which refuses what’s dictated by Brussels-Babylon. Not only that, but stirring up populist chauvinism worse than Farage, who, until a short while before, was leading England’s supporters to sing their usual slogan “Two World Wars, One World Cup,” in matches against Germany.

“The Italians, who used to be a great motor-manufacturing power, have been absolutely destroyed by the euro — as was intended by the Germans. … This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting in my view out of control,” Johnson said.

Europe has always been that thing capable of periodically transforming the conservative party into a rugby scrum. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, one thing is certain: It will leave a split party, even as labor, conservatives and liberal-democrat leaders engage in an indefatigable campaign for Remain. In their multi-party jubilation, every day brings more terrorizing official warnings related to the future of the economy in the event of an exit.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!