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Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage

Boris Johnson, Donald Trump: welcome to a world run by racists & charlatans

The leaders of the free world have generated support by repeatedly playing on people’s fears about ‘the other’ – it must be fought against

TextGAIKA

GAIKA is Dazed’s politics editor-at-large – an artist and writer from Brixton with parents of Jamaican and Grenadian heritage, his vital music speaks with an anti-racist, anti-capitalist message to a generation that needs to be galvanised against the current, corrosive political system. Here, he reflects on the incoming prime minister Boris Johnson, his relationship with Donald Trump, and what we must do to combat the establishment he leads.

Donald Trump is president of the United States because he is a racist who ran a blatantly racist campaign. I knew he was going to win the moment he announced his intention to run for that reason alone.

In the UK, we are now governed by a man who described Africans as flag-waving Picanninies with watermelon smiles. He described Muslim women as bankrobbers and letterboxes in national print. But Boris Johnson finessing his way to number 10 should not be a surprise: the man is someone willing to bathe in the gutter in return for power, no matter how immoral the process may have been. Trump congratulated Johnson, describing him as a “good man who will get Brexit done”, while also alluding to the fact that he’s known as “Britain’s Trump”– it’s revealing of how ideologically close the men will publicly say they are.

Johnson will be spectacularly unpopular and his tenure may not last long, but his presence is incredibly damaging. Already he’s overseen a vengeful reshuffle of the cabinet, described as the most right-wing in history. Precarious parliamentary arithmetic on both sides of the Atlantic will force him closer to Trump, resulting in a transatlantic coalition of the right defined by deliberate polarisation in concealment of corporate chicanery.

Racism is a useful tool in maintaining the dominion of the many by the few. It justifies the exploitation of marginalised people. It does so for the material gain of those at the apex of the economic pyramid, and keeps the pyramid itself in shape by refocusing the people in each layer against each other. Notions of racial supremacy are rarely executed nakedly and alone. They are often mystified by complex philosophies that seek to conjoin race, gender and sexuality-based prejudices with commitments to nation and identity, blood and soil.

Trump, Johnson, and their ilk generate support by repeatedly playing on fears regarding physical replacement of people and culture, guilt and hidden fear of retribution, like the abhorrent Leave campaign and the rhetoric around ICE and caged children.

Whomever the invented enemy of the day is, the message from these politicians is clear: “Our white European, Christian-led society is best and is somehow under threat from monstrous dark marauders. Vote for me and I’ll make them go away”. The fear mongering is crystallised at hysterical mass gatherings, with discord softly intellectualised by reactionary right-wing journalists. The dehumanisation of perceived outsiders is solidified by state-sanctioned brutalism from the police, the judiciary, the military and immigration agents.

As immigrant and minority communities, do we continue to sit complicit in our own damage, do we run, or do we stand and fight? The migrant camps in America and African bodies in the Mediterranean Sea are a sharp reminder of our own precarious position today. You don’t have to go far on the internet to find people loudly expressing and normalising views that were once confined to football terraces and kitchen tables. When do we take a stand and say enough is enough?

“You don’t have to go far on the internet to find people loudly expressing and normalising views that were once confined to football terraces and kitchen tables. When do we take a stand and say enough is enough?”

We are witnessing worldwide attempts to undo the strides made towards equality within multicultural societies in the aftermath of World War II. The reason for this is simple – assaulting the perceived territorial gains of minorities and new immigrants can win votes in white majority countries. The financial crash and the following decade of austerity left large numbers of working-class white people disillusioned and plenty of middle-class white people fearful of losing their previous positions of comfort. Trump’s most vocal supporters aren’t necessarily the laid-off factory workers in the rust belt that the media often frames them as, but the small business owners with golf club memberships who can see the poverty and deprivation in the towns around them and worry that they might be next. Likewise, the staunchest Brexiteers aren’t all white van drivers living on council estates, but country club Little Englanders like Nigel Farage. More generally, the societal failures of unrestrained capitalism and the changing nature of work itself have widened the gap between rich and poor. And for the rich It’s easier to vilify us, the ‘other people’, than it is to redistribute wealth.

It’s made all the more possible when we sit, watch, and do nothing.

Culture matters: it’s the battlefield we can fight on before the bloodletting starts. 

Art deliberately voided of depth and meaning creates a thought vacuum in which seeds of apathy flourish. The forward steps made in the civil rights movement went hand-in-hand with the art and music that surrounded it. Instead of merely looking back with nostalgia, we must counter those who wish to break us for their own wretched benefit with a vigorous defence of the values we hold dear and a sustained push for an even playing field for everyone. Alone we are atomised entertainers, makers and consumers,tiny units of resistance to an insidious evil we must overcome. 

Let’s stand together and fight against racism properly.