Fascist rhetoric in the Tory party
But I think there’s a case, assuming it’s authentic, for treating it with concern rather than derision; it’s concerning not because it’s so stupid in the context of Johnson’s own elite status, but because it expresses so clearly a core element of fascist doctrine.
That doctrinal element is that the leader embodies the spirit of the nation, by some kind of special power of absorption.
Or, in Mussolini’s famous phrasing “this higher personality becomes a nation.”
The important term here is “raw instincts”, as comedian Matt Green at least half gets. It’s not a big jump from this phrasing to the idea that anyone opposing Johnson does not have the same instincts, and is therefore instinctively a traitor, whatever their upbringing.
Of course it’s not clear whether the “ally” really understands that his rhetoric has this fascist bent. I suspect not, and for the usual Arendtian reasons the fact that this core idea is already so deeply embedded in the langauge of Jonhsonism may be all the more concerning.
That is not to say that a Johnsonian fascism is imminent, because the rule of law still does hold, but the comments of the “ally” should also be seen in the context of this national populist enabler-of-sorts, preparing the ground got a post-Johnson leader in a comment on the same day:
What this enabler-of-sorts understands, as do people like Cummings when he refers to Johnson as a now-unstable trolley near the end of its useful life, is that Johnson himself may be near the end of his usefulness as “insurgent”, but that the next, more extreme, leader may be able to do a better job.
Or as Goodwin puts it, to be ‘insurgent’ enough.
In that respect, it may be correct, as I suggested a couple of years ago, — to see the aristocrat Johnson not as fascist wanabee himself, but as a Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen figure, useful to the next nation-embodying leader precisely because of his perceived failure to do what was needed: