Reflections on Donald Trump, Ridicule as a National Pastime, The Sheer Scale of Humanity’s Endless Trauma, The Continuation of Global British Influence and the Troubling Legacy of Winston Churchill
Yes, Donald. It can’t get any better than poor, misbehaving Donald Trump having been sent off to Military Boarding School (in America). Watch the BFG and see if Mr. Trump doesn’t remind you of the head Giant. “According to biographers, Trump’s father was a workaholic, a ruthless, cold and authoritarian man who believed life is a competition where the “killers” win.” He passed his bigotry and trauma on to Donald, who has apparently been known to keep a book of Hitler’s speeches at his bedside. His life story is similar to all the other traumatized figures in this piece. Rest assured, that Mr. Trump has suffered – mightily. He recently suggested to the Pakistani-American father who lost his son in combat that he, Mr. Trump, had sacrificed as much as Mr. and Mrs. Khan. Of course, he was roundly condemned for his apparently absurd comment, which he then doubled down on for good measure.
How on earth do you so irresponsibly – politically, let alone morally – throw good money after bad following such a damaging statement? We write him off as a fool, but his life and actions reveal deeper truths.
Many people are genuinely afraid of Mr. Trump. That they are correct to be concerned is ironically and frighteningly displayed in this video of Mr. Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, recounting their father’s foundational advice when they were 11 and 4 years old, respectively. It is with pride that the brothers speak of their father telling them that they must never trust anyone, including each other, and including himself, their father. What a thing to tell your children. Why would Mr. Trump tell them that? It’s not because he’s just a sociopathic jerk, though that’s the result of his life experience. It’s because he has unquestionably – yes unquestionably – been visited with extreme betrayal in his childhood; and the extremity of this betrayal, on one end of the continuum, mirrors the extremity of the absence of trust that he so unconsciously bequeaths to his sons, who continue the tradition. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Even as adults, the dissociated brothers see nothing wrong with their father’s approach. On the contrary they laud it as superior parenting. But if we don’t trust our parents, our Gods, then how can we trust life. That’s exactly the point for Mr. Trump. Life is not to be trusted. Only someone who has come from trauma and betrayal feels this way. Earnestly believing he is helping his children, Mr. Trump brands his “wisdom” onto his children’s foreheads, for all to see. It’s the right thing to do. To Mr. Trump, anything other than this realpolitik approach would be naïve and irresponsible.
A person who has no trust is capable of the gravest actions.
So, in a way, Mr. Trump has sacrificed more than Mr. and Mrs. Khan. The Khans’ lost a son yet exude dignity and decency. At some point, unable to cope, Mr. Trump lost himself, as do so many boys and men who experience extreme RMP families and institutions do, including many of our leaders. He sacrificed himself to survive. The alarming consequences are on display for the world to see; alarming because, like some Brits, 40% of Americans are so far gone with their disgust towards the establishment that they will consider voting for such a man. Dig a little deeper and understand that these people are an energetic match for Mr. Trump. There are a lot of lost and disillusioned souls out there, and they just don’t give a shit anymore. Scary stuff.
Is Donald Trump not the terrifying manifestation of the betrayed soul, taking out his frustrations on the world? Boris to the nth degree. Of course, all over the world, including in the UK, Mr. Trump is ridiculed and mocked. As for his supporters, we throw them under the bus as well because of how unconscious they must be – just like the Brexiters. How stupid are these people anyway? Meanwhile, the more his supporters are derided, the more emboldened and unreasonable they become. Why? Because not only don’t we recognize that they are angry and lost, just like Mr. Trump, we are unable to muster the compassion and non-judgment required to get through to them. Instead, we do the worst possible thing: we’re assholes towards them; we take the piss.
Remember when a segment of the British Parliament debated banning Donald Trump from entering the country? This one-minute clip was shown the world-over, including in the United States, where it was great fodder for press and comedians alike.
One gets the impression from the clip that the debate consisted of nothing other than taking the piss out of Mr. Trump; puns and wise-cracks galore; a real opportunity for the country’s leadership to show off their top-drawer roasting skills.
Interestingly, when you read the transcript of the entire debate, it’s clear that there were actually many more measured voices among the group, such as that of Conservative Sir Edward Leigh who opined that care should be taken since: “This man [Trump] may conceivably become President of our most important ally.” Not very sexy to be sure. He also said that: (1) the debate just gives Mr. Trump more publicity; and (2) “We must be wary of lowering ourselves to demagoguery in fighting demagogues.”
MP Alex Chalk, the man who has the last word in the clip, says, “… May I suggest that this is actually about buffoonery? Ultimately, buffoonery should be met not with the blunt instrument of a ban, but with the classic British response of Ridicule” – to the shouts of ‘here here’. This was the extent of Mr. Chalk’s contribution. Despite the inanity of the process as a whole, most other speakers provided at least some level of insight into Mr. Trump and his potential to cause unrest in the UK. Not Mr. Chalk, who nonetheless masterfully recognized the opportunity for self-promotion, including retweeting his moment in the sun (on January 19, 2016, the day of the debate). Heavens did he deliver, unleashing the zinger of the session; a succinct sound-bite that goes for the jugular. Pats on the back all around.
Any guesses at to which gentlemen, Sir Edward or Alex Chalk, attended the elite of elite 600 year-old Boarding School Winchester College, followed by Oxford?
Of course, one need not be an ex-boarder to be judgmental. On the contrary, Mr. Chalk has wonderfully summarized a key British characteristic that permeates the culture, the humour and the Parliament: Ridicule.
Taking the piss is one of Britain’s favourite pastimes. Who laughed after watching Mr. Chalk’s clever quip? We all did apparently. Because that’s what we do. Identify a person’s greatest vulnerability and make fun of it. And make sure to give them a few extra kicks when they’re down. (ie) Boris the ‘clown’. It is de rigueur in all the Anglo countries. Hilarious really. Just like when we were kids in the playground. Hilarious for everyone else except the recipient.
As with addiction and racism in Britain and the Anglo World, ridicule also crosses class lines.
The same thing that is happening in the UK is firing on all cylinders in the US. A Washington Post analysis discovered that Trump’s main source of support were young, male, white, without a university degree, disenfranchised, voiceless, threatened from the outside and racially unprogressive. Sound Familiar? America, Canada and Australia, and scores of other countries to similar or lesser degrees, are underpinned by the particularly British Rational Man Project. British men were responsible for laying the governmental, economic, legal and cultural systems of these countries. Hence, Slavery (not just in the US) and the grotesque treatment of Indigenous People in all three countries. The inability of RMP systems to look within, means that all three countries have only scraped the surface when it comes to addressing what has been perpetrated on their respective Indigenous peoples.
Despite our need to believe that these issues are from the distant past, Canadian residential schools were still open in the 1980s. A recent shocking report out of Australia where imprisoned juveniles, 90% of whom are Aboriginal, have been subjected to outright torture, should be earth-shaking – with techniques employed against alleged terrorists in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay used against CHILDREN. Shocking is an understatement, which also describes the typical governmental reaction to such revelations – a royal commission that will present a report by next year. It would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. These are children who have been betrayed by a racist system, whose people have been so vandalized that they understandably – at least to someone with empathy – have a devil of time creating a functioning life. Who among us would fare better under the emotionally and financially decrepit conditions that many Indigenous children grow up in? We look down on them and wonder what their problem is. We castigate them for their addictions, while many of us are ourselves only functioning via our addictions. The contradiction is fantastic – and predictable. What we disown in ourselves we disown in others. What we cannot own continues to hang over us like a toxic ether that we share with the world.
In Britain and the Anglo world we like to think we live in post-racist world. We keep being shown that the reality could not be further from the truth. One ironic truth is that the working class people we systematically abuse have more in common with the lowly natives all around the world, as both parties are slaves to the whims of an out-of-touch elite.
Many people, especially in the working class demographic, have had enough. There is a sense of futility. Manufacturing has been decimated in their countries. Opportunities are few and far between. The American Dream is apt because it has been nothing more than a fantasy for decades. So, damn right they are upset. When things are this out of whack it eventually becomes obvious, even to the peasants. When things are this off-kilter, how can we expect anything other than the shenanigans of Donald Trump? We are only shocked because we are the fish in the sea not recognizing that Mr. Trump is the canary in the coalmine. Actually, he’s not a canary any longer, he’s an Albatross. While the mainstream Rational Man Project seeks at every turn to present him as the fool – which is rather easy to do – they miss the point: Donald Trump, fool as he may be, keeps revealing enough truth about the corrupt establishment system that those who are at the very end of their rope are actually willing to listen.
We have a choice in dealing with these angry, mostly white, men. We can fiercely reject them and dissociate from them, which will only further entrench their rage. Or, we can see them for who they are: angry beacons shining a blinding light into our eyes. In one direction is tyranny. We have been there. We’re being tested again. It seems like early days, but as we have learned from history, things can get out of hand pretty fast if a critical mass is reached.
Alternatively, we undertake the hard work; the hardest work there is. Namely, recognizing that they, and our wounded leaders, actually represent all of us. Foundationally exact, yet superficially opposites, they reveal to us who we actually are. Via the Rational Man Project and the economic imperative for infinite growth, many of us are so busy running and running and running, we can’t see its effect, dulled and distracted by our cocktail of addictions and avoidances.
“People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are.” – Aldous Huxley (another Boarding School attendee with additional personal trauma. His nickname was “Ogie”, short for Ogre. School must have been fun.)
The focus of this piece has been the particularly British form of the Rational Man Project. Of course, as we can plainly see, left-brain, rational patriarchy dominates much of world, resulting in global RMP misogyny, racism and classism.
In most countries, there is a dearth of empathy; the feminine energy quashed. Patriarchal religion has fundamentally undermined the feminine for millennia. The mode and method of this subjugation is different in every country depending on a myriad of factors especially with respect to the religion that dominated before the arrival of the Age of Reason. With Britain being the last great empire, and with the United States being recent history’s lighter version of empire, the British way of doing things holds sway in large swathes of the world, even in places the British didn’t colonise. After all, Britain has in its history invaded 9 out of 10 countries of the world and the United States currently has 800 military bases around the world (with American military presence in 160 countries), while all the rest of the countries of the world, including Britain, France and Russia have a grand total of 30! The BBC World Service is the most watched source of news information in the world – and its reach is only expanding. We don’t need statistics to know the class of those global non-Brits watching the BBC. Furthermore, for a century, the elite from all over the world, including from Russia, China, South Korea, The Middle East and India have sent their children to British, American & Swiss private and boarding schools – and that trend has reached record levels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (and her son) and Gandhi, among many others, were educated in Britain. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un attended a Swiss boarding school.
Meanwhile, top British boarding schools (Harrow, Marlborough, Wellington College and Dulwich College) have recently opened locations all around the world, especially in China, providing local elites further opportunities for their children to receive the best education in the world. “Our culture values a Western education more than a local education, probably due to our colonial mentality,” notes Matthew Manotoc, a grandson of Filipino ruler Ferdinand Marcos. Manotoc went to university in the US, as did his mother… And it’s just not a matter of colonial submissiveness. As Prince Asfa-Wossen, the European-educated son of the last president of Ethiopia’s Imperial Crown Council observes, foreign leaders send their children to schools and universities in the West “because they want them to get a good education, but also because they identify with the values and culture of the West”.
The deep and recent British influence is why the entire world is taken with Brexit and many things British, including the Royal Family.
So many of us, within our own lives and via our lineage, have endured the Boarding Schools that are our lives marred by profound personal tragedy and betrayal. Extrapolate that to an entire nation, and then to the world and we get massive collective rrauma. In our instant gratification world that has become governed by the next election or economic quarter, and the 24 hour news cycle, we are inundated with trauma that we just as quickly shunt aside. In order to protect ourselves, just like boys in Boarding School, we become desensitized to the psychological and physical violence. This mode of living has become normalized. So, we avoid and ignore our own pain, too busy with our ludicrously adrenalized lives. Paradoxically, then we subject ourselves to secondary trauma by ingesting alarming amounts of violence via news, film, TV, video games and pornography. Notice how the intensity levels of all of these forms of entertainment have gone through the roof, keeping us on our toes as if there is a terrorist, serial killer or pedophile around every corner? But that’s what it feels like, doesn’t it? Why?
Question: If the statistics show that global deaths from conflict have been on a consistently downward trend since WWII, why are so many people so pessimistic and fearful?
Take a look at this graph:
Firstly, note that almost all of the worst conflicts since 1400 have involved inter-European combat. Secondly, if you then take a look at the data used to create this graph, one thing will jump out at you: the vast majority of deaths from conflict since about 1400 have resulted from inter-European war or European aggression against the people of the world. So, while we continually demonize people of other races and religions, it is Christian, White Europeans who have wreaked the vast majority of the havoc in the world. Thirdly, notice that while the death figures are down since WWII, our present day deaths per 100,000 is comparable to that of many periods of the past. What does it say that our current global conflict death rates are similar to those from the horrid medieval times? With all of our civility and technology, has anything really changed? Beyond the facade, the answer is pretty clear. Things feel out of hand because they are – and people are feeling it.
Here is a tiny taste of the trauma and betrayal that human beings have doled out and received over the last 150 years;
(a) ongoing blowback from the mistreatment and genocide of Native peoples during colonisation
(b) WWI and WWII
(d) Iraq, Afghanistan and historical malfeasance in the Middle East
(e) Recent London attacks
(2) The United States:
(a) Brutalization of Native Americans
(c) The Civil War, pitting American against American
(e) dropping Atomic bombs on Japan
(f) Vietnam War
(g) Support of despotic fascist regimes in Central and South America and The Middle East
(i) Perpetual War in Afghanistan and Iraq
(a) Hundreds of thousands of women raped and many millions of civilians killed by the invading Japanese between 1937 and 1945, including the savage Rape of Nanking
(b) the Trauma of Chinese Communism under Mao started in 1949 and continues to aggressively limit the human experience
(c) The Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s which resulted in a mind-boggling 30 million Chinese murdered by their own (and these are the “official” figures)
(d) Tianenman Square
(a) committed mass genocide in China, including the famous Rape of Nanking, as well as the systematic torture and killing of POWs in their care. The history of Japanese atrocities in the 1930s and 1940s is incomprehensible
(b) being the Perpetrators and Victims in WWII, culminating in suffering through the Atomic bombs and the shame of defeat
(c) Large scale rape and slavery of thousands of Korean women during WWII
(a) WWI and its aftermath
(b) WWII, the Holocaust and the murder of millions of other people, and the breaking up of the country
(a) Brutal colonial action in Algeria (ending as recently as the early 1960s; some 1.5 million Algerians were murdered over a 132 year period, Haiti, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Vietnam
(c) WWII, including collaboration with Nazis.
(a) The continent’s suffering is enough to fill many volumes but just the colonial genocide and brutality is unfathomable
(b) The Congolese Holocaust at the hands of the Belgians laid the groundwork for the more well-known mass genocides of the 20th century
(c) South Africa and Apartheid
(d) Starvation in Ethiopia
(e) Egypt, Libya and most of Islamic Africa under violent oppressive regimes, past and present. Etc, Etc.
(8) South and Central America:
(a) Spanish and Portuguese colonial genocide and repression
(b) In the 20th Century, most of the countries experienced fascist regimes that terrorized the people, with America having a hand in the savagery
(9) Russia: an endless history of oppression and violence that continues to this day, internally and externally.
(10) Eastern Europe: massive suffering during WWII followed by ruthless Soviet repression
(11) Former Yugoslavia: the dissolution of a country in devastating fashion
(12) Vietnam, Cambodia and South East Asia
(13) Israel and Palestine and the Middle East in general. Syria. Lebanon.
On and on the list goes. Infinite brutality. Infinite pain. Infinite trauma. Infinite betrayal. For perpetrators. For victims. The beautiful and the wondrous in humanity decimated. Some contend that this is simply humanity: selfish, greedy assholes who will take advantage when given the chance. After all, so few countries have taken responsibility for their past actions.
Any meaningful admission of wrong-doing, even in a recent and clear cut case like Iraq? Any reparations paid? The Rational Man Project does not allow for the self-reflection that would be required to elicit healing for Britons, both as perpetrator and victim of their own perpetration. This inability to take responsibility for morally reprehensible behaviour has meant that the overt racism of the past, never having been properly owned and repudiated, still remains, ready to rear its ugly head under duress.
Are these traumas ancient history? “What are you going on about? That was 150 years ago!” The American Civil War was in 1860. As we witness America falling apart, does it feel like that history is in the distant past? Does it feel like we’re done with the problems of slavery? Does it feel like many Southern, white American men have gotten over a conflict that took place 150 years ago? The disowned traumas and betrayals of even generations past remain with us until we do right by them. America’s weighty baggage is threatening to take it under. Though the situation in Britain is not quite as dire as that in the US, it is on the same destructive path – though many are incapable of seeing the patterns at work; patterns that connect the likes of Tony Blair to the demigod, Winston Churchill.
Mr. Churchill is arguably the most admired Brit of all time. His role in rallying Britain to survive against, and then defeat, the Nazis is the stuff of legend. However, if we take in his entire record, should Mr. Churchill be so appreciated, so deified?
First, the anticipated and traumatic background:
“With limited contact with his parents, Churchill became very close to his nanny… attended Harrow School from the age of 13… he was a stocky boy with red hair who talked with a stutter and a lisp… he did poorly in his schoolwork… he hated Harrow. His mother rarely visited him, and he wrote letters begging her either to come to the school or to allow him to come home. His relationship with his father was distant; he once remarked that they barely spoke to one another… Churchill had a lateral lisp that continued throughout his career, reported consistently by journalists of the time and later. Authors writing in the 1920s and 1930s, before sound recording became common, also mentioned Churchill having a stutter, describing it in terms such as “severe” or “agonising”.
Boris before Boris.
Mr. Churchill married Clementine in 1908. What was Clementine’s back-story? Childhood trauma arising from, at the least, infidelity and betrayal. It’s hard to keep up with the multiple levels of trauma which Clementine carried with her into her marriage with Mr. Churchill – and into motherhood. It’s hard to be a good mother when your understanding of what mother is has been reflected back to you by a negligent mother – who herself, no doubt, has been beset by the very same dynamic. And so the pattern endures.
As with Mr. Churchill’s early life, and those of most Royalty and nobility, his children were usually left in the care of governesses. On one such typical occasion in 1921, while Churchill was away for work and Clementine was away on a tennis adventure, their three year old daughter Marigold died of septicaemia – sans parents.
Churchill then “received word that his nanny, Mrs. Everest, was dying; he then returned to England and stayed with her for a week until she died. He wrote in his journal, ‘She was my favourite friend.’ In My Early Life he wrote: ‘She had been my dearest and most intimate friend during the whole of the twenty years I had lived… She served as his confidante, nurse, and mother substitute’ …”
As with so many of his privileged brothers and sisters, we see the characteristic neglect and betrayal of Mr. Churchill by his absentee parents. It was truly a godsend that he adored his nanny so much; nannies and matrons of the day were generally not so lovable. But between the abject parental neglect of young Winston, and his desperate, unrequited letters, the stage was set for a dangerously un-empathetic adult. The normalcy of such a state of affairs has no bearing on how a child responds to, and is traumatized by, neglect and/or abuse. If we weren’t so enamored with purely scientific reasons behind why some children develop a stutter or lisp we might notice the obvious. Either way, can it be doubted that he suffered greatly because of his impediments, as child and adult?
With Maya Angelou’s words, “when people show you who they are, believe them”, in mind, this quote from Mr. Churchill may provide some deeper insight into the man:
“When you’re 40, you stop caring what other people think. When you’re 60, you realize that no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”
Mr. Churchill’s accomplishments are well documented, though strangely limited if one views history from a more empathetic perspective. Unfortunately, there is a large body of evidence to show that Mr. Churchill personally made some devastating leadership decisions, which stemmed from his unconscious RMP upbringing.
“Churchill certainly believed in racial hierarchies and eugenics, says John Charmley, author of Churchill: The End of Glory. In Churchill’s view, white protestant Christians were at the top, above white Catholics, while Indians were higher than Africans, he adds. “Churchill saw himself and Britain as being the winners in a social Darwinian hierarchy… Churchill was very much on the far right of British politics over India,” says Charmley. “Even to most Conservatives, let alone Liberals and Labour, Churchill’s views on India between 1929 and 1939 were quite abhorrent… “People sometimes question why on Earth did people not listen to Churchill’s warnings about Hitler in the late 1930s,” says Charmley, “to which the short answer is that he’d used exactly the same language about Gandhi in the early 1930s.”
He said of Gandhi’s peaceful resistance campaign that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” As the resistance swelled, he announced: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
But what should we expect from a man who at Harrow and Sandhurst learned that “the superior white man was conquering the primitive, dark-skinned natives, and bringing them the benefits of civilisation.” Many of us will recoil in reading this. It’s pretty stark. Yet, how different is it from what Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said in 2002: “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers or their citizens scrambled once again in her direction on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.” The disconnect is, as usual, arresting, yet predictable. Recently, in a speech, he called Africa, “that country”. “Doubling down on imperialist rhetoric as his speech this week progressed, Johnson also proudly proclaimed that “the values of global Britain are needed more than ever” along with suggesting that its “beliefs” are responsible for continuing to “lift the world out of poverty”.”
Mr. Johnson is not being obvious on purpose. It just slips out. He’s just mining what is in the air, deeply engrained in our RMP culture; except, as with Donald Trump, his filtering system goes AWOL at the drop of a hat. And then we get the truth, their truth. It’s ugly. We don’t want to see it. Alas, the more we look away, the more intense and absurd the lesson becomes, until we wake up to the fact that Boris Johnson is the Foreign Minister of Great Britain; and he want to be Prime Minister. Dr. Gabor Mate asks, “What does it say about our society that such deeply troubled individuals frequently rise to the top ruling circles, attaining wealth and power and even the admiration of millions?” Isn’t the answer, that many of us are also deeply troubled?
Back to Mr. Churchill, whose actions in Africa, The Middle East and India showed that he simply took what he learned, culturally and at school, and sprinted with it. This knowledge, combined with a foundation of parental betrayal, produced an extreme RMP figure. At a moment in time during WWII, there was some doubt as to whether Britain would prevail over the Nazis. It was a fearful time. The man of the moment was the ultimate survivor – he embodied the survivor spirit of the Brit. He was forged into that within the trenches of childhood. What he brought forth was genuine. The people felt that and embraced Mr. Churchill in that vulnerable moment – and then turned him into the most admired Briton of all time – largely based on that short period of time during the War.
Would he be so admired if the people allowed themselves to see and accept the fuller picture? In a sense, it’s difficult to write this because there is so much invested in Britain’s elevation of Mr. Churchill to hallowed levels. It’s painful when we are challenged to take another look at something which has given us so much strength and value. It means looking within and touching into places unseen and unacknowledged. It shines a light on the places of our greatest sensitivity.
In 2014, Labour candidate Benjamin Whittingham “tweeted that Churchill was ‘a racist and white supremacist’.” Mr. Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, “was outraged… Soames thinks it is ludicrous to attack Churchill. ‘You’re talking about one of the greatest men the world has ever seen, who was a child of the Edwardian age and spoke the language of [it].’ Conservative opponent Ben Wallace labelled the comments ‘ignorant’ and ‘incredibly insulting’.”
The responses of those defending Mr. Churchill are instructive. Firstly, Sir Soames, provides the de facto reason why Mr. Churchill should be revered: He is the consummate British man. Simply due to his station in life, his pedigree, he is to be admired – details be damned. Of course, Mr. Soames’ position can only be held if he subscribes to a revisionist version of Mr. Churchill’s history. Despite the expected apologists, family and Churchill organizations, the actual record does not paint Mr. Churchill in a good light:
(1) Famine in Bengal – “In 1943 a famine broke out in Bengal, caused – as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved – by the imperial policies of the British. Up to 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused. He raged that it was their own fault for ‘breeding like rabbits’.” To confirm, Mr. Churchill ordered food that Indians had grown for Indians, to be forcibly taken from them and sent off to feed British soldiers. Again, it’s easy to focus the blame on Mr. Churchill – until we see that the Colonial Secretary’s actions were consistent with 150 years of British rule in India, including seven previous famines that had killed millions, and exacerbated by criminal British taxation policies which left Indians in the lurch during times of difficulty.
(2) South Africa – Mr. Churchill’s direct influence in restricting Black African rights to own land and vote – which, as we have seen, was perfectly in line with historical British practice in Africa – set the stage for the official policy of Apartheid.
(3) Iraq during and after WWI – when Mr. Churchill, as Colonial Secretary, was responsible for overseeing the invasion of the area he would end up partitioning into, among other countries, Iraq. 40,000 British troops were killed before the locals were subdued. Heaven knows what the Native casualty figures were. The partition was done in a reckless manner that brought together disparate tribes and people including: Sunnis, Shia and Kurds. If that weren’t bad enough, he engineered the installation of a Sunni King, though the Sunnis were in the minority. Fast forward almost a hundred years. While Saddam Hussein was always vilified, and rightly so, for his terrible rule, how was he not anything other than a leader cut from the mould carved by British colonial power? Saddam Hussein was a facsimile of King Faisal, who was appointed by Mr. Churchill in 1921 to rule the new Iraq. He was wholeheartedly supported, economically and militarily, by Britain and the United States; that is, until Mr. Hussein started to violate the rules of the game. Enter: Tony Blair, to do the same-old-same-old, except, because of technology and access to information, the people now have a much better sense of dire consequences of neo-colonial actions. Let us try to imagine the scope of the conflict that started in 1915 that claimed 40,000 British soldiers – during the time of trench warfare. It must have been hell on earth – like now. And how about now? Our empathetic shortcomings makes it all but impossible to comprehend the scale of suffering that people from other parts of the world endure – where the fatalities are in the tens and hundreds of thousands – especially when, as in Iraq, where in the guise of installing democracy, we have had a direct hand in destroying, arguably, the most progressive country in the region.
In short: Britain being Britain. Churchill being Britain. Blair being Britain.
What of Mr. Churchill’s support of eugenics and “compulsory labour camps for ‘mental defectives’”? There were only three members of parliament, who grasped the moral implications of the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, which replaced its predecessor, which went by the wonderfully tone-deaf moniker of The Idiots Act of 1886, and voted against it. Mr. Churchill was not among these enlightened souls. Instead, he specifically advocated for compulsory labour camps for the four classes of citizens: idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons and moral imbeciles.
From the Mental Deficiency Act:
“A person deemed to be an idiot or imbecile might be placed in an institution or under guardianship if the parent or guardian so petitioned, as could a person of any of the four categories under 21 years, as could a person of any category who had been abandoned, neglected, guilty of a crime, in a state institution, habitually drunk, or unable to be schooled. At the height of operation of the Mental Deficiency Act, 65,000 people were placed in “colonies” or in other institutional settings. The act remained in effect until it was repealed” in 1959.
One of the three dissenters was, Member of Parliament, Josiah Wedgwood, who “staged a filibuster against the government’s Mental Deficiency Bill, which he saw as authoritarian and unjust. Over the course of two days in Parliament, he tabled 120 amendments and made 150 speeches in Parliament, sustaining himself with only barley-water and chocolate according to press reports, until his voice gave out.” He also went out on a limb by supporting the Suffragetes. Furthermore, “though he stood for the Liberal Party, he made it clear that he would take an independent line in Parliament if necessary, in accordance with his conscience.” Conscience… clearly it was as novel an idea back then as it is today. When do we hear about conscience? Does it make sense to take decisions without conscience front and centre? It does when, collectively, we have trouble accessing our conscience, which is tucked away somewhere in the opaqueness of our right-brains. Without a notable presence of conscience, the results are predictable: regardless of Party, generations of successive leaders, like Prime Minister May, pledge to finally do better by the people, but almost always fall well short of their promises. Who knows, maybe Ms. May will be “the one”. Considering the ever-present distraction and primacy of inner-party and election politics, that seems unlikely; not because our leaders genuinely don’t actually care about the people, but because they are so utterly mesmerised by the intricacies of their institution, including surviving and thriving in the game. The people are not purposely, but necessarily, an after-thought.
It’s not difficult to extrapolate Mr. Churchill’s advocacy for the Mental Deficiency Act to the establishment of the Kenyan labour camps a few decades later. While we now champion the rights of the imbeciles among us, it has never taken much for our abandoned and traumatized leadership to betray the lesser-thans of the moment. Without knowing more about, Mr. Wedgwood, do we generally celebrate leaders who, especially with the benefit of hindsight, were ahead of the curve, who rose above the fray, morally and intellectually?
With limited access to his conscience, Mr. Churchill filled his void with Empire. His touchstone was not himself but Empire. It took Empire to keep him from engaging with his massive inner turmoil. Many of us do our versions of the very same thing, desperate to avoid our deep trauma. How can we surmise that Mr. Churchill’s trauma was massive? By looking at the scale of the suffering and destruction that was wrought on humanity by his hand.
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Churchill also sacrificed himself, in this case to the altar of Empire. Surely, these two men should not be placed in the same universe, let alone the same sentence. Surely? Surely, it doesn’t mean anything that both Mr. Trump and George W. Bush hugely admire Winston Churchill. Amazingly, after I just wrote this, I did a Google search for Mr. Trump and Mr. Churchill only to find a plethora of right-wing news articles favourably comparing the two. Ridiculous as it may seem, there is quite a bit of overlap, especially if we can admit that Mr. Churchill was not the best of men. Winston, Donald and Dubya are cut from the same RMP cloth. Many suffered due to the leadership of both Mr. Churchill and Mr. Bush. Alas, Mr. Obama, who promised Americans that “they could”, was unable or unwilling to give them a chance. And with so many people despising the uber-establishment Hillary Clinton we are left with the preposterous possibility of a Trump presidency.
We celebrate or vilify extreme RMP figures. We imagine them as somehow different than the rest of us when in actual fact we are enabling them. This is where we need courage to look within; because our unconsciousness is helping to manifest these damaged and dangerous leaders.
As always, let us not forget and underestimate the trauma Mr. Churchill experienced as a child. Many of us, familiar as we are with our own histories of personal and generational trauma, may balk at the “trauma excuse” when judging the dastardly deeds of others. This is not to exonerate those who behave badly. The thing is, we all respond to trauma in unique ways. For those who feel it more keenly, if the good and beautiful do not manage to find a way in, that person is at risk of betraying themselves and those around them. If such a person achieves political and/or corporate power then watch out. How many times have we seen this play out in history?
Bard Azima is a Writer, Photographer, Filmmaker, Empathy Miner and Boarding School Survivor.
You can read more of his work at: www.empathyrising.com.
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Here are the other sections of this article:
Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper – Part 3 – Reflections on David Cameron and Boris Johnson: Boarding School, Systemic Betrayal and the Subjugation of the Feminine as Outgrowths of The Age of Reason
Brexit: An Invitation to Dig Deeper – Part 7 – Reflections on Donald Trump, Ridicule as a National Pastime, The Sheer Scale of Humanity’s Endless Trauma, The Continuation of Global British Influence and the Troubling Legacy of Winston Churchill