Thursday 28 May 2020


And so we reach the fourth week of May and the fourth and concluding post in this series which presents a psychoanalyst's view of how people should love one another - alongside a parallel study of a terrible failure in love. The PM of the UK does not love himself. He acts to maximise his own interests but that is not the authentic self-love that Erich Fromm is advocating. Unless you know how to love yourself, you cannot love other people. Tens of thousands of UK citizens have died of Covid 19 as a consequence of the actions and inactions of two emotionally crippled men, Boris Johnson and his narcissistic special advisor, Dominic Cummings.

Love works

And so back to Professor Fromm. Having discussed what is needed for the practice of any art, Fromm hones in on the qualities that are needed for the ability to love. He states as a given that 'the main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of ones narcissism'.

Just let Fromm's magisterial insight work its magic as you read these words:

'The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.'

Think of Johnson or Trump considering their next move, their next statement. Do Fromm's insights
help to make sense of what these pathological liars do and say next?

'The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see people and things as they are, objectively, and to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires and fears.'

'Love being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the development of humility, objectivity and reason. One's whole life must be devoted to this aim …. If someone would want to reserve his objectivity for the loved person, and think he can dispense with it in his relationship to the rest of the world, he will soon discover that he fails both here and there.'

'The practice of the art of loving requires the practice of faith …. Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others …. What matters in relation to love is the faith in one's own love; in its ability to produce love in others, and in its reliability.'

'The capacity to love demands a state of intensity, awakeness, enhanced vitality, which can only be the result of a productive and active orientation in many other spheres of life. If one is not productive in other spheres, one is not productive in love either.'

Remember, Johnson and Trump have both acquired a reputation for laziness amongst other shortcomings.

Love still works

'Those who are seriously concerned with love as the only rational answer to the problem of human existence must, then, arrive at the conclusion that important and radical changes in our social structure are necessary, if love is to become a social and not a highly individualistic, marginal phenomenon …. If man is to be able to love, he must be put in his supreme place, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share in profits.'

'Society must be organised in such a way that man's social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, than any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature.'

I hope you can make the time to reflect on Fromm's wisdom. As I wrote in an earlier post in the series, reading The Art of Loving when I was a student in 1968 made a big impact on me then and the lessons I learned have stood me in good stead ever since.

Till death do us part

Let's turn to The Beast of Brexit. In the last post, I focused on the PM's connections with Darius Guppy. I find those details shocking. Here are the links to the first three blogposts in this series, in case you missed any of them:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Yep - a new golden age 

And now some more telling observations about this man's life:

Johnson's biographer, Sonia Purnell, has noted that he never laughs. 'Real laughter', she says, 'involves losing control, and Boris never does that'. Instead he has opted to become a character. It is worth remarking that the psychoanalyst, Christopher Bollas, has defined 'a character' as someone whose deeper self is empty, or angry, or socially alienated.

An Oxford contemporary remarked:
'Boris showed then that he was not loyal, that he does not have many real friends, as it is all about him …. I could see that Boris wouldn't really keep friends because he doesn't have principles. I knew that bumbling thing was an act.'

So where's the banana skin?

The journalist, Nick Cohen, writing in the Spectator (22 February 2016), said: 'Johnson believes in the advance of Johnson. That's all there is. There's nothing else. Most  politicians, and many of the rest of us, are ambitious, of course. But politicians normally hope to advance a cause as they advance themselves. Johnson would have you believe that he is breaking with the establishment, risking all, because of his sincere convictions that we must advance the cause of saving Britain from the European Union …. His colleagues do not believe him. Nicholas Soames called him a liar on Twitter yesterday. Jerry Hayes called him a 'copper-bottomed, hypocritical little shit'.'

If Johnson is criticised he is liable to throw all his toys out of the pram, and if he is criticised in print, careless editors have found themselves in receipt of an email containing the vicious message, "Fuck off and die'. Sonia Purnell adds chillingly, 'The wife of one of his Bullingdon Club cohorts at Oxford said that her husband "would not speak about Boris, even off the record, as he is frightened of what he might do back. A lot of people are.'


Let me leave most of the last words to the late Heathcote Williams whose book 'Boris Johnson: the Beast of Brexit A Study in Depravity' has served as my guide in this dismembering of the prime-minister:

'Johnson overlooks the fact that for idealistic reasons …. Winston Churchill called for a 'United States of Europe' shortly after the end of World War Two - Churchill's thought was that such a unity could provide a bulwark against any further devastation in Europe.

Brexit seeks to undo that unity and it's led by a cadre of Conservatives who protest their love of country with a self-satisfied zeal and yet who are unable to conserve the quality of its air, nor of its soil nor of its water. They are largely climate change deniers, advocates of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, proponents of genetically modified foods and those who give polluters a free rein if it 'serves the economy'. They will defend slave wages and the iniquities of 'zero hours contracts' and the privatisation of the National Health Service by rapacious US con men, while they fight with a low cunning to conserve a British body-politic based upon an unconscionable disparity between untold wealth and unspeakable poverty and upon the idle values of transient celebrity.'

That small but powerful group of neoliberal Tories found their only-too-willing lead-man in Johnson - the loveless clown who has spread death over our land with the help of his special advisor, Dominic Cummings.    

'Gemini - the Nightmare' - your latest horror movie

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