Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

khrushcheva115_Michael Kappelerpicture alliance via Getty Images_boris johnson Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Boris the Bolshevik

By moving to suspend the UK Parliament for five weeks as the Brexit deadline looms, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has severely – and perhaps permanently – damaged the rule of law. A man who fancies himself as leading in the Churchillian tradition is acting more like Europe’s fascist leaders did in the 1930s.

MOSCOW – Most people think of revolutions as sudden earthquakes or volcanic eruptions that come without warning and sweep away an entire political system. But historians, political scientists, and even the odd politician know that the reality is very different: revolutions happen when systems hollow themselves out, or simply rot from within. Revolutionaries can then brush aside established norms of behavior, or even of truth, as trivialities that should not impede the popular will. A revolution happens, as the Chinese put it, when a system of rule loses the “Mandate of Heaven.”

Only time will tell whether we are currently witnessing the hollowing out of British democracy. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson may well have crossed some invisible Rubicon by recently moving to suspend Parliament from mid-September until October 14, with the aim of virtually eliminating any chance the people’s elected representatives might have to thwart his plans for a possible no-deal Brexit on October 31.

Whatever happens now, British parliamentary democracy may never be the same again. It will certainly never again be the model that so many people around the world once admired.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/9OEvRQ9;
  1. lhatheway8_Spencer PlattGetty Images_stockmarketcoronavirus Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    A COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan

    Larry Hatheway

    The rapid escalation of the COVID-19 crisis may be setting the stage for a global recession. Economic policymakers have no time to waste in preparing a response – preferably one that makes full use of low and falling bond yields, below-target inflation, and the lessons of the last recession.

    0
  2. fischer166_JIM WATSONAFP via Getty Images_trumplookingangrywef Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    The West’s Final Countdown?

    Joschka Fischer

    With the US presidential election approaching, no one can say they didn't foresee the possibility of Donald Trump winning a second term – an event that would pose an existential threat to the very idea of "the West." So why are European leaders spending their time squabbling over agriculture subsidies?

    6

Edit Newsletter Preferences