The ongoing debacle in Ukraine demonstrates that the US and the “allies of the willing” are no longer the main power block in the world. There are new camps forming, alliances, and these are often connecxted to old colonial wounds and shared pain.
Collectively they are ganging up against the schoolyard bully, the US, and its fair weather friends. Hence this alliance of bullies is running scared. They are willing to do almost anything to defend their former position of advantage and wealth, even if that means destroying us all in the process. They are willing to upset the world order and destroy civilization, treating the whole of humanity as collateral damage.
Just look at how the world is changing, and not by happenstance. One grave mistake the British Empire made was educating too many in its colonies. Now India has become an active actor, an agent or go-between for the UK and the USA, which means both sides have to treat it with greater respect than ever before.
Now the children and grandchildren of those who emigrated are demonstrating an intellectual advantage over their native, indigenous, counterparts. For instance Kamala Harris, the US VP, has mixed roots – Indian and African, and the new Prime Minister of the UK, the Hindu Rishi Sunak, also has Indian and African roots although born in the UK, and both have been appointed to their respective positions because they were considered brighter and more capable than other contenders from more traditional backgrounds.
Those who took their whiteness as a birthright should wake up. They are being replaced by those whose cultures are more adaptable to change, and see education as the way forward. The very people who won’t accept the doctrine of Exceptionalism, which is openly proclaimed in the US, but which also lies behind the assumptions of every now powerful nation, and often the families of those who run them.
Top of the Class to Top of the Pops
Sunak is being cited as a case of an “immigrant made good” precisely because people want to retain those prejudices and the privileges that go with it. This isn’t being said in admiration of him, but of the world he has forced his way into – he is now something better because he has accepted our rules and become one of us.
The official fairy tale is that he started at the bottom and worked his way up through talent and obedience. However he is even more of a product of prejudice than that.
His wife’s money opened the way for him to fast track to the top. His fortune, some of which is his own but most came through his judicious marriage to a tax avoider, is held to demonstrate how much the face of the UK has changed since Enoch Powell, who almost became a Conservative PM himself, gave his famous “Rivers of Blood speech” over 50 years ago. However it is exactly the opposite.
Powell warned his audience, at the Conservative Political Centre in Birmingham, an organization Sunak would be a member of today, how the face and political landscape of Britain would change because of immigration. Sunak is proof that the opposite has happened: the immigrants have changed into white people who play by the rules of the white people, even if they have to fight twice as hard to achieve by doing so.
However in the eyes of most in his Conservative party, Sunak is still a wog. He has to do as they do, and sound like they do, unremittingly to gain acceptance. Any time he falls short, just as one of them would do, it is not through some personal defect but a racial one.
Like many other Prime Ministers he can sometimes struggle at Prime Minister’s questions. But when he does he is always reminded that inside that bastion of white supremacy there is a little foreigner trying to get out, and that he will be got out like BoJo the Clown and Loser Liz if he continues being one.
Sunak may be an honorary white for now, but if that slips, he will have nowhere else to go. If a foreign person, particularly a Russian on Chinese businessman, had the same background they would be vilified in the press and put on the first plane home on the first pretext.
A pro-Western media outlet, OpenDemocracy, describes how Sunak’s extensive property portfolio, of the sort foreigners are famous for in the UK, is just one source of his wealth. After studying at Oxford University, Sunak went on to work for US investment bank Goldman Sachs for four years. He left to pursue a business degree at Stanford University in California, where he said meeting influential figures in the multi-billion US tech industry “left a mark” on him.
From there, Sunak had a stint working at hedge funds back in London – the very mention of which would sound alarm bells if Sunak were seen as more foreign than native. How he made his money would be subject to greater scrutiny if he didn’t seem English enough to get away with it, and would be if he were from a country on the enemies list.
It is important to note that financial markets are more secure now, with the pound rising because Sunak is generally seen by the markets as a safe pair of hands on economic, political and social issues. Of course, he is one of them, he speaks their language. Whether he is the Great White Knight who will translate their language into something the general public understands, accepts or wants is another matter.
Sunak is in the grip of the technocrats’ dilemma – he is supposed to be rational rather than rhetorical, making scientifically correct decisions rather than ideological ones, but he is operating in a political environment. If the voters wanted technocrats, they would lead all the parties all the time.
Instead they want people who will give them a vision and then work out the details internally. Voters soon lose interest in technocrats because they are all detail and no canvas, and the only vision Sunak can give is more of the same, but with a completely different lot of people running it.
Upside Down Logic
Sunak is just as much British, if not more so, than the German origin Royal Family. However is not merely from an ethnic minority but from a colonial background.
The British have often had great difficulty coming to terms with the fact that if you go round the world conquering other people and telling them it is good to be British, those people will inevitably come to the UK and be as British as they are allowed to be, because they have been told how good it is. Even the most inclusive and liberal have even more of a problem accepting that if one or two people of colour hold positions of importance, there is no reason why they shouldn’t favour others of the same background just as the white people have always done.
Where Sunak leads, others will follow, even if he himself ends up a total disaster. In the US VP Harris, like Obama before her, is effectively a token, a figurehead designed to trick the masses into believing the US is a genuinely open society, much like black men such as Errol Tobias who played rugby for South Africa during the Apartheid era, though they wouldn’t appreciate the comparison.
But the next step will be electing people from minorities who don’t want to play by the rules set by the white man. This is the whole basis of the post-colonial world, the G8 becoming the G20 and the Third World increasingly working together to try and reduce US and Western European influence in their countries. It is only a matter of time before people of colour with a radically different view of what that means rise to the top of the broken systems coming under increasing pressure from their former victims.
Rishi Sunak was born in Southampton, the south coast British seaport. This is where the Titanic sailed from in 1912 on its first and final voyage.
Sunak himself recognises that his party is in big trouble if it cannot turn the economy round quickly, having led the country down the garden path of Brexit and found there will never be any roses at the end. It is always hard, if not impossible, to move forward when you have gone out of your way to inflame and succour the most reactionary of people, the very sort who won’t allow progress or diversity even when it is palpably in their own interests.
Sunak may only be able to save his party by suddenly launching it into uncharted seas in the hope this will distance it from the negative connotations of the seas it has sailed in in recent years. However it is probable that even if he does, the Conservative Party will end up like the Titanic, either sinking and being reinvented as something new or condemned to eternal opposition like the historic Tories were for over a century after the Whig Glorious Revolution of 1688.
For the time being, he has to keep with the current course, but only to further expose its weaknesses to give him a palatable excuse for radical change. He will help Ukraine but without fanaticism. He will give the impression of continuing the foreign policies of BJ and Liz Truss, at least in the short term, to close ranks with the US, EU and NATO in its proxy war with Russia, but will ultimately have to swim with the global tide.
Consequently Sunak is reappointing many of the same culprits who got the UK into the mess it is in, even after they have been sacked for corruption. He is hoping that this continuity will persuade the US that the old “Special Relationship”, another dimension of that continuity, still exists, but the US is no longer interested, and is fighting to retain its influence in Europe when other countries are offering the EU more, and the EU isn’t caring what the US thinks of those countries.
It is interesting that Sunak was invited by Zelensky to visit Ukraine, but at first he reacted by saying that he was too busy – “We will continue the support but I am very busy with governmental affairs. Now he has [suddenly] changed his mind, due to pressure from others in the Conservative Party and financial interests—this was to be expected, and he arrived with the promise of more money and military assistance. Mr Sunak said it was “deeply humbling” to be in Kyiv and that the UK would continue to stand by Ukraine
This may be interpreted as meaning that Sunak may have at first thought that Ukraine is a lost cause, but it also more probably means that he knows the whole world of privilege he has joined is a lost cause, and his only hope is to develop a domestic bunker in which he can hide before he can try and make a probably fatal attempt to drag its occupants out into something both acceptable and better.
He’s Got 2-Go
As the opposition has pointed out, no one voted for Sunak. He was appointed leader of his party by its MPs when the other candidates either failed to get enough nominations or withdrew, meaning the MPs didn’t have to consult the party members – the ones who elected Truss over Sunak – much less the electorate as a whole.
His task now is to make the party a credible force again – despite its large majority, it is now seen as the architect of national doom only in it to serve its friends, much like the unchallenged Soviet Communist Party was before its demise. It got to commit the crimes it has by promising a future free of everything people didn’t like, which was all blamed on the EU. Therefore he may well find that the regain the Conservatives any intellectual credibility, he has to embrace more of the more diverse world he came from, not the one he chose to join, and lose the next election to give him an excuse to kick out his current friends.
The US and even the hated EU are struggling in the same way the UK is. It is worse in the UK because of Brexit, but the other factors involved – the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global energy and financial mismanagement and systemic inability to adapt – are affecting the US and EU too.
No longer is it automatically assumed that the West is the best, or is right, or that being part of it for the sake of it will solve everything. Brexit proved that, but that has solved nothing. Unless things improve throughout the Western world, anyone wanting to offer a future will have to think and talk more globally, on terms increasingly set by ex-colonies and whoever shares their analysis of the evils of foreign domination.
This is the real proxy fight in Ukraine. Will the West prevail for the sake of it, because it must be right? Or will there have to be another way of doing things involving different perspectives – which from a Western perspective would mean wogs like Sunak, Harris and Obama making the rules to suit themselves instead of believing they can only adopt others’ rules to advance?
The apparent advance of people of colour in Western political circles is actually the last retrenchment of the traditional rulers and systems. His sort will soon be as much an anachronism as the word “gazunder”.
Instead there will be a new model in which other people, not just white Westerners, can be right some of the time. It will take a lot of getting used to, on both sides, but the banker in Sunak must see the logic of it, and see his own extinction as the price to pay for embracing the greater good.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.