Brown Nose

The British satirical magazine Private Eye regularly awards the O.B.N., or Order of the Brown Nose, to sycophants of the worst variety.

I tried to find an example for you, but Private Eye doesn’t do digital particularly well. Nevertheless, a trip to their site is never wasted time. In the current issue, they share two key insights.

Reports of Messiah dismissed as ‘fake news’

and, in a Christmas edition of Letter from Santa, the venerable fellow provides much needed advice to perplexed parents:

Should you tell your children Trump is real?

The best thing about ‘The Eye’ is its stunning originality—or at least that’s my view. This is not, however, universally shared. Lots of people hate the magazine: it has a substantial and costly history of lawsuits due to its investigative journalism—Private Eye broke the Milly Dowler story, which revealed unsavory links between British police and scandal-sheet ‘news desks’.

That particular story took years to get to mainstream media, and resulted in the closure of perhaps the shittiest of Brit papers, Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. What the newshounds did was truly horrible—they repeatedly deleted the voicemail on the dead girl’s cellphone, and the poor parents thought that this meant she was still alive.

Among the magazine’s readers, there’s been a storm of ‘righteous’ indignation, and much hoohah about subscription cancellation, due to its coverage of Brexit. The Eye pours scorn on the ‘strategy’, and draws invective as a consequence.

The UK exit strategy takes a leaf from the Old Testament’s Book of Iraq, i.e. it is non-existent. There are ample parallels between what’s happening with Theresa May’s Britain and Trump’s America, not least the blaming of your country’s ills on others.

But one of the first characteristics of the so-called Strong Man, and I capitalize to generalize, is the magnetic draw of sycophants.

Perhaps this is because such people are generally major assholes, and therefore the pull of the brown nose is pungently powerful. An early diagnosis of what is to come is straightforward—both the putative puppets and the proper putins shed dissenters very quickly, and often violently.

A first sign of the brexit battles that will mark 2017 was the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, British ambassador to the EU.

In the US, the intelligence briefing soap opera was a very similar process.

Both bear the cross of Columbus in Clear Eyes: “a set of opinions uncontaminated by facts.”

In the US, two weeks from inauguration, Trump’s position is (for once) easy to explain. The man who thinks he knows the art of the deal is determined to let nothing kill his best deal: becoming the 45th president of the United States on January 20th 2017.

I can’t fault him for that one, and neither should you. In Britain, May is doing something similar. The Whitehall diplomat explained he was concerned about ‘muddled thinking’, and I presume he was uncomfortably close to the truth—so hot, in fact, that it burned him.

The UK brexit camp doesn’t want the truth to be known about how poor their thought process actually is, and Sir Ivan will have made this plain to his masters.

What do the US spooks and the Brit dip have in common ? They are both bearers of unwelcome news, as opposed perhaps to (rather more welcome) fake news.

Sir Ivan wrote in his resignation letter that his job was to ‘speak truth to power.’ Well, that’s a shit job (sorry, I meant a noble calling) if I ever saw one!

One of the more visible features of this brand new year.

One of the more pungent features of this brand new year.

So this is one of the gifts this new year will bring, a foul, diarrhetic stream of brown nosing.

Because, you see, the sycophant, brown-noser, or toadie, is a very particular species. I’ve learned to spot them with unsettling speed, and have always disliked them intensely.

Some people have a natural calling, but this is always exacerbated in autocratic environments. I saw it at school, in both students and teachers—it becomes immediately obvious if I use the British terminology of pupils and masters.

I saw it in society, growing up in a country where the mantra was:

Quem pode manda, quem deve obedece

He who can, rules, he who must, obeys. Or even: Able men rule, others obey. Either way, enough said.

And I’ve seen it everywhere through the decades: from notaries to hospitals, from classrooms to office parties.

The stench never ceases. The coterie that congregates around Strong Men, be they Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong, or your immediate boss, always has two sides—it’s a compensation mechanism for all that shit you eat.

In UK public (i.e. private) schools, the prefect system is a perfect example. Pupils appointed into the system kowtow to masters, and abuse those they rule, subjecting them to varying degrees of violence.

In dictatorships, it breeds the Goebbels, the Chemical Ali, the heads of myriad agencies of the secret police, men who always tell the boss what he wants to hear. Much worse, the system propagates downwards—the tyrannical behavior of those men to their underlings bring about a further layer of mercaptans.

As always, when we live another day, we’re looking at history in the making. But what we are watching is not new.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

 

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