Great Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson once described himself as a “one-man melting pot.” While his ancestry is indeed a mix of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, perhaps the characteristic that makes the new PM such an intriguing figure is not the messy blond mop that lies atop his head but the rebel found just beneath it – in that all-important gray matter. How will he fare in pushing forward the troubled Brexit process he was elected to untangle?
Born in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan, Johnson spent his influential high school years at the European School, Brussels 1, a laboratory for indoctrinating young people into a European Union mindset. At Brussels 1, myriad efforts were made to program students into being less national and more international. According to one student who attended the school at the same time as the British politician, it was a constant “Ode to Joy” atmosphere.
In an exclusive interview with Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides, Brian McNamara, formerly of the World Bank, waxed about life at Brussels 1 when he and Johnson attended in the 1970s:
“There was lots of feasting the glories of Europe and the way the school was organized; it was organized into different language sections. So that year, 1973, they just opened the English language section, and that was the section I was in, the section that Boris Johnson was in as well. But one of the things they used to do was [force you to] share gym classes with another language group. So, you joined the French kids. The French boys would all have to join the English boys for gym class. And when the kids were small, about 10 or 11, they would mix the teams for soccer. But they fast gave up that battle because it was impossible, because [of] the natural selection [that] occurred. Within about a year of being there, it was the Germans against the English.”
Like Johnson, McNamara broke from the school programming and mused about the very few lessons he learned at the school. “As I left the high school, I used to say, ‘You know, yes, it promoted the European Union, but it also taught me to infallibly pick out a Dane at an airport.’ You know, I can say she’s a Dane, and he’s an Italian. Every single stereotype that you know.”
For some, national identity is intuitive and not so easily exorcised. When such personalities come up against an indoctrination effort or a push toward one way of thinking, they instinctively move in the opposite direction. Such is the case with McNamara and Johnson. That rejection of the schoolmasters was foundational in allowing them to become originalists and freethinkers. At heart, they are rebels.
In a well-written online blog called Health Psychology Consultancy, Dr. Nicola Davies describes the rebel personality. She writes, “True rebels are not simply against rules or what others say just for the sake of being different … In other words, there is a method to the rebel’s apparent madness.” Davies describes the pros and cons of this type of personality. On the plus side, she posits that rebels are “well-meaning, intelligent, passionate and determined people.” As well, she lists the following:
- They have great potential to explore and lead others through uncharted waters.
- It can be exciting to be around colorful characters like rebels.
- They are original thinkers and show courage in the face of overwhelming opposition.
- The enthusiasm of rebels is admirable, whether or not you agree with their convictions.
There is no dispute that Johnson has displayed several of these personality characteristics throughout his professional life. As well, the negatives that Davies points to can be seen as positives for someone like Johnson, who is trying to push the UK over the Brexit finish line. Here are just a few that may serve Johnson well in his new role:
- Their creativity can be embarrassing for others, such as when it comes to defending or showcasing unconventional ideas (i.e., wearing outrageous clothes or hairstyles to work just to make a point).
- Don’t expect rebels to be on friendly terms with you if you are the kind of person who accepts the status quo.
- In the extreme, rebellious personalities can be undiplomatic and disruptive.
Above all, people like Johnson are thinkers with an independent streak a mile wide. And while they may at times rub some people the wrong way, classic rebels know how to get their way and maneuver others in the desired direction.
McNamara sums up his teachable moments at Brussels 1 in a way that not only reveals the rebel within him but also an intelligence primed to make assessments based on reality – not likely what the teachers at the European School had in mind when they attempted to indoctrinate their students with a Euro-centric mindset. “The next generation that left that school found it very difficult to duplicate their parents’ lifestyle because their parents were on tax-free salary. In Brussels, the ordinary citizen had to pay a 72% marginal tax. Don’t tell me that health care is free.”
Once Johnson wraps up Brexit, perhaps the British health care system will be next on his list? Well, the odds of Boris ever upending the Brit health care system are probably zero – but there is room for reform. This guy doesn’t have it in him to conform, but perhaps that’s precisely what the folks in Britain need. With a rebel like Johnson occupying 10 Downing Street, one thing is for certain: a wild ride.