Politicians’ fictional namesakes aren’t hard to come by: as well as George Osborne in Vanity Fair, there’s a one-legged vagabond called Tony Blair in Uncle Rutherford’s Nieces: A Story for Girls (1869), and in David Cameron’s Adventures (1950), the eponymous hero is kidnapped in Aberdeen and sent to work on a plantation in Virginia. In Agent of Chaos by Norman Spinrad (1967), Boris Johnson is the unlikely leader of the Democratic League, an interplanetary resistance movement fighting against the totalitarian regime of the Hegemony, which has turned the entire solar system into a surveillance state. Their political efforts are hampered by his bumbling nature. ‘Boris Johnson was quite willing to babble on – and did so at every opportunity – but the man was a fool.’
Meanwhile, the shadowy Brotherhood of Assassins is both disrupting the efforts of the Democratic League and undermining the Hegemony, for reasons that are initially hard to fathom. It transpires, however, that disorder is an end in itself: the Brotherhood reveres Chaos. Johnson eventually sees the light; previously motivated only by a desire to overthrow the Hegemony, he now realises what real freedom means.
According to the foreword in a 1978 reprint, ‘Agent of Chaos is extremely popular with convicts’ and ‘certain sectors of the radical political left’. But the novel’s libertarian anarchism seems more in tune these days with the mainstream political right. In 1999, Spinrad said: ‘I’m an anarchist – but I’m a syndicalist. You have to have organised anarchy, because otherwise it doesn’t work.’ The real Boris Johnson has said his ideal form of government would be a ‘rules-based anarchy’.
When the mayor of London announced he would be standing for parliament in 2015, City A.M. ran a comment piece headlined: ‘Return of the freedom fighter’. But will he ever be prime minister? ‘A most peculiar psychology,’ Vladimir Khustov, the leader of the Hegemony, says after a failed assassination attempt by the Democratic League. ‘A man who believes what he wants to believe. It was all a trap, Mr Boris Johnson, and you walked right into it.’