Paul Johnson

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Person.png Paul Johnson   Amazon Powerbase Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Paul Johnson (right) is congratulated by Norman C. Francis and Ruth Johnson Colvin after receiving his Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, 15 December 2006
BornPaul Bede Johnson
Manchester, England
Alma materStonyhurst College, Magdalen College (Oxford)
ReligionRoman Catholic
Children • Daniel Johnson
• Luke Johnson
SpouseMarigold Hunt
Member ofCommittee for the Free World, Königswinter/Speakers
Influential author in US and British right-wing politics

Employment.png New Statesman/Editor

In office
1965 - 1970
Preceded byJohn Freeman

Paul Bede Johnson is an English journalist, popular historian, speechwriter, and author. Although considered a liberal in his early career, by the 1970s Johnson's anti-communism and conservative moralism meant he came to be increasingly identified with the right.


He worked from 1952 to 1954 as deputy editor of the French monthly magazine Réalités (which received funding from the 'Mission France' initiative of the Marshall Plan) and later as Paris correspondent for the left-wing British weekly New Statesman. Johnson was politically very socialist at this time and supported the left wing of the Labour Party, represented by Nye Bevan. In 1955 he returned to London and took a position as a regular employee of the New Statesman. After various functions in the editorial office, he became editor of this weekly newspaper in 1965. Johnson's left-wing convictions were already beginning to become fragile, which, together with his Catholicism, was also the reason why his appointment was initially criticized by Leonard Woolf and others. He was already in contact with the author Antonia Fraser and his article on "The Menace of Beatlism" became the most discussed article in the history of the magazine[1]. As a result of this criticism, Johnson was initially only given six months probation. Despite these initial difficulties, he remained editor of the New Statesman until 1970.

The social crises of the 1970s, which went hand in hand with economic decline and social unrest, led Johnson to profoundly reorient his political views. He criticized the violence and intolerance of the British trade unions as "fascist"[2] and stated that the left had no answers to the questions of the time. Against the background of the increasingly precarious economic situation in Great Britain, he became a staunch supporter of Margaret Thatcher. After Thatcher's election victory in 1979, he advised her on reforming union law and wrote speeches for her.

From the 1970s, he began writing historical books, most of which became bestsellers. With “Modern Times” he achieved a worldwide success, and it is considered one of the most influential works on the history of the “short 20th century”[3]. Johnson also dealt intensively with the history of the two great monotheistic religions Christianity and Judaism, which he dealt with in various books. As a comprehensive summary of his research in this area, he published "A History of Christianity" in 1976 and "The History of the Jews" in 1987.

Johnson also wrote regular columns for daily newspapers, of which the column "And Another Thing", published from 1981 to 2001 in the British magazine The Spectator, was very popular. Until 2001 he also wrote a column for the Daily Mail and The Sun and regularly for The Daily Telegraph (especially book reviews), The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Forbes and National Review.[4]

He served on the Royal Commission on the Press (1974–77) and was a member of the Cable Authority (regulator) from 1984 to 1990.

War on Terror

Johnson has been an ardent support of the "war on terror". He spoke at the seminal 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism on "The Seven Deadly Sins of Terrorism."

A month after 9/11, he wrote an article entitled The Answer to Terrorism? Colonialism. It began with the claim that "America has no alternative but to wage war against states that habitually aid terrorists" and went on to suggest that "America and her allies may find themselves, temporarily at least, not just occupying with troops but administering obdurate terrorist states".[5]

"[Terrorists] reject democracy really. The notion that violence is a technique of last resort, to be adopted only when all other attempts to attain justice have failed, is rejected by them. In doing so, they reject the mainstream of Western thinking, based, like most of our political grammar, on the social-contract theorists of the seventeenth century. Hobbes and Locke rightly treated violence as the antithesis of politics, a form of action characteristic of the archaic realm of the state of nature. They saw politics as an attempt to create a tool to avoid barbarism and make civilisation possible: politics renders violence not only unnecessary but unnatural to civilised man. Politics is an essential part of the basic machinery of civilisation, and in rejecting politics "terrorism" seeks to make civilisation unworkable."
The Recovery of Freedom[6]

Extradition of Pinochet

Johnson was active in the campaign led by Norman Lamont, to prevent General Pinochet's extradition to Spain, following his arrest in London. "There have been countless attempts to link him to human rights atrocities, but nobody has provided a single scrap of evidence," Johnson was reported as saying in 1999.[7] In Heroes (2008), Johnson returned to his longstanding claim that criticism of Pinochet's regime on human rights grounds came from "the Soviet Union, whose propaganda machine successfully demonised [Pinochet] among the chattering classes all over the world. It was the last triumph of the KGB before it vanished into history's dustbin."[8]


Events Participated in

Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism2 July 19795 July 1979Israel
The birthplace of the "War on Terror" doctrine, "a major international forum for the movement against détente".
Washington Conference on International Terrorism24 June 198427 June 1984US
Washington DC
A key conference in establishing the "War On Terror", 5 years after the seminal Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism