Tag: modern history
The newspapers in Britain are full of something I mentioned as an aside in a post last year—the fact that 1970s consolidation of progressive power was the phase that included the dropping of legalised paedophilia as a progressive goal. The status of the Paedophile Information Exchange as an affiliate of the National Council of Civil Liberties was what I had in mind when I wrote that. It was never any secret.
The establishment line, coming from senior policiticans who shared platforms with paedophile campaigners forty years ago, is that their progressive movements were “infiltrated” by “evil” paedophiles, later driven out. Inasmuch as “infiltration” implies any degree of secrecy or misrepresentation at all, that is very obviously untrue. In the early 1970s, paedophilia was a progressive cause. Rock stars’ banging of underage groupies was seen as part of their general wildness and edginess. It might eventually end in tears, but the same goes for their other wild behaviour like dropping acid or driving sports cars at 100mph—sex with teenagers was seen as in the same moral category as these other excesses.
East Germany legalised homosexual sex in 1968, with an age of consent of 14. The NCCL, by campaigning a few years later for Britain to follow that example, was holding a perfectly respectable progressive position—and going even further. (NCCL supported reducing age of consent to 10 “in some circumstances”, which I think meant relationships between children).
The Guardian today quoted a letter from Patricia Hewitt, saying “Our proposal that the age of consent be reduced is based on the belief that neither the police nor the criminal courts should have the power to intervene in a consenting sexual activity between two young people.” That was the progressive position in 1976. There have been pictures of demonstrations against the PIE, but the placards brandished by the demonstrators carried the National Front logo—not a respectable organisation.
The question for historians to ask about the 1970s is not, “how could respectable people have supported paedophilia back then?”, rather, it is “how did they not succeed?” My original answer was that as the rebels became the establishment, they were forced to take some small measure of responsibility for keeping society together, and withdrew from a few of their most dangerous demands. That’s no more than a hypothesis really, since I have no particular evidence for it. The truth could possibly be even more interesting.
Update 16 March 2014
I just noticed on Wikipedia, that the Labour Party was proposing reducing the age of consent to 14 as late as 1998.
Point 5 of Nydwracu’s Priority Research Areas for Neoreaction is:
“What happened in the ‘60s?”
My guess would be: the death of conservatism. Except that that
probably happened in the 1950s, and the sixties were a delayed reaction
to the fact that progressivism no longer had any organised opposition.
The familiar neoreactionary story is that progressives have long had
the upper hand, certainly since the death of Queen Anne in England,
and from the very beginning in the American colonies. Modern leftism
is simply descended from the whigs.
However, though they were dominant throughout the period 1714 – 1960,
they were never entirely unchallenged. There were still Tories in
positions of influence who maintained a coherent traditionalist
political philosophy, and who (in the later period) accomodated with
the age of democracy without ever accepting its assumptions.
That political force was dying in England by 1945. It was routed and
destroyed by 1957. After two hundred years of advance by overcoming
conservative opposition, progressivism was left completely
unconstrained. Scattered discontents remained, but, without a living
conservative movement or philosophy to draw from, they were not able
to make arguments that would satisfy anyone.
Progressives responded by driving out potential rebels — first from
academia, always a centre of progressivism but soon owned by them
exclusively, and then from organised religion.
What we think of as “the sixties” was the gradual realisation by
progressives that they could get away with anything. Every door they
pushed on swung open, and there was a decade of exuberant pillage.
The end came as they gradually adapted to the fact that they were now
the establishment, and needed to produce some measure of moderation
from within. They started to address their contradictions among
themselves: many of today’s basic political and cultural assumptions
were decided somewhat arbitrarily in that 1970s settlement. (That, for
instance, is where paedophiles failed to make the cut as a protected
victim group). The recessions of the 1970s injected a note of realism
into economic policy, and the enfeebled Conservative Party reenergised
itelf, but basing its new opposing philosophy on classical liberalism
rather than conservatism.
It was hard for me to understand the process, because, being born
after the sixties, an actual conservative movement is something I have
never seen. It was on its last legs in the first half of the century,
but it really existed. This
biography of Anthony Eden
gives some clues as to what it looked like: patrician, honourable,
suspicious of America, and doomed. There were presumably others like
Eden, but today there are none.
This has obviously been a very anglocentric account. I would guess
that the story for France would be fairly similar, though I don’t
know, but that America was a bit different. The outcome seems to have
been much the same in all three.
I suspect my
of what a collapse of society looks like is heavily influenced by the
1970s TV series Noah’s
which I saw when I was a child.
As I recall, the plot was that this chap saw that things were all going
wrong, and moved out to the country and stocked his cellar up with
food. The point of the story was the moral dilemma of whether he would
keep his stores for his own whiny ungrateful kids or open them up to
the hungry mob at his gates.
The purported dilemma seemed almost as inane to me thirty-odd years
ago as it does today, but the image of the wild horde begging for the
tinned spam in the basement stuck with me.
That’s my excuse, anyway, because looking at the idea now, it’s not
all that convincing. Firstly, whether you feel like giving away your
hoard is a minor question compared to whether you can hang onto
it. Second, if it really did get to the stage where the existing food
distribution mechanisms broke down, or food became too expensive for
the masses, we would be looking at a minimum of hundreds of thousands
starving. Third, drastic changes in government would happen before
that, so reactionaries who waited for actual anarchy before acting as
I recommended recently would be leaving it too late.
So the question is, what are the stages of the collapse of the state?
At what point can a reactionary leader claim to be restoring order
rather than opposing order?
I plan to write a few posts looking at the likeliest possibilities,
but first there are a couple of other lines to rule out.
Simple state bankruptcy is not the answer. States can and do run out
of money, without losing control. As we have seen in Cyprus, the state
can simply confiscate what it needs taxation no longer suffices.
Running out of money could very well contribute to a failure of the
state, but in itself it does not constitute a failure.
A foreign invasion obviously is a failure, but that’s not a likely
scenario for Britain, so that can be ruled out.
My current theory is that democracy probably goes first. Once the
progressives have abandoned or bypassed democracy, even as a temporary
expedient, it becomes possible for reactionaries to claim that since
the rulers’ position is no longer justified democratically, there is
no reason for the people who caused the crisis to remain in power.
I will expand on this later.
Half Sigma linked to this piece by Eric Posner pointing out that what we think of as the “American” absolutist attitude to free speech is really only half a century old.
I bring it up not to comment on Posner’s argument about the desirability of censorship of hate speech, or Half Sigma’s warning about the likelihood of a liberal-majority supreme court outlawing swathes of HBD and other blogging, but simply, like the sexual habits of 1970s DJs, as an example of how quickly the commonplace can become unthinkable, and the unthinkable commonplace.