01 March 2014

Hewitt, paedophilia and 1970s progressivism

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.


spandrell said...

There are others part of the 70s progressive coalition that were dropped out, i.e. hard drug use, free love, pacifism, etc.

Your theory is solid. People grow up, have families, etc.

Hank said...

Anti pedophilia because a useful tool against groups the left hated (Catholic church, fathers, ect). At the same time the elites built up large child abuse networks such as the one uncovered (and then covered back up) at penn state and in the BBC.

There is a historical period that matches up well with this type of behavior: Homosexuality in 1910's England. Pretty much every leftist male at Oxford identified as a homo during those years and took part in the gay sex. Then during the 1940s they had a very public campaign against homosexuality that never touched the leftists elites.

I'd suspect that another push in favor of pedophilia is coming probably of the man/boy type.

Alex said...

Fascinating article:


Anomaly UK said...


That is a good source, but by itself it gives the impression that a clique within the entertainment industry is the whole story. I believe in the clique, but it doesn't account for the ideological covering fire being provided by the respectable left—Hewitt and the like.

The next question is whether these are two independent phenomena, or whether the culture O’Hagan describes extended far enough that it was actually pushing the political culture.

Alex said...

The difficulty in trying to research this on the internet is that you soon find yourself drowning in a quicksand of depressing conspiracy theories. The basic narrative is that freemasonic/satanic paedophile groups have for decades been grooming child TV actors/care home kids for friends in very high places (Edward Heath is a name that keeps cropping up).

One is tempted to dismiss it all as a mare's nest of Ickeish satanic panic. Unfortunately there is just enough of a residue of hard data to give one pause, eg the visits to Haut de la Garenne by Jimmy Savile and -- terrifyingly -- Edward Paisnel.

jpbenney said...


there was certainly much that the “1970s progressive coalition” did not retain. Pacifism is certainly one thing – even if they are opposed to most wars conducted by Europe or North America because the hope it will drive socialists to power.

Free love was not dropped – it was re-done as homosexual marriage, though even when AC/DC and Metallica were at their peak preaching radical rights to do whatever one wants, homosexual marriage was not on the agenda. (Maybe it was an unspoken part of those rights??) It’s a fact that if the working masses had voted on the issue, homosexual sex would in Europe have been legalised in the 1920s, not the 1960s.

Hard drug use is a tough one – it did go away, but legalisation was never seen as a solution, perhaps because the radical left feared the wealth of dealers would become too great if hard drugs became completely legal; however, there is little doubt hard drugs would become cheaper if there were no sanctions on selling them.

A Nonny Mouse said...

You seem to be reissuing a line beloved with Tabloid newspapers, which goes as follows: Paedophilia is the sexual perversion, and crime, of wanting to have sex with a person under the age of 16; anyone therefore who is prepared to discuss whether the 16 year old watershed is the appropriate one, is a paedophile.

I would put it differently: paedophilia is the sexual perversion, and crime, of wanting to have sex with a person who is too young to give proper consent. What is too young is a matter that we need to review constantly in line with what is actually happening in society.

The problem we face is that there is no actual universally recognised age of consent. “The age of consent is 13 in Spain. It is 14 in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino and Serbia. It is 15 in Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Greece, Iceland, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. It is 16 in Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK. It is 17 in Cyprus and Ireland and 18 in Malta and Turkey.” Wikipedia: Age of consent in Europe.

On other continents it can be as low as 12, and as high as 21. Saudi appears to have no lowest age for marriage.

So the Labour Government’s plan to lower the age of consent to 14 was not at all unreasonable. It was in fact only 12 at the beginning of the 19th Century.

A Nonny Mouse said...


Television programme, visible in UK for next 2 weeks I imagine.

“The age of consent in Scotland was 12 for a girl, 14 for a boy, until 1929, when it became 16.” 10 minutes in.

So we have this strange system whereby a relationship, at one time and in one place completely legal, becomes in another time and place a crime, and indeed, the worst possible crime possible in the public imagination.

Economic conditions and labour laws must have a lot to do with it: if a boy is doing a full week’s work age 14, then disburdening yourself of your 12 year old daughter by passing her over to him makes sense.

A Nonny Mouse said...

I would like to add some of the data I have encountered recently which suggests that 16 is not the appropriate age. In Australia a 15 year old girl went missing and provoked a province wide search by thousands of people. Only when a local serial killer had added her to his list of confessed murders did it transpire that she was living secretly with her boyfriend, a 17 year old working man.

In the U.S. a girl whose mother was preventing her from having sex with her boyfriend persuaded him to shoot the mother dead.

In London an increasing number of schoolgirls of Islamic origin have taken to skipping school and defecting to ISIS. The sister of one of these defectors appeared on television for a lachrymose appeal for her to return, repeating “We want her back, she’s our baby”. This is the problem: she is not a baby, she is a grown woman with reproductive abilities who prefers to accept the inconveniences and lowered standard of living of being a Jihadi’s moll to continuing in this ludicrous state of infantilised prisoner of a pointless education system.

The problem is that instead of tackling the problem of what to do with out 14 year olds we consign them to an education system which serves little purpose, merely inflating the number of years’ study necessary to gain employment. This is another social norm in need of constant review: whether education educates for anything, or is just a ridiculously drawn out mixture of child-minding and reserving the desired jobs for the richer echelons of society who have the funds to pay for the years beyond free schooling.