Jostling for position among the many fantasies of Britain’s faltering elite, is a new one emerging this week. It goes something like this: young people aren’t terrified enough of the prospect of a commie like Jeremy Corbyn coming to power; if only they knew the full horrors of Stalinism / Marxism / Communism they would see the light and start voting Tory again.
It is what Steven Bush at the New Statesman calls “an engagingly stupid idea” that the real reason the Tory party lost votes in the General Election was “because not enough young people have learned about the evils of Communism.”
The history of this idea is hard to pin down exactly but it has been grasped enthusiastically by a coterie of really dim high-Tory chiefs.
Perhaps the first of these was James Bartholomew, who first called for a British museum of Communist atrocities in the Spectator in March way back 2016 then again in the Daily Telegraph after the election:
“The fact that, through no fault of their own, young people know very little about the terror, torture, executions and famines that took place under Communism means that they have limited intellectual defence against the apparent idealism of extreme Left-wing ideas. Alarm bells should start ringing when John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, waves a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book in the House of Commons. But no bells ring out because young people have not even heard of Mao. I believe we need a permanent way of informing the next generation and every succeeding generation of what happened under Communism – a Museum of Communist Terror. I am gathering supporters and donors to make it happen.”
Good for you James, we’re all right behind you.
Now in a stunningly crass ‘debate’ with the journalist Abi Wilkinson, Tim Mongomerie (founder of Conservative Home and the newish Unherd thing) has taken up the call for a Museum of Commie Death and has run with the idea that the young simply don’t know enough about what happened under Stalin / Pol Pot / Mao etc etc.
He argues that “A new generation of left-wingers seems ready to try Marxism again” – like Lipstick Lesbians or trying out Scandic Noir just to see what all the fuss is about.
Historically it’s bonkers. If you can’t make the distinction between variant forms of socialism over history then why should the left bother to a make a distinction between Conservatism and Fascism?
It’s a sign of the right’s falling sense of it’s own confidence and real fear that when May’s teetering government collapses the Bad Commies really are at the gates of the citadel.
But it’s also a signal (beyond Brexit which should have given us a clue) that the British elites are completely out of touch with reality.
Most of Corbyn’s policies are just unremarkable mainstream European social democratic ones, not some kind of Red Terror. If the best they can do as their shambolic nationalist venture collapses in front of them is to recommend we erect a Museum of Commie Evil then we’re well on our way to a new government.
The reason young people didn’t vote Tory is because they are repellent, imposing a raft of social policies which work against them in education housing and a low-wage economy.