By Charles Moore
Whoopee! Friends have kindly sent us an invitation to a Summer of
Love party, enticingly decorated with a photo of a woman wearing a
hippy headband and not much else.
I wonder how many people make the same mistake as I did, and think
that the Summer of Love took place in 1968. (It was actually in
1967.) The word "1968" conjures up love, peace, drugs, Jimi Hendrix
and so on. The musical Hair began in the West End that autumn ("?'The
nudity is stunning'. Daily Sketch", said the publicity poster.)
Forty years on, the BBC is marking the cultural climacteric that was
1968 by running something on the subject every day on Radio 4.
Perhaps it shows the age of the people in charge of the corporation
that they hark back to such a distant date, but I think it is a good
idea. I was alive at the time - 11 years old - but, not being much of
a Voodoo Chile (©Hendrix), I missed most of it.
It is good to catch up. The study of 1968 reveals a great deal about
the way we live now.
Not quite as you might expect, though. Who won the US presidential
election that year? The not notably funky Richard Nixon, who coined
the phrase "the silent majority". Who attracted by far the biggest
street demonstration of support in the Paris disturbances? Charles De Gaulle.
And 1968 was remarkable for two of the most explosive statements of
conservative ideas made in the modern world, one by Pope Paul VI and
the other by Enoch Powell. So anyone wanting to give a 1968 themed
party could appropriately call it Humanae Vitae or Rivers of Blood.
Be there and be square!
Humanae Vitae was the title of the Pope's encyclical of July 25,
which condemned artificial contraception. Rivers of Blood was the
name given to Powell's speech on April 20, in which he warned that
Britain was "heaping its own funeral pyre" by permitting mass
The two texts are very different. The encyclical, like all Vatican
documents, is careful, almost dry. Powell's speech is highly
emotional and incendiary. What they have in common, though, is that
they are conservative protests about what is happening, and
predictions about where it will lead.
Both men understood that they would be bitterly assailed. There will
be a "clamorous outcry", said the Pope. "I can already hear the
chorus of execration", said Enoch. But both thought it was their duty
to speak out. They were much braver than Vietnam protesters in
Grosvenor Square or revolting students in France: they were
confronting the spirit of the age.
The Pope took his stand on the teaching that all married sexual
intercourse - the Church does not countenance any unmarried sexual
intercourse - must have "an intrinsic relationship" to procreation.
If this relationship were broken, various things would follow. There
would be more promiscuity, he said, and lower moral standards. Men,
in particular, "may forget the reverence due to a woman, disregarding
her physical and emotional equilibrium", and reducing their sexual
behaviour to "mere instinct". This would be accompanied by much
greater public obscenity and the advancement of "depravity in the name of art".
Governments, said Paul VI, would use population control as a
substitute for pursuing just economic and social policies. They would
coerce people into limiting the size of their families, forgetting
that "The family is the primary unit in the state". They would
succumb to "an utterly materialistic conception of man". And science
and technology would be abused. "The power of man over his own body"
would become so absolute that he would neglect his duty to the
sacredness of life.
Enoch Powell warned that the then-current rate of immigration would
produce between five and seven million immigrants or people of
immigrant descent by 2000. The trend, he said, was losing white
people their hospital beds, their school places and their
neighbourhoods. It was all happening "in pursuance of a decision by
default, on which they were never consulted".
The Race Relations Act, which came to Parliament that year, would,
said Powell, be "like throwing a match on gunpowder". It would give
the authorities "the power to pillory them [white people] for their
private actions". Powell discussed integration. He thought it would
not occur because of "the growth of positive forces acting against
integration, of vested interests in the sharpening of racial and
This was the "canker" of "communalism", which he had witnessed
(though he did not mention them) during his four years in India in
the 1940s: "Like the Roman, I seem to see the river Tiber foaming
with much blood."
Others have attacked both these texts often and violently, and will
again. There is, indeed, much to be said against them, particularly
against Powell's choice of examples (excreta in letter boxes) and of
words ("charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies"), which cannot escape
the accusation that they turned black and Asian people into objects of hate.
But a fair-minded person, 40 years later, would find it hard to deny
that Paul and Enoch were on to something.
There has been an explosion of public obscenity. Artificial
contraception was supposed to remove the need for abortion, but
abortion has hugely increased. So have sexually transmitted diseases.
Judging by the divorce and illegitimacy rates, it would be hard to
argue, as people used to, that family planning has saved marriage.
The number of teenage pregnancies shows that the contraceptive
culture has not protected young girls very successfully.
States have indeed forced people into birth control. China's
one-child policy has so altered the shape of the family and the
psychology of each child that its rising generation may well threaten
the peace of the world.
As for science, it is now clear that there are no agreed limits about
when an embryo may be created, altered or destroyed. People are
And, yes, as men in pubs used to tell you all the time, "Enoch was
right", at least in the sense that the great growth in immigration -
his numerical projections proved accurate - has weakened our sense of
national solidarity and produced tensions leading to violence.
The strain on welfare, on policing, on "Britishness", on civil peace
is enormous. It was once unimaginable that British-born people would
blow up their fellow-citizens in the name of Islam, but in London in
2005, it happened.
It particularly interests me that both Paul VI and Enoch Powell
thought about something to which the Spirit of '68 was curiously
indifferent. What happens, they asked, to the weak?
It would be poor girls who would be exploited for sex without
marriage, and by the commercialisation of sex. It would be poor
whites, not people like the liberal Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, who
would find that they no longer "owned" their streets.
"The many, not the few" has been a great slogan of the liberal Left
in recent times. But the legacy of 1968 suggests that the many may
not have so much to thank them for.
Parallel with its 1968 season, the BBC is showing a series of
programmes about the white working class, treating it with excited
surprise, as if it were a rare and threatened species just discovered
by David Attenborough in a rain forest. There is a relation, not
fully considered, between the two subjects.
I leave conservative-minded people with this conundrum. Must we
always be gloomy Cassandras, or can we ever find a way of persuading
people we are right before it is too late?
Forty years ago there were riots in Grosvenor Square and Robert
Kennedy announced he would run for president. We team up with the BBC
to bring you a series of unique extracts from the BBC archives