When the Kissing Had to Stop was a political fiction novel published by the British/American writer Constantine FitzGibbon in 1960, in the darkest days of the Cold War, the days of megatons, throw-weight, missile superiority, and mutual assured destruction; the days of “running dogs of US imperialism”, “bourgeois lackeys”, and, as the Soviets described West Berlin, “that cesspit of fascist revanchism” (definitely my favorite).
At the time, nuclear disarmament was all the rage in progressive circles, and a mass movement in Britain, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament for Britain, had a good deal of public support. It was a force to be reckoned with in the Labor Party, indeed it almost captured it at one time, and, naturally it was riddled with communists who were pushing the Soviet line. Of course, the Soviet Union was all in favor of unilateral disarmament for Britain!
The plot of When the Kissing Had to Stop runs something like this. There is the usual cast of characters: the ditzy upper class do-gooders, witty actresses, ambitious schemers from the leftist unions, student mobs, and, of course, the caring intellectuals “working for peace”. A left-wing government assumes power and society decays, and Britain has become (as one reviewer said),
“…a diseased island where the police have turned leathery and brutal, juvenile delinquency has flowered into public perversions and the uncontrollable rule of crime. The H-bomb agitators trick the government into defeat. The white-haired do-gooders and the steely climbers take over and, slowly, step by step, surrender honour and the ancient sovereignty to a Russia that plans, with a preternatural wisdom, each step and cynically takes advantage of each high-minded act of stupidity and treachery….It ends in a night time of brutality [as the Soviet military occupies the country] that is made the more appalling by the green fields and the country houses… The charming people are all swept away.” And so on.
The book created a huge furor. Shrieks of protest came from the left, the CND, the unions and even the British Communist Party, who claimed that they, too, were patriotic Britons. FitzGibbon was decried as a right-wing extremist, a reactionary, and a “fascist hyena” by the communists. Far from being insulted by that, he relished it, and threw it back in their faces by publishing, a few years later, a book of short essays entitled Random Thoughts of a Fascist Hyena.
That book contains a highly illuminating chapter, “Unilateralism and All That”, which discusses the leftist reactions to the novel, the nuclear disarmament movement, and takes to task prominent leftists of the day like Betrand Russell and Sir Herbert Read, the self-professed anarchist art critic. It is an analysis of what we call nowadays the progressive mindset, and it is remarkable how little the left has changed in the intervening half century.
CND and others of the left championed the causes of “civil disobedience” to achieve the political goals they could not achieve through the ballot box. Their claim, so familiar to us all, of a “higher moral authority” outweighed any commitments to parties and elections, entitled them to disrupt society and to break the law. FitzGibbon continues…
“…when, in the past century, parliamentary democracy has been destroyed in the great Eurpean nation-states this has usually been done by, and in the interests of, a movement that claims to be above the political parties and to speak for the nation as a whole: Bonapartism in 1851, Bolshevism in 1917, Fascism in 1922, ….I would point out further that these are precisely the claims the nuclear disarmers are repeatedly making for themselves: they are simultaneously above party and yet would wreck the Labour Party to achieve their ends. They are, in fact, a bewegung.
That they are a purely negative bewegung, even more devoid of constructive or falsely constructive ideas than those others, is neither here nor there. The job of mass-movements is always to silence democratic dialogue. Once that has been done, a monologue always follows the transitory cacophony.”
How remarkably similar to the aspiring movements of today, the anti-White racists in Black Lives Matter, the crazed students in Antifa, the street mobs of radical Islam, which, although only minor pustules on the body politic at the moment, could create greater havoc if given the opportunity by our weak and flaccid leaders.
The silencing of democratic dialogue that FitzGibbon refers to in the 1960s is today brought about by the claim that any frank discussion of problems, real problems that is, not the fake problems that so concern the Fake News Media, is “divisive”. Or “hate speech”. Or any other fake word that is solely designed to intimidate and suppress discussion. Moreover, the rather comical and civilized “civil disobedience” of the 60s, which involved little more than sitting down in front of traffic in Trafalgar Square [“Come along, sir, time to go home for a nice cup of tea” as a friendly policeman would say], has transmorgrified into violent mobs assaulting right-wing speakers, shouting down university lecturers, and even shooting Republican Congressmen in the US.
“…The recourse to direct action, even if it merely takes the form of police-baiting, sets a very unpleasant precedent. Any minority may think it knows the right answers and that the majority, and the political parties, are wrong. But to attempt, by force, to compel the acceptance of that view is the first step towards tyranny.”
How far we have come along that dangerous road today. Indeed, many Western governments are aiding the leftist mobs by refusing to enforce the law on our streets and in our colleges. Many universities have been taken over by these aspiring tyrants, particularly in the US, UK and Canada, and so far precious little has been done about it. In Canada, it is now up to brave graduate students and a few professors who still value our educational institutions, to carry the flag. The foppish nonentity of a Prime Minister and his execrable “Liberal” Party remain silent.
Although he was no Orwell, FitzGibbon had a keen sense of what the left was all about. Under the guise of “caring” and “love” lay the all-too-real spite and envy, forces that are so obvious in the left today. In the essay The Future of the Extreme Left, …
“Perhaps never have a group of soi-disant intellectuals been more totally wrong, and been proved more totally wrong, than the British dotty Left as 1962 nears its end….Only the other day, forty of them, all, in theory, members of that Labour Party which the dotty Left has succeeded in castrating—to the immense regret of all clear-thinking democrats—were writing the usual nonsensical screed to The Times, while their ancient mascot, Lord Russell, praises the Chinese for their moderation in invading India. What rubbish will think up next?”
If he were around today, FitzGibbon could have a field day with the disaster that is the current British Labour Party under Corbyn—a reincarnation of the dotty Left of the sixties.
Was it Mark Twain who said, “History may not repeat itself, but at least it rhymes”?