Some hear ominous echoes of another time when well-meaning adults in thrall to an ideology put children in harm’s way. The post-1968 sexual-liberation movement on continental Europe sought to overturn sexual taboos, and some thought that meant starting young. In German kindergartens run along radical-left lines, teachers encouraged children to fondle them, look at pornography and simulate intercourse. Contemporaneous accounts show how parents repressed their moral qualms by focusing on their beliefs about how an unrepressed child should behave.
Such child-abuse was motivated by political conviction, not sexual desire. But it did not take long for pedophiles to spy an opportunity. The radical left was led by men focused on legalizing homosexuality and smashing the nuclear family. Though they did not intend to endanger children, they gave them little thought. Many leftwing groupings tolerated organizations such as Britain’s Paedophile Information Exchange—not least because they had the same sworn enemies: traditionalist Catholics and evangelicals; hardline conservatives and fascists. The paedophiles made most headway in Germany’s Green Party, which for several years operated as their de facto parliamentary front.
In 1979, Eileen Fairweather was working at Spare Rib, a radical-feminist magazine. She was young and new to journalism, but assigned to read Paedophilia: The Radical Case, in which Tom O’Carroll, later imprisoned for child-abuse, argued for lowering the age of consent to four. She recalls “anguished, earnest” discussions with feminist friends about what they should write about it. “I did draft something, arguing that the existing age of consent was not ‘patriarchal’, but protected children,” she says. “But I never even dared show it to anyone.” No-one back then realized the extent and brutality of child-abuse. And the pedophile movement had so thoroughly hijacked the gay movement that, if you said you were against “child sexual liberation”—as, outrageously, they put it—you were branded “anti-gay.” She says she sees “the same intimidation and paralysis of intelligence” with the transgender debate, with people terrified to express legitimate concerns about infiltration and safeguarding.