PETER HITCHENS: Britain is turning into a version of East Germany

PETER HITCHENS: Britain is slowly turning into a version of the mad old East Germany, with equality and diversity the new Marxism… even worse, it’s happening under the Tories

I often think that the old Communist East Germany should have been bought by the Disney Corporation, and kept going permanently, exactly as it was, as a tourist attraction.

Schoolchildren from all over the Western world could have spent a few days there to find out what a dogma-driven society was really like.

Tourists could have paid for package tours, escaping at the end of each gruelling day to special cordoned-off Western-style hotels.

Then they could have realised, in time, what was happening here in supposedly Conservative Britain, where, as a new report has revealed this week, huge amounts of money and effort are spent on drilling public sector workers in the Left-wing ideology of ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’.

Pictured: Ulrich Mühe, The Lives of Others, 2006

Such a vast Communist theme park would have been far more interesting than all the usual Disney World tat. Nobody would have had to stay if they didn’t want to. But the worrying thing is that many would have done.

Regimentation isn’t as unpopular as it should be. The old East Germany is famous for its ‘Ostalgia’, a longing for the certainties, the scruffy, cheap consumer goods and the cosy atmosphere of a society where everyone thinks the same thing and nobody rocks the boat.

Plenty of old hardliners loved the community life and the dutiful society, and moan to this day that they’d like to go back to the days of the Berlin Wall. They never wanted to cross it anyway. I suspect plenty of others wouldn’t have minded keeping their jobs in tatty, decrepit factories, making wonky goods for tiny wages — and paying tiny prices in the drab shops.

Not all the people who collaborated with the Stasi secret police were blackmailed into it. Quite a few liked living under the stern gaze of authority, and being able to denounce their neighbours if they annoyed them. If you doubt this, look at the behaviour of quite a few British people during the Great Covid Panic, merrily reporting the people next door for breaking lockdown rules. It is surprising how we can come to enjoy the strangest things.

Because Britain has forgotten that mad countries of the East German type really existed, just such a society is slowly forming in our midst. Instead of the mechanical formulae of Marxism-Leninism, the young and now the not-so-young are ceaselessly pestered with the slogans and catechisms of Equality and Diversity.

Pictured: Berlin Wall East Side Gallery, people near one of the graffiti murals showing the famous kiss between Honecker and the Soviet leader Brezhnev

Even TV commercials are nowadays packed with messages about the joys of multiculturalism and third-wave feminism. And the war against personal responsibility rages incessantly, with every failing classified as a health problem, and a drug for almost every type of misbehaviour.

One of the main features of the old Communist states was exactly this — the incessant propaganda. From kindergarten upwards, then in the youth movements and in the schools — and finally in the workplace — the message of Marxism was hammered home, often by teachers who did not believe it themselves but wanted to keep their jobs.

Their pupils mostly did not believe it either. They could see all around them the evidence that it was not true. But the authorities did not much care. All those slogans, all those huge red banners praising Communism, were all there to tell anyone who didn’t like it that they were powerless.

Here it is much more successful. No other world exists in which these things do not happen. Fewer and fewer remember when it was different. And it is far more subtle.

If you are told enough times by David Attenborough that the world is in peril, you will believe it. If you object to being told that it is shameful and wicked to like the old British culture, you are classified as an evil racist who hates his fellow man. If you suspect that children are better off being raised by their own parents, you are a woman-hater who should be ashamed. And so on.

The great paradox of this week’s revelations on indoctrination in this country is that they have been published by a think-tank called Conservative Way Forward (CWF). Yet nobody can really avoid the terrible truth that it is under a Conservative Government that these classes in correctness have intensified.

In its report Defunding Politically Motivated Campaigns, CWF says it has ‘submitted Freedom of Information Requests to 6,000 public bodies, and gone line-by-line through the accounts of government departments and the external bodies and charities they’re funding’.

It found that 10,000 people are employed in ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity’ (EDI) at an annual cost of £557 million. A further £212 million went on race, sexuality, unconscious bias and EDI training. These are on top of almost £5.49 billion spent by quangos on dubious aims — such as the Office for Students using public funds to impose what CWF calls ‘anti-British’ diversity schemes and ‘decolonisation’ on students, the Arts Council spending money on ‘unlearning whiteness’, or even HS2 spending half a billion on EDI.

CWF argues that ‘this waste is divisive, ongoing and increasing year on year’. It says it has been ‘exceptionally careful to separate the good work many of these organisations are doing, from the bad, politically motivated uses of taxpayer funds’.

Pictured: Queues at the border to cross through the Berlin Wall after it’s reopening in November 1989. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin

Of course, the spending is shocking at a time when we are being told we can no longer afford many important things. But surely more shocking still is the relentless spreading, clearly backed by authority, of opinions which undermine and contradict the broadly Christian and deeply British ideas of law, justice, liberty, personal responsibility and morality which previously lay beneath the institutions of this country.

One example which will surprise few is the report’s conclusion that the UK’s 48 police forces now employ 250 members of staff to ‘embed equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives into all parts of business’.

The survey touches on a small part of a vast and revolutionary change in our society, well under way since 1997, but hugely increased since the passage of the crucial Equality Act in 2010. Nobody really knows how extensive it is in schools and universities, though occasional rows and scandals suggest that openly expressed conservative opinions will not do you much good in such places, as either a teacher or a student.

You might well say that New Labour was responsible for much of this policy. But it is 12 years since Labour left office, and there is no serious sign that it has gone into reverse.

If we had undergone an actual violent revolution or had been invaded by some politically correct foreign power, I suppose we would just have to put up with this sort of change, as our new rulers turned the world upside down.

But what I cannot stand is the fact that the people in Government who claim to be defending us from this sort of thing have in fact endorsed and strengthened and continued it.

Do they not realise that, once the last traces of debate are over, they themselves will no longer be needed to provide cover for the abolition of this country?

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