Eleanor Marx said that her father, Karl Marx, often said “We can forgive Christianity much, since it taught us to love children.” The decay of capitalism however has brought to light the role of religion, as part of the state apparatus, as one of the prime movers in the organised trafficking and sexual abuse of children. But it is by no means the only part of the state to be involved in this violence against children, as recent and more historical events have shown.
Not just vile Savile
The revelations from the Jimmy Savile affair have also lifted a very big lid on the contempt that the British state has for the care and protection of children - especially working class and vulnerable children. The BBC and the rest of the British state has long vaunted the probity, independence and objectivity of this broadcaster but, as the Iraq War and the miners’ strike showed, the organisation is nothing less than the voice and visage of the British ruling class and a very useful tool in its ideological war against the working class. It’s no wonder that the BBC was much admired by the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels - his machine could never reach the heights of effective propaganda and lies maintained by the BBC for decades.
That the leering, grotesque image of this serial child abuser, Jimmy Savile, should be the ‘face’ of the BBC over decades, the organisation which created and cosseted him, is entirely appropriate. Although the reporting and enquiries around the Savile affair are now turning into a spectacle, the initial determination of some Newsnight reporters (not Paxman and Mason) has to be saluted - in a similar way that the determination of the Hillsborough families to expose the dark reality at the heart of the state also has to be supported.
It’s clear that the abuse of children by Savile at the BBC wasn’t just tolerated but that it was complicit in it and then tried to cover it up with even more sickeningly fulsome tributes to the ‘national treasure’. But it’s not just the BBC that was involved in his disgusting decades-long abuse but the whole gamut of the British state: the police who ignored the various complaints from all over the country over many, many years; the Catholic church who made him something of a saint - a role the BBC built on; Broadmoor prison, where a young girl was locked in solitary after complaining against him and then saw a grinning Savile rattling the keys to the cell through the porthole; the media - and here one must give a special mention to The Sun and Cameron’s mate’s Rebekah Brooke’s vacuous campaign against paedophiles, while obviously being fully aware of the stories around Savile’s abuse; the charities, the politicians who gave him the access he needed; the gormless Prince Charles (who sent his love to his ‘young ladies’) and the rest of the royal baggage that made him a Knight of the Realm - the whole rotten lot of them. Lots of people, mainly workers, complained, but in a system based on exploitation, hierarchy, money and the status quo, there was no advantage to capitalism to pursue such complaints. In fact it was in all their interests to hide them and cover them up.
The rotten system
But this example of Savile’s abuse and the complicity of the ruling class institutions in it, is nothing new, nor exceptional, for the British state.
In 2009, Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised - as if this ‘apology’ meant anything - for the one hundred and fifty thousand 3 to 14 year-old British children who were cut off from their families, sometimes told that their parents were dead, and, between 1920 and 1967 were sent to Australia, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries, where they faced sexual, physical, mental abuse, and were used as cheap or unpaid labour. It wasn’t only the governments of the right and left that organised this massive child trafficking but charities such as Barnado’s, the Salvation Army, the Children’s Society and, of course, the Catholic Church. In a fine twist, reminiscent of Saddam Hussein charging the families of his murdered victims for the bullets, the state set up a scheme called “Sunny Smiles” where, through charities, working class children lucky enough not to be kidnapped and trafficked on such a scale, were asked to collect monies to help pay for their fares to ‘a better place’.
And the Protestant brand of religion isn’t backward when getting involved in child abuse. In the 1970s a paedophile ring was operating in and around the Kincora boy’s home in Belfast. The Free Presbyterian Church was involved, the protestant DUP, MI5 (who were no doubt recording all the comings and goings and more besides), the Tory government, the Democratic Unionist Party and British royalty (the mentor of gormless Charles, Lord Mountbatten, reportedly visited the place). At the highest levels of the state, children were being used and abused as sexual playthings.
But things have changed you might say. It’s a different world now, there’s no longer the exploitation of children. Not a bit of it. Like all the major democracies, child labour is rife in Britain. One result of the 2001 census showed that 175,000 children in Britain, some of them as young as eight, were social carers for a parent or parents. The Labour government made this a priority to the point that it did absolutely nothing about it. Trafficked children continue to pour into Britain and despite the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act there has not been one prosecution against it in the eight years since. On the other hand, despite Coalition heavyweight Nick Clegg saying otherwise recently, young children with their ‘suspect’ parents are still being locked up in goals in immigration centres.
Another recent shocking example centres around the Rochdale abuse case, which itself is indicative of a much wider phenomenon of the knowing exploitation and abuse of children by the British state. Vulnerable children taken into care in southern England are being shipped hundreds of miles away from family and sent to homes run by private businesses. Thousands are being regularly transported to private-sector homes in the Midlands and the north where these firms buy up cheap housing in insalubrious areas, often with high numbers of sex offenders around, who then charge the state some £250,000 per child per year. Castlecare, which runs 40 homes in Northampton, was charging £378,000 per child per year with only 2% of its homes being rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’. Rochdale, for example, an area of cheap housing, has 44 ‘care homes’, more than all the London boroughs put together. In 2011, in Greater Manchester, one thousand children were “placed out of borough” - or dumped, as some experts call it. This blatant abusive trafficking has continued for years with the government’s dedicated “Children’s Minister” saying nothing.
Its treatment of children tells you much about this decomposing system and the rottenness of its elements. Will the government, as with all governments complicit in the abuse of children so far, do anything to remedy the situation? Of course not. Just a couple of months ago David Cameron was attacking what he called the “culture of entitlement”. Why, we can ask, should children, particularly vulnerable children whose parents are legally the state, feel entitled to protection from exploitation, trafficking and sexual abuse? The state has been instrumental in facilitating this abuse and will continue to do so even more widely as the cuts rain down on children’s services and social payments to families with children.
Note: This article was contributed by a sympathiser of the ICC.