29 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 34

Trudging along in the mindless mob of the useful idiots

lwhile their friends and allies, the Istanbul bombers, were murdering humble clerks, janitors and cleaners in Turkey, the anti-Bush protesters were out in London — in rather small numbers, it must be said. How that successful mass killing in Turkey must have raised their flagging spirits, given a muchneeded boost to their campaign for 'peace', cheered up their ideologically calloused hearts. One of their celebrity cheerleaders had egged them on by describing Bush and Blair drinking glasses of human blood together at their Downing Street tea party. Well, the crowd in London, with their painted faces and seedy semi-literate banners, certainly relished their tumblerful of gore, fresh from the shattered streets of Constantine's old city. 'Château al-Qa'eda 2003; they chortled, 'splendid bouquet. Plenty of body, eh? Can't get this quality at Oddbins, can you?' It was indeed the right stuff. Robespierre would have gulped it down with relish, Madame Lafarge and her thirsty friends, sitting at the foot of the guillotine to catch the odd drop spilling down on them as the knife sliced through the flesh, would have smacked their dry loveless lips in satisfaction. It was the kind of drink served regularly at the midnight banquets held in Beria's dacha, when the day's total of executions was added up, the number of fresh inmates in the Gulag calculated, and medals awarded to the Stakhanovites of murder. These were evenings when Stalin's dark-brown eyes twinkled with delight, when Beria slapped his thighs with the sheer ecstasy of extinguishing life, and when frightened nonentities like Khrushchev, not yet in the top echelon or able to draw up death lists themselves, learned the arcana of the trade.

One of the left-wing papers contrasted the 'tired, frightened politicians of Whitehall' with the 'fresh young people clamouring for peace outside in the streets, speaking for Britain'. Of course, there were plenty of genuine idealists among the mob. But the faces I saw on television did not look like that at all. Some were old and, in a curious way, familiar. Had I not seen them before, looking wise, benevolent, all-knowing, linking arms and chatting in unison 'Ho, Ho, HoChi-Minh'? Or even in about 1960, when the Red Guards were smashing up immense quantities of Ming china, priceless parch ments from the first millennium AD and, in the process. murdering 60 million Chinese men, women and children; were those not the same people, young then of course, who waved the Little Red Book, applauded Mao for his mythical swim in the Yangtse and called on the Red Sun of Peace and Happiness' rising over China to save the world from the wickedness of capitalism? I sometimes wonder, watching the rise of the capitalism China once despised, if those 60 million dead — more than the entire population of the earth 1,000 years ago — are commemorated by their Chinese descendants, if flowers are left at their graves, if indeed they were lucky enough to have graves and not just mass burial pits.

There were other familiar images in the footage of the march. People whose parents and grandparents had been on the job when I was young, even before I was born. They had demonstrated in London in favour of a dreadful enterprise called 'The White Sea Canal'. This was in the Twenties and early Thirties, and was a public work said to be undertaken by enthusiastic supporters of the communist cause. That is what Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw and other much-quoted and revered figures told the public then. We now know that this infamous project, whose public utility was almost negligible, was built entirely by slave labour, in most cases working without the most elementary tools, indeed with their bare hands, and the great majority of whom (about 500,000) died on the job, of exhaustion and starvation. 'Useful idiots', to use Lenin's phrase, praised them at the time as heroic pioneers who were building a new paradise on earth. They were the same people as — or rather the grandparents of — those on the anti-Bush demo last week, many of whom now congregate to applaud and support suicide bombers who murder people from the West; or, indeed not just from the West, but anyone whatsoever.

These organised street crowds are of ancient descent. They first emerged in the 1790s to support the mass murders of the French Revolution, when more than a million people were put to death, most for no reason at all. Then, to applaud Napoleon, whose 'victories' cost the lives of four million people, mostly his own soldiers, not including the vast numbers of pathetic civilians caught up in the path of slaughter who lost all — children, livestock, crops, farms — in the senseless destructive track of his armies. He was the prototype of the 20th-century men of mass murder.

Those people who marched the tolerant streets of London last week applauded Stalin and Dimitrov, the butchers of East Germany, Poland and the Balkans, the men and women who built and staffed more than 20,000 concentration camps in Eastern Europe and Russia. They did so with the same complacency and self-certitude, the same sense of moral righteousness, as those who now condemn President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, and elevate the Muslim leaders of suicide bombers to figures of sanctity and honour.

What kind of people are these professional marchers, these enthusiasts always ready to foregather and shout and wave banners whenever a great evil is rampant in the world? What gives them this absolute blindness to the truth? How can they choose to ignore the real evil in the world on a gigantic scale in order to scream against the few who are trying to prevent it? Once or twice I have tried to argue with such people. What strikes me most is their stupidity and ignorance. One woman I talked to thought Iraq was in central Africa. Another believed that Afghanistan was part of China and that we were trying to remove it from its rightful owners. When I told her the truth, she no more believed me than when I mentioned that China had 20 million political prisoners, whose unpaid efforts were the main driving force behind China's export trade in low-cost manufacture. Of the writers and so forth who lead the campaign against President Bush, most are (some to my certain knowledge) ignorant about the Middle East, its ethnology, geography, anthropology, history and geopolitics. They are ignorant, stupid, silly and vacuous. By comparison, Mr Bush is a scintillating intellect and a man of profound knowledge.