"The body politic has become infected. Like the growth of bacteria in a petri dish, the subversive tenets of cultural Marxism have spread as a pinking of the public discourse" – that's according to a bizarre propaganda booklet drawing on Islamophobic and anti-Semitic ideas that was available to pick up at a Conservative Party conference fringe meeting, VICE can reveal.
The booklet is "Moralitis, A Cultural Virus" by Robert Oulds and Niall McCrae. It was available at a meeting of the Thatcherite, anti-EU think-tank the Bruges Group on Monday.
The "cultural Marxism" referenced numerous times in the booklet is a right-wing conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic origins, which looks at the mostly Jewish thinkers of the Frankfurt School of Philosophy and draws on the racist trope of Jews as a "fifth column", suggesting that they want to undermine traditional Western values.
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Muslim hate monitoring group Tell Mama, which has met with the Conservative party to discuss stamping out extremism, told VICE: "Having books talking about 'cultural marxism' being circulated at a conference is deeply worrying."
The authors go on to talk in pseudo-academic terms about how what they see as the current moral hegemony "is an epidemic disease so powerful that it has a cytopathic effect on society, changing the cognition and behaviour of its hosts. While older people have developed resistance, younger people are more susceptible to the virus due to their lack of immunity. Their idealism arises from a lack of 'real world' experience."
The booklet blames immigration for "relentless population growth" and suggests that the growth of Britain's Muslim population was "a deliberate policy to replace one set of voters with another". It also notes that it is absurd for progressives to favour immigration, "considering the very conservative cultures that they bring" – for instance, "the growth of fundamentalist Islam" – before drawing on another far-right trope: "The notion of turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind. As noted by a Salisbury Review writer: 'The decadent culture of the declining West, fixated on the rights of "the other", will be replaced by a vigorous manly culture which can replicate itself. Isn't history the account of the rise and fall of civilisations?'"
The article cited is titled "The Great Replacement". The Great Replacement is the name of a far-right conspiracy theory that believes Western culture is being systematically "replaced" by the culture of immigrants from third-world continents, or as "Moralitis" puts it: "Immigrants from continents oppressed by Western cultural, economic and military imperialism" who are "pawns for the revolutionary zeal of cultural Marxism".
The Salisbury Review is a conservative journal that says it dislikes "rampant political correctness", and has published such luminaries as Enoch Powell. More recently, it published Paul Weston, who was part of the British Freedom Party – an abortive EDL-linked far-right political project.
The booklet goes on to claim that "injustices that do not fit the agenda of identity politics are ignored (as seen with the establishment derision for the protests against the imprisonment of Tommy Robinson)" – possibly the least "ignored" man in Britain. One of the authors, McCrae, has previously written in defence of Tommy Robinson, calling him "a wronged man" who is the current equivalent of "the 19th century Lancashire weaver and working-class wordsmith Samuel Bamford", who fought the Corn Laws and was witness to the Peterloo Massacre.
The Brexit process is amplifying hard-right voices in the party. The meeting of Bruges Group was well attended this year, with a cabinet whip in attendance keeping tabs on the attending hard-Brexiteer MPs.
Fiyaz Mughal, who ran a conference event called "Tackling hate and extremism: The challenges ahead", told VICE: "It is deeply worrying [that books talking about 'cultural marxism' are being circulated at a conference], since that term has roots in antisemitism, and such a term should set off alarm bells, particularly when such books are circulated at a major political party conference.
"Furthermore, the book infers cultural tropes, at one point talking about fundamentalist Islam, which needs to be tackled head on and its narrative undermined, and on the other hand, that Western culture will be replaced by a 'manly culture' which can reproduce itself. Either way, the inference given is that the 'culture of the West' is under threat by people who can mass reproduce and who have a misogynistic culture. What buttons is that language pressing? I would say buttons that are deeply divisive and ones that promote tropes."
Nick Ryan from Hope Not Hate said, "Why the hell is this sort of crap being handed out at the Conservative Party conference? This sort of garbage has no place in mainstream politics. Terms such as 'great replacement' and 'cultural Marxism' are quite clearly the preserve of conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists, and carry deeply ideological anti-Muslim and antisemitic (in the case of cultural Marxism) undertones. These sort of twisted theories also formed part of mass killer Anders Breivik's justification for his killing spree in Norway in 2011.
"The Conservative chair Brandon Lewis is already facing calls for an enquiry into Islamophobia, after Boris Johnson's burqa comments and now London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey's remarks about Muslims and Hindus. He needs to act fast, and act now, to stop the whiff of extremism infecting the party further."
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain commented: "In attacking immigration and the rich diversity we have in our Western societies, it is now customary for the far-right to claim they are doing so in opposition to extremists who misuse Islam. To see these spurious arguments deployed in literature at the Conservative Party conference is deeply concerning and serves to underscore once again the mountain the party must climb to challenge intolerance in its ranks."
The revelations come after the Conservative Party has been criticised for its failure to deal with Islamophobia in the party and its associations with the far-right in Europe. Conservatives in the European Parliament recently backed Viktor Orban, Hungary's far-right, Islamophobic leader, voting against a motion to censure him.
The Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment.