R. Page Arnot

Why the Disappointed Demagogue Turns to Fascism

Source: The Communist International, November 1936, Vol. XIII, No. 11.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

LLOYD GEORGE, the well-known British politician, has come out in support of Hitler following on his journey and his interview with the Fuehrer at the time of the Nuremberg Congress. Though both papers in which his views appeared criticized him editorially and though the remainder of the British press for the most part chose to ignore his utterances it would be a mistake to regard this as having no significance.

Their significance depends on the present position of British imperialism, particularly its foreign policy. The center of gravity of the foreign policy of British imperialism at the present moment lies in Europe, in its European policy.

One section of the ruling classes stands for support for France against Hitler but has misgivings as to the French Popular Front. Another section, of which Lord Londonderry was the spokesman, is out and out pro-Hitler; a third section balances between these. General agreement exists only on the policy of rearmament, in regard to which the National Government is now being offered the support of Bevin, Citrine and other reformist leaders.

The pro-Hitler section was formerly the most influential one, and is now more and more supported by the city and the bankers. But this policy is utterly repugnant to the mass of the British people and no one of the pro-Hitler section has been able to make it popular. A vacancy has thus appeared for a new role, namely, that of a pro-Hitlerite, capable by his propaganda, of penetrating among the masses. Here is where Lloyd George steps in.

He announces that there is a “New Germany”. He maintains that in this Germany there is no longer any class struggle nor indeed any struggle of any kind. He asserts that this Germany does not threaten anyone.

Something else however attracted the attention of our traveler in this idyllic Germany.

"I found everywhere [i.e., among the leaders of Hitlerism—R.P.A.], he wrote, “a fierce and uncompromising hostility to Russian Bolshevism, coupled with a genuine admiration for the British people, with a profound desire for a better and friendlier understanding with them.”

He actually defends the ravings at Nuremberg and has the effrontery to explain the Nuremberg speech and the claims of the Nazis to take the Ukraine as having nothing to do with warlike intentions and that it was merely “a taunt”.

Finally, Lloyd George finds the following remarkable explanation of the “recent outbursts against Russia” as being only

“. . . the common form of diplomatic relationship between Communist Russia and the rest of the world on both sides.”

It is nothing more than this, he says, and is not intended as a provocation to war. Again and again he repeats “it does not mean war”.

The title of the article of Lloyd George is “I Talk to Hitler”. It is more apparent that Hitler talked to him. The utterances of Lloyd George sound like a gramophone record of the familiar Nazi propaganda.

So, in fine, Lloyd George has become Hitler’s mouthpiece for Britain. But he can only become this because Lloyd George long ago in Britain has ceased to be the mouthpiece of any section of the people’s opinion.

To those who remember Lloyd George as the radical politician before the war or as the successful War Minister of British imperialism, it may seem strange to learn that Lloyd George has sunk so low in popular esteem, has become so bankrupt that he is now making his last gambler’s throw, staking his all on the Knave of Clubs. Yet the fact is that this one-time leading figure of the Liberal Party, this war-time Prime Minister, this all-powerful head of the Liberal-Tory coalition of 1918 to 1922 has lost his support in every political party. The working class hates him, the Tories distrust him, the Liberal Party is split into two sections, neither of which includes Lloyd George.

In Parliament he sits as the chieftain of the Lloyd George Family Party, consisting of himself, his son, his son-in-law and his daughter. So this ruthless, clever, wily, unscrupulous demagogue has reached the position of a political outcast and like other well-known adventurers of the war period, like Ludendorff or Millerand and others, he has steadily sunk in the general esteem. Recognizing this, he has now decided to stake his all, and to risk a desperate course.

Lenin already characterized Lloyd George with keen insight in 1916, when he wrote:

“A first-class bourgeois business man and master of political cunning, a popular orator, able to make any kind of speech, even r-r-revolutionary speeches before labor audiences, capable of securing fairly considerable sops for the obedient workers in the shape of social reforms (insurance, etc.)—Lloyd George serves the bourgeoisie splendidly. He serves it precisely among the workers, he transmits its influence precisely to the proletariat, where it is most necessary and most difficult morally to subjugate the masses.”1

Notice that what was demagogy, flattery, lies and fraud before the war, in a word Lloyd George-ism, now finds its easy affinity and historic development in this friendship with Hitler and Hitlerite fascism. But Lloyd George has also been a practitioner of the other side of fascism, of its brutal suppression of the exploited and oppressed, its bestial cruelty, its politics of murder. It was Lloyd George who was responsible Prime Minister in the suppression of the Indian masses in 1919 to 1922 in the first great struggle for liberation, when hundreds were mowed down by machine-guns in the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) and when the atrocity of the Mopleh death train horrified the world. He was directly and personally responsible for the Black and Tans in Ireland, the fascist gangs whose deeds of robbery, arson, rape and murder outdid the worst minions of Castlereagh2 and set a model for the subsequent infamies of the Hitler Blackshirts. It was Lloyd George who was personally responsible for allowing the Irish rebel Terence McSweeney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, on hunger strike in an English dungeon, to starve to a lingering death.

Already at Versailles, in 1919, Lloyd George was outstanding in his fear of revolution. For him, it was a case of “Bolshevisme, voila l’emlemi”! He operated this standpoint through all vicissitudes of Anglo-Soviet trade agreements, enmities with France, Washington treaties, and the Genoa conference. Social insurance as introduced by him in 1911 was, as he himself has explained, not an insurance for the working class against sickness, etc., so much as an insurance for the bourgeoisie, insurance against revolution. Lenin, writing in 1920, quotes Lloyd George’s speech of March 18, 1920, in which he said:

“. . . . civilization is in danger. . . . This country is more top-heavy than any country in the world and if it begins to rock, the crash here for that reason will be greater than in any land.”

On which Lenin comments:

“The reader will see that Lloyd George is not only a clever man, but that he has also learned a great deal from the Marxists.”3

Consistent only in one thing, in his hatred of revolution, this adventurer who has boxed the compass of politics rallied to the support of Hitler fascism, at a moment when all other English politicians were speaking against Hitler and Nazism. On September 22, 1933, Lloyd George declared in a speech at Barmouth:

“If the Powers succeed in overthrowing Nazism in Germany, what would follow? Not a Conservative, Socialist or Liberal regime, but extreme Communism. Surely that could not be their objective. A Communist Germany would be infinitely more formidable than a Communist Russia.”

And again in the House of Commons on November 28, 1934, when even the Tory press and politicians were voicing anti-Nazi sentiments following on the Roehm-Von Schleicher murders, Lloyd George said:

“In a very short time, perhaps in a year or two, the Conservative elements in this country will be looking to Germany as the bulwark against Communism in Europe. She is planted right in the center of Europe, and if Germany is seized by the Communists, Europe will follow; because the Germans could make a better job of it than any other country. Do not let us be in a hurry to condemn Germany. We shall be welcoming Germany as our friend.”

And now, at a moment when the reformist leaders in Britain are vilifying the Soviet Union and Communism so as to prevent a united front in Britain, Lloyd George has chosen to come out with the utmost openness as the defender and mouthpiece of Hitler. For several years past, using his talents as orator, writer and matchless intriguer, Lloyd George has sought to get back into power. If he cannot get one way, if the people reject him, then he will find another way, he thinks.

It was not difficult for Lloyd George to admire Hitler. In 1920, it was being currently reported in England that Lloyd George kept voicing this sentiment “what this country want is a dictator, a Caesar”. But it is not only in foreign affairs that Lloyd George wishes to be allied with Hitler. In home affairs he goes in the same direction. In January, 1935, his “new deal” program of unemployment and reconstruction was a bid for popular support. In this he failed. But it received a welcome from fascist quarters. Lord Londonderry, then head of the Air Force, chief supporter of Hitler in the National Government, said:

“Mr. Lloyd George put forward a constructive plan, and I am glad to hear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to look carefully into it. . . .”

The Daily Mail, with its fascist proclivities, said:

“For all these proposals he will find abundant support. He is a great enterprise well begun, and his lead will be followed the more eagerly because he declares definitely against the wild gentry who would nationalize the joint stock banks or, in plain English, rob the community.”

The Blackshirt, organ of Sir Oswald Mosley, called the speech “the first step on the road to fascist conclusions”.

In the last two years Lloyd George has been writing a history of the war of 1914-1918. Of this history he is the “hero”. In it he appears as the “revolutionary” (in the Nazi sense of the word), struggling against incompetent generals, politicians, traitors and vested interests. It is not surprising that the author of this English version of Mein Kampf should be a friend of Hitler.

If Lloyd George has cast himself for the role of Hitler’s friend in the present situation in Britain, it is of course not out of love for Lord Londonderry or Neville Chamberlain or Ramsay MacDonald or any other pro-Hitlerites, though he really serves their present purpose well. Lloyd George is doing it for his own purpose. What are his calculations? He is speculating on the love for peace that is widespread among the English masses who hate war and who hate the aggressor. To the masses he says in effect, “the British people must have peace, neither the National Government nor the Labor Party can guarantee peace. I am ‘the man who won the war’. I am also the man who can win the peace. Trust me. I can make a friend of Hitler. Hitler is no aggressor. Trust me—in the name of peace”.

But so far the masses have not been deceived. The vast majority of letters which poured into the News Chronicle attacked Lloyd George. One of them stated clearly that “Mr. Lloyd George wants British democracy united with German fascism against not the menace but the triumph of Marxism in the U.S.S.R.”. Lloyd George’s fellow Liberal, Eleanor Rathbone, M.P., gave him a sharp rebuff in the Manchester Guardian, and finally threatened a schism in the Liberal-pacifist organization called the Council of Action if Lloyd George is supported by any other Liberals or religious leaders.

The result was immediate. Lloyd George was forced to publish a rejoiner to his critics in which he claimed that his only or main object had been to arouse the democracy of Britain to deal with unemployment, ill health and bad conditions as effectively as had been done in Soviet Russia, or (!) as had been done, as he, Lloyd George, asserts, in Hitler Germany. Thus in his reply he falls back on the attempt to confuse the masses by bracketing the U.S.S.R. with the bestialities of Hitler fascism, and by representing himself as consumed with love for democracy.

The last attempt of this disappointed demagogue, Lloyd George, to stage a comeback may end in his final extinction as a political figure ,but only if the attack is pushed home by every one of those who are against the menace of war and the danger of fascism.

Since this was written, Lloyd George has suddenly (in an interview in “Reynolds”, October 4, 1936) announced himself as a supporter of a Popular Front in Britain.

But this maneuver has only to be closely examined for its disgusting fascist features to be exposed. He retracts nothing of his praise of Hitler fascism. He makes no mention of the existence of the Communists, even when quoting the example of the People’s Front in France, cunningly passing over the Communists. He says that England needs a “Social ideal”, like Hitler’s.

He abuses the Labor and Liberal Parties, and calls on the discontented masses to rally around himself, Lloyd George, as the Fuehrer of a “Popular Front”.

In a word, he wants to drag fascism, into England behind the popular sign of the “People’s Front”.

We may remind the old demagogue of an episode in English history, when Charles II, warned by his universally detested brother and heir to the throne of a treasonable conspiracy, replied, wittily enough, “James, James, they will never kill me to make you King”! The masses of Britain may be discontented with the present leadership of the Labor Party, but they will never throw it over to make Lloyd George their Fuehrer.



1. Lenin on Britain, p. 147

2. Lord Castlereagh, Chief British Administrator in Ireland, who brutally suppressed the Irish uprising of 1798.

3. See Lenin, Left Wing Communism, a Infantile Disorder.