C.L.R. James 1949

Winston Churchill – Tory War-dog

Source: Fourth International, Vol.10 No.2 (Whole No. 92), February 1949, pp.41-46, signed by G.F. Eckstein;
Transcribed: by Damon Maxwell.

Mr. Churchill’s book, The Gathering Storm, is Volume I of a series of some five projected volumes. It deals chiefly with the period leading up to World War II. But as one reads, it soon becomes obvious that the book is preparing everyone for another storm that is gathering – World War III. Churchill is writing with that in mind. He writes now with even more authority than in the old days. He is the only authentic “great man” of the world bourgeoisie. Far more than even Roosevelt, he was chief spokesman for Anglo-American imperialism in the war against Hitlerite Germany, so today he speaks for the same combination to a world audience on behalf of the war to the death against the Soviet Union and its satellites.

His writings and speeches, and particularly this book, are printed, abridged, serialized, quoted, ballyhooed in all sections of the world bourgeois press, as no other writing by any bourgeois statesman of our time. The Luce publications, in particular Life, dramatize its extracts from these memoirs with biographies of Churchill, illustrations and layouts, on which obviously no time and money have been spared. Life claims that it goes into 36 percent of the homes of the United States, and is read by over 20 million people. This whole setup is war propaganda on a colossal scale, such as our fathers and forefathers, or for that matter we ourselves ten years ago did not know. Washington needs these particular services badly. Truman, Forrestal, and the rest are simply incapable of doing anything else except bleating platitudes about “peace,” “defense of our American way of life,” etc. In fact, it seems highly probable that Churchill’s resounding periods gain a proportionately greater audience, more deference (and more cash) in the United States than anywhere else in the world, even Britain.

To the readers of Fourth International, Churchill’s book, though full of information about diplomatic intrigue and the mechanics of war-making, can throw no particular light on the causes of World War II, or the preparations for World War III. But it affords a certain insight into bourgeois society and politics, and the man who speaks for it. It is with these interrelated aspects that this writer is here concerned.

“The Unnecessary War”

Churchill’s central theme is so simple that a child could not miss it. “There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.

But having established that, he then faces the inevitable query: why then did it lake place? And on this all-important question Churchill lets out all the stops.

Here are some of his remarks on the men and the politics of 1918-39.

“History will characterise all these transactions as insane.”

“All this is a sad story of complicated idiocy...”

“But this modest requirement [concerted action by the victorious powers after 1918] the might, civilization, learning, knowledge, science of the victors were unable to supply.”

“It is difficult to find a parallel to the unwisdom of the British and weakness of the French Governments...”

“The economic clauses of the treaty [of Versailles] were malignant and silly to an extent that made them obviously futile.”

“...all these constituted a picture of British fatuity and fecklessness which, though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt...”

“We must regard as deeply blameworthy before history the conduct not only of the British National and mainly Conservative government, but of the Labour-Socialist and Liberal Parties ...”

“... an administration more disastrous than any in our history ...”

It is natural that these blistering appreciations are made chiefly about the British and the European politicians. He is more careful in his remarks about the American politicians, but his opinion of them is in no way different. After saying that it is difficult to find a parallel to the unwisdom and weakness of the British and French Governments, he adds immediately: “nor can the United States escape the censure of history.” “The censure of history” is his diplomatic phrasing for the censure of Winston Churchill which he distributes so liberally.

These then were the men who ruled England, France, and the United States between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II. [It is clear that he is leaving for later volumes any full development of his views on the USSR. It should be noted, however, that consistent as has been his hatred for the USSR, his special fury is reserved for the Trotskyists because of their unshaken adherence to the doctrines of Lenin and Trotsky.] To this we have to add only his characterization of the dictator of Germany as: “a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast – Corporal Hitler.”

All the millions who have read and will read Churchill should pause a long while and ponder over what this means. On the one side, the side of the democracies, he shows us insanity, complicated idiocy, unparalleled unwisdom and weakness, government more disastrous than ever before, fatuity and fecklessness; on the other side, a ferocious maniac. That was their society, bourgeois society. Fools, idiots, madmen, cowards ruled Western Europe and America. But for them the catastrophe of the war would not have fallen upon us. We limit ourselves to two questions of the many that are begging to be asked:

1) How could this happen, what sort of system is this that produces democratic idiots or fascist maniacs as rulers?

2) How do we know that the same thing is not going on today? Many of the men who ruled then are in high position now. Shall we have World War III and then learn that the men who led us into it were fools, idiots, and maniacs? To thinking people Churchill’s book must bring at the very start a profound disquiet about these far-reaching denunciations and what they imply for us today. It is obvious that the question cannot be as simple as Churchill makes it out to be.

Marxism, revolutionary socialism, has no quarrel with these concrete judgments of the great spokesmen of the bourgeoisie. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. This is an expression frequent among Marxists. It is precisely our clear consciousness of the folly and madness of bourgeois society which forms the basis of our unalterable opposition to it in war as well as in peace. And folly, madness, idiocy will rule bourgeois society until it is torn up by the roots and replaced by socialism. Such of course, is not the view of Churchill. To this collection of fatuous and feckless idiots, Churchill does not counterpose a new social order. He counterposes – himself. It sounds incredible but it is true. On the one hand were the insane, the idiots and the maniacs, and on the other – Winston Churchill. This is the legend under which the people are being shepherded to listen to him – and be guided into the next war. Extracts from Churchill’s second volume are now being advertised with a statesman-like portrait of Churchill, in spectacles and civilian clothes, carefully unmilitary. The caption reads, “I hope you will give full consideration to my words. I have not always been wrong.”

This is the second step in the propaganda barrage. Churchill was not only the man who with Roosevelt led the world to victory. He, we are given to understand, foresaw all that was going to happen. He fought for his position in vain. If only the insane and the complicated idiots had listened to him, things would have been different. When they had ruined the situation they had to turn to him to win victory for them. If we are wise we should listen to him today. That is the legend. It disposes of the doubts about the last war, and puts him into an unassailable position to plug for the next one. The only thing wrong with this story is that it isn’t true. It is a fiction skillfully constructed out of some thin elements of fact and much paste, tinsel and wordage. The first thing to do is to find out exactly who and what is this Winston Churchill.

A Few Facts About Churchill

The American people should know that long before 1939, when the outbreak of war saved his career, Winston Churchill had established himself as the most discredited, the most untrustworthy, and the most irresponsible of all the senior politicians in England. The rulers of Britain did not take him seriously on the politics of war because, except for his capabilities as a war minister, they did not take him seriously on anything except his capacity to make a serious nuisance of himself.

Churchill was born the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a brilliant young nobleman who reached the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer and seemed headed for the premiership but wrecked his career by his erratic political behavior. His character was adequately summed up in the phrase “the boy who would not grow up.” It was the kind of heritage that a careful politician would take care to live down. It is characteristic of Winston Churchill that he lived up to it. He joined the army as a cavalry officer and thus began his lifelong and passionate interest in war. He became a war correspondent, was captured by the Boers and escaped. When he lectured in New York in 1906, at the age of twenty-six, he was billed as “the hero of five wars.” He was already actively interested in politics. In the early years of the century, liberalism seemed in the ascendancy in Britain. Churchill made a spectacular break with the Tory Party and joined the Liberals.

He became Home Secretary and distinguished himself by what is derisively known as the Battle of Sidney Street. A group of foreign anarchists well supplied with arms refused to give themselves up to the police. Churchill converted a police operation into a battle. He went down himself to take charge of the “struggle” (or as privileged observer), was nearly killed and created a scandal among his colleagues and the sober-minded British people. In 1911 he went over to the Admiralty and there did his best work, preparing the fleet for 1914.

But the war of 1914 had no sooner begun than Churchill was at it again. A critical situation at Antwerp found Churchill, still head of the Admiralty, persuading the reluctant Sir Edward Grey to let him go to Belgium in person. He found himself as usual under fire. The battle stimulated him to offer, from Antwerp, his resignation from the Admiralty to take command of the British land forces at Antwerp. The transfer was not made but as one of his biographers (Philip Guedalla) says of the unsatisfactory outcome: “There was a vague feeling that Mr. Churchill’s restlessness might be to blame ... that it was Sidney Street over again ...”

By 1915, despite his competence, he had lost his post at the Admiralty. He held other posts, but it is related of him that at one time while a minister in London he did most of the work in a chateau in France so as to be near the firing line. After World War I he was the moving spirit in the military intervention against Russia. It is known that in 1944 to keep Churchill from joining the cross-channel expedition the present king had to threaten that he would also join it if Churchill insisted on going; baffled here, nevertheless Churchill turned up with the invading army in the last stages of the victory against Germany.

That is the man. Every British politician knew him and his Napoleonic complex, his preoccupation with war and war preparations, his extraordinary capacity for making a fool of himself on critical occasions. Asquith, Prime Minister in 1914, wrote of him “Winston, who has got on all his war-paint, is longing for a sea-fight in the early hours of the morning to result in the sinking of the Goeben.” Someone who saw him at the beginning of the 1914 war remarked on his “happy face.”

In this book the same thing appears.

When war was finally declared in 1939 and he was sure of being included in the war ministry, he describes his feelings.

“There [in the House of Commons] I received a note from the Prime Minister asking me to come to his room as soon as the debate died down. As I sat in my place, listening to the speeches, a very strong sense of calm came over me, after the intense passions and excitements of the last few days. I felt a serenity of mind and was conscious of a kind of uplifted detachment from human and personal affairs. The glory of old England, peace-loving; and ill-prepared as she was, but instant and fearless at the call of honour, thrilled my being and seemed to lift our fate to those spheres so far removed from earthly facts and physical sensation. I tried to convey some of this mood to the House when I spoke, not without acceptance.”

That is his sphere. When the war has begun and men want to hear words of resolution and single-minded devotion to the conflict, to hear the greedy, bloody, bestial business glamorized and made to look like something noble and uplifting, then the stage is set for Churchill.

What effect could the warnings about war and preparedness of this notorious gladiator have on the men who ruled Britain and France in this period? Perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the cause he claims to have advocated is that he should have had nothing to say about it. In such a case, words like right and wrong have no meaning. He could neither be right nor wrong for he was singing the same tune all his life. He is doing it today. While the regular diplomats of Western Europe and America are busy jockeying for position with Stalin and seeking, as is the cartful way of these confidence-men, to place the blame on the enemy, Churchill a few months ago shouted: Let us give Stalin an ultimatum and a period in which to answer, and if he does not, let us have the show-down. That is his perpetual role. The man of the show-down, always ready for ,it, always preparing for it, especially when in opposition and in conflict with the leaders of his party.

In the cabinet reshuffle of 1936, everyone expected him to be included because of his audacity as a war minister. Baldwin left him out. Churchill writes: He thought no doubt, that he had given me a politically fatal stroke, and I felt he might well be right.” He says too, “There was much mockery in the press about my exclusion.” Exactly. His career was always in danger. His adventures were the subject of perpetual mockery.

We can now judge with a little more sense of proportion Churchill’s claim that on a question vital to the world he was the purveyor of wisdom to fatuous idiots and fouls. If the words idiot and fatuity, etc., were to be applied up to 1936, chief candidate would have been Churchill himself. Never at any time did he behave like a man who had a serious point of view, knew what was at stake and fought seriously for it.

These erratic habits of his were intimately connected with the failure of his supposedly correct policy on the var. It was precisely during the time that he was supposed to be fighting this life-and-death struggle to prevent the unnecessary war, that Churchill showed that age had not withered nor custom staled the infinite variety of what the novelist, Arnold Bonnet, called his “incurable foolishness.” He describes two of his political adventures in this book and it is clear that to this day he is not fully aware of the folly of his procedure in relation to his war policy.

The first concerns India. In 1931, British imperialism began the colossal, and as it has proved, the impossible task of reconciling India to British rule by binding the Indian bourgeoisie and the feudal lords to the British system. After Hitler’s accession to power in Germany this was an urgent task precisely because of the uncertain world situation. Churchill, however, for years rallied the worst of the Daily Mail type of Conservatives and led a struggle against Baldwin which for intemperance and unscrupulousness even he has rarely surpassed. He was ignominiously defeated as he was bound to be. Today he can still write that his determined opposition to any kind of self-government for India was correct and for proof cites the massacres of Moslems and Hindus. He is still of the opinion that the Members “of all parties” were “ignorant.” Yet, any level-headed capitalist politician could not but see that some sort of settlement and pacification of India was necessary for any British government that contemplated war.

By the end of his battle of India, the Conservative Party had no use whatever for him. However by 1936 he had built around himself a little group around a policy he called “Arms and the Covenant,” the Covenant being the League of Nations. The sharpening international situation was giving weight to their attacks upon the policy of the Baldwin government. But then came the crisis of Edward VIII and Wallie Simpson. Here was another battle and Churchill plunged into it. Let him describe himself the effect of one speech to a hostile House of Commons.

“There were several moments when I seemed to be entirely alone against a wrathful House of Commons, I am not, when in action, unduly affected by hostile currents of feelings; but it was on more than one occasion almost physically impossible to make myself heard.”

What was the result? These are his own words.

“All the forces I had gathered together on ‘Arms and the Covenant,’ of which I conceived myself to be the mainspring, were estranged or dissolved, and I was myself so smitten in public opinion that it was the almost universal view that my political life was at last ended.”

Not entirely though. Nothing is more illuminating of what Britain’s rulers thought of Churchill than his account of how, all through his years of political exile, every British Prime Minister saw to it that he was well informed of the latest military and scientific developments; he was even placed on some of the most secret war committees. This explains his place in British politics. He was a kind of national strong-arm man who was kept well trained and in shape, for the day when blows were needed. Until then nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. And this book shows that no one had worked more assiduously to build this reputation than himself.

But perhaps, it may be said, that despite all his follies Churchill was right in his consistent opposition on the war issue. His book explodes that fable. Churchill’s opposition on the actual issue of the war was no different from his shrill opposition on other issues. He spoke with more authority perhaps on this, and he certainly impressed outsiders and the general public. But he did not impress the politicians and for one very good reason. They knew that they could have shut up his mouth at any time by giving him office. The measure of their contempt for him can be judged by the fact that eloquent and active as he was they refused to do this.

History is full of men who felt that a certain policy was essential to the life of their country or their class and fought for it to the end, reckless of victory, defeat or their personal fate. Such for instance was the uncompromising struggle of Clemenceau for leadership of France in the days of 1914-18 when the government was in such a crisis that at one lime his attacks upon the government sounded like treason to the bourgeoisie. No such mantle can be hung on Winston Churchill despite all the assiduous tailoring of Henry Luce. Churchill knows better than to make any great claims for himself on this matter. There are too many men alive who could tear him to bits if he tried to do this. It was not principled opposition Which kept him out of the ministry in 1936 and thus saved him from getting himself as thoroughly compromised as Baldwin and Chamberlain. It was his bad reputation and habits. He writes:

“Mr. Baldwin knew no more than I, how great was the service he was doing me in preventing me from becoming involved in all the Cabinet compromises and shortcomings of the next three years, and from having, if I remained a Minister, to enter upon a war bearing direct responsibility for conditions of national defence bound to prove fearfully inadequate.

“This was not the first time – or, indeed the last – that I have received a blessing in what was at the time a very effective disguise.”

What kind of hero is this? That Churchill did not have his own warm well-padded cell in the lunatic asylum of the insane and complicatedly idiotic was due to no fault of his own. He tried hard enough to get in. It was the lunatics inside who kept him out; they did not want a lunatic of that stamp in with them. Until the war came Churchill was nobody, played no heroic role, opposed the government but was always ready to enter it. How hollow becomes the great boast with its sham modesty “I was not always wrong.”

An Alternative Road to Ruin

But maybe Churchill did have the correct policy, if even he did not make any heroic battle for it. Now this is precisely what was in dispute all the time and is still in dispute. And here, above all, Churchill’s policy, in so far as he had a policy, seemed to his colleagues the quintessence and crown of his irresponsibility.

Let us try to get clear exactly what Churchill’s policy was not.

First of all Churchill was not and today is no enemy of either dictatorship or fascism. He is an enemy of all who threaten the British Empire and the “pleasant life” he leads and refers to so often. That is all. On January 30, 1939, this stern opponent of Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing the dictators wrote as follows:

“Up till a few years ago many people in Britain admired the work which the extraordinary man Signor Mussolini had done for his country. He had brought it out of incipient anarchy into a position of dignity and order which was admired even by those who regretted the suspension of Italian freedom.” (Step by Step, 1936-1939, by Winston Churchill, p. 285.)

On February 23, 1939 he wrote of Franco:

“He now has the opportunity of becoming a great Spaniard of whom it may be written a hundred years hence: ‘He united his country and rebuilt its greatness. Apart from that he reconciled the past with the present, and broadened the life of the working people while preserving the faith and structure of the Spanish nation.’ Such an achievement would rank in history with the work of Ferdinand and Isabella and the glories of Charles V.” (Ibid, p.285.)

Nor was Churchill, or any British minister for that matter, ready to give Hitler a “free hand” in the East against Russia. Conquest of Eastern Europe by Hiller meant inevitably that France and Britain would next be on the list of an enormously strengthened Germany. To Ribbentrop’s request for a free hand in the Fast, Churchill replied:

“... I said at once that I was sure the British government would not agree to give Germany a free hand in Eastern Europe. It was true that we were on bad terms with Soviet Russia and that we hated Communism as much as Hitler did, but he might be sure that, even if France were safeguarded, Great Britain would never disinterest herself in the fortunes of the Continent to any extent that would enable Germany to gain the domination of Central and Eastern Europe.”

What then was the policy? As far as the record goes in this book he makes an extraordinarily good case for himself on the question of the air-race with Germany. But that is not enough to build the pedestal for his statue. And beyond this it is difficult to find out exactly what at any precise moment, he concretely stood for.

He claims today that the Allied nations never should have disarmed.

What is the meaning of this observation? In the economic crisis that followed 1929 any government that tried to maintain the burden of armaments would have been thrown out of office. The British masses, proletarian and petty-bourgeois, would not have stood for it. And least of all from the pro-Mussolini, pro-Franco, erratic Churchill. The same thing held for France. These idiotic statesmen were fighting for their political lives and their political systems. They had an enemy abroad but they had an enemy at home. They could only do the best they could, and despite all of Churchill’s talk, he could not have done better.

His second major point is even more untenable than his first. He thinks that when Hitler began to rearm he should and could have been defeated, in 1934, in 1936, and again in 1938. This is why the war was the most unnecessary in history. First of all it is extremely doubtful if Churchill ever directly gave any such advice at these particular times. He does not say this anywhere. He says he thought so, or he thinks so, which are both very different things from the first. But if we understand what was the logic of the insane and the idiotic, for they had a logic, we shall see why they distrusted Churchill so profoundly. His whole temper and attitude as expressed in the Battle of Sidney Street, the Antwerp adventure and the agitation on India were not only discreditable and compromising to himself and to his party. This supposed readiness to engage the enemy in the circumstances of 1934-39 could have precipitated the destruction of the Empire. He himself writes in this hook:

“We have at length emerged from a scene of material ruin and moral havoc the like of which had never darkened the imagination of former centuries. After all that we suffered and achieved, we find ourselves still confronted with problems and perils not less but far more formidable than those through which we have so narrowly made our way.”

Quite so. And it is this consciousness of doom which the erratic Churchill never understood and to this day does not understand despite his sounding phrases. Neville Chamberlain (and this found expression in the responsible American press) believed that another war would mean the end of the British empire, whether Britain won or lost. George V, it was reported, believed that he would be the last king of Great Britain. Every European government knew in its heart that Hitler meant to fight, but every government trembled to overthrow him because 1) they did not know what would succeed him in Europe; 2) they did not know what would be the effect on their own countries of defeating Germany and unloosing an avalanche in Europe. These considerations never troubled the belligerent Churchill. He was always ready to jump on his horse and lead the charge “God for England, Winston and St. George.”

Never since the Commune had the class struggle been so bitter in France as between 1934 and 1938. In Britain in 1933, the workers passed a resolution by a tremendous majority which vowed never to support the British Government in any imperialist war. The British statesmen remembered that in 1919-21 in Ireland, in Egypt, in India, and in a dozen other places, the Empire had rocked on its foundations. Churchill’s attitude on India showed that all this was nothing to him. Lloyd George in 1934 warned openly that Hitler should not be overthrown. Communism, said Lloyd George, will take his place and, he added, a German communism far more efficient than communism of the Russian type. This was the dilemma. The idiots and the insane fought for peace because at all costs they wanted, to prevent the consequences of war. They hesitated to form the alliance with Stalin. Look at Europe today and the Kremlin’s position in it. These men were conscious of the real dangers. Look at Britain today, living only by self-interested charity from the United States.

Churchill says that the French statesmen should have engaged Hitler when he marched into the Rhineland in March 1936. Sure, Hitler would have been defeated. And then, what? A few months afterward, in June to be exact, there were the strikes in France when the workers seized the factories. In July came the Spanish Revolution. Imagine what would have happened to that Europe if Hitler had been overthrown in the spring of 1936 by what would have been a very brief war. The politicians were insane not to overthrow him. But they would have been insane to overthrow him. They were fatuous to try to get him to fight the Soviet Union alone. But the complicated situation forced upon them the complicated idiocy of trying to get him to fight the Soviet Union and yet not give him a free hand in the East. Churchill thinks that Czechoslovakia should have fought in 1938. France, he says, would have been bound to come in and England would have been compelled to follow.

As characteristic of him he never learns, not even from history. There were powerful elements in the ruling classes of Czechoslovakia and of Poland who felt that once Russian troops entered these territories they would never get them out again. Who in 1948 can say from their point of view that they were wrong? Today the war has been fought. Victory has been won. And there remains a Europe dominated by an enemy of imperialist Britain far more securely installed than was Germany. Churchill is as busy as ever preparing for this new war. The idiots and the fatuous could tell him with justice: “We never heard from you one single word which showed that you understood the perils in which our civilization stood. You were then as we have always known you, seeing red on every occasion, and perpetually irresponsible.” They would be right.

Lenin summed up our age many years ago: imperialist war and proletarian revolution. Socialism or barbarism. Churchill saw only one – the war. For the insane, the idiotic, the fatuous, in short for the agents of capitalism, socialism or barbarism was a terrible choice. They tried to avoid both. Churchill rides gallant]y, intent on what he calls victory. But another such victory and what would remain? Today as ten years ago that does not trouble him overmuch. His motto remains unchanged; “On to the battle. Conquer first and see what happens afterward.” His vaunted policy was an alternative road to ruin. That was all. Neither then nor now have the great masses of people anything to learn from him. His quarrels with his opponent are merely disputes over ways of trying to save what is doomed to destruction – bourgeois society.

As Reactionary as Ever

From all this if must not be considered that Churchill is a negligible person. That would be stupidity. Put him in a war department, or give him a war to lead, and from all the evidence he is far above his colleagues, in energy, in knowledge, in attention to business and curiously enough, in tempering his audacity with sobriety of judgment. He has also developed another valuable gift. His famous sense of history is famous nonsense. He has none, as I shall show in a moment. What he does have in his head is the writings of the great British historians and the speeches of the great British orators. This and his singlemindedness, his operatic consciousness of playing a great role in historic conflicts, enable him at times to rise to great heights of rhetoric.

At times his words can be singularly effective, especially when people are frightened and bewildered by the complex class, national and international currents of modern war. Churchill has no doubts, as a bull in a China shop has no doubts. He has a great gift of phrase, and long training as a journalist gives him an eye for the salient facts in a military or political situation. At all points he is equipped for war, to shout for war, to glamorize past wars, to explain a war that is going on, to make new ones look like a defense of civilization.

Politically he is as stupid a reactionary as ever. The war was no sooner over than he aroused universal execration in Britain by saying on the radio that the victory of the Labour Party would mean a Gestapo for Britain. He him-self lost thousands of voles in his own constituency. Today in his own party the wish is widespread that he would resign. It is a measure of the degeneration of our society that such a man should be its most notable spokesman; above all it is a scandal that he should be represented in the United States as a defender of democracy and civilization. In reality the evidence is thick in this book that Churchill is not merely a conservative, but is today as ever a vicious reactionary. A few examples will suffice.

Today, even after the terrible experiences of the war, he has no hostility to the German Junkers with their feudal estates and their perpetual war-making, he remains opposed to the Weimar Republic. He wanted a monarchy. On page 11 of his book he says: “All the strong elements, military and feudal, which might have rallied to a constitutional monarchy and for its sake respected and sustained the new democratic and parliamentary processes, were for the time being unhinged.

Here speaks the provincial British reactionary. Despite all his historical quotations and references he cannot to this day see that monarchy is doomed. It is difficult to decide which is greater, the folly that a monarchy would have solved, the contradictions of capitalist Germany; or the reactionary mentality which always finds its friends and subjects of admiration or excuse in people like Mussolini, Franco, the German Junkers, the military and feudal elements.

He dares even to admire Hitler. In this book, after all that has happened, writing about Hitler in 1932 he uses these sentences: “I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right, to be a patriotic German if he chose. I always wanted England, Germany, and France to be friends.” Hitler attacked Britain. That is all that concerned Churchill. But for that he would have admired him to this day.

Nor is that the least of his consistent violations of elementary decency. Readers of this book will be struck by Churchill’s constant use of the term race where other writers would use people or nation. “Polish race,” “German racial bloc,” etc. You have to read the book itself and not the extracts to know why. In the extracts which appeared in Life, April 19, 1948, speaking to an emissary of Hitler, Churchill is made to say :

“Why is your chief so violent about the Jews? How can any man help how he is born?”

It sounds bad enough. Turn to page 83 of this book and see what he really wrote.

“Why is your chief so violent about the Jews? I can quite understand being angry with the Jews who have done wrong or are against the country, and I understand resisting them if they try to monopolise power in arty walk of life; but what is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?”

Admiration for dictatorship and military and feudal elements, racial arrogance, anti-Semitism, these and much more stare you in the face as soon as you shake yourself free of bourgeois propaganda and his rolling periods. It is characteristic of his impudence that he scorns to hide them. It is one of the urgent tasks of the struggle against war to expose before the American people the pretensions of this reactionary prize-fighter to be a defender of democracy and civilization.


Last updated on: 11 April 2009