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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Churchill: 'Liberalism and the Social problem' – a new compilation of speeches 1906-1912 – [2]

The opposite of today.

by StFerdIII

On May 14 in 1908 in the midst of an election Churchill gave a remarkable speech on the difference between Liberalism and Socialism. Churchill's 'Liberal' Party was being assaulted from the 'left' by the pre-cursor of today's British Labor party, the Socialist party. For reasons which included moral conviction as well as political and practical imperatives, Churchill and the Liberal party co-opted some of the Socialist/Laborite theology. Against charges of corrupted socialism and statism, Churchill became the Liberal party's most eloquent defender of what 'Liberalism' which combined aspects of Conservative orthodoxy and welfare-social safety nets, offered the voting public. As Churchill presented during this speech: “..Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. It is not only a gulf of method but of principle.”

The gap between the Liberal or 'progressively Conservative' viewpoint and that of the Socialists centered around the individual. Was the individual better off subsumed into the mass? Should people be allowed unfettered 'rights' to engage in largely private transactions within the political-economy? Or should the state begin to 're-educate' the individual and gently force him into actions which benefit the greater mass including involuntary taxation, regulation, and the nationalization of all 'public goods'?

But when we are told to exalt and admire a philosophy which destroys individualism and seeks to replace it absolutely by collectivism, I say that is a monstrous and imbecile conception, which can find no real acceptance in the brains and hearts – and the hearts are as trustworthy as the brains – in the hearts of sensible people.”

I can't imagine any politician today calling our massive welfare state which is leading most Western states directly into bankruptcy, the unmitigated failure of the socialist program 'a monstrous and imbecile conception', even though it most assuredly is. There is of course a necessity for a modest welfare state. But there is little intelligence in the massive flows of expropriated wealth which flood all aspects of life and which distorts all economic markets usually to the detriment of all actors concerned.

Churchill also makes the curious claim – curious from today's vantage point – that labor organizations should not be viewed as intrinsically socialist. In the age of the Great Man Obama, whose presidency was only possible through union muscle, money and media manipulation, there is a very odd claim indeed. Unions today are largely socialist with most members voting for the candidates infected and corroded by Marxist-Socialist misanthropy. Not so apparently in 1908. Churchill the Liberal-Conservative would always win a very large plurality of the union vote.

...Trade Unions are not Socialistic. They are undoubtedly individualist organizations, more in the character of the Old Guilds, and lean much more in the direction of the culture of the individual than in that of the smooth and bloodless uniformity of the mass.

The medieval guilds procured benefits for their members but they also militated against competition and raised prices by so doing. They were not benign creations – very few institutions are. Yet 100 years ago unions seemed to less dogmatic, less political then they are today, and somewhat more concerned about progress, a better life, higher wages through productivity, and a better system for all – not just themselves.

And I appeal to the leaders of industry and of learning in this city to range themselves on the side of a policy which will vigilantly seek the welfare of the masses, and which will strictly refuse to profit through their detriment; and in spite of the violence of extremists, in spite of the harshness of controversy which hard conditions is a crusade – of social progress and advance.”

These are the right sentiments. It is a pity today that most politicians can neither make a coherent statement of difference between Liberalism and Socialism, nor offer good reasons as to why socialism is oftentimes not in the best interests of union members. For the record Churchill won this election rather easily by a count of 7079 to 4370 for the Conservative candidate and 4014 for the Socialist. I would guess that in our uber sensitive-love Islam-the multi cult and socialist modern era that these results would be exactly reversed.