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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

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Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Churchill and Socialism in the 1930s

Edited version, original by Justin D. Lyons, in Finest Hour Magazine

by StFerdIII

During the 1930s Churchill wrote many articles on the fact that collectivist trends were ultimately destructive of personal freedom, and that even in times of great domestic political crisis the liberties and freedoms of the individual must remain supreme above the needs of the state.

Churchill was particularly aghast and against the National Socialist and Marxist concepts of the redistribution of wealth. Churchill rightly believed that state power in which private property and wealth would be 'relieved' from one 'class' and given to another class, [which then in turn would became a dependent of the state], ultimately leads to the destruction of personal freedom.

There is no factual evidence to counter this argument. Churchill correctly had faith for example, in the honour and the ideals of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in which personal and individual freedom, would in good measure provide adequate support and protection for those who needed it. Socialism in any of its variants leads to the destruction of culture, wealth and opportunity. Yet in the modern era the opposite conclusions are forwarded as both moral beacons and economic truths.


In the 1920s and '30s Churchill surveyed with unease the collectivist trends that were sapping the internal strength of his own country and threatening to create instability abroad. Looking at Churchill's political thought as a whole, we see a statesman in agreement with America's first principles and a staunch defender of individual liberty, Anglo-American constitutionalism, and limited government in Britain and worldwide. Churchill's ideas on these matters stemmed from his explicit agreement with the crucial statements of these principles by the American Founders.

During World War II, Churchill and England of course, needed American support and intervention in order to survive the onslaught of Jihadic National Socialism. This self-interested policy should not tempt hobbyist historians into assuming that Churchill supported FDR's policies, in-toto, in either foreign or domestic affairs. When you are in desperate need of help, you can usually overlook themes, policies or ideas that you might find offensive.

At a time when America was undergoing significant political change due to the Great Depression and FDR's New Deal, Churchill had much to say about political change in the United States. It was Churchill's view that, while the governing forms of the United States and Britain differ, the governing principles are the same: Both countries were built upon principles of freedom. 

They do not belong to the State or Government as a right. Their exercise needs vigilant scrutiny, and their grant may be swiftly withdrawn. This terrible twentieth century has exposed both our communities to grim experiences, and both have emerged restored and guarded. They have come back to us safe and sure. I speak, of course, as a layman on legal topics, but I believe that our differences are more apparent than real, and are the result of geographical and other physical conditions rather than any true division of principle.

Churchill was not engaging in sentimental reflection when he gave such speeches. The unity of principle he pointed to was, and always had been in his view, the basis for unity of action. Churchill was never hesitant to proclaim the benefits of the Anglo-American political tradition, which he often touted as a blueprint for other nations:

All this means that the people of any country have the right, and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell; that freedom of speech and thought should reign; that courts of justice, independent of the executive, unbiased by any party, should administer laws which have received the broad assent of large majorities or are consecrated by time and custom. Here are the title deeds of freedom which should lie in every cottage home. Here is the message of the British and American peoples to mankind.

Churchill noted that socialism grafts itself onto nationalism and the particular features of the nations it has infected. In Germany, the Weimar regime was destroyed and Hitler was propelled to power through national patriotism, tradition, and pride combined with discontent about inequalities of wealth. In Russia, the program of Communism was buttressed by national sentiment and imperialist aspirations. The next country Churchill mentions, in a shift that must be shocking to those who wish to read the article as simply a pro-New Deal argument, is the United States, which he says has experienced developments similar to those inspired by socialism in the dictatorships:

In the United States, also, economic crisis has led to an extension of the activities of the executive and to the pillorying, by irresponsible agitators, of certain groups and sections of the population as enemies of the rest. There have been efforts to exalt the power of the central government and to limit the rights of individuals.

The combinations at work in the United States during the 1930s, were however different. Passions and economic jealousies have been unleashed, but they have formed combinations not with imperial ambition or twisted racial pride, but with a sense of public duty and the desire for national prosperity. However, the result, Churchill warns, can be just as dangerous:

"It is when passions and cupidities are thus unleashed and, at the same time, the sense of public duty rides high in the hearts of all men and women of good will that the handcuffs can be slipped upon the citizens and they can be brought into entire subjugation to the executive government."

He had always rejected any policy or propaganda that would use crisis to extend the power of the state as subverting individual liberty and perverting the purpose of government:

I hold that governments are meant to be, and must remain, the servants of the citizens; that states and federations only come into existence and can only be justified by preserving the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in the homes and families of individuals. The true right and power rest in the individual. He gives of his right and power to the State, expecting and requiring thereby in return to receive certain advantages and guarantees.”

When one has once defined government in terms of its purpose, a test has been introduced by which to judge the goodness and legitimacy of the government. Churchill gives the tests by which he judges the civilization of any community:

What is the degree of freedom possessed by the citizen or subject? Can he think, speak and act freely under well-established, well-known laws? Can he criticize the executive government? Can he sue the State if it has infringed his rights? Are there also great processes for changing the law to meet new conditions?”

Churchill judges Great Britain and the United States to be in the forefront of civilized communities according to these standards. This status is due only in part, Churchill writes, to "the good sense and watchfulness of our citizens." A vital support for freedom also lies in the independence of the courts:

In both our countries the character of the judiciary is a vital factor in the maintenance of the rights and liberties of the individual citizen. Our judges extend impartially to all men protection, not only against wrongs committed by private persons, but also against the arbitrary acts of public authority. The independence of the courts is, to all of us, the guarantee of freedom and the equal rule of law.”

In other words, the safeguard is to be found in a structural feature of both the American and British constitutional arrangements.  

These remarks hardly appear sympathetic for instance, to FDR's frustration with the Supreme Court's repeated striking down of New Deal programs as unconstitutional and his active search for ways to limit the powers of the Court. Of course FDR famously tried to "pack" the Court with justices more subservient to his political will. Churchill's position is that the United States, a political union with a complexity analogous to the Empire, requires both federalism in order to function properly and the Supreme Court to enforce the principle, especially in time of crisis.

A perusal of Roosevelt's speeches will readily show that he was impatient with those like Churchill who would oppose an evolving interpretation of the Constitution that would permit the federal government to take an increasingly active role in the life of the states. In his Annual Message to the Congress in 1937, for example, Roosevelt called for an "enlightened view" of the Constitution:

"Difficulties have grown out of its interpretation but rightly considered, it can be used as an instrument of progress, and not as a device for the prevention of action."

Churchill defends the "rigidity" of the American Constitution as a safeguard of freedom rather than seeing it as an obstacle to the political programs of the New Deal.

A true interpretation, however, of the British or the American Constitution is certainly not a chop-logic or pedantic interpretation. So august a body as the Supreme Court in dealing with law must also deal with the life of the United States, and words, however solemn, are only true when they preserve their vital relationship to facts. It would certainly be a great disaster, not only to the American Republic but to the whole world, if a violent collision should take place between the large majority of the American people and the great instrument of government which has so long presided over their expanding fortunes.

FDR's radical socialism was an experiment in vogue with the times which lauded statism, 'great man' power, relativity and the creation of a leviathan to control society and enforce social peace. FDR's New Deal was of course a dismal failure. It buried the US with debt, bureaucracies, social programs and 'guarantees'; and invited the US Federal government to micro-manage most aspects of existence either in business, or in private social affairs. It is simply a lie to credit these policies of failure with 'saving' the US from the Depression. They made things worse, a fact born out by the reality that US unemployment, business activity, investment levels and social discord were higher in 1939, than in 1930. Government and state power, rarely make things better. Trampling on the Constitution is not a program of enlightenment but despotism. These insights were plain to Churchill who wrote about them with intelligence and vigour during the 1930s.


Sources: Reprinted and reassembled and edited with permission, URL

"Liberty and the Law," July 31, 1957, in Complete Speeches, Vol. VIII, pp. 8682-8683.

"The Sinews of Peace," March 5, 1946, in Complete Speeches, Vol. VII, p. 7289.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Roosevelt, Vol. 3, The Politics of Upheaval (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960), p. 495, quoting from Winston S. Churchill, "What Good's a Constitution?" Collier's, August 22, 1936.

"Party Politics Again," June 4, 1945, in Complete Speeches, Vol. VII, pp. 7171-7172.

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803).

Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Annual Message to the Congress," January 6, 1937.

"What Good's a Constitution?" Quoted in Schlesinger, The Politics of Upheaval, pp. 495-496.

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