Month: April 2012

Churchill on Democracy

Churchill on Democracy

Not by Churchill: “The best argu­ment against Democ­ra­cy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the aver­age voter.”

Desert News in Salt Lake City is the lat­est to pub­lish this red herring.

Com­mon­ly attrib­uted to him, but with no author­i­ty, this is not quite as cyn­i­cal as Win­ston Churchill could be—but not about Democracy.

Though he some­times despaired of Democracy’s slow­ness to act for its own preser­va­tion, Churchill had a  more pos­i­tive atti­tude towards the aver­age vot­er. On 31 Octo­ber 1944, for exam­ple, in the House of Commons:

 At the bot­tom of all the trib­utes paid to democ­ra­cy is the lit­tle man, walk­ing into the lit­tle booth, with a lit­tle pen­cil, mak­ing a lit­tle cross on a lit­tle bit of paper—no amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point.…

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A Nation Cannot Tax Itself into Prosperity…

A Nation Cannot Tax Itself into Prosperity…

“I con­tend that for  a nation to try to tax itself into pros­per­i­ty is like a man stand­ing in a buck­et and try­ing to lift him­self up by the han­dle.” Did Churchill say this? Can’t find it in your bible. Hope he did! —A.R., New York City

 The first words were “We con­tend…” but indeed he did—and he liked that “buck­et” crack so much that he used it five times. The first two appear­ances are in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Win­ston S. Churchill: His Com­plete Speech­es 1897-1963 (New York, Bowk­er, 1974, 8 vols.)…

It is the the­o­ry of the Pro­tec­tion­ist that imports are an evil.…

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“If God Wearied of Mankind…”

“If God Wearied of Mankind…”

From Churchill’s last major speech in the House of Com­mons comes a quo­ta­tion devoid of his usu­al optimism.

For some rea­son I can’t pos­si­bly imag­ine, this has come up late­ly with regard for the cur­rent affairs of the world:

Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world? It does not mat­ter so much to old peo­ple; they are going soon any­way; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activ­i­ty and ardour and, most of all, to watch lit­tle chil­dren play­ing their mer­ry games, and won­der what would lie before them if God wea­ried of mankind.…

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