Relevance: from “Churchill in His Own Words”
Active on the political scene for an almost unprecedented fifty years, Churchill saved everything he wrote and said, and his archives provide a rich resource. If you try hard enough, you can use him like the Bible, finding a quote to support every shade of political opinion—especially provided you carefully avoid the larger context. In this way, Churchill has been labeled an anti-semite, a warmonger, a conspirator in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the promoter of poison gas against Iraqis, an inside cause of the 1929 Wall Street crash, and other inanities too numerous to mention.
Many genuine quotes from Churchill By Himself have not only stood the test of time but sound eerily familiar in today’s world:
“Broadly speaking, short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.” —Accepting the Times Literary Award, London, 2 November 1949
“In finance, everything that is agreeable is unsound and everything that is sound is disagreeable.” —1926
Above all was Churchill’s absolute indifference to polls or poularity. In 1936, when he stood almost alone in Parliament, urging his country to rearm in the face of Hitler, his ringing declaration shows how far Churchill ranks above the ordinary politician in any age
I would endure with patience the roar of exultation that would go up when I was proved wrong, because it would lift a load off my heart and off the hearts of many Members. What does it matter who gets exposed or discomfited? If the country is safe, who cares for individual politicians, in or out of office? —1936
Showing that you can use Churchill to support all sides of a question, here is a quotation I confirmed for the Obama campaign in 2008, over the question of whether it is proper to meet and talk with disagreeable people. Churchill said:
There is nothing improper in belligerents meeting to discuss their affairs even while actual battles are going on. All history abounds in precedents. All the time that Napoleon was fighting his desperate campaigns in France in 1814 the International Council, composed of his representatives and those of the Allies, were in constant conference at Chatillon-sur-Seine. —1954
And here is another Churchill quote which the McCain Campaign asked for that year:
Class quarrels, endless party strife, on a background of apathy, indifference and bewilderment, will lead us all to ruin. Only a new surge of impulse can win us back the glorious ascendancy which we gained in the struggle for right and freedom, and for which our forebears had nerved our hearts down the long aisles of time. Let us make a supreme effort to surmount our dangers. Let faith—not appetite—guide our steps. —1945
The belief that politicians are motivated only by opportunism and getting re-elected is responsible for the modern climate of doubt and distrust in government – and, more dangerously, questioning timeproven institutions and nations. A popular lament is that we have no Churchills. Yet we have some leaders who follow Churchill’s dictum, saying what they believe regardless of the consequences. There is hope yet.
No one has ever suggested that prolonged electioneering is capable of settling our problems….One can hardly imagine anything more unfortunate than that we should find ourselves split in half on domestic politics, with both parties gathering and arranging their forces for another trial of strength. That this should continue for many months without remedy can only be disastrous to our prosperity, and may well endanger both our life and even our survival as a great power. —1950
I have noticed that whenever a distinguished politician declares that a particular question is above Party, what he really means is that everybody, without distinction of Party, shall vote for him. —1905
On Muslim Warriors
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Yet these were as brave men as ever walked the earth. The conviction was borne in on me that their claim beyond the grave in respect of a valiant death was not less good than that which any of our countrymen could make. —1899
When the ancient Athenians, on one occasion, overpowered a tribe in the Peloponnesus which had wrought them injury by base, treacherous means, and when they had the hostile army herded on a beach naked for slaughter, they forgave them and set them free, and they said: “This was not because they were men; it was done because of the nature of Man.” —1945
On Political Inertia
Anyone can see what the position is. The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years—precious perhaps to the greatness of Britain—for the locusts to eat. —1938
CHURCHILL’S RELEVANCE TO CURRENT CONTENTIONS
Scottish Scientists Clone a Sheep
There seems little doubt that it will be possible to carry out in artificial surroundings the entire cycle which now leads to the birth of a child. Interference with the mental development of such beings, expert suggestion and treatment in the earlier years, would produce beings specialized to thought or toil….A being might be produced capable of tending a machine but without other ambitions. —1931
The Era of Government
Socialism has become intellectually discredited. It no longer presents itself as a solution of human difficulties or as an effective and practical philosophy….We have seen grisly examples of the ruin which it brought to States, industries and communities of all kinds, whether it was applied on the largest or on the smallest scale….It has been proved on a gigantic scale and with perfect clearness to be fatal to the welfare of living nations. —1929
The Next Administration
Every new administration, not excluding ourselves, arrives in power with bright and benevolent ideas of using public money to do good. The more frequent the changes of Government, the more numerous are the bright ideas, and the more frequent the elections, the more benevolent they become. —1927
Richard Nixon, R.I.P.
It might be said that he outlived his future by ten years and his past by more than twenty. The brilliant prospects which had shone before him until he became the leader were dispersed by the break-up of his Government and the defeat of his Party. The part he took as a patriot in supporting the War destroyed his hold upon the regard and confidence of the Radical masses….He severed himself by purposeful action from his friends and followers….Within a decade after achieving the pinnacle his political career was closed for ever. It was only two decades later that his long life ended. —On Lord Rosebery, 1937
Peacemaking in Ireland
Let us not be led by impatience, by prejudice, by vexation, by anxiety, into courses which would lay us open to charges of fickleness or levity in dealing with those issues so long lasting as the relations between the two islands. Let us so direct our steps that, in spite of every disappointment, we give this Treaty arrangement every possible chance of becoming the true act of reconciliation. —1922
Peacemaking in the Middle East
My Dear Weizmann…The wonderful exertions which Israel is making in these times of difficulty are cheering to an old Zionist like me. I trust you may work with Jordan and the rest of the Moslem world. With true comradeship there will be enough for all. —1951
When the Arab municipalities are conducting their affairs with anything like the progressive vigour that is shown by the Jewish community, and when you have come to the point of the whole principle of local government having been implemented by the good will and activities of the population, your case will be enormously stronger for a forward movement. —1936
Civil War in the Balkans
In the mountains there began again the fierce guerrilla with which the Serbs had resisted the Turks for centuries….This confronted the Germans with a problem which could not be solved by the mass executions of notables or persons of substance. They found themselves confronted by desperate men who had to be hunted down in their lairs. No reprisals, however bloody, upon hostages or villages deterred them. —1921
Britain Dropping the Monarchy
Ignorant people are often disposed to imagine that progress consists in converting oneself from a monarchy into a republic. In this country we have known the blessings of limited monarchy. Great traditional and constitutional chains of events have come to make an arrangement, to make a situation, unwritten, which enables our affairs to proceed on what I believe is a superior level of smoothness and of democratic progress. —1944
One thought on “Relevance: from “Churchill in His Own Words””
Thank you Richard Langworth for your contribution toward understanding the man Price Waterhouse Cooper discovered to be the most admired leader in the history of humankind.