Churchill on Socialism

Churchill on Socialism

"The Recruiting Parade," David Low in The Star, 7 October 1924. Figures are labeled "Plot Press, Monopolist, Defeats (Churchill), Hardface Employer, Cracked Protection, Ideals are Tommy Rot and Plot Press (Lord Beaverbrook), Churchill was making his third bid to regain a seat in Parliament, and he won.
“The Recruit­ing Parade,” David Low in The Star, 7 Octo­ber 1924. Fig­ures are labeled “Plot Press,” “Monop­o­list,” “Defeats” (Churchill), “Hard­face Employ­er,” “Cracked Pro­tec­tion,” “Ideals are Tom­my Rot” and “Plot Press” (Lord Beaver­brook), Churchill was mak­ing his third bid to regain a seat in Par­lia­ment, which he won. He was “so tick­led” by Low’s car­toon that he offered to pur­chase it, and the Labour news­pa­per sent it to him as a gift. He ran it with his essay “Car­toons and Car­toon­ists,” in Thoughts and Adven­tures (1932).

This quo­ta­tion is now going around the web, broad­ly attrib­uted to Churchill. Is it accu­rate? “Social­ism is a phi­los­o­phy of fail­ure, the creed of igno­rance, and the gospel of envy, its inher­ent virtue is the equal shar­ing of mis­ery.” —M.S. via email.

It is more or less cor­rect, but it’s a trun­cat­ed ver­sion of two sep­a­rate com­ments, run togeth­er to make them more inter­est­ing (in the eye of the drafter).

“Social­ism is the phi­los­o­phy of fail­ure, the creed of igno­rance, and the gospel of envy.” —Perth, Scot­land, 28 May 1948, in Churchill, Europe Unite: Speech­es 1947 & 1948 (Lon­don: Cas­sell, 1950), 347.

“The inher­ent vice of cap­i­tal­ism is the unequal shar­ing of bless­ings. The inher­ent virtue of Social­ism is the equal shar­ing of mis­eries.” —House of Com­mons, 22 Octo­ber 1945

A vari­a­tion on the above is: “I do not at all won­der that British youth is in revolt against the mor­bid doc­trine that noth­ing mat­ters but the equal shar­ing of mis­eries, that what used to be called the ‘sub­merged tenth’ can only be res­cued by bring­ing the oth­er nine-tenths down to their lev­el…” —House of Com­mons, 13 June 1948

Churchill’s lega­cy includes his philip­pics against social­ism, said the late Dr. Har­ry Jaf­fa,

which are no less tren­chant than those against fas­cism and Com­mu­nism. Con­sid­er the fol­low­ing excerpts from a speech in the Com­mons in 1949: “I was brought up to believe that tax­a­tion is a bad thing, but the con­sum­ing pow­er of the peo­ple a good thing. I was brought up to believe that trade should be reg­u­lat­ed main­ly by the laws of sup­ply and demand and that, apart from basic nec­es­saries in great emer­gen­cies, the price mech­a­nism should adjust and cor­rect undue spend­ing at home….I was also taught that it was one of the first duties of Gov­ern­ment to pro­mote that con­fi­dence on which cred­it and thrift….can alone stand and grow. I was taught to believe that these process­es, work­ing freely with­in the lim­its of the well-known laws for cor­rect­ing monopoly….would pro­duce a live­ly and con­tin­u­ous improve­ment in pros­per­i­ty. I still hold to those gen­er­al principles.

“Social­ists [on the oth­er hand] regard tax­a­tion as good in itself and as tend­ing to lev­el our society….Everything pos­si­ble is done dis­cour­age and stig­ma­tize the inven­tor. The Chan­cel­lor [of the Exche­quer] speaks in slight­ing terms of prof­it earners….What a lot of con­tempt he put into it—”profit earn­ers.” There was an old Glad­ston­ian expres­sion: ‘Let the mon­ey fruc­ti­fy in the pock­ets of the peo­ple.’ That is regard­ed as a mon­strous device of a deca­dent cap­i­tal­ist system.”

This more­over puts us in mind of that dic­tum con­cern­ing prop­er­ty assert­ed by the Father of the Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion, James Madi­son, when he said, in the Tenth Fed­er­al­ist, that “the pro­tec­tion of dif­fer­ent and unequal fac­ul­ties of acquir­ing prop­er­ty [is] the first object of gov­ern­ment.” One might add that accord­ing to Madi­son, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion is intend­ed to pro­vide equal pro­tec­tion to unequal abil­i­ties. This is just as sure­ly what Abra­ham Lin­coln meant when in 1864 he wrote to the Workingmen’s Asso­ci­a­tion of New York that “Prop­er­ty is the fruit of labor; prop­er­ty is desir­able; it is a pos­i­tive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that oth­ers may become rich, and hence is just encour­age­ment to indus­try and enterprise.” *

* Har­ry V. Jaf­fa, “Requiem for Social­ism and the Iron Cur­tain,” Remarks on Churchill’s Birth­day, 30 Novem­ber 1990.

5 thoughts on “Churchill on Socialism

  1. Right Ed Sanders, as “its inher­ent virtue is the equal shar­ing of mis­ery.” Noth­ing else.

  2. I think Churchill rec­og­nized that the evils of social­ism were the seeds of pover­ty then war. The only peace that social­ism brings is when a few have the pow­er and sup­press all the (poor) peo­ple. The only way to enforce that ide­ol­o­gy is through force. First laws then the gun. Today in Venezuela is a good example.

  3. Vous dites que Churchill voulait la paix du monde , qui doit être la chose la plus stu­pide que je l’ai enten­du dans ma vie!

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