Tag: Churchill quotes

Churchill: Not Much to Say Today?

Churchill: Not Much to Say Today?

If a man is com­ing across the sea to kill you, you do every­thing in your pow­er to make sure he dies before fin­ish­ing his jour­ney. That may be dif­fi­cult, it may be painful, but at least it is sim­ple. We are now enter­ing a world of impon­der­ables, and at every stage occa­sions for self-ques­tion­ing arise. Only one link in the chain of des­tiny can be han­dled at a time. 

—Win­ston S. Churchill, 18 Feb­ru­ary 1945

It was recent­ly assert­ed that Churchill doesn’t have much to say to us today, and that the only peo­ple who use Churchill as a guide nowa­days are “over-testos­teroned Amer­i­can neocons.”…

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Churchill’s Average Voter

Churchill’s Average Voter

(Or: “Churchillian Drift,” Part 1,398….)

On the eve of the British Gen­er­al Elec­tion, Metro UK declares: “Win­ston Churchill said the best argu­ment against democ­ra­cy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the aver­age voter.”

This is alas a reap­pear­ance of an ever-pop­u­lar red-her­ring quote that Churchill nev­er said.

Churchill had thought­ful cri­tiques of democ­ra­cy. See in par­tic­u­lar his essay on “Mass Effects in Mod­ern Life” in his book, Thoughts and Adven­tures. But he also had more respect for the aver­age vot­er than this non-quote sug­gests. In the House of Com­mons on 31 Octo­ber 1944 he said:

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 [we still vote that way in New Hampshire]—no amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point.…

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“Remember the past”: Santayana, but never Churchill

“Remember the past”: Santayana, but never Churchill

I am a librar­i­an and I have a patron who inquired about famous quote by George San­tayana (in The Life of Rea­son, 1905): “Those who can­not remem­ber the past are con­demned to repeat it.” We know the quote was orig­i­nal­ly Santayana’s, but our patron would like to know when Mr. Churchill first used it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my col­league and I have not been able to locate the the time or con­text of quote as it relates to Mr. Churchill. —D.J., New York

I searched Churchill’s 15 mil­lion pub­lished words (books, arti­cles, speech­es, pri­vate papers) but could find no occur­rence of Santayana’s remark.…

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