Tag: Freedom

Tests of Freedom: Italy 1944, Iran 2009

Tests of Freedom: Italy 1944, Iran 2009

The dis­tress­ing repres­sion fol­low­ing the recent Iran­ian elec­tion reminds us once again of Churchill’s eter­nal rel­e­vance. In the House of Com­mons on 28 August 1944, he was asked how he would judge whether the new Ital­ian gov­ern­ment, about to replace the Fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ship of Mus­soli­ni, was a true democ­ra­cy. Churchill replied:

The ques­tion aris­es, “What is free­dom?” There are one or two quite sim­ple, prac­ti­cal tests by which it can be known in the mod­ern world in peace conditions—namely:

Is there the right to free expres­sion of opin­ion and of oppo­si­tion and crit­i­cism of the Gov­ern­ment of the day?…

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“Democracy is the worst form of Government…”

“Democracy is the worst form of Government…”

The young ora­tor, 1907.

Democ­ra­cy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment, except for all the oth­ers. “It is fre­quent­ly claimed that Churchill said this (or words to that effect). I have tried to locate the source of that quote, but I have not been able to trace it. Is it gen­uine, and if so, where and when?” —D.C., Bogotá, Colom­bia

He said it (House of Com­mons, 11 Novem­ber 1947)—but he was quot­ing an unknown pre­de­ces­sor. From Churchill by Him­self, 574:

Many forms of Gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.…

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