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A Churchill speech from 1945

Mark Holland is on a blogging roll just now, and one of the more interesting things to be found on his blog earlier in the week was a link to and a big chunk of a speech made by Winston Churchill, on June 4th 1945, which I assume Mark to have found here. (Mark himself offers no link.)


But, you will say, look at what has been done in the war. Have not many of those evils which you have depicted been the constant companions of our daily life? It is quite true that the horrors of war do not end with the fighting-line. They spread far away to the base and the homeland, and everywhere people give up their rights and liberties for the common cause. But this is because the life of their country is in mortal peril, or for the sake of the cause of freedom in some other land. They give them freely as a sacrifice. It is quite true that the conditions of Socialism play a great part in war-time. We all submit to being ordered about to save our country. But when the war is over and the imminent danger to our existence is removed, we cast off these shackles and burdens which we imposed upon ourselves in times of dire and mortal peril, and quit the gloomy caverns of war and march out into the breezy fields, where the sun is shining and where all may walk joyfully in its warm and golden rays.

Now I am not trying to say or even to suggest that what governs Britain now is what was meant in 1945 by “Socialism”. That hard-line root-and-branch government control of everyone and everything is a horror story has by now been well understood by all but a tiny few lunatics, if only because the promised economic benefits of such a system have all turned to dust and rust, in Britain and everywhere else where such Socialism has been attempted. Churchill’s team won that argument, even if this took rather longer than Churchill had hoped in 1945. But the book which prompted Churchill to say these things, Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom, paints a more complicated picture than just simple tyranny. Hayek also foresaw chaos, and an ever more desperate governmental effort to correct chaos, with even more chaos. And at the moment, governmentally induced chaos probably looms larger in our lives than governmental tyranny. But the means of inflicting a more self-conscious and deliberate tyranny at some future date are now pretty much all in place.

And, once again, the traitor in our midst is war. In 1945, it was the recently concluded war against Nazi Germany, and the warm glow of team spiritedness which that war gave off, for those who had good wars like formerly poor soldiers who had lived through victories (rather than those who had died during defeats), and like behind the lines enthusiasts for central planning. Now, it is the so-called War on Terror, which creates an atmosphere in which the Government does not demand or expect to know everything, but does insist upon its absolute right to know anything in particular that strikes it as important. And, now as in 1945, the British people, on the whole, do not object. Rather do they expect this, and complain only when the Government fails to keep an eye on things enthusiastically enough.

4 comments to A Churchill speech from 1945

  • Thing is, the onslaught on civil liberties, the rule of law and parliamentary democracy in this country started long before TWAT.

    The passing of legislation via statutory instrument (SI) received its first big boost when we joined the EEC (as the EU was then known). The legislation concerned enabled much EU legilsation to be passed via SI.

    Attacks on civil liberties occurred under Thatcher, and Sean Gabb has suggested she laid the foundations for a police state. It seems to me though that the process accelerated a bit under Major when Michael Howard gave us the criminal justice bill, attempted to introduce ID cards and attempted to restrict the right to jury trial.

    When Blair came along promising to incorporate the ECHR, I was hopeful that if nothing else the attacks on civil liberties would lessen. How wrong I was.

    This government has systematically attacked just about every legal protection the individual has against the abuse of state power and has also systematically attacked the checks and balances on the power of the executive to the point where we could be plunged into dictatorship/a full blown police state with ease.

    And its continuing to spew out proposals to take the process further.

    Whilst 9/11 and all that has given the government a lot of cover, I think it would be doing it, just at a slower pace, even if there were no terror threat. Why? The process started prior to 9/11 and the attacks have never been restricted to anti-terror or even anti-crime legislation.

  • guy herbert

    And see Lord Hewart’s The New Despotism published in 1929.

    And from the same Churchill speech:

    Have we not heard Mr. Herbert Morrison [Mr Mandelson’s grandfather, remember – GH] descant upon his plans to curtail Parliamentary procedure and pass laws simply by resolutions of broad principle in the House of Commons, afterwards to be left by Parliament to the executive and to the bureaucrats to elaborate and enforce by departmental regulations? As for Sir Stafford Cripps on “Parliament in the Socialist State,” I have not time to read you what he said, but perhaps it will meet the public eye during the election campaign.

    It is the procedure of tyrrany, usually adopted by men who believe themselves unquestionably good and trustworthy, that creates tyrrany.

  • Socialism and its collectivist, PC kin allowed the terrorists to bring things to the pass they’re in now. Had individual freedom been the touchstone it should have been, the War on Terror would not have been necessary. Welfare statism, multi-culti “diversity thinking” and the consequent silencing of those who pointed out the obvious malice of the barbarians within our gates must bear the blame.

  • So war and chaos provide the excuse for the state to create the apparatus for a police state thus leading to a police state?

    Or maybe, the state lacks the will to fight the war therefore (as a sort of displacement activity) it passes its police state laws but just as it lacks the will to fight the war it also lacks the will to enforce its new laws, the net result being not much change.

    Liberal constitutions have never proved much of an obstacle to determined dictators. Stalin’s constitution(Link) “guaranteed” freedom of speech.