Saturday, July 30, 2022

"Let us not wander away from the broad, fertile fields of freedom"

I just downloaded the Kindle edition of  Churchill by Himself: In His Own Words ($2.99). It seems a bargain—the Amazon price for the hardcover is $93.84. I've been browsing in a section titled "Political Theory and Practice." A sampling:
...civilisation implies, in any society, the freedom to criticise the government of the day; free speech; free press; free thought; free religious observance; no racial persecution; fair treatment of minorities; and courts of law and justice which have an authority independent of the executive and untainted by Party bias. (1939)

The strength and character of a national civilisation is not built up like a scaffolding or fitted together like a machine. Its growth is more like that of a plant or a one should ever cut one down without planting another. It is very much easier and quicker to cut down trees than to grow them. (1952)

[Communism and Fascism remind me] of the North Pole and the South Pole. They are at opposite ends of the earth, but if you woke up at either Pole tomorrow morning you could not tell which one it was. Perhaps there might he more penguins at one, or more Polar bears at the other; but all around would be ice and snow and the blast of a biting wind. I have made up my mind, however far I may travel, whatever countries I may see, I will not go to the Arctic or to the Antarctic Regions. Give me London, give me Paris, give me New York, give me some of the beautiful capitals of the British Dominions. Let us go somewhere where our breath is not frozen on our lips because of the Secret Police. Let us go somewhere where there are green pastures and the shade of venerable trees. Let us not wander away from the broad, fertile fields of freedom into these gaunt, grim, dim, gloomy abstractions of morbid and sterile thought. (1937)

Democracy as a guide or motive to progress has long been known to be incompetent. None of the legislative assemblies of the great modern states represents in universal suffrage even a fraction of the strength or wisdom of the community. Great nations are no longer led by their ablest men, or by those who know most about their immediate affairs, or even by those who have a coherent doctrine. Democratic governments drift along the line of least resistance, taking short views, paying their way with sops and doles, and smoothing their path with pleasant-sounding platitudes. Never was there less continuity or design in their affairs, and yet toward them are coming swiftly changes which will revolutionize for good or ill not only the whole economic structure of the world but the social habits and moral outlook of every family. (1931)

...the only safe rule for doing justice electorally between man and man was to assume, a large assumption in some cases, that all men are equal and that all discriminations between them are unhealthy and undemocratic. (1906)
Richard M. Langworth (Editor), Churchill by Himself: In His Own Words, Rosetta Books, 2013)

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