50 Years Ago: Churchill in Perspective

Sufficient time has passed since Churchill’s funeral for popular emotions to wane—but not sufficient yet to make it likely that his words and deeds will be subjected to any analysis for popular consumption. No doubt historians in the future will discover reasons to doubt his greatness, but there is no need to await the passage of time.

In what way can he be considered great? His actions concerning the working class, his military prowess, his flair for foreign affairs?

It was he who called out the troops during the Dock Strike in 1911. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the government which put on the statute book the 1927 Trades Disputes Act, prohibiting strikes by one group of workers in sympathy with another, curtailing the right of picketing, and preventing the Civil Service unions affiliating to the T.U.C. (…)

In death, as in life, he served our rulers well. The pomp and ceremony of his funeral was a circus for the diversion of the working class. The entire pulpit—religious, political, press and radio—have been loud in his praise. Here was a man, they said, for workers to look up to, to recognise as a leader, and in so doing to pay homage to future leaders and to the principle of leadership.

Here perhaps we may rephrase Bevan’s comment, and apply it to all leaders—The failure of their actions is concealed by the majesty of their promises.

Where did Churchill lead the workers? Where will any leaders take them? Workers have only to reflect on their experiences—not for Churchill and his class, but for those they dominate, it is a life of blood, sweat, toil and tears.

And it will remain so, until the same workers who are now deluded into an hysterical hero worship of men like Churchill, learn that their interests lie in dispensing with leaders and setting up a social system in which all men stand equally.

(from article by K.K., Socialist Standard, March 1965)

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