Churchill Truly Understood Communism and Socialism
In the United States and the West, a new generation needs to be educated about the dangers of communism and socialism. A few years ago, a survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation revealed that that 70 percent of millennials support socialism and one-third of them have a favorable view of communism. A 2019 Harris Poll noted that Generation Z (those born in 1995 or later) “has a more positive view of the word ‘socialism’ than previous generations, and -- along with millennials -- is more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past generations.” As Anthony Kim of the Heritage Foundation has noted, young Americans’ ignorance of socialism and its sordid history threatens our freedom and economic vitality. This is a failure of our educational, cultural, and political institutions.
Winston Churchill is mostly known for his great and inspiring leadership during the Second World War, a conflict in which he led Great Britain in a “grand alliance” with the United States and Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union against the Axis powers. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Churchill famously remarked that if Hitler had invaded Hell, Churchill would make favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.
In a broadcast in London on June 22, 1941, Churchill stated that the Nazi regime was “indistinguishable from the worst features of Communism.” He reminded the British people and the world that he had been a consistent opponent of Communism for 25 years. He had, indeed. Churchill’s equating communism with the Devil was no accident. He was a consistent critic of communism and socialism, and there is much we can learn from his observations and insights.
'Bolshevist tyrrany is the worst'
After the First World War, the overthrow of the czarist government, and the Bolshevik seizure of power, Russia descended into civil war. On April 11, 1919, in a speech at London’s Aldwych Club, Churchill, who was then Secretary of State for War and Air, opined that, “Of all the tyrannies in history, the Bolshevist tyranny is the worst, the most destructive, and the most degrading.” Lenin’s regime in Russia, he said, was a “foul combination of criminality and animalism,” and he expressed the fear that Germany might succumb to the “Bolshevist pestilence.” It should be Britain’s policy, he continued, to “resist by every means at [its] disposal the advances of Bolshevist tyranny in every country in the world.” A month later at a constituency meeting in Dundee, Churchill urged the government “to aid those forces in Russia which are making war . . . upon the Bolshevist tyranny.” On June 6, 1919, in a speech in the House of Commons, Churchill continued to advocate British aid to the anti-communist forces (the “Whites”) in Russia.
In July 1919, at a dinner speech at the British Russia Club in London, Churchill warned that “If the whole of Russia and its resources falls into the unchallenged power of Lenin and Trotsky, the whole weight of the Bolshevist military power will be thrown against those foundering little States [of Eastern Europe].”
Britain for a time supported anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia with material aid and some military troops, but by early 1920, those forces were withdrawn and most aid was discontinued. This move prompted Churchill to again warn about the threat posed by Russia’s communist regime. The Bolsheviks, he said, “if they had their own way would destroy democratic parliaments on which the liberties of free peoples depend, and would also shatter the economic and scientific apparatus by which alone the great millions of modern populations can be maintained alive.” The Bolsheviks, Churchill said, are “fanatics who are the avowed enemies of the existing civilization of the world.” “They seek to destroy capital,” Churchill continued. “They seek to eradicate the idea of individual possession. . . They seek to exterminate every form of religious belief that has given comfort and inspiration to the soul of man.”
Communism as Utopia? Not even close
Those who see socialism and communism as forms of Utopia, Churchill said, are spouting “monstrous absurdities and perversion of the truth.” Communism is not progress, rather “it is simply marching back into the dark ages.” Socialistic and Marxist theories, he said, are “fundamentally opposed to the needs and dictates of the human heart, and of human nature itself.” Bolshevik and communist doctrines, he concluded, are “subversive and morbid doctrines” that must be resisted “by every means at our disposal” and “at all times.”
In yet another speech in March 1922, Churchill described socialist doctrines as “absurd” and “contrary to the deepest instinct of the human heart.” Socialists, he said, follow the logic and symmetry of theory but “forget about human nature.” Socialism is a delusion, a fallacy that “consists not merely in a general levelling of mankind, but in keeping them level once they have been beaten down.”
What would life look like under socialism? “We should have to submit to iron State regulations in every detail. . . the method of our daily life would all require to be regulated in the most rigorous manner.” Churchill then described the socialist regulators as “ a little political band or set of men who happened to have seized upon the machinery of power and who, once they have seized upon it . . . would be reluctant to let it go.”
In April 1922, Churchill continued his effort to expose the realities of socialism. Socialism, he said, is “barbarism” and “slavery.” It is “the rule of the few made absolute over the wishes of the many.” It is the “suppression of freedom” by the socialist elite who use “compulsion” and “corruption in every form.” The socialist elite, he continued, “sit high above the masses, ruling their lives, and appointing their toil as if they were gods in heaven.” The socialists in power are a “sort of priesthood,” he said, “with a caucus below them for rigging . . . elections.” As an example, Churchill noted the “120 million Russians [who] are prostrate under Socialist and Communist tyranny.” He warned about the growth of a political party in England “pledged in allegiance to the Socialist ideal, . . . moving forward . . . towards that absurd, visionary and perilous Utopia.”
Socialism challenges liberty
After the Second World War was over in Europe, Churchill described socialism in terms that are still relevant today:
[T]here can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with Totalitarianism and the abject worship of the State. … liberty, in all its forms, is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of Socialism. … there is to be one State to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. This State is to be the arch-employer, the arch-planner, the arch-administrator and ruler, and the arch-caucus boss.
A Socialist State once thoroughly completed in all its details and aspects… could not afford opposition. Socialism is, in its essence, an attack upon the right of the ordinary man or woman to breathe freely without having a harsh, clumsy tyrannical hand clapped across their mouths and nostrils.
But I will go farther. I declare to you, from the bottom of my heart that no Socialist system can be established without a political police. Many of those who are advocating Socialism or voting Socialist today will be horrified at this idea. That is because they are shortsighted, that is because they do not see where their theories are leading them.
No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance.
And this would nip opinion in the bud; it would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all the power to the supreme party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of Civil servants, no longer servants and no longer civil. And where would the ordinary simple folk — the common people, as they like to call them in America — where would they be, once this mighty organism had got them in its grip?
The resurgence of socialistic and communistic doctrines and practices in this country and the West needs to be confronted with the truths about these false idols -- truths that Winston Churchill provided during his many years of service to the British people and the free world.