In the wake of what has transpired and continues to transpire in the world around us, is it possible for any of us to remain “in hibernation?”

It is not.

Safe? Yes, we must remain safe. But hibernating?

No longer.

Chartwell Booksellers emerged from hibernation this week, returning to work, if not yet re-opening our doors. We are in, fulfilling orders; back, but unable to receive visitors.

Meanwhile, the streets here, and all around the country, have filled with rage. We feel solidarity with the suffering, horror at the violence, and wonder: What would Churchill do?

Winston Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in1926 when a coal strike in the north of England blew up into a week-long general strike. The Labour Party later blamed Churchill first for causing and then for harshly breaking this general strike. Neither was remotely true. The accusations played well in the press at the time and, to a degree, as history since.
In fact, Churchill sided with the miners in their struggle with Britain’s mine owners, who enraged Churchill with their greedy intransigence, including his own cousin, Lord Londonderry, whom he severely criticized. “Recalcitrant” and “unreasonable” was how Churchill bluntly described these mine owners, but Baldwin’s Tory cabinet was predictably united in its support of “Management,”  and obstructed Churchill at every turn. His pursuit of a fair wage for the miners and, eventually, a just minimum wage for all workers, was thwarted.

Once the coal strike escalated into a nation-spanning, sometimes violent, general strike, Churchill did seek to end it. In his view, a miner’s strike was valid recourse for redressing inequality. A general strike, however, was a chaotic attack on the common good, an attempt to overthrow parliamentary rule itself.

In the end, the strike failed. The miners returned to work. But the solidarity of protestors in the streets did have an ultimate impact at the voting booth. The Labour Party, in the ensuing 1929 general election, won a majority of seats in Parliament for the first time in its history. Baldwin and his ruling Conservative Party were tossed out of Downing Street, taking Winston Churchill, unfairly or not, with them.

Health and safety we continue to wish you, together with a new hope for justice
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