CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 13
Winston Churchill’s first widely-distributed hardcover collection of political speeches was LIBERALISM AND THE SOCIAL PROBLEM. Published in November 1909, these century-old Churchillian orations speak to us more resonantly, pointedly and urgently right now than you would think possible.
We visit it next in our restless expedition through Winston Churchill’s books, which is no longer simply a stroll.
Perhaps the most revealing thing about Liberalism and the Social Problem
is its dedication: “To My Wife,” Clementine, who had married Winston Churchill just a little more than a year before the book’s publication, on September 12, 1908. Clementine was a Liberal and a Suffragette when Churchill met her and would remain so, a diehard Liberal who never did trust the Conservative party, even after her husband later rose to lead it.
The speeches collected in Liberalism and the Social Problem largely express “radical” Liberal views that were quite advanced for Churchill’s time, prefiguring the modern social safety net that he and David Lloyd George would soon set in motion for Great Britain. The speech titles tell the tale: “Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance,” “The Second Reading of the Anti-Sweating Bill,” “The Budget and National Insurance,” “The Budget and the Lords,” “The Budget and Property.” Churchill was among the leaders of a movement to increase taxes on Britain’s wealthiest. He had become the scourge of his former Tory colleagues, who would never quite get over his “treachery.”
The 35-year-old Churchill offers in Liberalism and the Social Problem his own definition of a Liberal:
“He is a man who ought to keep cool in the presence of Jingo clamour. He is a man who believes that confidence between nations begets confidence, and that the spirit of peace and good-will makes the safety it seeks. And, above all, I think a Liberal is a man who should keep a sour look for scaremongers of every kind and of every size, however distinguished, however ridiculous — and sometimes the most distinguished are the most ridiculous.”
With these words of Winston Churchill’s in mind, we wish you health and safety more than ever.