Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Did Churchill Admire Mussolini?

Winston Churchill; Benito Mussolini
Winston Churchill is regarded as the conservative leader who rallied the British people during the Second World War, led the fight against nazism and fascism, and won.

But was he always against the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini?

In As We Go Marching, John T. Flynn provides an interesting perspective on the way Churchill viewed Mussolini’s strong-arm political methods. The few quotes from Churchill’s letters and articles that Flynn has cited create the impression that Churchill was an admirer of Mussolini.

In  January 1927, Churchill wrote to Mussolini: “If I had been an Italian I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”

“If I were an Italian I would don the Fascist black shirt,” Churchill asserted in his correspondence to Mussolini. In 1928, Churchill wrote an article in Collier’s magazine extolling Mussolini above Washington and Cromwell.

Churchill was not the only one to see Washington and Cromwell in Mussolini. Several liberal and conservative politicians, intellectuals, journalists, and businessmen in England and USA used to look at the fascist dictator with admiration.

But this does not mean that they approved the suppression of liberty and democracy by Mussolini. It only shows that decent people have the capacity to tolerate and even defend bad political ideas in the name of some cherished public good.

Even after the Second World War had commenced, Churchill continued to propagate the idea of Mussolini being a great man. In December 1940, in a speech to the House, Churchill said, “I do not deny that he is a very great man. But he became a criminal when he attacked England.”

Like most conservatives, Churchill was a pragmatist. He did not wage war against Hitler and Mussolini because he was ideologically opposed to totalitarian political ideas. His only concern was to defend Englands’s geopolitical interests.

It did not matter to Churchill that Hitler and Mussolini were enemies of liberty; in his eyes their only crime was that they had attacked England.

No comments: