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Susan Lawrence

Fuehrers of the Great “Democracies”

(June 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 8, 3 June 1940.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


In 1895, when Winston Churchill was 21 years old, he was awarded the Spanish Order of Military Merit for his outstanding aid in the suppression of a Cuban rebellion: in 1896, he was in India where he fought against native uprisings in the Himalayas; by 1900, he was fighting against the Boers.

By this time, the Tories recognized him as a valuable servant of the Empire, and it was under their auspices that he was seated in Parliament. He then began to make the kind of speeches that he has made throughout his career – “In spite of every lie uttered or printed, the truth comes to the top, and it is known alike by peoples and rulers that British influence is on the whole healthy and kindly, and makes for the general welfare and happiness of mankind.”

Opportunist in his policies, he began to flirt with the Liberals on the basis of their Free Trade program, and he joined them in 1905.

“The Foul Baboonery of Bolshevism”

After the Russian Revolution, Churchill equipped from surplus Allies war stores the various White Armies, helped them with expert officers and tried. to promote an anti Bolshevik alliance among the, border states. He got the Cabinet in 1919 to authorize 28 million pounds credit to the Whites and to contribute materials amounting to 100 million pounds.

“A monster seated on a throne of skulls” – this was Churchill’s description of Lenin. He also spoke of “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism which has driven men from the civilization of the 20th century to a condition of barbarism worse than the Stone Age.”

The mild reformist Socialism of the British Labour Party was to Churchill “the most direct and formidable menace which, now that German civilization has been crushed, British civilization is faced.”

When the Lloyd George coalition government collapsed in 1924, Churchill began to feel his way back to the Conservatives. Just as he had supported the Liberals on the single plank of Free Trade, so he supported the Conservatives mainly on the basis of their Anti-Socialist program. Thus since his political baptism in 1899, he has made a complete circle Conservative, Unionist Free-Trader, Liberal, Coalition Liberal, Liberal Tree Trader, Anti-Socialist, Constitutionalist, and Conservative.

Churchill and Mussolini

In 1926, Churchill flew to Italy to visit Mussolini, where he was greeted as “the only British statesman who understands the spirit of Fascismo.” So open was his admiration for Il Duce that for a long time after, when he rose in the House of Commons, there were shouts of “Mussolini”.

During the General Strike in 1926, Churchill made outspoken attacks on the workers, and also took the job of editing a scab newspaper, called The British Gazette. It was the only paper printed during the strike except for the Trades’ Union paper. It harped on “the Russian plot behind the strike,” “the vicious crimes of the Socialists” and so on.

Churchill has always violently opposed any concessions to India. “The truth is that Gandhi-ism and all it stands for will sooner or later have to be grappled with and crushed,” he said in 1929. “We have no intention of casting away that most truly bright and precious jewel in the crown of the King. The loss of India would mark and consummate the downfall of our Empire ... Unless you are prepared to defend your rights and interests in India, you will be stripped of every vestige you possess and expelled with ignominy from its shores.”

A far-sighted imperialist, Churchill quickly recognized the Nazi threat to the British Empire. As early as 1934, he urged a war against Hitler. The appeasers labeled him “an alarmist”. Two years ago, Hitler declared in a speech that if Churchill came to power in Britain, Germany “would consider it cause for instantaneous war.”

Churchill could not, suppress a sneaking admiration for the Fuhrer: “One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admit his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among nations.”

Now that England is losing the war, certain sections of the British population and certainly Churchill himself seem to. think that the present Prime Minister is that champion.

Unless the British working-class take over the government, the choice ahead is either Hitlerism or Churchillism.


Paul Reynaud, was premier of France, comes from a middle-class family whose great wealth is derived from a chain of department stores originated in Mexico by grandpapa Reynaud.

In 1918, he was in Siberia, acting as a liaison officer with Kolchak’s White Russian Army; by 1937, he was considered the wizard of French finance.

But he didn’t bolster up French economy by any magic formula. It was the old army game of taking money from the workers and giving it to armaments,

He was an outspoken. opponent of the privileges won by the united efforts of the French workers, and called the 5-day week “a poisoned gift” because it curtailed production.

In negotiating with Leon Blum for the abolition of the 40-hour week, he said, “You cannot pursue a policy of expensive social improvements and at the same time expect the country to get prepared for a life and death struggle with a power twice the size of your own in men and resources.”

Before and after Munich, he was violently opposed to appeasement and urged for French preparedness with the insistence, if not the brilliance, of Churchill.

Reynaud Smashes 40-Hour Week

To bolster up the toppling financial structure of 1939, a Reynaud decree replaced the 40-hour week, called bitterly by him “the week with two Sundays”, with the 45-hour week. In addition, the workers got only 5% more than regular time for overtime, and they were given no opportunity to refuse to do extra work.

The April decrees further stated that no increase in wages was to accompany the rise in prices as the wages for the 45-hour week were sufficient to buy what the wages of the 40-hour week had bought before. Thus 2 to 3 billion dollars was saved to be turned over to munitions.

Reynaud urged the French workers not to support the general strike because “"the liberty of Europe depended on the production of our war materials and in order to develop them. I demand unanimity in France.”

And now the working men and women of France are being called on to make even greater sacrifices for what M. Reynaud calls “unity” – a unity that means nothing less than the Hitlerization of France.

Carl Friedrich, in the Atlantic Monthly (October 1939) says, “Altogether it is clear that M. Reynaud is not afraid of radical departure from 19th century Individualism. It shows that the integrated totalitarian war machine in Germany is forcing France as well as England into adopting similar methods.”

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