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Sam Adams

Winnie Wants Less Ideology – More Empire

(July 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 28, 10 July 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In his recent speech to Parliament, the Honorable Winston Churchill, His Majesty’s Prime Minister, declared that the war was no longer ideological. The most important thing, he added, was to win the war. And to win the war His Majesty’s government was prepared to work with anybody – Stalinist Russia; Stalin’s agent in Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito, alias Broz; fascist Badoglio in Italy, and that excellent representative of modern butchery, friend of the American Ambassador to Spain, the bloody handed General Franco.

Many people were excited by this speech of Mr. Churchill, but none more than the liberals. Why this is almost sacrilegious, they whined. Everyone knows, they said, that this is a war against fascism, for liberty, democracy and a new world for the common man. They even pointed to Churchill’s speeches early in the war, when it looked as though the British Empire would be torn apart by German fascist imperialism. Churchill then made long speeches about the “ideological character of the war.

Memories Are Not Too Short

Memories can be short, especially when it is convenient. But the war is not convenient. The masses of people feel the economic difficulties of life under war. They bear its heaviest burdens. More important than that, there is hardly a workers’ family that does not have one or more sons and relatives fighting in this “ideological” war, thinking that they are fighting for freedom. Many of them believed what Churchill said only a couple of years ago. They remember that he said many beautiful things when England was fighting alone. They remember, too, that he said more beautiful things, together with President Roosevelt, when they issued the Atlantic Charter and announced their devotion to the Four Freedoms.

How truly beautiful they sounded: freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of worship, freedom of organization; national independence for all nations and, lastly, freedom from fear. Fight this war, said he, and we shall have prosperity, security and peace for all time.

Now that the war has turned more favorable to the Allies, now that it is certain that Germany cannot win in Europe, Churchill speaks more frankly. Even President Roosevelt no longer says that this war will end war for all time; he now HOPES it will end war only for the next generation!

Because the war has turned favorable to England and the Allies, Churchill says little or nothing about early war aims. Why should he? He never intended them seriously. They were only”ideological” pleas to the people to support him and his regime in the war and to support the Allies in general.

Having obtained that support from the people, unenthusiastic as it is (especially in England, where the workers, the overwhelming majority of the people in that country, want a change from the old life to a new one, want a change from Toryism which Churchill represents), Churchill, representing the interests and views of capitalism and the capitalists of the Allied countries, speaks bluntly.

But is it true that the war is not ideological? In the sense that Churchill means it, yes.

In the sense that Churchill and the Allied powers have no intention whatsoever in bringing about any change in the capitalist system, yes.

In the sense that they have no intention of changing the old system of power politics, yes.

In the sense that they have no intention of altering the profit system, yes.

In the sense that they have no intention of genuinely improving the lot of the millions and millions of workers, poor peasants and farmers, and the poor middle class, yes.

Churchill’s Ideology

What Churchill plainly says is: don’t believe anything we ever said about the war. We are really and truly fighting to retain the status quo ante. We are for the old capitalist system of unemployment, poverty and misery for the overwhelming majority of the people. We are for the old capitalist, system of profits, well-being and enrichment for a few, for the great capitalists of our civilization.

We may agree to a few concessions after the war. We may build a few new homes, since the war destroyed so many. We may provide some nurseries to aid poor mothers. We may even increase unemployment allotments and social security, but we will never stand for a change in our rotten, brutal and vicious capitalist system of profits for a few and misery for the many.

Of one thing we are certain: Churchill will be fooled if he thinks the soldiers will return from the wars just to continue under the old state of affairs. He will find that promises will not be enough. The people will want a change and they will get it, Churchill notwithstanding. Reports from the front supply much evidence of this fact. Journalists who talk to the men of all armies sing the same refrain: the boys want a change. They’re not going to stand for unemployment and poverty.

What the People Want

But make no mistake about it. When Churchill says the war is not “ideological,” he means that in his mind, and the class he represents, the war does not mean what he said it did and that it is not fought for the things he once described. He means that the war is a fight over markets, colonies, profits. Simple and practical things!

Are these things ideological? Perhaps not in the sense that we are apt to think they are. But in a real sense they are ideological. They are the things which represent capitalist imperialism. They are the “ideological” interests of the capitalist class – not the people.

The war is ideological. It is a war in the interests of capitalism and the things capitalism stands for. When Churchill says it is not ideological he only means that it is not being fought for the things the people think it is fought for nor the things they want. It is not for peace, security and freedom.

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