His Finest Hour Is Yet To Come
by F. H. Drinkwater
MR. C-hurchill, with his foresight and his strategy vinglicated, his courage never for a moment in question, and evert his choice of men—which seemed his weakest point —to a 14rge extent justified, now stands In sight of victory, and at the very height of his unassailable prestige as the natioifs leader in war, one of the very greatest figures of
secular history. I should he his humble hero-worshipper if, like him, I waen't past the age for hero-worship of anybody.
It seems a safe and suitable moment therefore to consider the queslioe whether his leadership JOT peace would be of the same high qtiality.' Those who, like the present writer, hoped for his coming to power itz days when a deluded people was trusting Baldwin or cheering .Chamberictin.
have a right to ask the question now. Can Winston Churchill irelp to make a new Eliglarid, or is he the valiant champion of the old?
For any person or institation that professes intereet in social justice or lasting peace or better economics or simply a better England, I'm afraid I have just one test. A rough-and-ready test perhaps, but meseeme a sure one: is he, she or it perfectly clear about the necessity of moneyeefrem? If not, the understanding or the sincerity indispenseble to any guide in these matters most be laceing.
About Mr. Churchill, especially now that he has signified his intention of leading us into the peace and reconstruction period, every money-reformer .must be asking: is his mied capable or
understanding the right function of money and the issuing of h, and the need of rescuing this sovereign power of the 'Crown from its present usurpation by prisme bends? I say " Mr. Churchill's mind," because, speaking with all respect, one tech no climb( about his good will. if he realised the truth. He has never been a mere " party man.'' has never bowed down in the Temple of Mammon, never " left polities for the City,has always remained (they say) comparatively a poor man.
If ambition be a sin, pen haps he has been the most offending soul alive., but it has been an amhi lion to serve hie country, not to sell it. Besides, as he said himself, ambition is now satisfied. lit $o far as it still move him, it might MOST him to desire the gratitude of posterity rather than the present applause even a his own class And, to do him justice. Winston Churchill has never hesitated. even in his young days, to shock the feelings of his own class and associates whenevei it suited his purpose to do so. His life on the natural plane. like the lives of the saints on a supernatural plane, has always been imaginatively lived for a wider approval than that Of his immediate audience.
13m—well, this man who saved England (as far as any one man can be said LO have done it) is a combination at artist and man of action. That is to say, he is not a philosopher, not by nature a thinker. Anybody can know his mind, for he has spread it ow for us generously in books and articles without end. 1-1e can be interested in everything, be loves the whole groat panorama of human life, but he is not much interested in the causes of things, and so has not the sort of mind that easily turns to money-reform. Or (for that matter) to smear reform, though he has been connected with several such measures.
Such things, one gets the impression, are ra bore to him. How magnificent his war speeches have been, and how they will stay in the English mind for a thousand yearsito come perhaps t. And how unconvincing and perfunctory Were
forme-His ei teem
usually those little pc. h
What is His Attitude ?
When he devoted a whole broadcast LO planning Reconstruction he gave the impression of setting his teeth to get through something distasteful, and the vet), tempo of his utterance was more rapid, as if to get it over.
Naturally, he is afraid of discussing questions during the war, since the nation is certain to be divided about them, nor could any leader in his place speak his awn full mind about them openly. It is therefore but ordinary foresight to speculate what his attitude will be on the central question of money-reform.
A pessimistic estimate would be suggested by his upbringing, for in his younger days he absorbed from an old Treasuly official the strictest tenets of Gladstonian finance, with its blind superstitions about "balancing the budget," and its bland assumption that the
ing's Government is just a rather large private enterprise which must, by borrowing and taxation, acquire for its needs as much as it can get of the permanent pool of " money," which is somehow there already and which bankers know all about.
The ordinary ignorant Victorian survivor finds it difficult enough to revise his motions about money, but it must
be doubly difficult foi Mr. Chtirehill
who in this mailer has " known so many things that ain't so."
The day came when during a round Of golf a COnservative Prime Minister asked Chu,-hall if he would care to be Chancellor of ihe Exchequer.
Would he JIM I And so he lightheartedly let himself in for making the most disastrous blunder ever made by any Chanced°, in English history. In 1925 he put us back on the Geld Standard, which brought about the General Strike and perhaps had something .to do with producing Hider.
Disastrous Return to Gold
You can hardly blame Churchill really —any other Chancellor. certainly a Lebow Chancellor, would have done the same; would have been compelled to. All the " experts," Sir Otto Niemeyer and all the bankers and financiers who made up the Cunlifte Committee, recommended the return to Gold. Of course. the money-reformers, Arthur Kitson and so on, warned against it, hut how could Churchill have ever heard of such people? Even Prolassor Keynes (who has always been a sort of bridge between moneyreformers end " practical politicians," telling the latter just as much truth ae they are able to take in at a time) warned the Government plainly of the consequences, either before the decision Or just after it. I forget which.
But, of course, the massed " experts " prevailed and the disaster duly took place.
Mr. Churchill, who has written copiously M. most periods in his own life, has said very little of his five or six years as Chancellor, and (unless we count Widows' Pensions) be has no reason whateeer to be proud of them. lb 1929 he was still talking about the rewards of returning to Gold; how the cost of living had decreased, inflation become impossible, and how England was once more the greatest international market. Every year he promised tare ducethe national expenditure, but of course never could fulfil his promise.
What we may hope is that Mr. Churchill has learned from his own mistakes, especiallly from the frightful consequences (as measured in batman suffering) of listening to the advice. of bankers.
For that is a fine point about him— he is always ready to admit be was wrong. He was already speaking in that strain even before his responsibility as Chancellor was laid down.
Since then, in more free fashion as journalist and lecturer, he has often used language which money-reformers could applaud, such as about the absurdity of destroyirm food white people are ill-fed, or of enforced unemployment for merely financial reasons. But this might be just superficial journalistic commentary, on a Beaverbrook level so to speak. If Mr. Churchill has ever said anything to indicate that he recognised the causes of these symptoms, and was determined to track them to their source and unmask them, I have not come across it.
What He Leaves Unsaid
What about that very notable broadcast of his on post-war plans a few weeks ago?
Well, I listened to it very carefully, especially the bit about finance. Given the circumstances of his leadership, and his reluctance to toed] the whole subject, it seemed to me a sincere performance and not disappointing to the money-reformer. True. he put in bits that sounded comforting to bankers, just as he put in egalitarian bits for the people who have so often cheered him in the bombed towns. A leader in his position must be judged chiefly by what he leaves unsaid. That broadcast made quite a point of the average man's little war-savings, and rightly demanded that they should be secure; but I noticed that it made no promise about continuing the payment of interest on them.
That, of course, will be the real sluesdon after the war—what to do about the war-debt. It is still piling up, and the " financtal authorities " still do their best, as in the last war, to mix up all together the genuine savings and the great blocks of money-out-of-nothing " lent " by the banks, but there is now, I forget how many thousand millions of the latter, I mean in the long-term loans at 3 per cent. more or less.
Some people will tell you that the reign of the financiers is over, because just at present the Treasury sees that they don't get more than 3 per cent. on imaginary money. The fact that they get interest on it at all shows that they are still entrenched, defending in depth, and still ready for a come-back after the war.
And what of America? America with which Mr. Churchill is. so fortunately For us now, in so complete a sympathy and understanding? Here again there are those who say that the reign of Money is over and that F.D.R. has driven out the money-changers. And here again., one can only humbly ask for more evidence,
What is so badly tzeeded Li an open and explicit repudiation of the oldi financial s,Istem on the part of " democratic " rulers, of the same unmistakable kind as given already by the ehief spokesman of the Church of England. In this country Churchill, Temple and Keynes would be a pretty formidable combination, but perhaps we shall have to welt until after the mt.° see it in action, as I hope use Capable Of It All we can say for certain is that Churehill is capable of it. How shall we get to know what direction he is taking? Perhaps at first only by watching effects. If the wrong kind of Conservatives. the yes-men of Finance who are still so strong in the House and in the Party. if they and the corresponding kind of Liberals, too, turn against the Prime Minister, we shall -know how he is fulfilling our hopes.
I don't believe that Wins'ion Cher shill would care to live on as a mere " cirlm statesman " of the Duke or Wellington kind, nor would our times allow him to, It may be that his finest hour is
yet to come. •