Winston Churchill: hero or monster?

How did one of Britain’s most rabidly racist prime ministers earn the reputation as a great fighter against fascism?

Daniel O'Brien

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In this video, Comrade Dan gives a informative presentation to the Stalin Society based on an article written for Lalkar: Churchill – a bloodthirsty reactionary idol with feet of clay.

British propaganda has created the myth that prime minister Winston Churchill was the foremost fighter against fascism during the second world war.

The truth, however, is that he was a racist, rabidly anticommunist reactionary, who hated British workers as much as he hated colonial slaves, and was not shy about expressing his considerable sympathies for fascism. His main concern was the defence of the British empire.

While home secretary in 1911, Churchill sent 3,500 British army soldiers and a naval gunboat (HMS Antrim), into Liverpool to help the police beat working-class demonstrators off the streets. They had been supporting a strike of the general transport workers, who were demanding better pay and conditions and union recognition. Two hundred and fifty were hospitalised, and five were shot down in cold blood, of whom two were murdered.

As strikes spread across the country in protest, Churchill mobilised the full weight of the army against the British people, sending 50,000 troops into major towns and cities across Britain.

Under his orders, troops shot down protesting railway workers in Llanelli, murdering two. The pattern was repeated up to, during and after WW1. In 1919, ten thousand troops were sent to crush unarmed striking Glasgow workers. The army used tanks and were armed with machine guns.

Churchill’s role in the suppression of the British workers during the 1926 General Strike can be read about in our pamphlet The 1926 British General Strike.

Churchill v Hitler

During the second world war, apart from being responsible for the deaths of 27 million Soviet people and millions elsewhere, the Nazis slaughtered five million jews. People throughout the world know the truth about this holocaust.

During the same war, in 1943-4 in Bengal, at least three million people perished from starvation, while an additional 25 million were reduced to utter destitution. Yet hardly anyone of the world is aware of this Bengal holocaust, let alone that it was perpetrated by the British colonial rulers of India, and overseen by Winston Churchill.

Having taken India into the war without consulting the Indian people, the British imposed on the Indian people a disproportionate share of the cost of financing the British war effort – in this case bearing the economic burden of the offensive against Japan. The manner of this imposition directly resulted in the deaths of three million Bengalis.

When Churchill heard of the famine he made a number of characteristic ‘witticisms’, including: “Then why isn’t Ghandi dead yet?”; “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion,” and “They breed like rabbits. Relief will not help them.”

This was all in the time-honoured tradition of the British empire in India. Lord Lytton oversaw the export of grain from India to England, and organised a week-long orgy of bacchanalian feasting for fully 90,000 colonial officials and princes to celebrate the crowning of Victoria as empress of India, even as, across the Deccan plain, the monsoon rains failed and millions starved to death.

In the last 25 years of the 19th century, fully 30,000,000 Indian peasants starved to death in famines directly attributable to British policies, while relief was refused and taxes were increased, on the grounds of the Malthusian theories of ‘overpopulation’ and Adam Smith’s doctrine of free-market fundamentalism.

Circumstances forced Churchill to align, albeit insincerely and half-heartedly, with the Soviet Union in the war against Hitlerite Germany.

But the only country on the western front truly fighting against fascism was the USSR, which made the most significant contribution in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Those interested in further details are invited to read our pamphlet The Soviet Victory Over Fascism.