Winston Churchill on the meaning of civilization

Below is an excerpt from a speech given by Winston Churchill on the meaning of “Civilization,” as the Chancellor’s Address, University of Bristol, July 2, 1938:

There are few words which are used more loosely than the word “Civilization.” What does it mean? It means a society based upon the opinion of civilians. It means that violence, the rule of warriors and despotic chiefs, the conditions of camps and warfare, of riot and tyranny, give place to parliaments where laws are made, and independent courts of justice in which over long periods those laws are maintained. That is Civilization—and in its soil grow continually freedom, comfort and culture. When Civilization reigns, in any country, a wider and less harassed life is afforded to the masses of the people. The traditions of the past are cherished, and the inheritance bequeathed to us by former wise or valiant men becomes a rich estate to be enjoyed and used by all.

The central principle of Civilization is the subordination of the ruling authority to the settled customs of the people and to their will as expressed through the Constitution. In this Island we have today achieved in a high degree the blessings of Civilization. There is freedom: there is law; there is love of country; there is a great measure of good will between classes: there is a widening prosperity. There are unmeasured opportunities of correcting abuses and making further progress.

Civilization will not last, freedom will not survive, peace will not be kept, unless a very large majority of mankind unite together to defend them and show themselves possessed of a constabulary power before which barbaric and atavistic forces will stand in awe.

Here, then, we see the task which should command the exertions of the rising generation which tills this spacious hall, and which may bring to the life of Britain the surge of a new impulse towards the organization of world peace, and across the gulf of these eventful years prepare and bring nearer the Brotherhood of Man.

Read the entire speech at The New Jacksonian Blog along with some insightful commentary on the speech and the times in which it was given, by Michael Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan said this in the comments: “You know it says much about President Obama and his priorities that as soon as he took office he removed the bust of Mr. Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to England. Tony Blair had given the bust on loan to George W. Bush after 9/11.”

America is in need of new leaders. Hillary Clinton is promising a continuation of the Obama administration. Who in their right mind would want more of that?

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