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"There is no hope without fear," wrote Spinoza in his Ethics, "and no fear without hope." Today, the West is haunted by fear. It was Spinoza, together with Locke, who won the battle for religious toleration as the foundation of a political settlement that made possible the Anglophone Enlightenment. That battle for toleration needs to be won again today, on both sides of the Atlantic, because we live again in an age of intolerance: not only the intolerance of radical Islam, but also the intolerance of a radical secularism that takes its cue from Voltaire's motto: "Ecrasez l'infâme!

Today, we also need thinkers who can make the case for toleration in a wider sphere: thinkers capable of defending the market economy against its detractors, of defending the rule of law against anarchy, of upholding the liberties and values of the West against its enemies, internal and external.


Never surrender: Churchill at the House of Commons after a bombing raid in 1940 

This year, we have been celebrating the 70th anniversary of that darkest yet also most heroic episode in our history when Britain stood alone against the menace of Nazi Germany. Churchill rallied a nation still reeling after the evacuation of its army from the Continent of Europe at Dunkirk and the ignominious defeat of its main ally, France. On June 4, 1940, with the "miracle" of Dunkirk still fresh in the public mind, he made the first of a series of speeches that together constituted an even greater miracle. Here, as in most of Churchill's orations, the most famous passage comes in the per-oration:

 

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

 

Many of the themes that Churchill made his own are already clear in this: the indomitable defiance; the readiness to contemplate the occupation not only of the entire Continent but even of Britain too; the faith in ultimate victory; and the unwavering solidarity with America. I want to focus, though, on the speech that Churchill made on June 18, 1940, in the House of Commons, which he broadcast later that day. It was in this speech that he gave the Battle of Britain its name even before the Luftwaffe's onslaught had begun in earnest. Although this is perhaps the greatest of Churchill's many great speeches, many do not know it. The original manuscript, with his many amendments in blue pencil and set out on the page like Shakespearean blank verse, has recently been put on display. Here is his peroration:

 

What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.'

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J Muir
December 16th, 2010
7:12 PM
You're absolutuely right to identify our loss of identity as the greatest loss to befall us. With no sense of belief in our sovereign nation we are mere shadows of the English men and women Churchill would once have celebrated. The irony is that alongside your piece is an ad with the face of a preening former prime minister trying to sell his memoirs. This man bears as much responsibility as anyone for the abject state we now find ourselves in.

Larry in Tel Aviv
November 4th, 2010
9:11 AM
The West does have a young Churchill in the wings - his name is Geert Wilders and he has been in the dock (treated as a criminal) in the Netherlands for 'hate speech' ie telling uncomfortable truths about European dhimmitude and surrender to the Islamic menace. Just a minor point in an otherwise great article, De Gaulle betrayed France and his own legacy with his pan-Arabist and anti-Israel policies from 1967, he did as much as any French politician to promote the multicultural nightmare France is now suffering from. You dance with the devil and the devil comes for his due.

Richard K Munro
November 1st, 2010
2:11 AM
I must say when I first saw this article I thought I would read it out of duty but did not think anyone could say much about Churchill or his speeches that I did not know. Yet instead I found Daniel Johnson's article captivating, fresh and so well written that I have read it three times and have decided to print it out to keep a hard copy at hand. I agree with Daniel Johnson and Christopher L. that we ought not to appease or compromise with our enemies yet I know many of our elites are afraid even to speak of our enemies and if we do (as in the case of the Lockerbie terrorist who was released by Scotland) then WE ARE CALLED THE EXTREMISTS and A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER TO WORLD PEACE. This is appeasement of the worst kind and we have seen it before in the 1930's when Churchill was denonunced as an "imperialist" for not wanting India prematurely independent and as a "war monger" for wanting radar and a strong RAF. Where would Britain have been in 1939-1941 without 2 million Indian soldiers, without radar, without Spitfires? Churchill had to have known in 1935 and 1939 that Britain's survival depended on India as much as Canada or Australia or New Zealand perhaps even more so. He remembered no doubt the 1 million Spahis who served loyally in the First World War and without whose courage and loyalty the Allies probably would have gone down to defeat before the entrance of the USA to the war after April 1917 which was almost in the 11th hour. I too thank Mr. Johnson for a superlative article and I hope to see many more. And we hope that in the land of William Wallace, Drake, Sir John Moore, Nelson, Wellington,Sir Colin Campbell, Montgomery, Dowding,Captain Dick Donald Porteous, and David Niven there are still reseves of manly courage and resolve. "Sing O, not e'en their son's disgrace can quite efface their glory's trace."

Connie
October 13th, 2010
9:10 AM
We see on Ross's Right Angle expat blog that the 'tolerant, democratic, Muslim country of Indonesia is planning to transport its tiny religious minority of Ahmadis to a desert island, as it's the only way to guarantee their safety. That just about sums it up.

John
October 6th, 2010
2:10 AM
But the real war, that is the war between the culture of life as an Indivisible Unity in which everything and all beings exist in a state of mutual relationships, versus the technocratic "culture" of death (the war of all against all and everything) which now rules the world, was portrayed in dramatic style in the recent Avatar film. Entirely predictable was the group-think response to the film by those on the "right" side of the culture-wars divide. They all came out loudly cheering for the technocratic "culture" of death. The driving force and consequences of which are shown in this one stark image, which is featured in The Pentagon of Power by Lewis Mumford. www.dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel14.html

Anonymous
October 1st, 2010
6:10 PM
To defeat an enemy you first need to identify him. But our political class are quite unwilling to identify radical Islam as the enemy of the West and, therefore, unwilling to take steps to stop its spread. Alas.

Chris L
October 1st, 2010
2:10 PM
"Today, we need to recall that resolve never to appease or compromise with those who mean to destroy us." In light of the threat from radical Islam, Never was a truer sentence uttered. In fact it applies equally to those of the multiculturalist-relativist-nihilist Left who actively work to undermine our Enlightenment (and Judaeo-Christian) heritage from within. Thank you Mr Johnson for a superlative article. The dangers (and the hopes!) you highlight are timeless, and at the same time, frighteningly timely.

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