How difficult it is to finally have to let go of an idol that served so well.
Some years ago, this personally painful insight fell to one of America’s finest biographers. William Manchester. Known for his brilliant work on Churchill, particularly his ‘Last Lion’ series that ended in abdication.
It would fall to Deborah Baker to pick up the pieces and tell where and how others crafted an end toward a bridge only half built. ‘Defender of the Realm’ is worth the forty bucks, if only to embody the conviction that fed Manchester for decades. He had humility to recognize the end of his temerity. Most don’t. After giving himself over to the subject for decades, he finally quit it. God Bless the man, others don’t even try!
‘Defender of the Realm’ should be required reading, if only to discover what Civilization does to its leaders. Perhaps Tocqueville alone or Toynbee understood the impact egalitarian principle had on aristocracy. Churchill was served such acumen in spades. His long, aimless decline was proof that the (theo)logic that underwrote British peerage was empty. No need to study Cramner, Fisher nor More; or the satanic hold that shouldered the rapacious desire in Tudor plunder. But these historical queries, sufficient as they are miss the man and his moral clarity. How many others can say they single handedly defeated Adolf Hitler? The man had conviction, and worked it to his advantage each time.
As Dr. Deborah Baker told in her Wall St. Journal review, an insight, favorable to those who suffered under British Colonial rule implicitly understood, Manchester wrote: “England’s new leader, were he to prevail, would have to stand for every thing England’s decent, civilized Establishment had rejected. . . Like Hitler he would have to be a leader of intuitive genius, a born demagogue. . . a believer in the supremacy of his race. . . an arist who knew how to gather the blazing light of history into his prism and then distort it to his ends, an embodiment of inflexible resolution who could impose his will and his imagination on his people – a great tragedian who understood the appeal of martyrdom and could tell his followers the worst, hurling it to them like great chunks of bleeding meat. . . Such a man would be England’s last chance. . . In London there was such a man.”
Yes, Churchill knew the moral foundations of liberty. He also implicitly knew the limits of science. For him, politics would always remain the handmaiden of theology. In these convictions he would remain a proleptic earnest from which to draw from.
More than can be said for many who fill the dustbin of history.
Rest in Peace. WM. It is finished.