Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The REAL Man of the 20th Century

On November 30, 1874, the greatest man of the 20th Century, Winston Spencer Churchill, made his debut in the world. He died nearly 91 years later after leading Europe through its worst crisis, staring down Hitler and naming the evil of Stalin.

Here is an excerpt from the piece linked in the title of this post:

Churchill brought a coherent body of thought about the nature of man and his world to bear on the problems and essential uncertainties of human political life. In the face of rival philosophical claims and political agendas, he successfully combined a modern devotion to limited government, freedom of speech, and the division of power inherent in Anglo-American constitutionalism with the older understanding of the fundamentally fixed nature of man, the permanently recurring trials he must confront, and the need for the political formation of character. Churchill’s ability to chart and maintain a consistent course both for himself and his people under the looming threat of destruction made him a great leader. That his thought and action were directed toward and devoted to the principles of justice, freedom, and peace made him a great man. Taken together, these two forms of greatness elevate him to the highest honors of statesmanship.

And as Steven Hayward notes here and here, this statement from Gertrude Himmelfarb is especially apt:

When I meet a historian who cannot think that there have been great men, great men moreover in politics, I feel myself in the presence of a bad historian. And there are times when I incline to judge all historians by their opinion of Winston Churchill--whether they can see that, no matter how much better the details, often damaging, of the man and his career become known, he still remains, quite simply, a great man.


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