Churchill, Racial Equality, India

Since 2006, when I launched the first version of Occidental Dissent, I have said repeatedly that this website would be focused on North America. With the exception of a few entries about the Belgian Congo and South Africa, I have more or less stuck to that focus. Over the next few weeks, I am going to break my own rule and venture into the thorny subject of British nationalism and White racial decline in the United Kingdom. I envision a series of posts about this subject from an outsider’s perspective.

Dan Dare has argued that interwar Britain was not a liberal society, that Britons did not believe in ‘equality’, that Britons saw no problem with denying individual rights and self-government to Indians, that Churchill was a convinced ‘white supremacist’, that Churchill did not lose much sleep over ‘racial persecution’, that Churchill was merely “playing to the gallery” of an American audience when he voiced these concerns, that the demise of the British Empire was inconceivable except in lieu of the Second World War.

At first glance, this is seemingly counterintuitive. In Churchill’s own words, there were “Eight million Tories, eight million Labour, five million Liberals!” in 1929.  He worried about the formation of a “Lib-Lab bloc in some form or other and a Conservative Right hopelessly excluded from power.” Churchill himself believed the Conservatives were outnumbered by left-wing voters in the interwar period. This belief is borne out in the popular vote totals. The Tories hovered around 35% -50% of British voters.

Let’s start by setting the clock back to 1929. In that year, the Conservatives were swept out of office and a new Labour government under Ramsay MacDonald came to power. A decision was made to grant Dominion status to India. In Martin Gilbert’s words, “When retaining a Viceroy appointed from London, and British military control of defence, India would be ruled within a few years by Indians at both the national and provincial levels.” (Gilbert, Churchill, 495)

On Nov. 6, Churchill returned to London and sat in Commons while Stanley Baldwin pledged the Conservative Party to Dominion Status for India. Churchill was convinced it was a bad decision. In Nov. 16, he wrote an article for the Daily Mail in which he argued, “‘Justice has been given – equal between race and race, impartial between man and man. Science, healding or creative, has been harnessed to the service of this immense and, by themselves, helpless population.'”

Gilbert continues,

But the Hindus, allowed by Britain to observe their own customs, still branded sixty million of their members as Untouchables, whose very approach in the street was considered an affront and whose presence was considered ‘a pollution’. Dominion Status ‘can certainly not be obtained,’ Churchill wrote, by those who treated ‘their fellow human being, toiling at their side’ so badly. The grant of Dominion Status would be ‘a crime’.

A couple of points need to be made here:

1.) By 1929, the British government under MacDonald’s Labour regime was already in the process of devolving self-government unto the Indians by offering them Dominion Status within the Empire.

2.) Churchill opposed Dominion Status on the grounds that the British were fostering racial equality in India, which he identified with ‘Justice’ itself, and that the natives were incapable of doing this.

3.) Churchill was writing for a British audience, not an American one.

4.) The Indian debate is evidence that the pre-war British did see a contradiction between reserving certain rights for themselves and denying them to others. It wasn’t just a “few oddballs.” Churchill himself was in this camp. So was Labour and the Conservatives.

5.) Re: India The prevailing liberal theory at the time was that the British were holding India in trusteeship until such a time that Indians were capable of self-government without resorting to division, bloodshed and inequality.

Ultimately, the Indian National Congress rejected the offer of Dominion Status and demanded full independence for India. Nehru and Gandhi were imprisoned by Irwin; the Congress was banned; a crackdown on their followers ensued.

More from Gilbert:

“During his speech of December 12 Churchill warned of the dangers to India ‘if the British Raj ist to be replaced by the Gandhi Raj’. The rulers of Indian Native States, and the vast Muslim minority, would both have to make terms with the new power. The Untouchables, ‘denied by the Hindu religion even the semblance of human rights’, would no longer have a protector.” (Gilbert, Churchill, 497)

So here we see pre-war Churchill in 1929 making noise about “human rights.” According to Dan Dare, there was “no calls for ‘universal’ human rights'” before the Second World War, even though Churchill was justifying the occupation of India on “human rights” grounds years before Hitler came to power.

Churchill offered his own “two-tier” solution to the Indian crisis:

“the Indian Provincial Governments would move towards ‘more real, more intimate, more representative organs of self-government’, while the central power would remainly firmly in British hands.” (Gilbert, Churchill, 498)

In 1930, he warned . . .

 “to put the promise of self-government before ‘the gleaming eyes of excitable millions’, with the ‘formidable’ powers which would in fact be retained under the Irwin scheme. Indian nationalists would never accept such curbs, he believed, and went on to remind the House that there were at that very moment 60,000 Indians in prison for political offenses. The restriction of civil liberty then in force were ‘without precedent in India since the Mutiny.’

A few points to consider:

1.) Why was there any talk (at the highest levels of the British government) of giving India self-government in the first place?

2.) Why the concern about “human rights,” self-government, political prisoners, racial inequality, civil liberties and so forth? Why were such loaded liberal terms used to frame the debate?

“‘It is alarming and also nauseating,’ Churchill told the West Essex Conservatives on February 23, ‘to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, no posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up to the steps of the Viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King Emperor.’ Such a spectacle could only encourage ‘all the forces which are hostile to British authority’.

What was the response to Churchill’s racist speech?

“Churchill’s speech outraged Labor and Liberal opinion.” (Gilbert, Churchill, 500)

As we see above, Churchill himself acknowledges and laments the liberalism, the mushy softness that was enervating British rule in India. He described British policy towards India as “a hideous act of self-mutilation” and declared that “Irwinism has rotted the soul of the Tory party.” Churchill said that Stanley Baldwin had “felt that times were too far gone for any robust assertion of imperial greatness.” Baldwin remarked that Churchill was like George III “endowed with the tongue of Edmund Burke.” Irwin (Lord Halifax) wrote, “That conception of Empire is finished.”

In an example of double-consciousness, Churchill continued to attack Indian independence on liberal grounds. He claimed the Hindus would persecute the Muslims without enlightened British rule. He claimed that Brahmin domination would result in nepotism, graft and corruption. Worst of all, Churchill lamented that the Hindus would tyrannize the Untouchables,

 “a multitude as big as a nation – men women and children deprived of hope and the status of humanity. Their plight is worse than that of slaves, because they have been taught to consent no only to a physical but to a psychic servitude and prostration.’ Both for the Untouchables, and for the five million Indian Christians, it would be ‘a sorry day when the arm of Britain can no longer offer them the protection of an equal law.'” (Gilbert, Churchill, 501)

Churchill is clearly defending liberal imperialism: British rule in India is justified on the liberal grounds of upholding equal protection of the laws, fostering religious and racial tolerance, maintaining individual rights and liberties, edging Indians towards responsible self-government. Ultimately, Churchill and his rebellious Conservative MPs lost out to the Baldwin-MacDonald policy on India which was even more liberal than they one they advocated.

In 1932,

“In an attempt to lessen Indian hostility to Dominion Status, MacDonald and Baldwin now proposed increasing the Indian franchise from seven million to thirty-six million voters. Churchill thought this an unwise move, telling a private meeting of the Indian Empire Society on May 25: ‘Democracy is totally unsuited to India. Instead of conflicting opinions you have bitter theological hatreds.'” (Gilbert, Churchill, 507)

In 1933,

“As Churchill suspected, the Government had no intention of accepting the Simon Report, but was going ahead with the plan for Indian self-government both in the Provinces and at the centre. In seeking to make this full Dominion Status more acceptable to Conservative critics of its India policy, it announced that ‘safeguards’ would be introduced both for the Muslims of India and for the independent Princely States, in what would be a predominantly Hindu government … Despite these doubts, the Cabinet agreed to make the All-India Federal scheme the basis of the White Paper. …

On March 17 the Government issued its India White Paper. Under the proposed constitution, each Indian Province would be granted autonomy. At the centre, the previously strict Viceregal control would be replaced by a Federal Government with substantial Indian participation.” (Gilbert, Churchill, 516-517)

In 1935, the Government of India Act gave eleven of the Indian provinces self-rule. It included the participation of Muslims, Sikhs, Untouchables, and women. Churchill described it as “a monstrous monument of sham built by pygmies.” In the cheers for the India Bill, he warned “there may not mingle the knell of the British Empire in the East.” (Brenden, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 393

In 1939, a Gallup Poll found that 77 percent of Britons favored Indian independence. (Brenden, 401) In 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt issued their joint Atlantic Charter which included a pledge to ‘respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.’ Less than a year later, Churchill acqueisced to issuing a declaration which promised a new postwar constitution for India and “the complete transfer of responsibility from British to Indian hands.”

In the debates over India, British policymakers do not present themselves as the Herrenvolk in India with a Manifest Destiny to rule the subcontinent forever. The debates between the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties takes place (almost) exclusively within the framework of suicidal political liberalism. Churchill and his followers advocated self-government in the provinces and imperial rule in the centre; the larger Baldwin-MacDonald coalition advocated Indian self-government in both.

The interwar Indian debate prefigured the transformation of liberalism that would take place during the wartime years. When the British left India in 1947, it was not with resignation, but with an enthusiastic ideological celebration of the fulfillment of their project of eventual self-government.

Contrast this with Hitler’s advice that the Indian National Congress should be outlawed, Gandhi and his associates shot, and the leadership of the independence movement thrown in concentration camps. If the British elite had not been so committed to liberalism, history would have taken a different course in the Indian subcontinent.

About Hunter Wallace 12366 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

20 Comments

  1. Reading about arguments within the Indian community, it seems that Brahmins are viewed as whites are in their countries, as evil oppressors.

  2. Mark you are correct that there is somewhat of a correlation betwixt the identification of Brahmins with ‘evil White Supremacist boogey-men’.

    Even to this very day Brahmins are quite discriminatory.

    An example: One of my aunts (of German descent) married a high-caste Brahmin and took a trip to India. Walking down the street the couple encountered an Untouchable begging. My aunt wanted to give him some money, but her new Brahmin husband strictly forbid ANY interaction with the unter-mensch!

    Also: The ramifications of Britiains liberalism in this area are still felt today. What if the region of Pakistan was still under White Control today??? There would be less of a terrorist threat and less of a NUCLEAR threat from that backwards country.

  3. Interesting. This post is like a more detailed Buchanan column, examining details of history as if they still matter directly to us in our predicament. Is the loss of British Empire to be mourned? Sure, you could say that. But by the 1940s-1960s, it was clearly in the wrong hands.

  4. “If the British elite had not been so committed to liberalism, history would have taken a different course in the Indian subcontinent.”

    Not for long, probably. The British loss of control had more to do with the Indians than the British. Tide of history, etc. Hitler’s non-liberal solutions would have only delayed the inevitable. Look at South Africa or elsewhere on that continent. Liberalism played no role.

  5. Churchill was simply trying to found common ground with the liberals of his day. His own private correspondences reveal a rather different and more illberal view of the barbaric races.

  6. Are you kidding? The Indians had to beg for their independence like dogs. Liberalism was most certainly at work.

  7. Discussion had begun long before Churchill about the expense of maintaining an Empire. I think it is erroneous to not look at the rhetoric and policies that came before, mainly the repeal of the Corn Laws and the deliberate agricultural depression. It seems clear to me that it was maintained that profits for the financial class could be maintained through policies of “free trade” and banking schemes. And that these policies would destroy all national protectionism, including their own Agricultural class. A trend in thinking that caused the civil war in America. What took place at this time was nothing short of radical, as the repeal of the protectionist corn laws caused the Irish famine and destroyed totally the Agricultural class of England. As far as interest in India, It was never about uplifting or freeing the low caste Hindus. I maintain that the Indians were corrupted all on their own, with a perverted religious asceticism taken too far. The cast system as it had evolved was totally abhorrent, and many Hindu agreed. There seems to me to have been an evolution of Indian consciousness all on its own, that may have had to do with liberal English Education, but not entirely.

    Corn Law Repeal and Free Trade: http://www.mailstar.net/engdahl.html

    Marx Supports Free Trade to destroy National Protectionism:

    http://www.mailstar.net/classwar.html

    Another thing to consider is the cultural destruction that took place in England which was just as destructive to the rural English poor as any Communist revolution. The rural populations of England had an art all of its own until the end of the nineteenth century. The English rustic art was organically connected to agriculture and consisted of dramas pageantry seasonal feasts, dances, and all of it ethnic, magical, racial, even Nationalistic – According to Collingwood,

    “IN A SINGLE GENERATION THIS WAS WIPED OUT.” !

    Two things he cites as responsible for this destruction of folk art among the poor.

    1) The EDUCATION ACT 1870. This act imposed on countrymen the values of urban dwellers. ( American public education Act followed – and though it is said to be modeled after the Prussian system, it was not, it was the English system by the force of the Law )
    2) The deliberate agricultural depression. The repeal of the protectionist corn laws totally destroyed the prosperity of the English agriculture population.

    He also goes on to describe a similar process that took place in purging the towns of a vital folk culture that was deprived of it by forces of the law. I assume here that he is referring to England notorious religious persecution. So by 1900, town and country alike had been successfully purged of ethnic, racial, folklore except for a “few pitiful survivors.”

    “The mind of the poor was a house empty, swept, and garnished.”

    Collingwood: http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=SXpMC9416y4C&pg=PA102&lpg=PA102&dq=folk+art+persecution+England&source=bl&ots=bRAN2-t5vS&sig=KVaKQ0StKm7x1LYFmYJ0M82LEZI&hl=en&ei=i96USsDGKY2gswPk3ZHxCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6#v=onepage&q=folk%20art%20persecution%20England&f=false

  8. The final dissolution of British power in India in 1947 was in line with a long term trend of liberalization: the offer of Dominion Status, the extension of self-government to the provinces, the creation of an Indian electorate, federal government and constitution, the Indianization of the Indian Civil Service and Army.

    In the interwar period, Churchill himself deplored the weakness of his more powerful contemporaries like Baldwin and MacDonald. It is worth noting that he was forced into rationalizing the occupation of India on liberal grounds. Churchill undoubtedly held more racially conservative views, but by that point (i.e. the 1930’s) the political mainstream had shifted so decisively in the liberal direction that the diehard imperialists were unable to appeal to raw self interest.

    The whole debate over India policy was colored on both sides by liberalism. Churchill’s position was that the British should hold onto India for “a few more generations” as trustees. In the meantime, they should extend self-government to the provinces while keeping a powerful Viceroy at the centre. He didn’t believe the Indians were ready to govern themselves without resorting to violent racial and religious sectarianism (a prediction which turned out to be true).

    Even for Churchill, India’s eventual independence was a foregone conclusion. The British simply didn’t have the mindset of German National Socialists or Southern segregationists. The Empire was steadily unraveling before the Second World War.

  9. Admiral,

    It is worth exploring White racial decline in other countries to see if there are parallels to the American experience. As I plan to show, this was especially true in the case of Britain.

  10. As far as the Untouchables… considering half the Indian population don’t have toilets and defecate outside in the open like animals, it’s no wonder the higher caste won’t touch them.

  11. The Moghul and later the British Empire were both forces of stabilisation on the Indian subcontinent. It is a great irony that traditional Hinduism started to decline steeply when the English withdrew from India. Today India has degenerated into a caricatural imitation of late 19th century Victorianism with sanctimonious ceremony. So much for the British having left! India of today is a joke: its religious and ethnic diversity is mere superstition and infighting; its landscape is a huge waste dump; its economy is trumped by China which actually succeeded in controling the birth rate of its underclass. The last of Hindu sages, Ramana Maharshi, died a few years after British independence. They abounded when the British ruled. None have as of yet appeared in modern India. Indepence was bad for India, England and the West.

    Even though the situation could still have been remedied in the 1930s by force, and I belief Churchill was wrong in not attempting to do this, the Indian indepence movement would have never appeared in the first place had the British never created a Westernized Hindu elite. Why educate those who are your potential enemies?

    As Gustave le Bon observed in the 1880s:

    “The army of educated persons without employment is considered in China at the present day as a veritable national calamity. It is the same in India where, since the English have opened schools, not for educating purposes, as is the case in England itself, but simply to furnish the indigenous inhabitants with instruction, there has been formed a special class of educated persons, the Baboos, who, when they do not obtain employment, become the irreconcilable enemies of the English rule. In the case of all the Baboos, whether provided with employment or not, the first effect of their instruction has been to lower their standard of morality. This is a fact on which I have insisted at length in my book, “The Civilisations of India”–a fact, too, which has been observed by all authors who have visited the great peninsula.”

    Not only in India was the Independence movement a corollary of the colonizer’s misguided efforts to “increase the level of civilization” of the natives. The same phenomena took place in Indonesia, North Africa, and East Asia.

  12. Occupation of India was disastrous for the English people as I already pointed out. It put the Hindu in direct competition with the English and Irish farmers and at slave wages! It was a major contributing factor of the Irish famine which starved millions to death. It literally broke English agriculture and this was all before 1900 and WWI. How was that good for England? How is that good policy for anyone, anywhere, at anytime?

    The problem with the English is that they had no world view. All that mattered was profit. So then their so called world view can become fluid. All the high minded “liberal” talk was just that. High talk by high fools. Has much changed?

  13. “The British simply didn’t have the mindset of German National Socialists or Southern segregationists.”

    True (perhaps) but what good did that mindset do for the Nazis or Southerners? The point is: The British never should have colonized Asia or Africa because THAT invigorated liberalism and led inevitably to their own colonization and destruction. Frankly I don’t really see the point of this thread. Britain is a lost cause. The lesson they leave is to keep the “other” out of your body politic. They are a cancer that will eventually metastasize. You can’t prevent it, no matter what you believe.

  14. “Contrast this with Hitler’s advice that the Indian National Congress should be outlawed, Gandhi and his associates shot, and the leadership of the independence movement thrown in concentration camps. ”

    It is one of Histories Great Ironies that the anglo-phile Adolf Hitler seemed to care more about the British Empire then the British Elite itself seemed to!!

    (Another vector for investigation would be that of Jewish inter-marriage into the British Aristocracy and Elite. Assuredly this played a role in the liberalization of British Politics that led to the dissolution of the British Empire. )

  15. Look at South Africa or elsewhere on that continent. Liberalism played no role.

    Why don’t you ask the Boers and Rhodesians what they think on this matter? You’ll find out that your statement is woefully inaccurate. In both areas liberal movements were behind the end of colonial influence there.

    Write to Eric Thomson in Yakima, WA – he was there for the dissolution of Rhodesia. Or ask ZA refugees who lived through the “liberation” movement. Then decide for yourself if “liberalism played no role.”

    Hitler’s advice that the Indian National Congress should be outlawed, Gandhi and his associates shot, and the leadership of the independence movement thrown in concentration camps.

    How would this not have done the trick? As usual the NS are shown to be far more practical than the high-minded British in just about every aspect you care to name.

  16. I see a lot of Britishers who still think that it was their birthright to control those uncivilized people ha?
    Dont worry folks. Our great nation India not only progressing but progressing much faster than yours which is nothing but a joke and an orbit state of US. You couldnt sustain power even after looting so much from our nation. And these Hindus that you are talking about, have proven better than you in almost every field if given opportunities, and you know it cause you see it now in the west too, where Indians have proven their caliber.
    Talk all about your past glory, but the future belongs to India. You just wait and see us buying more of your companies and you will be able to do nothing about it, other than bringing the same- ‘but oh so many people in India dont have toilets’ (do you seriously believe that in a country where 60% of population has cellphones, not even half have access to toilets? What kind of phony study is that?) or ‘the untouchables, they treat them so bad’ (a phenomenon which is rarely seen nowadays. So much so that I haven’t seen such a thing happening once in my 22 years in India. But hey, send your 13-14 year old AnnaSophia Robb’s so that they can not only understand the complex problem but can propagate ‘Dalit Freedom Network’ to convert them no?). Heartburn much? Deal with it. We are the future, you are the past. Its our time now and you cant do anything. Wait, maybe you can pander us so that we dont close many plants when buying companies there.

  17. I see some of the posters while criticising brahmins, consider all indians ‘untouchables’ (comparing them to dogs and animals) . Hypocricy thy middle name is ‘whites’!

  18. Why do you, Aryan supremacists, confessing stolen from us, Jews, religion (Christianity)? Maybe you’ll bring it to us and stay with REAL ARYAN morality, much more primitive and violent than Jewish (described in the “Old” and partly in the “New” Testament)?

  19. In such matters it is important to first try to fully appreciate the time and the context of these utterances in order to make a comment. I mean after all Churchill could see what India is today.

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