George Will, the far-right political commentator for the Washington Post, headlined on January 1st, "The Price of Political Ignorance: More Government," and he opened by implying that Winston S. Churchill despised the public and democracy and believed that they need to be manipulated by some elite, for their own good. In other words: he cited "Churchill" as validation of his own longstanding belief, which he was arguing for in that column.
This viewpoint that Will holds was actually first systematically asserted by Plato in his Republic (a book that Dr. Will himself admires), but in modern times it has come to be known as fascism -- the very thing against which Churchill famously waged war.
Here is how Will carried out his fascist deceit in that column:
Will implied, but did not directly assert, that Churchill held this actually fascist belief, by Will's opening with: "It was naughty of Winston Churchill to say, if he really did, that "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.'" Will said that this supposed quotation, from supposedly the conservative hero Churchill, "raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory," and Will closed by praising a Koch-funded academic whose "evidence and arguments usefully dilute the unwholesome democratic sentimentality and romanticism that encourage government's pretensions, ambitions and failures," when that government happens to be democratic, as opposed to fascist.
However, those "awkward questions" about democracy were actually presented not just by Plato, but by Churchill's own mortal enemy, Adolf Hitler, who said, in Mein Kampf (v. 1, Ch. 3), that democracy "by forcing the individual to pass judgment on questions for which he is not competent, gradually debases his moral character," and (v. 2, Ch. 1), that "the impenetrable stupidity of the electorate" produces a government where "everyone gets everything he wants," until government becomes exhausted by all the pandering. (Thus, Will's own title was: "The Price of Political Ignorance: More Government." Will, like Hitler, believed in small government, by intrinsically superior people; not in big government, that cares for everybody.) Hitler's contempt for the electorate was visceral, when he said (v. 1, Ch. 3), "The revulsion of the masses for every outstanding genius is positively instinctive. Sooner will a camel pass through a needle's eye than a great man be 'discovered' by an election."
Did Churchill really agree with Hitler in despising democracy? No: it's just a snobbish fascist's attempt to produce yet another fascist Big Lie.
As recently as 24 April 2012, historian Richard M. Langworth headlined "Churchill on Democracy," and he opened: "Not by Churchill: "The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Deseret News in Salt Lake City is the latest to publish this red herring. Commonly attributed to him, but with no authority, this is ... cynical." Then, Langworth linked to one of his own earlier postings, which quoted from Churchill's published writings and speeches on the subject, and which say such things as:
At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper -- no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point. --House of Commons, 31 October 1944
How is that word "democracy' to be interpreted? My idea of it is that the plain, humble, common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family, who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time, and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to Parliament -- that he is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man or woman should do this without fear, and without any form of intimidation or victimization. He marks his ballot paper in strict secrecy, and then elected representatives ... decide what government, or even in times of stress, what form of government they wish to have in their country. If that is democracy, I salute it. I espouse it." --House of Commons, 8 December 1944
It is obvious that Churchill and Will would not be friends; they would be enemies. Hitler and Will would be friends. This is shown even more by Hitler's only publicly recorded (and enormously successful) fundraising speech. It was given at the Industry Club of Dusseldorf on 27 January 1932, and attended by virtually all of Germany's tycoons. He said:
This whole edifice of civilization is in its foundations and in all its stones nothing else than the result of the creative capacity, the achievement, the intelligence, the industry, of individuals: in its greatest triumphs it represents the great crowning achievement of individual God-favored geniuses. ... You maintain, gentlemen, that German business life must be constructed on a basis of private property. Now, you can defend such a conception as that of private property only if in some way or another it appears to have a logical foundation. This conception must deduce its ethical justification from an insight into the necessity that Nature dictates. [This "necessity' is the doctrine of Adam Smith's "invisible hand' of God.] ... Private property can be morally and ethically justified only if I admit that men's achievements are different. Only on that basis can I assert: since men's achievements are different, the results of [i.e., the fortunes resulting from] those achievements are also different. ... It is madness to say: in the economic sphere there are undoubtedly differences in individuals' value, but that is not true in the political sphere. [If that were so], there would emerge a cleavage between the economic and the political orders, and [the only way] to bridge that gap is to [repudiate the tendency that comes from the communists and from the democrats, their tendency to] make the political order swallow up and determine the economic order. [Hitler assumed here that one of these two must dominate over the other.] ... It is then absurd to allow this principle [of hierarchy] to hold good only in one sphere -- the sphere of economic life and its leadership -- and to refuse to acknowledge its validity in the [broader] sphere of the whole life-struggle of a people: the sphere of politics. ... To sum up the argument: I see two diametrically opposed principles: the principle of democracy which, wherever it is allowed practical effect is the principle of destruction: and the principle of the authority of personality which I would call the principle of [individual] achievement, because whatever man in the past has achieved -- all human civilizations -- is conceivable only if the supremacy of this principle [the supremacy of economics over politics] is admitted.
Mussolini famously tagged fascism as "the corporate state." The basic principle is that aristocrats, the people who control corporations, control the government. Churchill did not agree: he was anti-fascist.
Among fascists -- that is, extreme conservatives, people who believe in rule by the aristocracy (or else by a theocracy, which is just a religious form of aristocracy) -- the tactic is common of saying or implying that a certain "quotation" was said by one of the great proponents and defenders of democracy, such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, or other great Founders of America, or such as Winston Churchill, when that "quotation" is actually nowhere to be found in the given historical figure's writings or in the writings of that individual's personal acquaintances. The tactic is always done in order to provide "authority" for the given fascist belief, for readers who are democrats and who therefore respect the given falsely cited person. It is rampant on Fox "News" and other such "news" media. Few of these people have Ph.D degrees, or Pulitzer Prizes, but George Will has both. Neither certificate is a license to lie, even if it might have been won by lying effectively, and by not having been exposed by our "news" media even after decades of his doing it -- demonstrably lying or deceiving, which he certainly has done, though there has been space here to discuss only one instance of it.
Incidentally, that Koch-funded scholar earlier referred to is Ilya Somin, who also wrote other far-right things, such as an essay "Foot Voting," arguing in favor of what's otherwise known as the race to the bottom in corporate regulation and taxes: maximum competition between localities so that corporations will locate in places with the lowest regulation and lowest taxes, so that the public will take on that burden from which corporate owners are being freed, via the public's higher taxes, lower wages, and higher pollution (toxic air, water, and food). "Foot voting" (fascism) is compared to "ballot box voting" (democracy), which is portrayed as being vastly inferior. It's all just an elaborate and well-funded scam by aristocrats and their flaks such as George Will, fishing for conservative suckers.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.