It is the strength and coherence of his central, lifelong beliefs that has provoked greater uneasiness, more disfavor and suspicion, in the central office of the Conservative Party than his vehemence or passion for power or what was considered his wayward, unreliable brilliance. No strongly centralized political organization feels altogether happy with individuals who combine independence, a free imagination, and a formidable strength of character with stubborn faith and a single-minded, unaltering view of the public and private good. Mr. Churchill, who believes that "ambition, not so much for vulgar ends but for fame, glints in every mind," knows with an unshakable certainty what he considers to be big, handsome, noble, and worthy of pursuit by someone in high station, and what, on the contrary, he abhors as being dim, gray, thin, likely to lower or destroy the play of color and movement in the universe. Tacking and bending and timid compromise—may commend themselves to those sound men of sense whose hopes of preserving the world they defend are shot through with an often unconscious pessimism; but if the policy they pursue is likely to slow the tempo, to diminish the forces of life, to lower the "vital and vibrant energy" which he admires, say, in Lord Beaverbrook, Mr. Churchill is ready for attack.
Mr. Churchill is one of the diminishing number of those who genuinely believe in a specific world order: the desire to give it life and strength is the most powerful single influence upon everything which he thinks and imagines, does and is. When biographers and historians come to describe and analyze his views on Europe or America, on the British Empire or Russia, on India or Palestine, or even on social or economic policy, they will find that his opinions on all these topics are set in fixed patterns, set early in life and later only reinforced. Thus he has always believed in great states and civilizations in an almost hierarchical order, and has never, for instance, hated Germany as such: Germany is a great, historically hallowed state; the Germans are a great historic race and as such occupy a proportionate amount of space in Mr. Churchill's world picture. He denounced the Prussians in the First World War and the Nazis in the Second; the Germans, scarcely at all. He has always entertained a glowing vision of France and her culture, and has unalterably advocated the necessity of Anglo-French collaboration. He has always looked on the Russians as a formless, quasi-Asiatic mass beyond the walls of European civilization. His belief in and predilection for the American democracy are too well known to need comment—they are the foundation of his political outlook.
His vision in foreign affairs has always been consistently romantic. The struggle of the Jews for self-determination in Palestine engaged his imagination in precisely the way in which the Italian Risorgimento captured the sympathies of his Liberal forebears. Similarly his views on social policy conform to those Liberal principles which he received at the hands of the men he most admired in the great Liberal administration of the first decade of this century—Asquith, Haldane, Grey, above all Lloyd George before 1914—and he has seen no reason to change them, whatever the world might do; and if these views, progressive in 1910, seem less convincing today, that flows from Mr. Churchill's unalterable faith in the firmly conceived scheme of things which he established within himself long ago, once and for all.
It is an error to regard the imagination as a mainly revolutionary force—if it destroys and alters, it also fuses hitherto isolated beliefs, insights, mental habits, into strongly unified systems. These, if they are filled with sufficient energy and force of will—and, it may be added, fantasy, which is less frightened by the facts and creates ideal models in terms of which the facts are ordered in the mind—sometimes transform the outlook of an entire people and generation.