The Cult of Churchill: Tariq Ali & Priyamvada Gopal on the Verso Podcast
On the latest episode of the Verso Podcast, Tariq Ali and Priyamvada Gopal join Eleanor Penny to discuss the life and legacy of Winston Churchill
This episode contains references to some of the atrocities of the British Empire. There are references to racist language, as well as racial and sexual violence. Listener discretion is advised.
The Verso Podcast is back for a new season, and the second episode is not one to miss. Eleanor Penny sits down with Tariq Ali and Priyamvada Gopal to discuss the cult of Winston Churchill and the insidious rewriting of the history of the British Empire.
Tariq Ali is a writer, filmmaker, and editor of the New Left Review. He is the author of numerous books including Bush in Babylon, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, and most recently, Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes, which was published by Verso Books.
Priyamvada Gopal is a University Reader in Anglophone and Related Literatures at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Churchill College. Her works include The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration, and Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent.
In this episode, Ali and Gopal delve into the complex legacy of Churchill who, in a 2002 poll of over a million people, was voted the greatest Briton of all time. The conversation explores how Churchill's brutal actions, including advocating for the use of poison gas, refusing to provide relief during the Bengal famine, and promoting the idea of Anglo-Saxon superiority, have been swept under the rug and replaced with a dangerous popular myth of a heroic leader. Ali and Gopal offer a refreshing and nuanced perspective on a figure who has been the subject of much myth-making and hagiography.
As the UK prepares for the coronation of King Charles III, this episode offers a timely exploration of the historical realities that the Churchill industry has worked to conceal for so long. It is a call to confront the painful and uncomfortable truths of the British Empire's past – and its ongoing influence on the world today. It is a reminder that we cannot allow those in power to shape our national memories and perpetuate dangerous myths.
So, grab your headphones and listen to the latest episode of the Verso Podcast. You won't want to miss this important conversation about the rewriting of history, the dangers of nationalism, and the need to confront uncomfortable truths. If you’re interested in British history, politics, or just want to hear from two of the sharpest minds in the field, then this episode is not to be missed.