Bertrand Russell
in English radicalism in the twentieth century
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Russell was a world-famous philosopher and this chapter begins with a discussion of the connections between his academic work and his lifelong political radicalism. He was an aristocrat and an elitist; but he was also a democratic socialist and a liberal internationalist. He championed women’s rights, libertarian approaches to sexual relations and to education, and the causes of peace and disarmament. Throughout a long life, he was extraordinarily active in political and social movements, as well as contributing significantly to his specialist academic field, and writing more accessible and popular philosophical and anti-religious books, articles and pamphlets. He was especially prominent in his later decades in the anti-nuclear peace movement – first as President of CND and later as the founder and leading proponent of the civil disobedience movement, the Committee of 100. He was active subsequently in a variety of campaigns – opposition to the Vietnam War, for example – and he was still involved with left-wing protest at the time of his death, aged 97.

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