2006 saw the bicentary of the death of the Whig leader Charles James Fox. A proponent of the supremacy of Parliament, the freedom of the press and the rights and civil liberties of the people, and a believer in reform, rationalism and progress, rather than repression, the ideas he defended particularly over the challenge of the state to the liberties of the individual in time of war are as relevant to our own times as to those of the Britain of 200 years ago.
To coincide with the publication of the special issue of the Journal of Liberal History on Liberalism and the Left (summer 2010), we are delighted to welcome Prof Edward Royle and Dr Edward Vallance to the History Group for an evening focusing on the life, works and influence of Thomas Paine.
In the two centuries since Paine’s death, his works and reputation have been both vilified and appropriated by individuals and movements from across the political spectrum. His name has become a touchstone of left-wing and liberal thought, celebrated for the courage of his political vision, even as the specific context of his writings has too often been disregarded. We invite our speakers to consider the continued resonance of Paine’s thought and to assess his relevance for radical and liberal activists today.
Speakers: Edward Royle, Emeritus Professor, University of York and author of many works on 18th and 19th century history including Revolutionary Britannia? Reflections on the Threats of Revolution in Britain, 17891848 and Robert Owen and the Commencement of the Millennium: A Study of the Harmony Community; Dr Edward Vallance, University of Roehampton and author of A Radical History of Britain: Visionaries, Rebels and Revolutionaries the Men and Women who fought for our Freedom and The Glorious Revolution: 1688 Britains Fight for Liberty. Chair: Dr Richard Grayson, Head of Politics, Goldsmiths College, guest editor of the Liberalism and the Left special issue of the Journal and co- editor of After the Crash: Reinventing the Left in Britain and Reinventing the State: Social Liberalism for the 21st Century.