Bertrand Russell: The Committed Sceptic in Public Life


  • John Callaghan



Bertrand Russell, liberalism, socialism, anti-nuclear campaigning, United Kingdom, United States


Bertrand Russell came from a political family but was devoted to an academic life before 1914. It was the Great War which transformed him. He broke from the Liberal Party, began to regard himself as a socialist and became a prominent public intellectual, noted for his independence of mind. Throughout the rest of his long life he earned a living as a writer and public speaker, devoting at least as much time to politics and social questions as he did to philosophy and science. Though Russell’s intellectual gifts were exceptional his political odyssey was not. It illustrates the strength of liberalism and its permeability with socialism in twentieth century Britain, as well as the relatively strong tradition of dissent on matters of defence and foreign policy found within these overlapping political cultures.