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The appeal to Honour and the decision for war

Wednesday 8 March 2017, 12.00PM

Speaker(s): Robin Archer (London School of Economics)


The outbreak of the First World War is one of the great formative events of modern times. Yet during its centenary, there has been surprisingly little attention to how uncertain entry into the war was in English-speaking world or how finely balanced the forces for and against intervention were. This talk examines the role of appeals to honour in the decision for war. It pays particular attention to the role of these appeals in convincing radical liberals to accept British intervention – something which they had been successfully blocking until shortly before war was declared. But it also examines parallel appeals in the United States and Australia. It then considers why the language of honour was effective, and whether it still plays a role a century later, before concluding with some possible centennial lessons.

Biographical note:

Robin Archer is Reader in Political Sociology and Director of the Ralph Miliband program at the London School of Economics. He was previously the Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. His works include Economic Democracy (Oxford) and Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? (Princeton). He is currently working on opposition to the First World War and conscription, especially in the English-speaking world.

Location: Derwent College, room D/104

Admission: All welcome