Charlotte Cull (KCL) - 2021-22 Students

The Freedom Defence Committee: Anarchism and Libertarian Thinking in British Thought from 1940 - 1960

My research will explore the important, overlooked influence of anarchism upon British thought. The understudied Freedom Defence Committee will form the basis of an intellectual history of an eclectic group of British thinkers’ responses to a post-war crisis of humanity, rooted in censorship, imperialism and modernity’s totalising, technocratic managerial states. The project will explore the Committee’s formation in 1945, its activities, and the intellectual trajectories of its members following its disbandment in 1949. FDC members were politically disparate and all occupied interstitial ideological spaces. Anarchism was a significant, unifying influence. My research will trace this influence through the Committee, considering anarchism’s effect on British political thought.

Beyond disrupting narratives about several prominent thinkers, this study of anarchist thought will reveal unacknowledged influences within British thought, uncovering original, radical iterations of human rights discourse and insights into the rising profile of libertarianism across the political spectrum, neither of which have received attention in the history of political thought.

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