Bertrand Russell’s Political ActivitiesJune 26, 2021
His work, “What We Expect from Science”, when it was published in 1948, was met with respect but not received warmly. One reason for this was the fact that the subject of information theory did not attract much attention anymore, and another reason was the environment created by the Second World War.
Much to his disappointment, Russell was also not sympathetic to the linguistic current that influenced philosophy at the time. Although he wrote several articles with his book “My Philosophical Development” (1959; My Philosophical Development), he turned from philosophy to international politics during this period.
Especially after he broke up with his wife and married Edith Finch from the USA in 1952, he lost his respect in circles where established values were defended, but he started to gain fame in leftist circles and among young people all over the world.
In his famous speech “Man’s Responsibility” broadcast on the BBC in 1954, he condemned the hydrogen bomb tests on Bikini Island. This was followed by the Russell-Einstein declaration expressing the reaction of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, and the I Pugwash Conference (1957), both of which were chaired by scientists from the Eastern and Western world, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament launched in 1958.
In 1960, he left the presidency and formed the Committee of 100s with a more militant approach, which aimed to organize mass non-violent resistance actions.
He was sentenced to 2 months in prison in 1961 for the mass sit-ins he led with his wife, but his sentence was reduced to 7 days due to health reasons.
Russell was 90 years old in 1962, when he showed the energy and determination to take action against the heads of state and the then United Nations Secretary-General U Thant because of the Cuban Depression and the Sino-Indian border conflicts.
After the Warren Report was published, he chaired the committee investigating the Kennedy assassination.
Meanwhile, he founded the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and the Atlantic Foundation in 1963 to more systematically pursue his efforts towards peace.
He then vehemently opposed the US’s Vietnam policy. With the contribution of French existentialist thinker Jean-Paul Sartre, Yugoslav historian Vladimir Dedijer, Polish writer Isaac Deutcsher and other famous people, he convened the International War Crimes Tribunal (Russell Tribunal).
His Autobiography (3 volumes), published in the three years before his death, became one of Russell’s best works with its witty, sincere and gripping narrative.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook