Talks

Why didn’t Britain go either Fascist or Communist between the two world wars?
by Professor Lawrence Goldman

Date: Tuesday 24 September 2019

A talk that compares British historical experience with that on the continent of Europe between 1918 and 1939

Why didn’t Britain go either Fascist or Communist between the two world wars?

This lecture will explore the singular difference between British historical experience and that on the continent of Europe between the world wars – that unlike so many of the leading and lesser continental nations, British politics did not tip into extremism and that for much of the period we were governed by a coalition government of the centre. We will try to explain this by examining a set of factors that made British experience different. We shall also consider the whole issue of exceptionalism in history: can nations buck the general trend of events?

Lawrence Goldman studied History at Cambridge and Yale. After a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, he taught British and American History for three decades in Oxford as a fellow of St. Peter’s College, where he is now a Senior Research Fellow. For ten years 2004-14 he was the Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, after which he was Director of the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London. He is the author of books on Victorian social science, the history of workers’ education and the life of the political thinker and historian, R. H. Tawney. A frequent broadcaster, he has been on Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ on 9 occasions.

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