Telling the Truth

This theme focuses on two Englishmen who questioned the necessity of war and, in their very different ways, worked for greater international understanding in order to avoid future military conflicts. Norman Angell's argument, first published in 1909, that emphasis on militarism was detrimental to the economic interests of nations, fell on deaf ears as Europe marched towards war in 1914. It was during that war that C.K. Ogden transformed the Cambridge Magazine into an influential "voice of reason" -- a vehicle for uncensored news and opinion.

A Voice of Reason: C.K. Ogden and The Cambridge Magazine

English semiotician and founder of Basic English, C. K. Ogden (1889-1957), can most accurately be described as a polymath. A man of varied and wide-ranging interests, as a Cambridge undergraduate he was drawn to the study of language, and this passion was to be all consuming and lifelong. In 1909 he helped establish the Heretics, an irreverent society dedicated to the free discussion of religious matters.

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Sir Norman Angell, a Lifelong Proponent of Peace

In 1909 at his own expense, Norman Angell (1872-1967) published a prescient pamphlet on the Anglo-German armaments rivalry entitled Europe’s Optical Illusion. Contrary to the popular press and political thinking of the period, Angell maintained that it was not in a nation’s self-interest to have a foreign policy based on military conquest and war.

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