Sir Ralph Norman Angell Lane (December 26, 1872 – October 7, 1967) was an English lecturer, writer, and Member of Parliament for the Labour Party.
Angell was one of the principal founders of the Union of Democratic Control. He served on the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was an executive for the World Committee against War and Fascism, a member of the executive committee of the League of Nations Union, and the president of the Abyssinia Association. He was knighted in 1931 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933.
Angell was one of six children, born to Thomas Angell Lane and Mary (Brittain) Lane. He attended the Lycée de St. Omer and the University of Geneva. At the age of 17, he moved to the United States and spent seven years working in California, including as a cowboy, eventually becoming a journalist. He returned to England briefly in 1898, then moved to Paris. From 1905 to 1912, he was the Paris editor for the Daily Mail.
Back in England again, he joined the Labour Party in 1920 and was MP for Bradford North from 1929 to 1931.
He is most widely remembered for his work of 1909, Europe's Optical Illusion, known as The Great Illusion in America. The pacifist movie The Grand Illusion was deliberately given its title in reference to his book. The thesis of that work is commonly (and incorrectly) described as saying that the integration of the economies of European countries had grown to such a degree that war between them was unimaginable, making militarism obsolete. However this is not what Angell actually argued. His central argument was that war between modern powers was futile in the sense that no matter what the outcome, he thought both the losing and the victorious nations would be economically worse off than they would have been had they avoided war. Some have contested that the two World Wars that took place after The Great Illusion was published were in fact a tragic confirmation of his thesis. Other historians have argued that Angell disregarded the reality of the complex situation in Europe with its alliances, hatreds and rivalries between nations and therefore he was being utopian.
- "Political nationalism has become...the most important thing in the world, more important than civilization, humanity, decency, kindness, pity; more important than life itself."
Writings by Angell
- Patriotism under Three Flags: A Plea for Rationalism in Politics (1903)
- Europe's Optical Illusion (1909) (also: The Great Illusion)
- The Fruits of Victory (1921)
- The Money Game (1928)
- The Unseen Assassins (1932)
- The Menace to Our National Defence (1934)
- Peace with the Dictators? (1938)
- The Steep Places (1947)
- After All (1951)
- Works by Norman Angell at Project Gutenberg
- Nobel biography
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded by:
Member of Parliament for Bradford North
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