Sir Norman Angell : critic of appeasement, 1935-1940

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Risinger, Edward A. (Edward Alton), 1944-
Ferrill, Everett W.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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This doctoral dissertation focuses on the significant activities of Sir Norman Angell during the years 1935 through 1940. During this period, Angell consistently attacked Britain's policy of appeasement toward the fascist powers. Drawing upon the Angell Papers housed at Bail State University, the study attempts to chronicle the efforts of Angell to persuade both the British Government and public to-reject appeasement and support a policy which advocated resisting aggression conducted by the fascist powers.As a significant advocate of the League of Nations and collective security, Angell was an early and extremely perceptive critic of fascism. He argued for stern resistance to Japanese aggression in Manchuria in 1931, and warned the British public of the potential threat to peace emanating from the rise of fascism in Germany. When Mussolini moved to aggrandize Italy by conquering powerless Abyssinia, Angell urged the British Government to support League of Nations sanctions directed against Italy. Using his skills as a lecturer and writer, Angell cautioned that failure to resist Italian aggression in Abyssinia would mortally wound the League of Nations and cripple the concept of collective security.As Angell continued to analyze the development of British appeasement and the demise of collective security, he began to perceive a pattern which showed that failure to resist aggression in the past had led directly to further aggression. Dismayed by the obvious impotence of the League of Nations in its feeble responses to the Italo-Abyssinian War, the Rhineland Crisis, and the Spanish Civil War, Angell moved inexorably toward adherence to a traditional balance-of-power concept. Although membership was theoretically open to the fascist powers, Angell envisioned an anti-fascist alliance of Britain, France and the Soviet Union. In Angell's opinion, this alliance would serve as the primary instrument for defense of the British Empire. Defense of the British Empire was important, according to Angell, because it actually served as an embryonic League of Nations. To those Conservative critics who opposed an alliance with the Soviet Union, Angell responded with the prophetic warning that Britain's rejection of the Soviet Union might lead to an alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.As Angell began to manifest an increasing concern for the defense of the British Empire, he frequently associated with other individuals who held the same concern. Although ostensibly a Labourite, Angell was willing to cooperate with individuals of diverse political persuasions in order to reverse the British policy of appeasement. Indeed, he actively participated in an organization which served as a platform for Winston Churchill's attack on appeasement. In addition, in spite of opposition from the leadership of the Labour Party, Angell flirted with the possibility of actually becoming a Popular Front candidate for Parliament. After the Munich appeasement and the start of World War II, Angell was firmly convinced that his efforts to oppose appeasement had been justified.It is not possible to determine conclusively the impact of Angell's efforts on the thinking of the British Government and public. Yet, it must be assumed that the sheer volume of Angell's writings, lectures and organizational activity must have contributed to the popularly held belief that appeasement had encouraged further aggressive demands by the Axis powers which precipitated World War II.