Academy of Ideas, Free Speech Union and Basic Books are hosting the official UK launch for Jacob Mchangama’s important new book Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media. Please join us for a public lecture and panel discussion followed by a wine reception.
Tickets: £10/£5 (concessions), available via Eventbrite.
About the book
Free speech is often hailed as the ‘first freedom’ and the bedrock of democracy. Free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement and has enabled the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. But free speech is also a challenging and even contentious principle that today is often considered to be under threat.
In his new book, Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media, Jacob Mchangama traces the fluctuating history of this idea, arguing that it is not enough to have free speech legally enshrined – it has to be culturally accepted too. While the desire to restrict speech has been a constant, what are the threats from free-speech sceptics that we should worry about most today and how have they come to be? At a time when ideas, language and even history itself are the target of contentious interventions to restrict the free exchange of ideas, what can a wide-ranging historical perspective on free speech offer us in the contemporary battle to speak freely and challenge orthodoxies?
lawyer, human rights advocate and former external lecturer in human rights at the University of Copenhagen. He is the founder and director of Justitia, a Copenhagen-based think tank focusing on human rights, freedom of speech, and the rule of law. His writings have appeared in a wide range of international outlets including The Economist, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Politico, The Wall Street Journal Europe, El Pais, France24, Deutsche Welle, and Al Jazeera. This book builds on his podcast ‘Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech’, which has reached an audience of over 220,000 unique listeners in more than 120 countries across the world.
Dr Joanna Williams
director of Cieo; author, Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity
general secretary, Free Speech Union
director, Academy of Ideas. The discussion will be followed by a wine reception, hosted by Basic Books.
Praise for Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media
Readers on both the right and the left seeking insights into modern day debates over free speech will welcome this evenhanded and wide ranging history.
Freedom of speech has emerged as a major issue of this decade, but missing is the intellectual background… Jacob Mchangama lays out this context with deep erudition, strong writing, and a light touch.
This outstanding book gets it in one: free speech, as that right and privilege has been fought for and exercised as a key component of our always fragile democracies, is currently experiencing the greatest threat imaginable. To learn exactly how and why, and what we can do to eliminate or minimise this threat, everyone needs to read this deeply researched and powerfully written, truly global history covering everything from the face-to-face world of the ancient Greeks to our own, very different world of anonymous digital media.
Paul Cartledge AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, emeritus, University of Cambridge
About the event
Keynote Lecture Theatre, David Game College, London, EC3N 2ET. Nearest tubes Aldgate (3 minutes walk) or Tower Hill (4 minute walk).
Doors open 6.30pm
Lecture and discussion 7pm
Wine reception 8.30 – 9.15pm (complimentary glass with ticket)