Russell and the Other DORA, 1916-18

  • Andrew G. Bone


During the First World War Russell frequently complained about unwarranted encroachments by the wartime state on the sphere of individual freedom. He experienced such encroachments very directly. The Defence of the Realm Act (dora) was the legal instrument through which most official reprisals were visited on him—punitive meas­ures arising from his dogged support for conscientious objectors and a negotiated peace. Under this emergency legislation he was twice convicted and had his freedom of movement curbed. This harsh treatment is well known, but the literature on Russell has not yet systematically examined his relationship with this “other DORA”. Using the Russell Archives, his Collected Papers, and government records in the UK’s National Archives, this paper seeks to establish the legal, administrative and political contexts in which he was prosecuted and sanctioned extra-judicially, and where he sometimes benefitted from DORA’s formidable powers being set aside.