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Subject-specific activities in politics, philosophy or history

How to change the world: seminar on Auguste Blanqui and revolutionary politics

  • Age group: Year 10 and up (including sixth form and FE college)
  • Activity type: Subject-specific workshops (of particular interest to students in politics, philosophy or history) 
  • Group size: No larger than 30
  • When: Ad-hoc sessions throughout the year
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: In school

The French revolutionary Auguste Blanqui (1805–81) is one of the most important yet overlooked figures in modern political history. As well as playing a role in all the major popular uprisings that punctuated nineteenth-century France, from the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 to the Prussian siege and subsequent Paris Commune of 1870–71, he spent in total nearly half of his life as a political prisoner.

Philippe Le Goff is a postdoctoral researcher on a project based at Kingston's Centre for Research Modern European Philosophy that is seeking to rediscover Blanqui's political thought and explore how it can inform collective political action today.

In this seminar, Philippe will provide an overview of Blanqui's remarkable life and outline the basic principles of his thought. Philippe will lead a discussion about the ways in which Blanqui's ideas regarding popular insurrection might still be relevant today, particularly in light of recent events like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and the UK student protests of 2011. Students will reflect on the broader question of whether it is still possible for collective political action to change the world.

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