Ideas - The British Version

Series exploring the origins of British intellectual traditions and their subsequent influence here and abroad.

Episodes

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Historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt examines the English philosopher John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration and follows its influence across history and the world.

Written in 1689 at a time of Protestant persecution, Locke's work called for a new understanding of the relationship between religion and the state.

Tristram visits Holland - where Locke wrote the Letter in exile - to hear about religious tolerance there and how it compared with contemporary England.

Many Huguenots had fled religious persecution in France and he also visits one of their churches in London - which now functions as a mosque - to see what effect Locke's thinking had on the English establishment and faith communities of the 17th century as well as assessing its relevance today in multi-faith Britain.

In a programme exploring the origins of British intellectual traditions and their subsequent influence in the UK and abroad, historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt examines the English philosopher John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration and follows its influence across history and the world.

Written in 1689 at a time of Prostestant persecution, Locke's work called for a new understanding of the relationship between religion and the state.

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Historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt explores how the rise of Socialism in the early 20th century prompted liberal British thinkers to develop a 'middle way' between the red-blooded Left and unfettered capitalism.

Tristram Hunt looks at the birth of a 'middle way' between the Left and raw capitalism.

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0103 LASTThe Free Market2008071320090807

Exploring the origins of British liberalism, historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt looks at the economist Adam Smith's theories of the free market and sees how they have shaped modern economic thinking.

Tristram Hunt examines the legacy of the father of economics - Adam Smith.

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The Free Market

0201Heartland Theory2009092720100727

Another chance to hear historian Tristram Hunt's series Ideas - The British Version, which follows the surprising journeys of ideas that first developed in Britain, and then spread around the world.

In the first programme, Tristram traces the story of British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder and his 'Heartland Theory'.

Mackinder argued that the geography of Eurasia meant that Russia and its border countries constituted a vast fortress, land-locked and impregnable - and that if this 'Heartland' ever fell under the control of a single Great Power, it would give it the potential to dominate the world.

HIs idea, first aired in 1904, was largely ignored in Britain, but in the years after World War I, it was taken up - and twisted into a disturbing new shape - by a German geopolitician called Karl Haushofer.

Haushofer tutored Hess and Hitler while they were in prison in Munich in the 1920s.

Haushofer drew on Mackinder to argue that Germany should form a grand alliance with Russia and Japan, in order to dominate the Heartland.

So when news of the Nazi-Soviet Pact surprised the world in 1939, US interest in Mackinder's theory spread like wildfire.

In the early 1940s, books, articles and even a Frank Capra propaganda movie - which Tristram watches with Mackinder's biographer - spelt out Haushofer's perversion of Mackinder's idea into a 'Nazi plan for world domination'.

As it became clear that Germany would lose, the elderly Mackinder was reached in his West Country bolthole by New York's Foreign Affairs magazine.

FA's Managing Editor shows Tristram the letters between his predecessor and Mackinder, and explains how the resulting article helped to set the stage for post-war geopolitics.

This series was first broadcast in Autumn 2009.

Tristram Hunt on how a British geopolitical idea about Eurasia influenced foreign policy.

Historian Tristram Hunt presents a series following the surprising journeys of ideas that first developed in Britain and then spread around the world.

He traces the story of Sir Halford Mackinder, a forgotten British geographer, and his geopolitical 'Heartland Theory'.

HIs idea, first aired in 1904, was largely ignored in Britain, but in the years after the First World War, it was taken up - and twisted into a disturbing new shape - by a German geopolitician called Karl Haushofer.

Haushofer was Rudolf Hess's intellectual mentor, and tutored him and Hitler while they were in prison in Munich in the 1920s.

So when news of the Nazi-Soviet Pact surprised the world in August 1939, American interest in Mackinder's theory suddenly sparked into life, and spread like wildfire.

In the early 1940s, books, articles and even a Frank Capra propaganda movie - which Tristram watches with Mackinder's biographer - spelt out the Heartland idea and Haushofer's perversion of it, dubbing it the 'Nazi plan for world domination'.

Finally, as it became clear that Germany would lose the war, the elderly Mackinder himself was reached in his West Country bolthole by the New York-based Foreign Affairs magazine.

They invited him to give his own take on how his theory was relevant to the coming post-war world.

Tristram goes to meet the current Managing Editor of the magazine, to see the letters between his predecessor and Mackinder, and how the resulting article helped to set the stage for the world after the war.

Leading American foreign policy thinkers, steeped by now in Mackinder's newly-prominent analysis, began to argue that the emerging Soviet superpower needed to be contained.

Tristram talks to US foreign policy analysts, including a former American Deputy National Security Advisor, who argue that Mackinder's ideas underpinned America's approach to the emerging Cold War.

But is Mackinder relevant today, 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union? Tristram talks to scholars who argue that the Heartland Theory is now being rediscovered in the Heartland itself - in Russia and Central Asia.

With contributions from Geoffrey Sloan, Brian Blouet, Colin Gray, Paul Coones, Nick Megoran, JD Crouch, Angela Stent, Holger Herwig, Chris Seiple, Gideon Rose, Charles Kupchan and Gerry Kearns.

Tristram Hunt on how British geopolitics spread to Nazi Germany and the Cold War USA.

0202The Separation Of Powers20091004

Historian Tristram Hunt presents a series following the surprising journeys of ideas that first developed in Britain and then spread around the world.

As a new Supreme Court opens in the UK, Tristram Hunt explores the idea behind it - the separation of powers.

He examines how the doctrine was developed by the French Enlightenment thinker, Montesquieu, who observed the British constitutional system in the 18th century - comprising of a judiciary, an executive and a legislature - and saw it as a way of keeping tyranny at bay.

Tristram starts his journey in Paris where an absolute monarchy during the 1720s led to a fierce underground debate about liberty.

Ideas flowed between Paris and London and Montesquieu crossed the English Channel to better understand the English constitutional system and the English.

One of the outcomes of this was his magnum opus The Spirit of Laws, which articulates the importance of the separation of powers to defend liberty.

This idea was also central to the framing of the United States Constitution, and Tristram sees how the doctrine is embodied in the layout of Capitol Hill in Washington DC, reflecting the relationships between the Supreme Court, the Senate and the White House.

Finally, Tristram returns to the new Supreme Court in London to discuss whether it is, in fact, a 300-year-old British idea returning home.

Tristram Hunt explores the idea behind the new UK Supreme Court - the separation of powers

0203 LASTThe Garden City20091011

Historian Tristram Hunt follows the 'garden city' as he concludes a series about surprising journeys of ideas that first developed in Britain and then spread around the world.

The garden city was the utopian brain-child of a humble British clerk, Ebenezer Howard, who imagined a new kind of settlement that would fuse the best of town and country, creating not just decent living places for ordinary people, but a new social harmony.

Unlike many utopian schemes, in 1903 Howard managed at least a partial realisation of his dream - at Letchworth, amid the fields of Hertfordshire.

But as Tristram discovers, the idea mutated, and rapidly migrated beyond our shores.

He follows Howard's influence from Letchworth, to west and north London, to suburban Paris and on to New Jersey.

And he finds out how a twisted version of the Garden City model may even have had an unwitting influence on Nazi plans for occupied Poland.

Finally, Tristram follows the trail back to Britain.

Advocates of government-backed 'ecotowns' see them as a revival of Howard's Victorian dream of 'a peaceful path to real reform'.

But can they really match Howard's achievements?

With contributions from Stephen Ward, Sir Peter Hall, Mark Swenarton, Marie-Pierre de Guillaume, Jeanette Bate-Tornikian, Mervyn Miller, Louis diGeronimo and Gideon Amos.

Tristram Hunt follows the surprising journey of the utopian 'garden city' idea.