London’s Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, is often thought of as just a place that tourists go to listen to ‘cranks’ raving on about why the world is about to come to an end or to expose a high level Government cover-up of Tony Blair’s secret love affair with George Bush.
But those who speak at Speakers' Corner take it much more seriously. There is a website devoted to Speakers’ Corner which claims that it “has had a more powerful influence than any university in the world, because here there are no entry requirements, no rules of intellectual formality and above all, no class restrictions".
The website goes on: “Tourists or visitors to such official places of learning as Cambridge or Oxford University are not allowed to attend any lecture they like, come and go when they choose, or take part in debate and discussion. It is precisely these characteristics that mark out Speakers' Corner as a strange and exciting place, a place where mankind meets itself in a generally pleasurable atmosphere. There are many tens of thousands of people who come to Speaker's Corner once or twice a year, many thousands who come 5-10 times a year, and hundreds who come virtually through hell or high water. When you consider that there is nothing to buy here, no music, just human interaction without the mediation of machines and without any protection from the weather, you begin to get a small glimpse of the significance of this place. Speakers' Corner may be seen as a dynamic refection of mass psychology, in that you have here people from every walk of life, every class, and almost every country, who engage in discussion of the issues, altering and forming opinions. Speakers' Corner is a microcosm of the entire planet".
The man in my photograph is espousing the virtues of world federalism. The World Federalist Movement also has a website (with a logo that looks like that of the United Nations!) which says it is an international citizen's movement working for justice, peace, and sustainable prosperity. It says: “We call for an end to the rule of force, through a world governed by law, based on strengthened and democratized world institutions. World federalists support the creation of democratic global structures accountable to the citizens of the world and call for the division of international authority among separate agencies.” Heavy stuff and high ideals!
PP: Cropped and USM.
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sarju (5324) 2006-03-04 13:55
next time i come to London, I will definitely look for this place
cheers for now
regards .... sarju
kensimage (8561) 2006-03-04 14:06
The audience, especially the guy in sunglasses, is obviously enthralled and not the least bit skeptical. Nice timing to catch the contrast of him against the impassioned speaker. You captured the spirit of the place well.
If they were realistic, the World Federalist Movement would say, "We call for an end to the rule of force, and if anyone fails to go along with that, the world government will invade them immediately."
CliffW (2377) 2006-03-04 16:21
Now this is a classic sort of look at Speaker's Corner, isn't it? Always regretted not having a camera along when in London. His posture and expression is perfect to convey the sort of mindset necessary to stand in public and pontificate on your views to who ever will listen! But it's the expressions of the bystanders and how they barely notice that really explains what being there is like. Very good.
devimeuxbe (58557) 2006-03-06 4:06
Funny capture ! it's a tradition in this place to speak. Maybe i will go. I have something to say !...
ozi (4) 2006-03-16 2:56
i read and am surprised for it. as i can see the shasows, many people are there. I hope that it could be happened in my country too with all silence. I want to go there and swear all presidents who start war and kill people.
Polonaise (5802) 2006-03-31 20:18
Some time ago I asked you David: Do you have any dull photo?
Any dull story?
So far - no such luck.
But I'll try...and try...and try...
Didi (58748) 2006-04-03 5:47
It's so British !
It's a very original scene for us in France.
But I'am surprised also when we see some extremist people who used this corner without problems.
Very interesting notes.
colinbrenchley (6431) 2006-04-09 4:12
David = Great shot and comments. I went there last Sunday and must have been a bit early because no-one was there!
aralda (1240) 2006-10-04 13:59
Some quite interesting posts you have here! Never knew about the Speaker's Corner in London. I see it's quite an institution.
Great job capturing the speaker. The photo has a humorous touch in that the guy is gesturing as if he were in an auditorium, yet he is wearing all the necessary winter apparel. His platform is also a makeshift one; I even wonder why they use it, since they could as well be speaking without getting up there.
Glint (6171) 2007-10-24 15:09
whenever i visit a TE members site I like to see what they have of the UK (naturally) and I am delighted to find that your one image from here is of Speakers Corner. This says a lot about what makes you tick and I like that. I am originally from Manchester and there was an equivelant place close to an old pub called The Shambles. My Dad used to go regularly. But that was a long time ago and your picture has made me remember his love of "argument".As my Dad loved to quote " I think, therefore I am".