Images of Liberty and Power

[Updated: 17 January, 2023]






Periodically I write what I call "illustrated essays" to show the connection between imagery - such as art, political symbols, photographs, and film - and ideas about political power and individual freedom. Some of these images are very potent and are quite well known, such as the French symbol for liberty Marianne (known to Americans as "Lady Liberty" in the form of a statue in New York habour) and the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan which symbolises the all-powerful sovereign. Others are less well known and perhaps a bit subtle and thus escape close scrutiny at first sight. Over the years, I have posted these essays on my old blog, my new blog, my personal website, and the OLL website. I want to consolidate these essays and better organise them here in the following categories:

  1. images to do with politics in general - "Art and Politics"
  2. images specifically to do with war - "War and Art"
  3. and "moving pictures", also known as "movies" (film), both "historical" and political, and war films
    1. see my Guide to War Films (some 84) with my list of Favourites (33)
    2. on other types of movies with political content or imagery

Here, I want to provide a summary of this material and list some of the more significant older pieces and the recent additions to the collection.

Some more formal talks and essays I have written on art and politics:

  1. "Broken Windows". A Screenplay about the Life and Work of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) with an accompanying Illustrated History of the Life and Work Frédéric Bastiat.
  2. A Lecture on Art and Propaganda: "The Culture of Obedience and the Subversion of State Propaganda" (IHS Summer Seminar, June 2015) (PDF of images)
  3. Lecture on "War and Peace in the Art of Pablo Picasso: "Guernica" (1937)" (2010)
  4. My article on “War and Peace in the Arts,” in New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (2005).
  5. A lecture on "Pablo Picasso (1881-1973): From the Spanish Civil war to Vietnam" (2004)

Recent "illustrated essays" posted to my current blog "Reflections on Liberty and Power":

  1. An Allegory of War and Peace” (19 July, 2021)
  2. The Myth of a liberal ‘Australian Way of Life’” (20 June 2021)
  3. ‘God save us from the King’: or the Problem of Regal Vice” (16 June 2021)
  4. Making and Breaking the Image of King Charles I” (27 May, 2021)
  5. James Gillray on Debt and Taxes during the War against Napoleon (23 Feb. 2021)
  6. Thomas Hobbes' Iconography of the Leviathan State (18 December, 2020) - an analysis of the strange history behiond the image of "Leviathan" used in Hobbes's book (it ia a "man fish"!)
  7. The Cover Art of Voluntary Servitude (29 November, 2020) - selection of title pages and illustrated editions of Étienne de la Boétie's Discourse of Voluntarzy Servitude (abc).
  8. The Art of the Levellers (27 October, 2020) - a collection (with commentary) of some of the more interesting title pages of Leveller pamphlets from the 1640s, some of which contain striking woodcuts as illustrations

A Selection of Essays posted to my old blog:

(See the full list here - I plan to transfer them all to my new blog)

  1. abc

A Selection of Essays posted to my personal website:

(See the full list here)

  1. The 18thC French Robin Hood: the Anti-Tax Smuggler Louis Mandrin (1725-1755)
  2. The Cover Art of the Discours: a collection of interesting covers of various editions of Boétie's "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude"
  3. an illustrated "Bastiat for Dummies" - FEE's illustrated edition of The Law from the late 1940s
  4. an illustrated version of Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (1945)
  5. An Anti-Socialist Cartoon from 1848 : Amédée de Noé, dit Cham, "Ce qu'on appelle des idées nouvelles en 1848" (What are called "New Ideas" in 1848).

Some Illustrated Essays I wrote for the OLL Website:

(See the full list here)

  1. abc