Saturday 31 October, 12.15pm until 1.15pm, Upper Gulbenkian Gallery Lunchtime Debates
The crisis and global economic downturn have cast doubt on capitalism’s capacity to produce wealth. This ought to raise crucial social and political questions as well as economic ones, but there seems to be a dearth of ideas about how to confront the future. Despite alarming recession forecasts, politicians seem incapable of providing convincing answers to the big questions. While the massive bailout of the financial sector marks a break from the days of supposed ‘small government’ and deregulation, this has not led to serious public debate about alternatives. The economy is presented as something beyond the realm of politics, and over which we, the people, have little control.
State spending may well be substantially reduced, and painful cuts in living standards are likely to be felt across the world. Some say conditions of austerity will usher in a new social cohesion by encouraging a return to shared values; others that we will finally accept the environmentalist mantra that less is more. But do these ideas only signal the detachment of a prosperous few from the real concerns of the rest of society? Nostalgics see in the crisis the rebirth of class politics. But apart from isolated wildcat strikes, the popular response so far has been confined to moral outrage. Every day, greedy bankers and capitalism-gone-mad are blamed for it all, but trust in politicians and the institutions of government has hit historic lows too, so we lack the means to change society for the better. Can we build a political alternative to bankrupt New Labour rhetoric and vacuous New Tory opportunism? Can we use the crisis as a spur to re-invent political and economic life?
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|Professor Frank Furedi|
sociologist and social commentator; author, What's Happened to the University?, Power of Reading: from Socrates to Twitter, On Tolerance and Authority: a sociological history
|Professor Andrew Gamble|
head of department, Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge; author, The Spectre at the Feast: capitalist crisis and the politics of recession
|Professor Gareth Stedman-Jones|
professor of political thought and director, Centre for History and Economics, King's College Cambridge; author, An End to Poverty?
Dr Maria Grasso
lecturer in politics and quantitative methods, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield; author: Generations, Political Participation and Social Change in Western Europe
Centuries ago, historians came up with a classic theory to explain the rise and decline of nations. The theory was that great nations start out tough-minded and energetic. Toughness and energy lead to wealth and power. Wealth and power lead to affluence and luxury. Affluence and luxury lead to decadence, corruption and decline.David Brooks, New York Times, 28 September 2009
Instead of having arid debates about the state versus the market, we must create institutions and policies that can restructure the economy.Frank Furedi, spiked, 18 June 2009
Andrew Gamble, Palgrave Macmillan, 15 May 2009
Will the Conservatives stick with the ethos that contributed to the recession, or move into unfamiliar redistributive territory?Andrew Gamble, Guardian Comment is Free, 26 March 2009
The UK government’s offer of free therapy to victims of the slump turns a socioeconomic crisis into a mental health issue.Frank Furedi, spiked, 9 March 2009
We must fight the belief that political decisions are pre-ordained and that participation is futile.Andrew Gamble, Guardian Comment is Free, 15 December 2008
In the run-up to a debate at the Battle of Ideas, Frank Furedi takes on capitalism’s half-hearted advocates and its misanthropic critics.Frank Furedi, spiked, 30 October 2008
The UK economy is slothful rather than sound and too reliant on too few ‘essentials’; the credit crisis is symptomatic of deeper, structural problems facing the UK and Western economies; and these underlying problems are unlikely to be addressed in Britain by current government priorities.Gavin Poynter, Rising East, July 2008
The first two sentences of this short book state clearly what the author is about: to explore the current disenchantment with politics in the West.Bernard Crick, Independent, 31 May 2001