Post-recession Ideologies: it's the politics, stupid!

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

Produced by
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
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