Are political parties over?

December 2, 2016

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it seemed that all four of Britain’s major political parties were falling apart. Similar tendencies towards crisis and disintegration are evident in the old parties in the USA and in Europe. Are we seeing a refreshing departure from the old-style politics of left and right, or simply a process of fragmentation? Are we exaggerating the scale of the crisis facing mainstream parties, and forgetting the often deep and bitter conflicts of the past? Are we really moving towards a new sort of politics? What sort of divisions and alignments are likely to emerge and will we need parties to represent them?

SPEAKERS

Emily Barley
chairman, Conservatives for Liberty

James Delingpole
journalist; columnist, Breitbart UK

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
writer on medicine and politics; author, The Tyranny of Health

Miranda Green
journalist and former Liberal Democrat advisor, specialising in politics and education

Jhanelle White
student & political activist; former member of Dudley Youth Council; founder and chair of Political Sweep

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Podcast of Ideas: public health, the view from Australia

November 18, 2016

Rob Lyons speaks to Australian policy consultant Terry Barnes

In this edition of the Podcast of Ideas Rob Lyons speaks to policy consultant and former senior advisor to the Australian Government, Terry Barnes about alternatives to the NHS and the public health lobby’s war on people’s lifestyle choices from sugar taxes to vaping.

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Podcast of Ideas: Trump’s victory

November 11, 2016

Claire fox, Geoff Kidder and Rob Lyons discuss the fallout from the US election

After a hiatus the Podcast of Ideas is back with the Institute of Ideas team discussing Donald Trump’s shock victory in the US Presidential race. What explains Trump’s appeal?  Why did Clinton have such an inability to inspire the voters? Are his supporters really just “a basket of deplorables”?  And is the explosion of fear outrage over Trump’s ascendancy to the White House just hysteria or is there genuine cause for concern? 

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Can America be great again?

November 4, 2016

Recorded at the Battle of Ideas 2016

In 2013, historian Perry Anderson observed that it is axiomatic for US foreign policy advisors that, ‘the hegemony of the United States continues to serve both the particular interests of the nation and the universal interests of humanity’. But troubled is the head that wears the crown of world domination. The US establishment is worried by the threat of domestic disorder, terrorist outrages and the rising powers in the East, notably China. It is also concerned by a range of social and economic problems: rising inequality, a failing school system, the burden of health care and obsolete infrastructure. Furthermore, ‘energy is wasted, R&D is insufficient, labour is under-skilled, finance is under-regulated, entitlements are out of control, the budget is in the red, the political system is overly polarised’. The current presidential election campaign confirms that elite confidence in US hegemony is not shared by substantial sections of the electorate. The rise of Donald Trump symbolises the scale of popular disaffection. According to Colombia historian Mark Mazower, his success – in parallel with populist politicians in Europe – confirms that ‘nationalism is back like it never went away’. Trump is riding ‘a populist insurgency’ seeking to restore the USA to its ‘rightful place in the world’. Trump appeals to widespread discontent over the impact of global economic forces, causing increasing inequality and insecurity, particularly in blue-collar communities.

Trump’s nationalist revival has an angry and defensive tone. It stands in stark contrast to the vision of John Winthrop’s Puritan evangelicals who, sought to build in Massachusetts Bay a ‘city on a hill’, an ideal society in the New World as an example to the Old. As the late Benedict Anderson observed, the spirit of nationalism forged in the American Revolution, based on ‘an imagined political community’ of creole pioneers, provided a model for nationalist movements – first in Europe, and subsequently throughout the colonial world. But, whereas the nationalist spirit of the founding fathers had a unifying and democratic character, that of Trump, with its anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic and anti-Muslim tropes, seems divisive and reactionary.

Can America’s overwhelming military might continue to compensate for its chronic economic stagnation? Can the USA’s global cultural influence help it to hold off the competition of the rising powers of East Asia? Can any political alternative overcome the exhaustion and paralysis that appears to have overtaken the American system under the presidency of Barack Obama?

speakers
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Professor Sarah Churchwell

chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities; Professor of American literature, School of Advanced study, University of London

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Dolan Cummings

associate fellow, Institute of Ideas; author, That Existential Leap: a crime story (forthcoming from Zero Books)

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Alex Deane

managing director, FTI Consulting; Sky News regular; BBC Dateline London panellist; author Big Brother Watch: The state of civil liberties in modern Britain

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Michael Goldfarb

journalist and historian, FRDH Podcast

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Dr Kwasi Kwarteng

Conservative member of parliament for Spelthorne; historian; author, Ghosts of Empire and War & Gold

Chair
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Dr Cheryl Hudson

lecturer in American history, University of Liverpool

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Big Data: does size matter?

October 27, 2016
Big data knows where you’ve been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you’ll buy, where you’ll be the victim of crime and when you’ll have a heart attack. Big data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims. But how well do you know big data?

What is data? What makes it big? And is it only size that matters? From science to smart cities, business to politics, self-quantification to the Internet of Things, big data has been described as the fuel of the next industrial revolution, and as a modern oracle. It’s winning elections, revolutionising scientific research, and transforming how businesses interact with their customers. And it’s just getting started. Now is the time to decide how we want to use the power of big data. We already benefit from aggregating small improvements, saving time, money and energy through more efficient use of what we have. But we could be more ambitious, and aim to do more with more instead of the same with less. Big data could think bigger. In other ways, though, it’s already too big for its boots: however big the dataset, however powerful the analysis, big data has blind spots. It may be great for population-wide patterns, but it’s not so good at why an individual person might choose to do one thing or another.

This raises the question: why are we so keen to put our faith in big data? Does that say less about what the technology can really achieve than about our lack of trust in one another, or in ourselves?

Timandra Harkness
journalist, writer & broadcaster; presenter, Futureproofing and other BBC Radio 4 programmes; author, Big Data: does size matter?

Zulfikar Abbany
senior science and technology journalist, Deutsche Welle

Will Moy
director, Full Fact

Dr Alex Powlesland
principal scientist, Immunocore Ltd
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Battle Cry: Munira Mirza on reinvigorating London

October 21, 2016

Max Sanderson talks to London's former deputy mayor for education and culture.

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In a new series of podcasts ahead of the forthcoming Battle of Ideas festival, journalist Max Sanderson profiles some of the Battle’s most interesting speakers and their ideas.

In the final episode of Battle Cry, Max speaks to Munira Mirza, an arts and philanthropy adviser and London’s former deputy mayor for education and culture, about how London can maintain its vibrant arts and cultural life.

Munira will be speaking at sessions on Britain after Brexit and the future of London at this weekend’s Battle of Ideas.

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What’s the truth about generational inequality?

October 21, 2016

Podcast: Rob Lyons speaks to sociologist Jennie Bristow.

In this edition of the Podcast of Ideas, Rob Lyons talks to Dr Jennie Bristow from Canterbury Christ Church University, author of Baby Boomers and Generational Conflict, about whether the young should be angry at older generations for profligacy and selfishness, or if the blame game is just a displacement exercise preventing millennials from tackling the problems they face.

Jennie will be speaking on three panels at the weekend’s Battle of Ideas on generational inequality, the future of education, and dating apps. Find out more here.

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Battle Cry - Anders Sandberg on ethical AI

October 14, 2016

Battle Cry - Anders Sandberg on ethical AI

Max Sanderson profiles Anders Sandberg from the Future of Humanity Institute

In a new series of podcasts ahead of the forthcoming Battle of Ideas festival, journalist Max Sanderson profiles some of the Battle’s most interesting speakers and their ideas.

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In this the third episode of Battle Cry, Max speaks to Anders Sandberg from the Future of Humanity Institute about the future of AI and robotics and whether machines can ever become true moral agents.

Anders will speaking at session Why, robot? Can we teach AI to be ethical? at the Battle.

The Battle of Ideas festival will be held on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October. Get your tickets here.

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Battle Cry: Ian Dunt on populism

October 7, 2016

Max Sanderson profiles Ian Dunt, editor of Politics.co.uk

In a new series of podcasts ahead of the forthcoming Battle of Ideas festival, journalist Max Sanderson profiles some of the Battle’s most interesting speakers and their ideas.

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In this the second episode of Battle Cry, Max speaks to journalist Ian Dunt about the why the term ‘populism’ is now being bandied about so often in both Europe and America, and whether the term is even useful for understanding contemporary politics.

Ian will speaking at sessions on populism and the busybody state at the Battle. Find out more here.

The Battle of Ideas festival will be held on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October. Get your tickets here.

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Battle Cry: Timandra Harkness on Big Data

September 30, 2016

Max Sanderson profiles writer, broadcaster and comedian Timandra Harkness

In a new series of podcasts ahead of the forthcoming Battle of Ideas festival, journalist Max Sanderson profiles some of the Battle’s most interesting speakers and their ideas.

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In the first episode of Battle Cry, Max speaks to writer, broadcaster and comedian Timandra Harkness about her book, Big Data: Does Size Matter?, and whether the Big Data revolution is something to be embraced, feared or perhaps a bit of both. 

Timandra will speaking at sessions on big data, blockchain, comedy and censorship, and ethical AI at the Battle. Find out more here.

The Battle of Ideas festival will be held on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October. Get your tickets here.

To keep up with the Institute’s podcasts subscribe here.

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