The emergence of the individual

June 2, 2017

Podcast: lecture by Angus Kennedy recorded at The Academy 2016

The Reformation ushered in a shift in authority from clergy to scripture, from obedience to the Word towards interpretation and opinion. Authority became grounded in a reading, in individual perspective, and open to debate. Being true to one’s conscience was more important than obedience to an external ruler: the self, the autonomy of the inner person, grew in importance and led to a conceptual distinction between subject and object, between the internal and the external world - to the emergence of the individual.

For details of this year's event, visit The Academy 2017 page.



Podcast of Ideas: UK general election - episode 3

May 25, 2017

Adam Rawcliffe is joined by Claire Fox, Jacob Furedi and Jacob Reynolds to discuss the political response to the Manchester bombing, the pause in the election campaign, the Tories' u-turn on social-care policy and the need to bring the debate back to Brexit.



May 24, 2017

Plenary lecture delivered by Josie Appleton at the Academy 2016

This week's bombing at a pop concert in Manchester, which killed 22 people, has brought the question of Islamist terrorism back to the fore in public debate. Why are so many young people attracted to a nihilistic political ideology that promotes killing and the destruction of society? How does that trend fit with the broader Culture Wars?

In this lecture, delivered after major attacks in Paris and Brussels, Josie Appleton argues that ISIS is even more of an empty shell than Al-Qaeda, reduced to being little more than a label to attach to symbolic expressions of disgust with modern society. But she also notes how this symbolism is also apparent among the political establishment. For example, the wearing of burqas, once treated as an irrelevance by French politicians, has in recent years been treated as a threat to the Republic itself. Indeed, what is most striking about the current Culture Wars, argues Appleton, is that <i>both</i> sides are devoid of any great principle or purpose.


Podcast of Ideas: UK general election - episode 2

May 15, 2017

As the UK general election gets into full swing, Adam Rawcliffe is joined by Geoff Kidder, Izzy Lyons and Fraser Myers to talk about the latest developments.

Are the local election results any guide to how the country will vote on 8 June? Why are the Conservatives riding high in the polls? Can the Labour Party - or Jeremy Corbyn at least - survive a heavy defeat? And what should we make of the 'progressive alliance' of Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and Scottish Nationalists? Does it amount to anything and can it stop the Tories?


Podcast of Ideas: elections in the UK and France

April 28, 2017

In the first of a series of podcasts in the run-up to June's general election in the UK, Adam Rawcliffe introduces a discussion with Claire Fox, Alastair Donald and Geoff Kidder.

What do the team think about the decision to call an election? What are the key debates in Election 2017? Are traditional party political considerations relevant at the moment? Indeed, as suggested by the first round of voting in the French presidential election, are the old parties in terminal decline?


The limits of free will

April 12, 2017

Does free will exist? If so, what is it? How does it relate to our ideas about causation? Are we in fact just the product of a kind of 'fate', where the events of our lives were pre-determined from the Big Bang itself?

Philosopher Julian Baggini, author of 'Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will', talks to Rob Lyons about how we might tread a realistic middle way between absolute freedom of action and fatalism. Yes, in a sense we are 'determined' by what has gone before, but there is still room for choice and responsibility.


Creative Destruction: how to start an economic renaissance

April 7, 2017

Phil Mullan discusses his latest book, Creative Destruction: How to Start an Economic Renaissance (Policy Press), with Austin Williams, director of the Future Cities Project. This was the official launch of the book.

While governments talk of rebalancing the economy, Mullan talks about a fourth industrial revolution - a revolution that doesn't prioritise holding onto jobs, but "lets the low-productivity parts of the economy go". Discuss.

As Mullan puts it, we have "a zombie economy that is being propped up to ensure the semblance of life". So is it time to turn off the life support, or continue CPR?


Cosmopolitanism and sovereignty: what next for Europe?

March 31, 2017

According to Jean-Claude Juncker, ‘borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians’. For the president of the European Commission, transnational institutions like the EU are champions of cosmopolitanism. But is there really a contradiction between national sovereignty and internationalism? The cosmopolitan ideal, first conceptualised by Immanuel Kant, emerged in parallel with the rise of the nation state. Looking to the future of Europe, Frank Furedi explores the changing meaning of cosmopolitanism for European identity today, and asks how we might find a way to be European, openminded and outward-looking beyond the borders of the EU.

sociologist and social commentator; author, What’s Happened to the University?, Power of Reading: from Socrates to Twitter, and Authority: a sociological history

convenor, The Academy; author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination


What next for Brexit?

March 17, 2017

Parliament has given the government the power to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the formal process of the UK’s departure from the EU should begin before the end of this month. What should British negotiators be seeking from the talks? What should any deal mean for immigration, trade and wider cooperation? Are the difficulties of getting out so great that we should reconsider our decision to leave?

Earlier this week, Rob Lyons was joined by Ian Dunt and Luke Gittos for a lively and passionate discussion of the issues. Ian Dunt is editor of and author of Brexit: what the hell happens now? Luke Gittos is law editor for spiked, an author and a regular speaker at the Battle of Ideas festival.


Tax wars and inequality

March 10, 2017

Arguments over tax and inequality have moved centre stage in politics in recent years. Erstwhile Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders declared: ‘The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.’ The World Economic Forum argues ‘A growing body of research suggests that rising income inequality is the cause of economic and social ills, ranging from low consumption to social and political unrest, and is damaging to our future economic well-being.’

Then there's the question of paying a 'fair share' of tax. The furore around the Panama Papers, which revealed the tax-avoiding strategies of many wealthy people, recalled Leona Helmsley’s infamous quote ‘We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.’

Should we be worried about inequality as well as poverty? Does inequality have effects on society that go beyond material disadvantage? Why have politicians become so keen on talking up inequality today? Is inequality inevitable – or even beneficial?


Daniel Ben-Ami
journalist and author, Ferraris for All: in defence of economic progress and Cowardly Capitalism

Dr Yaron Brook
executive director, Ayn Rand Institute; co-author, Equal is Unfair: America’s misguided fight against income inequality

Dr Faiza Shaheen
economist, writer, activist; director of CLASS (Centre for Labour and Social Studies); former head of inequality and sustainable development, Save the Children

Stefan Stern
director, High Pay Centre