ECONOMY FORUM BOOK LAUNCH: Reactions to the coronavirus pandemic have escalated the pre-existing tensions between the US and China and among different Western nations. Confrontations between political globalists and mercantilist nationalists - between supporters of the rules-based international order and proponents of overt protectionism - are fuelling ever-stronger international resentments. Coupling argumentative rigour with a pragmatic, plainspoken approach, Phil Mullan charts a novel, democratic way past dangerous and self-defeating confrontations towards a future of open international collaboration based on popular participation within nation states. With its clear-eyed assessment of the opportunities and challenges of a more interconnected world - an assessment in which the economic internationalisation underpinning globalisation theories is neither romanticised nor vilified - Beyond Confrontation sets a judicious tone for the big geopolitical themes of our times. Phil Mullan and Rob Lyons discuss.

SCOTLAND SALON: Some commentators, politicians and business leaders seem to see the main role of schools and universities as preparing young people for work. Others see schools as a means to mould students to make them better citizens. Many educators have focused on the damage to children and young people’s mental health caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown and believe we should focus on a more therapeutic approach within the learning environment. Have we given up on knowledge for knowledge’s sake? Professor Lindsay Paterson and Dr Penny Lewis discuss.

ARTS & SOCIETY FORUM: What future do the arts have after the economic disruption wrought by the lockdown and post-lockdown precautionary measures? Theatres, concert venues, cinemas and festivals may be the worst hit, having lost months’ worth of box-office revenues. What should the role of government be in aiding the recovery of the arts? Should the government increase subsidies? Is this an opportunity for completely rethinking the arts, as some people are suggesting, clearing out the dross to allow the pearls to shine through? How do we create an environment in which the arts can thrive again? Jonathan Baz, Manick Govinda, Mo Lovatt, Joel Mills and Alison Small discuss.

LOCKDOWN DEBATE: Have voters really given up on politicians and the political system more widely? Is there any possibility of the country rallying around the president or is politics simply hopelessly divided? Is America’s position as the leading global power under threat and what impact will this have on the elections? What is needed to inject political direction into the 2020 elections? Sohrab Ahmari, Dr Richard Johnson, Wendy Kaminer, Helen Searls and Michael Tracey discuss.

LOCKDOWN DEBATE: Some suggest that marginalising unpleasant and offensive people – not doing business with them, not giving them a platform, not employing them in your business – is an entirely reasonable, personal decision. When do such actions become a systematic marginalisation of certain views – and what’s wrong with marginalising repulsive views anyway? Many seem eager to ‘fight fire with fire’ – calling out the double standards of their opponents in a tit-for-tat round of cancellations – but how can we expect that to lead to a greater range of opinion and debate? Perhaps we need to ask a fundamental question: what does it mean to live in a genuinely tolerant democracy? Nick Buckley MBE, Alex Deane, Claire Fox, Helen Pluckrose and Calvin Robinson discuss.

ARTS & SOCIETY FORUM: Gabriella Swallow, one of the most versatile and exciting cellists of her generation, gives a lecture on her twin inspirations: German composers JS Bach and Helmut Lachenmann. These two musicians - 200 years apart - tackled the same instrument. Both were experimental and strove for the same kind of experience, but in completely different ways.

August 4, 2020

Behind the frontline

SOCIAL POLICY FORUM: While the nation has been getting behind the NHS and care workers, stepping onto doorsteps to ‘clap for carers’ battling with Covid-19; there has been a growing sentiment that we don’t appreciate enough the vital – and sometimes dangerous – work they do. But is the wartime rhetoric and applauding of ‘heroes’ overdone, and the list of key workers overlong? Will everything return to normal after the crisis is over, or will public support and gratitude lead to better pay and services, and a new appreciation of public service? Jon Bryan and Dr Frankie Anderson discuss.

ECONOMY FORUM: In their different ways, Italy and South Africa are very important economically. Italy is the eighth largest in the world by nominal GDP and the third largest in the EU. South Africa is the second largest economy in Africa and the only African country in the G20. Moreover, both countries have been badly hit by the crisis. Dominic Standish and Russell Grinker discuss.

ACADEMY OF IDEAS BOOK LAUNCH: Limits, boundaries and borders are increasingly unfashionable. Whether its support for the ‘no borders’ approach of Europhiles or the rejection of binaries by gender-theory enthusiasts, arguing for borders is difficult these days. In his new book, Why Borders Matter: why humanity must relearn the art of drawing boundaries, Professor Frank Furedi argues that the key driver of the confusion surrounding borders and boundaries is the difficulty that society has in endowing experience with meaning. Timandra Harkness and Professor Frank Furedi discuss.

ARTS & SOCIETY FORUM: Theodore Gericault’s ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ is not only an enormous painting of high drama and tragedy on a cinematic scale, but it is also an assertion of the power of underlying geometry, shape and colour to carry a narrative. It is a constant inspiration to me for the creation of meaning in art through composition, a balance of both form, shape and subject. Picasso’s ‘Three Dancers’ is equally assertive through its brightly coloured, flat geometric shapes, and like Gericault’s ‘Raft’ it also has a complex human narrative. Dido Powell is a painter who rejects the separation of the painting categories ‘abstract ‘ and ‘figurative’. For years, she has been interested in including abstract shapes in my paintings that she has observed from her surroundings, such as reflections and shadows. Painter Dido Powell explains how these paintings, separated by a century, convey their meanings and deal with poignant human struggles.

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