Academy of Ideas
Sportscast of Ideas: sporting life beyond lockdown

Sportscast of Ideas: sporting life beyond lockdown

July 1, 2020

For months the lockdown has starved us of sport. But in the past couple of weeks it has made something of a return. And not only are the back pages and sports channels sparking into life but football, rugby, tennis, cricket have all made the front pages too as they become entangled with the big issues of our times, whether the coronavirus pandemic or Black Lives Matter protests.

We take stock of what’s going on with Hilary Salt, Duleep Allirajah, Geoff Kidder, Rob Lyons and Alastair Donald.

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Coronavirus: has the NHS had a good crisis?

Coronavirus: has the NHS had a good crisis?

June 25, 2020

Recording of the Academy of Ideas Lockdown Debate on Tuesday 23 June 2020.

As the epidemic fades, what can we learn for the future about how our healthcare services performed? With UK death rates among the highest in the world, do we need to have an honest discussion about the failings of the NHS or were the problems common to many different health systems?

SPEAKERS

Kate Andrews
economics correspondent, Spectator; former associate director, Institute of Economic Affairs; former head of communications, Adam Smith Institute

Dr Lee Jones
reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London; active in groups resisting the marketisation of universities; co-founder of The Full Brexit (TFB) network, co-author (with Dr Tara McCormack), COVID-19 and the Failed Post-Political State; co-author, with Shahar Hameiri, Governing Borderless Threats, which deals with the management of pandemics

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen
NHS dentist; former chair, General Dental Practice Committee, representing over 30,000 UK dentists; former Brexit Party MEP for North West England; Danish citizen; socialist

Patrick Vernon
associate director for connected communities, Centre for Ageing Better; equality and diversity adviser to Lambeth Council; chair of Citizens Partnership for Healthcare Investigation Branch (HSIB), senior associate at OLME; patron, ACCI, a long-established black mental health charity in Wolverhampton

The shock of the old in Steven Berkoff’s ‘Greek’

The shock of the old in Steven Berkoff’s ‘Greek’

June 18, 2020

This is a recording from the Academy of Ideas Arts and Society Forum on Thursday 28 May 2020. The session title was: The shock of the old in Steven Berkoff’s ‘Greek‘ (bit.ly/3fCg1HO)

In this third event in the series Ask an Artist: What makes art work? playwright Patrick Marmion talks about the inspiration he took from Stephen Berkoff’s play, based on the Oedipus myth.

Patrick writes: “When I first saw Stephen Berkoff’s Greek as a student back in the Eighties at the Edinburgh Festival it blew my head off. I had no idea you could write like this. It never occurred to me you could use language in this way. Its combination of cod Shakespeare and flamboyant cockney vernacular infused with pungently sexual imagery was ravishingly intoxicating. I made it my task to read everything Berkoff had written and I went on to write my dissertation on the man and his theatre.

“Years have passed and in some ways I might have grown out of this play, but what’s stuck is not just my love of the language which seems almost to spring direct from the body, but also a kind of Dionysian or Rabelaisian obscenity that is joyful and releases us from the po-faced moralism that we’ve come to associate with Aristotle’s more hygienic idea of tragedy.

“Berkoff has become more attractive to me than ever in some ways. A notoriously difficult man himself who has been accused of all sorts of sexual transgression, there are aspects of his writing which are gloriously uncomfortable for today’s audiences. And yet with all the repressive puritanism that’s accompanied the counter revolution against the liberalism of the Sixties and Seventies, too many writers have lost touch with their creative libidos and we have grown accustomed to a theatre that is led by bloodless, neutered moralists.”

Please note, as this is a recording of live, online public meeting, the audio is at times less than perfect. Subscribe to the Academy of Ideas' newsletter at www.academyofideas.org.uk/newsletter

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The triumph of intimacy in Sally Rooney’s Normal People

The triumph of intimacy in Sally Rooney’s Normal People

June 17, 2020

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life-changing begins.

Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

The introduction was given by journalist and author, Ella Whelan.

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Economy Forum: Covid-19 and the oil industry

Economy Forum: Covid-19 and the oil industry

June 12, 2020

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There has never been a more important time in recent years to discuss world events and the future of society. So during the pandemic crisis, all of the AoI’s events have been online and free of charge. We’ve been busier than ever and none of our staff have been laid off or furloughed. Please support us in our mission to promote public debate by giving a donation here: academyofideas.org.uk/donate

Anyone who drives regularly will have noticed the sharp drop in petrol prices since the spate of lockdowns around the world and the fall in economic output. What’s going on?

The recent huge drop in oil prices, well into negative territory, is not just a reflection of supply and demand, but clearly an indication of supply-side tensions within the world economy. Commodities are a leading economic indicator of the health of the world economy and recently things have been going a bit haywire.

Pre-Covid tensions have been exacerbated by the fracturing of the global economy brought on by the pandemic, which has taken commodity trading to boiling point not just in the case of oil but also with the obsession of shortening supply chains away from what are seen as politically risky trading partners such as Russia and China.

This session was introduced by Robert Fig, a seasoned commodity risk practitioner, who looked at what this means for the future of world trade. Will negative pricing become a regular phenomenon? What does the future hold for commodity, bond and currency pricing in general?

Back to school: safety versus public service?

Back to school: safety versus public service?

June 12, 2020

Discussion organised by the AoI Education Forum on Monday 26 May 2020. academyofideas.org.uk/events/archive…public_service

INTRODUCTION
Passion and anger have greeted the Westminster government’s proposals for a phased return of school pupils. The largest teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU), says that 92% of its members feel unsafe at what it condemns as a “reckless” plan that is “too fast, too confusing and too risky”. It is advising members not to co-operate.

The NEU’s general secretary, Mary Bousted, says that the debate must be dictated by research evidence showing that the most effective way of suppressing the coronavirus is to keep most children away from school. What then of the advice of the chief medical officer and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that underpins the government’s plans?

Amid uncertainty around the degree of risk and public disagreement among scientists over the impact and necessity of the lockdown, what are teachers to do: focus on the worst-case scenario or rely on “good solid British common sense”, as exhorted by Boris Johnson?

Some argue that the debate should be framed instead by the public-service ethic of teaching: school staff have a duty to do everything possible to get schools up and running again. But what is the relationship between safety and moral purpose?

Teachers have been applauded for serving their community through this adversity. Thousands of parents have already signed petitions expressing strong opposition to schools reopening. Is this truly reflective of public attitudes, or could the speed with which the unions dismissed the government’s plans ultimately count against the profession? An army of volunteers was galvanised to assist with healthcare. Could similar be recruited for education or are teaching unions leading the way in putting their members’ interest first in the wider cause of protecting the health of teachers and pupils alike?

Come along, listen to what the speakers have to say and join the debate.

SPEAKER(S)
Claire Fox
director, Academy of Ideas and author of I Still Find That Offensive! (Biteback Publishing)

Conor McCrory
science teacher and union representative in north London. Conor spoke in a personal capacity.

When art imitates life: Reading The Plague in lockdown

When art imitates life: Reading The Plague in lockdown

June 12, 2020

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they are forced into quarantine. Each person responds in their own way to the lethal disease: some resign themselves to fate, some seek blame, and a few, like Dr Rieux, resist the terror.

An immediate triumph when it was published in 1947, The Plague is in part an allegory of France’s suffering under the Nazi occupation, and a story of bravery and determination against the precariousness of human existence.

The Academy of Ideas Book Club met online to discuss The Plague on the 30th April 2020.

The introduction was given by associate fellow of the Academy of Ideas, David Bowden.

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AOIDebates: What does George Floyd’s killing mean for British society?

AOIDebates: What does George Floyd’s killing mean for British society?

June 12, 2020

This is a recording from the Academy of Ideas public debate on Tuesday 9 June: From Minneapolis to Hyde Park: What does George Floyd's killing mean for British society?

If you enjoyed this recording, donate to the Academy of Ideas to help future salons and forums here: academyofideas.org.uk/donate

As we now all know, on 25 May, a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd was arrested on suspicion of paying for cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. Within 20 minutes he was dead - police officer Derek Chauvin had knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. Almost immediately, protests, often violent, spread across the US. American cities seem to be burning in righteous rage at the injustice. Since then, largely under the slogan of Black Lives Matter, spontaneous, mass demonstrations have taken place in solidarity with Floyd across the world. Internationally, Covid-19 lockdowns have been sidelined in the midst of the fury against racism, unequal treatment and police brutality. However, the picture seems complicated - alongside protests, there have been violent riots and looting. In Atlanta, the rapper Killer Mike criticised the unfocused nature of the destruction, as some of the businesses and neighbourhoods damaged were black and minority owned.

What does this all mean for those of us living outside the US? In the UK, protests have taken place in Hyde Park, Parliament Square and other areas with large numbers of mostly young people understandably appalled at racist violence wherever it happens. But are the parallels between the UK and America so obvious? For example, while US police and National Guard seem to be using tear gas, rubber bullets, truncheons and horses to control riots and peaceful protesters alike, in Britain the police don’t carry guns and are less militarised. But does that mean the scale and depth of racism is any less?

However much protagonists such as Donald Trump or so-called Antifa activists frame this issue, can we go beyond the ‘whose side are you on?’ rhetoric when discussing this from a British perspective? Is it possible to show solidarity with protests against racism and brutality as well as being critical of the way in which some of these protests are taking place? What form should solidarity take? As groups of white people publicly take the knee, is it significant that these discussions about race in 2020 are framed in terms of white privilege and identity, instead of a collective fight against racism? What are the parallels - and the differences - between the US and the UK when it comes to racism?

SPEAKERS:

Patrick Vernon OBE
social commentator; founder, 100 Great Black Britons; creator, Every Generation Game: Windrush Edition

Inaya Folarin Iman
co-director, the Free Speech Union, former project manager, Index on Censorship; former Brexit Party parliamentary candidate (2019)

Dr Shahrar Ali
home affairs spokesperson and former deputy leader, Green Party; author, Why Vote Green 2015

Kunle Olulode
director, Voice4Change England; former creative director, Rebop Productions; member, African Odyssey programming board, BFI

Dr Cheryl Hudson
lecturer in US political history, University of Liverpool; co-editor, Why Academic Freedom Matters (2016) and Ronald Reagan and the 1980s (2008)

(www.academyofideas.org.uk/events/archi…George_Floyd)

AOIDebates: Moral responses to the pandemic with Susan Neiman and Frank Furedi

AOIDebates: Moral responses to the pandemic with Susan Neiman and Frank Furedi

June 4, 2020

This is a recording from the Academy of Ideas public debate on Wednesday 3 June 2020: Moral responses to the pandemic with Susan Neiman and Frank Furedi.

This event was hosted by Freiblickinstitut in association with the Academy of Ideas.

The worldwide response to the pandemic has challenged many long-cherished values. Democracy was put on hold, with elections postponed and parliaments in recess. Freedoms were curtailed, with extensive powers granted to police forces. Traditional markers of compassion, like funerals, were cancelled. And many say that essential workers, from nurses to shop-assistants, were put in harm’s way.

Amidst such widespread moral challenges, how are we to decide what’s right? Whilst a rich tradition of philosophy reflects on how to be moral, can it be useful in such ‘unprecedented’ times? Is there anything we can learn from history? When we are urged to ‘follow the science’ and obey government guidance, is there any room for individual judgement and moral autonomy?

SPEAKERS:

Susan Neiman
renowned philosopher and commentator and author most recently of Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the memory of Evil

Frank Furedi
sociologist, public intellectual and author of the forthcoming Why Borders Matter

(academyofideas.org.uk/events/archive/moral_responses_to_the_pandemic_susan_neiman_and_frank_furedi)

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AOIDebates: Has Covid-19 killed globalism?

AOIDebates: Has Covid-19 killed globalism?

June 4, 2020

This is a recording from the Academy of Ideas public debate on Monday 1 June 2020: International disorder: has Covid-19 killed globalism?

What lessons should we draw from the pandemic response? Is China turning from a ‘status quo’ power to one that will become more disruptive and active in pursuit of global influence? To what extent will the international order and its institutions continue to fray? Are we seeing the return of the nation state, or will realpolitik in the face of the pandemic likely encourage renewal of cooperation and new institutions? What is the likely impact of the inevitable economic restructuring? In short, where next for geopolitics - and is the future one of international disorder?

In association with the AoI Economy Forum.

SPEAKERS:

Dr Philip Cunliffe
senior lecturer in politics and international relations, University of Kent; author, Cosmopolitan Dystopia: international intervention and the failure of the West; co-founder, The Full Brexit

Mary Dejevsky
former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington; special correspondent in China; writer and broadcaster

Lord Maurice Glasman
Labour life peer; director, the Common Good Foundation; author, Unnecessary Suffering: Managing Market Utopia

Joan Hoey
director, Europe, The Economist Intelligence Unit; editor, The EIU Democracy Index

(academyofideas.org.uk/events/archive/international-disorder-has-covid-19-killed-globalism)

If you enjoyed this recording, donate to the Academy of Ideas to help future salons and forums here: academyofideas.org.uk/donate