2016-2017 Lecture Series



One hundred years after the Russian Revolution and fifty years after the start of the Cultural Revolution, we aim to reassess the impact of revolutions – both classical and contemporary. We hope to examine not just political revolutions but also the social, economic, scientific and cultural revolutions that have shaped and are continuing to reshape our lives. 


The Future of the Labour Party


Date: Tuesday 4 October 2016
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers:  Andy Beckett, Professor Matthew Goodwin, Faiza Shaheen
Chair: Dr Robin Archer  

After a summer dominated by a bruising leadership contest, what is the future for the Labour party in Brexit Britain? Can it recover from the turmoil that followed the referendum result, or is it doomed to split? A panel of leading political historians and social scientists will place the turmoil in historical context, consider the threats to Labour’s electoral support exposed by the Brexit referendum, and examine the relationship between party members and MPs.

Andy Beckett is a Guardian writer and historian.

Matthew Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) is Professor of  Politics at the University of Kent and Senior Visiting Fellow at Chatham House.

Faiza Shaheen (@faizashaheen) is Director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies.


Karl Marx: greatness and illusion

Date: Thursday 10 November 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Speaker: Professor   Gareth Stedman Jones
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Gareth Stedman Jones will discuss Marx, history and nature; challenge ideas of Marx's ‘materialist conception of history’; and explore his debt to Hegel and German idealism.

Gareth Stedman Jones is Professor of the History of Ideas at Queen Mary, University of London. He is a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge and taught at the university for many years, becoming Professor of Political Science in 1997. He is the author of Outcast London, Languages of Class and An End to Poverty? and most recently Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion, as well as being the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of The Communist Manifesto


The American Election and the Left

Date: Wednesday 16 November 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Speakers:   Steven Erlanger, Gary Gerstle, Bonnie Greer
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

The US election has seen a wave of authoritarian populism and xenophobia, the first real chance for a woman to win presidential office, and an earlier unprecedented surge in support for an American socialist. Following a campaign marked by intense hostility and polarised appeals, what does the outcome of the election tell us about the prospects for progressives in America and beyond? A panel of leading scholars and commentators will debate the meaning of the campaign and its result.

Steven Erlanger (@StevenErlanger) is the London Bureau chief for the New York Times.

Gary Gerstle (@glgerstle) is the Paul Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge University. He is the author of American Crucible and Liberty and Coercion.

Bonnie Greer OBE (@Bonn1eGreer) is a playwright, novelist and critic. She is Chancellor of Kingston University. Her novels include Obama Music, a reflection on her formative years in Chicago, and a biography of the civil rights campaigner Langston Hughes.

Rethinking Capitalism

Date: Wednesday 30 November 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Speakers: Michael Jacobs, Professor Mariana Mazzucato
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Western capitalism is in trouble. For decades investment has been falling, living standards have stagnated or declined, and inequality has risen dramatically. Economic policy has neither reformed the financial system nor restored stable growth. Climate change meanwhile poses increasing risks to future prosperity. 

In this joint lecture, Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs will propose new ways of thinking about capitalism. Drawing on their new book, Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth they will show how today’s deep economic problems reflect the inadequacies of orthodox economic theory and the failure of economic policies informed by it.  They will show how alternative economic approaches can better explain how capitalism works, why it often doesn’t, and how it can be made more innovative, inclusive and sustainable. 

Michael Jacobs (@michaelujacobs) is Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science at University College London and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. An environmental economist and political theorist, his work has focused on the political economy of environmental change. He was formerly General Secretary of the Fabian Society, Co-Editor of the The Political Quarterly, and Senior Adviser to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which he helped to found.

Mariana Mazzucato (@MazzucatoM) holds the RM Phillips chair in the Economics of Innovation at SPRU in the University of Sussex. Her book The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths was on the 2013 Books of the Year list of the Financial Times. Professor Mazzucato is winner of the 2014 New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy, the 2015 Hans-Matthöfer-Preis and in 2013 the New Republic called her one of the '3 most important thinkers about innovation'. Professor Mazzucato advises policy makers around the world on innovation-led growth. 

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Date: Monday 20th February 2017                    Time: 6:30-8 pm                                              Venue: Thai Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE Speaker: Victoria Broackes                                      Chair: Dr Robin Archer

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70 is the V&A’s major exhibition for autumn-winter 2016-17. Co-curator Victoria Broackes discusses how the exhibition explores the significance and impact of the late 1960s and asks: what did the optimistic idealism of the period do for us and where are we now?

Victoria Broackes is Senior Curator for the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance, and Head of Festival for the London Design Festival at the V&A.

Rethinking Mao and the Chinese Revolution

Date: Thursday 2nd March 2017                              Time: 6:30-8 pm                                              Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE Speaker: Professor Chen Jian                                  Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Few historical figures and events are more influential yet controversial than Mao and the Chinese revolution. This lecture will examine their political and moral legacies.

Chen Jian is Distinguished Global-Network Professor of History at New York University/NYU-Shanghai, and Hu Shih Professor Emeritus at Cornell University.

Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution: history versus myth

Date: Thursday 16th March                              Time: 6:30-8pm                                                Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE  Speaker: Professor Andrew Walder                          Chair: Dr Robin Archer 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, this lecture will explore both the intentions and consequences of Mao’s undiminished revolutionary radicalism. 

Andrew Walder is Professor and Senior Fellow at Stanford University.

Celebrating (or not) the Centenary of the Russian Revolution 

Date: Wednesday 3rd May 2017                      Time: 6:30-8pm                                                Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE        Speaker: Sheila Fitzpatrick

Western scholars are non-committal. Putin’s Russia is embarrassed. How should the centenary be commemorated?

Sheila Fitzpatrick is Professor of History at the University of Sydney and Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. She is a widely acclaimed expert on modern Russia.

The French Election and the Left

Date: Tuesday 9th May                                      Time: 6:30-8pm                                                Venue: Old Building, Old Theatre, LSE      Speakers: David S. Bell, Rokhaya Diallo, Philippe Marlière                                                                      Chair: Dr Robin Archer

A panel of leading scholars and commentators will debate what the outcome of the election tells us about the prospects for the left in France and beyond.

David S. Bell is Emeritus Professor of French Government and Politics at the University of Leeds.

Rokhaya Diallo is a French journalist, writer, award-winning filmmaker and activist.

Philippe Marlière is Professor in French and European Politics at University College London.


The Revolution: It Might Be a Dinner Party After All

Date: Tuesday 6th June 2017                                    Time: 6:30-8pm                                                Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE        Speaker: James Meek                                      Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Is the historical association between extreme social change and violent revolution hampering opposition to the ballot-box extremism of the populist right?

James Meek is an award-winning novelist and author as well as an influential journalist who has reported extensively from Russia and the Middle East.