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Literary Festival 2014: Baby Boomers on Trial


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Speaker(s): Professor Judith Rees, Richard Hermer QC, Alice Stapleton, Richard Gordon QC, Zahra Al-Rikabi, Professor Oriana Bandiera, Shiv Malik, Emma Soames, Bob Ward
Chair: Professor Conor Gearty

Recorded on 28 February 2014 in Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building.

The post-war generation stands accused of wrecking the world for the generations that follow them. It is those younger people - the victims of this excess - who are the prosecuting authorities in this unique legal proceedings.

The charge sheet is long. The Baby Boomers may have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the later international covenants but by their actions they have destroyed or greatly diminished the substance of the rights it contains for Generations X and Y, and all the others still to come. The resources of the world have been so plundered that the basics of a decent life - water; food; fresh air - can no longer be taken for granted. Nor even can a habitable world be assumed, for many already alive who have the misfortune to be born at the wrong time. Baby Boomers have breached the trust they owed to the world's peoples coming after them. They stand accused as multiple violators of fundamental human rights.

The Baby Boomers defence will, though, be robust. They inherited a world laid waste by war and rebuilt it, staying clear of further war despite the power of the weapons they had to hand. They evolved a welfare state to provide security for all people and brought freedom to colonies the world over. The world they handed over was in decent shape. It is generations X and Y, with their compulsion to embrace the market, their lack of any kind of social solidarity and their failure to think imaginatively and together to solve the issues that confront them (much smaller than anything they faced) that are the true culprits for the mess we are in.

So who is right? The charges against the Baby Boomers will be brought by a team of legal experts, backed by human rights and other specialist witnesses. The Baby Boomers will be defended by an equally distinguished legal team. Overseen by Professor Judith Rees, the trial will involve an audience verdict and then one delivered by a mixed jury of young and old people, specially convened to hear the case.

This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2014, taking place from Monday 24 February - Saturday 1 March 2014, with the theme 'Reflections'.

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