2011-2012 Lecture Series

The Future of the Left

25th November 2012

Conference: Ralph Miliband and Parliamentary Socialism

Speakers: Tariq Ali, Robin Archer, Robin Blackburn, Hilary Wainwright

A conference to mark the 50th anniversary of Ralph Miliband's first major work, the hugely influential Parliamentary Socialism: A study in the politics of Labour.   The book argues that Labour's belief in the centrality of parliamentary politics often undermined the very social movements that were needed to bring about real change. With protest on the rise, and Labour seeking a new way forward, the conference aims to reassess Miliband's arguments and their contemporary relevance.

Public Lecture: Whatever Happened to Parliamentary Socialism? Taking Ralph Miliband Seriously Today

Speaker: Professor Leo Panitch

What can Ralph Miliband’s arguments tell us about contemporary British politics and the modern Labour Party in a country suffering from greater economic turmoil, social division and unrest than it has seen in decades?

Leo Panitch is Distinguished Research Professor at York University (Canada) and a renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and co-editor of the Socialist Register, who knew Ralph Miliband well. He received his MSc and PhD from LSE in 1968 and 1974, respectively.

A podcast of the lecture given by Professor Leo Panitch is available here.

1st March 2012

Public Lecture: Social Democracy as the Highest Form of Liberalism

Speaker: Professor Colin Crouch

'Reflection on a century of European social democracy reveals its finest triumphs to have been when it has ensured a pluralism and political inclusiveness more extensive than anything that could otherwise be provided in capitalist societies. This essentially liberal achievement, rather than state control, should therefore be seen as its hallmark.

This perspective provides the basis for an optimistic appraisal of social democracy’s future, but also points to inhospitable elements in the current and future social environment that have to be confronted and challenged: growing inequality and corporate political power, the decline of trade unions, and the growing irrelevance of the nation state framework within which social democracy built its citizenship.'

Colin Crouch is Emeritus Professor of Governance and Public Management at the University of Warwick. He has held posts at the European University Institute in Florence, University of Oxford and London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, member of the Academy of Social Sciences, and External Scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Social Research at Cologne. He is the author of various works on the social structure of European societies, in particular on industrial relations, institutions, local economic development, and challenges of democracy. His most recent book is The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

14th March 2012

Public Lecture: Has the Future a Left? 

Speaker: Professor Zygmunt Bauman

'Being on the left in times of globalisation and divorce of power and politics. New mechanisms of domination and reproduction of inequality, From society of producers to society of consumers. From proletariat to precariat. From solidarity to oneupmanship. Deficit of trust, crisis of agency, and people on the move.

Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds. He was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences in 1991 and the Theodor W. Adorno Award of the city of Frankfurt in 1998. He has been awarded in 2010, jointly with Alain Touraine, the Príncipe de Asturias PrizePrize for Communication and the Humanities. The University of Leeds launched the The Bauman Institute within its School of Sociology and Social Policy in Bauman's honour in September 2010.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

25th April 2012

Public Lecture: France at the Crossroads

Speakers: Professor Patrick Le Galès and Professor Philippe Marlière

Wednesday 25th April 2012, 6.30-8pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE

Do the Presidential elections mark a turning point in the sorry post-crisis fortunes of the left – both in France and beyond?

France gave us the very idea of the left and it has long loomed large in the leftist imagination world-wide. Do the French Presidential elections mark a turning point in the sorry fortunes of the left? Despite apparently propitious circumstances following the global financial crisis, social democrats rule in just a handful of countries. The speakers will debate the effect of recent political developments on the French left and explore their broader significance for left in Europe and beyond.

Patrick Le Galès is a CNRS research professor at the Centre d'études européennes of Sciences Po. Professor Philippe Marlière is Professor of French and European Politics at University College London.

2nd May 2012 

Public Lecture: Toward Economic Feudalism? Inequality, financialization and democracy

Speaker: Professor Richard B. Freeman

Wednesday 2nd May, 6.30-8pm 
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE

This lecture contends that the last 3-4 decades' increase in inequality and financialization threatens the success of democratic capitalism. It reviews the changes in income distribution and financialization of economies, with special attention to the US, that make the world increasingly diverge from free market ideals and argues that the economic interests of small groups of “crony capitalists” have come to dominate government responses to the financial crisis and ensuing recession. The danger is not an ever-expanding socialist state, per Hayek's Road to Serfdom, but of a move to economic feudalism, in which a small set of wealthy masters dominate markets and the state and subvert or outsmart efforts to regulate their behavior or rein them in. I explore the way in which modern internet and communication technology and the increases in team-based production, worker participation in firm decision-making and in group incentive pay can restore the influence of the many and create a “shared capitalist” solution.

Richard B. Freeman holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He directs the National Bureau of Economic Research / Sloan Science Engineering Workforce Projects, and is Senior Research Fellow in Labour Markets at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance. He received the Mincer Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Society of Labor Economics in 2006. In 2007 he was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics. In 2011, he was appointed Frances Perkins Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. His recent publications include Can Labor Standards Improve Under Globalization (2004), What Workers Want (2007 2nd edition), What Workers Say: Employee Voice in the Anglo American World (2007), Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden (2010), and Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options (2010).

A podcast of and the slides from this lecture are available here.

14th May 2012

Public Lecture: The Future of the Left: The Case of the United States

Speaker: Professor Eli Zaretsky

Monday 14th May 2012, 6.30-8pm 
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE
'It has often been said that the idea of a left originated in the French Revolution and is distinctively European in that it is connected to socialist parties and social democratic labor unions. In ³The Future of the Left: the Case of the United States² Eli Zaretsky rethinks the idea of a left, by including the case of the United States, with its two party, Presidential system. The US, he argues, not only needs, but has always had a vibrant and powerful left, not so much in every day politics, nor in states of exception but in crises, long-term changes of direction. Zaretsky discusses three such crises: slavery, capitalist industrialization and the present. It needs a left because liberal reforms are inherently ambiguous in their meaning, and the left bends reform toward the telos of equality. The left¹s core relationship, therefore, is toward the liberal tradition, not to the right.'

Eli Zaretsky is Professor of History at the New School for Social Research. His has written on twentieth century cultural history, the theory and history of capitalism (especially its social and cultural dimensions), and the history of the family. His most recent book is Why America Needs a Left: A Historical Argument.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

22nd May 2012

Public Lecture: Envisioning Real Utopias: Alternatives Within and Beyond Capitalism

David Glass Memorial Lecture

Speaker: Professor Erik Olin Wright

Tuesday 22nd May 2012, 6.30-8pm 
Old  Theatre, Old Building, LSE

'Fifty years ago, in 1962, a group of students drafted what came to be known as the Port Huron Statement, the core manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society, one of the leading organizations of the student movement in the 1960s in the United States. In the introductory paragraphs they wrote:

“In this is perhaps the outstanding paradox: we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of our society is that there is no viable alternative to the present…. Beneath the stagnation of those who have closed their minds to the future, is the pervading feeling that there simply are no alternatives, that our times have witnessed the exhaustion not only of Utopias, but of any new departures as well….. The decline of utopia and hope is in fact one of the defining features of social life today.”

The idea of “Real Utopias” is animated by much the same feeling today as expressed by the crafters of the Port Huron statement in 1962: We need a way of thinking about social transformation that simultaneously holds on to our deepest utopian aspirations for a just and humane world and embraces the practical tasks and dilemmas of real-world institution-building and thus makes possible new departures. We need projects for social transformation within capitalism that point us in an emancipatory direction beyond capitalism.'

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the current President of the American Sociological Association. He is the author of many books, including Classes, Interrogating Inequality, Class Counts, Deepening Democracy (with Archon Fung), and Envisioning Real Utopias.

A podcast of and the slides from this lecture are available here.

28th May 2012

Public Lecture: The Emerging Left in the “Emerging” World

Speaker: Professor Jayati Ghosh

Monday 28th May 2012, 6.30-8pm 
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE

'Even as resistance to global capitalism builds up, it tends to be accompanied by gloomy perceptions that grand socialist visions of the future are no longer possible. But there is much more dynamism within the global Left than is often perceived, and there are variegated moves away from tired ideas of all kinds. Various Left movements in different parts of the world increasingly transcend the traditional socialist paradigm, with its emphasis on centralised government control over an undifferentiated mass of workers, to incorporate more explicit emphasis on the rights and concerns of women, ethnic minorities, tribal communities and other marginalised groups, as well as recognition of ecological constraints and the social necessity to respect nature.'

Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru university, New Delhi, and the executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates (Ideas). She is a regular columnist for several Indian journals and newspapers, and a member of the National Knowledge Commission advising the prime minister of India. She is the author of many books including The Market That Failed: A Decade of Neoliberal Economic Reforms in India (2002), Work and Well-Being in the Age of Finance (2004), and Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women's Work in Globalising India (2009).

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

12th June 2012

Public Lecture: The Past and Future of Social Democracy and the Consequences for Europe

Speaker: Professor Sheri Berman

Tuesday 12th June 2012, 6.30-8pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE

'Ralph Miliband believed that socialism should be both revolutionary and practical. This talk will argue that at least one variant of it--social democracy--was and might still be by looking back at the role it played in creating the Europe that is in transition today.

During the 19th and first half of the 20th century Europe was the most turbulent region on earth, convulsed by war, economic crises and social and political conflict. Yet during the second half of the 20th century it was among the most stable, a study in democracy and prosperity. How can we understand this remarkable transformation? The answer lies in the changes that occurred after 1945, among the most important of which was a dramatic shift in the understanding of what it would take to ensure democratic consolidaton in Europe. Across the political spectrum a new understanding of democracy developed in Western Europe one that went beyond what think of today as “electoral” or even “liberal” democracy to what is best understood as “social democracy”—a regime type which entails not merely dramatic changes in political arrangements, but in social and economic ones as well. This talk will explain the background and logic of this "regime type" as well as consider its continuing relevance today.'

Sheri Berman is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. Her research interests include political development, European politics, the history of the left, and comparative political economy. She is the author of The Social Democratic Moment: Ideas and Politics in the Making of Interwar Europe (1998) and The Primacy of Politics. Social Democracy and the Ideological Dynamics of the Twentieth Century (2006).