Power and Impunity: what Donald Trump and Boris didn't learn from the ancient Greeks

Hosted by the Hellenic Observatory

Online public event


Professor Michael Cox

Professor Michael Cox

Professor Simon Goldhill

Professor Simon Goldhill

Dr Johanna Hanink

Dr Johanna Hanink


Professor Paul Kelly

Professor Paul Kelly

Are we living in a world marked by a new impunity of power? Political leaders discard established norms and taboos that have guided the behaviour of their predecessors and, in doing so, they win popular support from new areas of society, including the disengaged and excluded. How did we get here? Our notions of the good society, of the responsibility that comes with power, and, of course, democracy and its discourse, stem from ancient and classical Greece. Aristotle, Pericles, Plato, and Socrates etc. have shaped our political thinking, processes and systems. Our deepest sense of Western values, embedded in education curricula across our societies, emanates from classical Athens. Is it no longer of use or value? Are we now judging utility and cost differently? This panel will bring together a set of experts to address these issues from different vantage points.

Meet our speakers and chair

Michael Cox is Founding Director of LSE IDEAS. He was appointed to a Chair at LSE in 2002. He helped establish the Cold War Studies Centre at LSE in 2004 with Arne Westad, and later they were both Founding Directors of LSE IDEAS in 2008. Professor Cox has lectured to universities world-wide as well as to several government bodies and many private companies. He is currently visiting professor at the Catholic University in Milan. He is the author, editor and co-editor of over 30 books, including most recently a collection of his essays The Post-Cold War World, as well as new editions of J M Keynes’s, The Economic Consequences of the Peace and E H Carr’s Nationalism and After. He is now working on a new history of LSE entitled, The “School”: LSE and the Shaping of the Modern World.

Simon Goldhill is Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge and Foreign Secretary of the British Academy. He has written extensively about Greek society and the culture of ancient democracy. His books have been translated into ten languages and won three international prizes. He has lectured, and broadcast on television and radio, all over the world, from Canada to China.

Johanna Hanink (@johannahan) is Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University and co-editor of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies. Her work focuses on classical Athens and the modern reception of Greek antiquity. She is author of Lycurgan Athens and the Making of Classical Tragedy and The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity. She is also a translator of Ancient and Modern Greek, and her new volume Andreas Karkavitsas: The Archeologist and Selected Sea Stories (translation with introduction and notes) is due out in autumn with Penguin Classics.

Paul Kelly (@PjThinker) is Professor of Political Theory at the LSE, where he has taught for over 25 years. He is author and editor of fifteen books on political philosophy and the history of political ideas. His publications include Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice (Clarendon 1990), Liberalism (Polity 2005) and edited Political Thinkers with David Boucher (Oxford 2017). He has also been co-editor of Political Studies and editor of Utilitas: A Journal of Utilitarian Studies. He was recently Pro-Director Education at LSE and has recently returned to regular academic life. He is completing a book entitled Conflict, War and Revolution

More about this event

Professor Kevin Featherstone will deliver introductory remarks. 

The Hellenic Observatory (@HO_LSE) is internationally recognised as one of the premier research centres on contemporary Greece and Cyprus. It engages in a range of activities, including developing and supporting academic and policy-related research; organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops; academic exchange through visiting fellowships and internships; as well as teaching at the graduate level through LSE's European Institute.

The event is part of the 21 in 21 activities, celebrating the 2021 bicentenary of the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 21 Greek-British encounters. The 21 in 21 events are sponsored by the A.G. Leventis Foundation

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEGreece

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