2014-2015 Lecture Series


War and Peace


Establishment and How They Get Away With It

Special Ralph Miliband Programme Lecture

Speaker: Owen Jones
Monday 13th October

Owen Jones, one of the most prominent political voices today, sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today - and it is time they were challenged.

Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) is a political activist, bestselling author and a weekly columnist for the Guardian. He has over 200,000 Twitter followers and appears regularly in broadcast media, including BBC1's Question Time, ITV's Daybreak, Channel 4 News and BBC 2’s Newsnight. This event marks the publication of Owen's new book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It.

A podcast of this event is available here.

War and Moral Stupidity

Speaker: Professor Kimberly Hutchings
Wednseday 12th November

This lecture examines the ways in which the idea of just war is maintained through the association of both militarism and pacifism with moral stupidity. It uses a feminist perspective to criticise the ways in which recent arguments for just war rely on the possibility of purging war of moral stupidity and calls for the recollection and renewal of forms of pacifism and non-violent politics pioneered in feminist opposition to the First World War.

Kimberly Hutchings is a Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London.

A podcast of this event is available here.

The War that Was Lost

Speaker: Dr Robin Archer
Thursday 20th November

This lecture commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It is motivated by the desire to both remember and learn from the failed efforts to stop it. Labour movements and their radical allies were by far the most important organised restraint on war-making. And on the eve of the Great War, they made frantic efforts to mobilize opposition. Britain’s ruling Liberal party and strong tradition of anti-militarism gave opponents the most powerfully placed allies in Europe. Yet there has been surprisingly little attention to how uncertain Britain’s entry into the war was, and how finely balanced the forces for and against intervention were. This lecture examines the role of appeals to honour in the decision for war. It pays particular attention to the role of these appeals in convincing radical liberals to accept British intervention – something which they had been successfully blocking until shortly before war was declared. But it also examines parallel appeals in the United States and elsewhere in the English-speaking world. The lecture then considers why the language of honour was effective, and whether it still plays a role a century later. It concludes by suggesting some centennial lessons for us today.

Robin Archer is Associate Professor (Reader) in Political Sociology and Director of the Ralph Miliband program at the London School of Economics. He was previously the Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. His works include Economic Democracy (Oxford) and Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? (Princeton). He is currently working on a new project about opposition to the First World War and conscription, especially in the English-speaking world. He has been a visiting fellow at Princeton University, Columbia University, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Sydney University, and most recently, New York University and the Australian National University.

A podcast of this event is available here.

Conversation with Shirley Williams

Speakers: Shirley Williams and Mark Bostridge
Wednesday 10th December

Shirley Williams and Mark Bostridge will be discussing the impact of the First World War on the life and work of her mother, Vera Brittain, author of Testament of Youth.

Shirley Williams is a politician, academic and former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

Mark Bostridge is a British writer and critic. He is the author of Vera Brittain and the First World War: The Story of Testament of Youth and Vera Brittain: A Life

A podcast of this event is available here.

Battlefield Ethics and Secularisation

Speaker: Dr Giles Fraser
Monday 12th January

The ethics of the British Army have traditionally drawn heavily from Christianity. How then has the British Army dealt with the challenges of secularisation?

Giles Fraser (@gilesfraser) is a Priest, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral and Guardian columnist.

Power and Order, Peace and War: Lessons for Asia from 1914-18

Power and Order, Peace and War: Lessons for Asia from 1914-18

Speaker: Professor Hugh White
Tuesday 3rd March

War was not inevitable in Europe in 1914, and it is not inevitable in Asia today.  But war happened in Europe because the Europeans failed to conceive a new international order to reflect radical shifts in the distribution of wealth and power.  And war will become more likely in Asia if regional powers fail in the same way to imagine a new regional order which fits the fast-changing realities of power there.  How might such a new order look, and how could it be built?

Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University and author of The China Choice.

A podcast of this event is available here.


Class Matters: the working class in contemporary Britain

A Special Pre-Election Event

Speaker:  Dr Selina Todd
Tuesday 10th March

Award-winning historian Selina Todd reveals the importance of the working class in British society since the early 20th century. Refuting the political clam that class is dead, Todd uses the voices of hundreds of ordinary people to argue that class has long divided modern Britain, and continues to do so today, when more than 60 percent of Britons identify as working class. As she explores the experiences and memories of those who lived through the last century, Todd busts several myths about contemporary Britain, by exposing the lie that grammar schools led to greater social mobility; demonstrating that the working class has never been entirely white; and illuminating that economic ‘progress’ depended on the exploitation of the many in the interests of the few. She also reveals that women, among them domestic servants, were, and remain, central to struggles to build a fairer society.

Selina Todd is History Fellow and Vice Principal of St Hilda’s College, Oxford University. This event marks the paperback publication of her latest bestselling history book The People: the rise and fall of the working class 1910-2010.

A podcast of this event is available here.

Waves of War: nation-state formation and ethnic exclusion in the modern world

Speaker: Professor Andreas Wimmer
Thursday 19th March

In this talk, Wimmer traces the emergence of the nation-state, its subsequent proliferation across the globe, and the resulting waves of international war and domestic conflict. To understand these processes, the talk highlights changing configurations of political power and legitimacy--the shift from imperial or dynastic principles to the nationalist ideal of self-rule. Nation-state formation and the ensuing ethno-political struggles over the state are responsible for a large number of civil and international wars fought over the past 200 years. The talk concludes considering implications for the future of violent conflict around the world?

Andreas Wimmer is Professor of Sociology at Princeton and author of Waves of War.

Barrel of a Gun? The armed struggle for democracy in South Africa

Speaker: Gillian Slovo
Tuesdsay 5th May

In 1960, after the shooting  of 56 pass protestors at Sharpeville and the ratcheting up of apartheid laws that made civil disobedience all but impossible, the leaders of the ANC turned to armed struggle. With their allies in the South African Communist Party they founded an armed wing, Umkhonto we’Sizwe. Their first intention was to use to armed propaganda  to combat the apartheid state.  Gillian Slovo will examine this decision to take up arms, and how it affected the struggle  for democracy in South Africa. She will also interrogate the  meaning of  revolutionary heroism and the way that the military struggle has impacted on the post apartheid state.

Gillian Slovo is a South African born novelist, playwright and memoirist.

A podcast of this event is available here.

The Election and the Left

A Special Post-Election Event

Speakers: Professor John Curtice, Polly Toynbee, Hilary Wainwright
Tuesday 12th May

What do the results of the British general election mean for the left?

John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University. Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist. Hilary Wainwright is a Founding Editor of Red Pepper magazine.

A podcast of this event is available here.

Class War Conservatism

Speaker: Professor Robin Blackburn
Wednesday 20th May

This lecture marks the launch of Class War Conservatism and Other Essays by Ralph Miliband. It will examine the debates on the failings of the UK State that emerged in the work of Perry Anderson, Tom Nairn, Edward Thompson, Ralph Miliband, Nico Poulantzas, Anthony Barnet and Charter 88, and consider their significance for us today.

Robin Blackburn is Professor of History and Sociology at Essex University and former editor of New Left Review.

The Rise of China and its Impact on the Future Global Order

Speaker: Kevin Rudd
Monday 1st June

Drawing on both his high-level political insights and personal expertise, Kevin Rudd will discuss the rise of China, the enduring influence of the United States and the changing balance of power in the Pacific. 

Kevin Rudd was Leader of the Labor Party and twice Prime Minister of Australia. He served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister (2007-2010, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010- 2012). Mr Rudd is President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. ASPI is a “think-do tank” dedicated to second track diplomacy to assist governments and businesses on policy challenges within Asia, and between Asia, the US and the West. He is also Chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism where in 2015-6 he leads a review of the UN system. Mr Rudd is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School where in 2014-15  he completed a major policy report on “Alternative Futures for US-China Relations.” He is a Distinguished Fellow at Chatham House in London, a Distinguished Statesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Paulson Institute in Chicago. Mr. Rudd is a member of  the Comprehensive Test Ban Organization’s Group of Eminent Persons. He is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, serves as a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and co-Chairs the China Global Affairs Council of the World Economic Forum.

A podcast of this event is available here.