2015-2016 Lecture Series


Progress and its Discontents

The aim of this year's series was to consider whether there has been a loss of confidence in the possibility of progress and whether it can be reversed. Scepticism has often been a friend of progress, but when does it become destructive or debilitating? Progressive proposals are now often dismissed by a public that assumes that no one will do what they say and that governments can do little or nothing to improve things. Elected representatives are routinely assumed to be venal. And some intellectuals of a radical temper reject the very idea of progress as at best an illusion.


Shadow sovereigns: how global corporations are seizing power

Dr Susan George

Date: Thursday 12 November   2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue:   Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker:   Dr Susan George
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

Can Progressives slow the success of neo-liberalism? In recent years links between big business and government have become stronger and more far-reaching than ever, impeding the possibility for progress. Ahead of the Spanish elections and climate change negotiations, Susan George will draw on her new book about the power of big business and her decades of activism and writing to analyse the possibilities for progress.

Susan George is a political activist, widely-translated author and President of the Transnational Institute. Her latest book is Shadow Sovereigns: how global corporations are seizing power.

You can find the podcast of the event here.


Red Flat over Houghton Street? The Radical Tradition at the LSE - Myth, Reality and Fact

Professor Michael Cox

Date: Thursday 19 November   2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue:   Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker: Professor Michael Cox
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

Founded by Fabian socialists in the 1890s and attracting such radical figures as Harold Laski, R.H. Tawney and Ralph Miliband, it is hardly surprising that the LSE has acquired a ‘red’  reputation over the years: a reputation that only seemed to be confirmed during the second half of the 1960s when the School was forced to close down because of student protest. But just how radical has the LSE ever been? Has it ever been a hot bed of revolution as critics have claimed? And how true is it of the LSE today?

Michael Cox is Professor of International Relations at the LSE and Co-Director of LSE IDEAS.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

What Should we Study when Study Economics?

Professor Wendy Carlin


Date: Thursday 3 December 2015                            Time: 6.30-8pm                                                         Venue: Old Theatre, Old Bulding                             Chair: Robin Archer

The financial crisis triggered a fundamental rethinking of how economics students are taught and what they learn. An international collaborative project of economists (the CORE project), led by Wendy Carlin, has responded with a new curriculum that provides tools for engaging with the issues of economic inequality, environmental sustainability, innovation and wealth creation, and financial instability. Some policy shortcomings can be traced to a view – standard in undergraduate economics teaching – that the pursuit of self-interest in competitive markets is a sufficient guide to how society should allocate its resources. But this confidence in unregulated markets finds little support in recent economic research. In this new, empirically based view, instability, growing economic disparity and environmental destruction are not exceptions to the rule but rather the expected outcomes of an unregulated market economy.  Fundamental changes have occurred, too, in economic knowledge of individual behaviour resulting in a growing recognition of the economic importance of ethical and other-regarding motives alongside self-interest. The tools of economics can be taught using new research insights and empirical results to address questions of importance to students, policy-makers and a broader public.

Wendy Carlin is Professor of Economics at University College London, and Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

You can find the podcast of the event here.





Arab Spring - Arab Winter 

Dr Alaa Al Aswany and Jack Shenker 

Date: Wednesday 20 January 2016                                    Time: 6.30-8pm                                                     Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building                                 Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Five years on from Tahrir Square, is Egypt's revolution still alive?Dr Alaa Al Aswany is an award-winning novelist and prominent Egyptian activist.

Jack Shenker is an award-winning journalistand former Egypt correspondent for the Guardian. His new book is The Egyptians: A Radical Story.


Whither France? The Pessimistic Turn in Modern French Thought 

Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh 

Date: Monday 25 January 2016                       Time:   6.30-8pm                                      Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building Chair:  Dr Robin Archer

How have the rise of conservative and inward looking intellectual traditions undermined France’s progressive imagination? Can French progressive ideals be revived?

Sudhir Hazareesingh is CUF Lecturer in Politics and Tutorial Fellow in Politics, Balliol College, University of Oxford.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

Are Conspiracy Theories Bad for Democracy?

Professor David Runciman 

Date: Wednesday 10 February 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Conspiracy theories go hand in hand with political mistrust. Are they symptom or cause of current levels of mistrust in democracy and what can be done about it?

David Runciman is Professor in Political Thought, University of Cambridge.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

We Don't Have to Live Like This: experiments in utopian living 

Michael Caines, Benjamin Markovits and Jacqueline Yallop

Date: Tuesday 23 February 2016 
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Why are utopian communities so appealing and are they always doomed to failure? The panel discuss utopian experiments in British history and consider whether utopian living would be possible today.

Michael Caines is an Assistant Editor of the Times Literary Supplement.

Benjamin Markovits is the author of six previous novels, essays, stories, poetry and reviews. He teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. His latest novel You Don’t Have to Live Like This   explores a utopian plan to regenerate a Detroit neighbourhood.

Jacqueline Yallop is author of Dreamstreets: A Journey through Britain’s Village Utopias, as well as three novels and a history of Victorian collecting. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

The EU: friend or foe for progressive politics? 

Caroline Lucas MP 

Date: Thursday 3 March 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Caroline Lucas will explore the role of the EU as a force for progress; the likely impact ofthe EU referendum campaign and what green progress means in the EU context.

Caroline Lucas is MP for Brighton Pavilion and former Leader of the Green Party.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

The New Politics of State, Class and Trade Union Power

Frances O'Grady

Date: Wednesday 4 May 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

With organised labour under attack and a new economy making working life tougher, are there opportunities for unions to reclaim ground?

In January 2013, Frances O’Grady (@FrancesOGrady) became the General Secretary of the TUC, the first woman ever to hold this post. Fair pay remains a core ambition – she was on the Resolution Foundation's Commission on Living Standards, and has been a member of the Low Pay and the High Pay Commissions. 

You can find the podcast of the event here.

Rebuilding the Politics of Hope

Jeremy Corbym

Date: Tuesday 17 May 2016
Time:   6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Chair: Dr Robin Archer

Trust and belief in politicians is low, while the crash has broken the idea that each generation will be better off. How can we rebuild hope?

Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) is Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Islington North.

You can find the podcast of the event here.

A transcript of Jeremy Corbyn's lecture is available to download here.