FRIDAY 15 JULY
Room check-in opens (for those arriving Friday)
SATURDAY 16 JULY
Registration (for those arriving Saturday)
1045 – 1100
The age of disorder?
convenor, Academy 2022; writer
The revenge of history: why the past never went away
Professor Frank Furedi
At the end of the cold war, many believed that the major historical questions – to do with economics, politics, and philosophy – had been resolved. This was the famous ‘End of History’. The end of the Soviet Union meant that the past era of conflict, contest and ideological competition could be firmly separated from the present era of stability, economic growth and the supremacy of liberal capitalism. Yet, as has become only too obvious, many essential questions were in fact still unresolved. Within many Western societies, commentators began to note that the moral authority of the West had depended on its role on the ‘right’ side of the Cold War, and that, without the example of the anti-democratic Soviet societies, the question of what gave meaning and purpose to Western life was increasingly hard to answer. Globally, the question of Russia’s relationship to the world was also unresolved: many seemed to believe that Russia would, as if by magic, become a country like Germany, even whilst it became the site for the economic and energy ambitions of the global capitalism. This lecture will argue that the current period, defined by increasing international instability, culture wars, and crises, can be explained by these unresolved questions of history.
1345 – 1515
The origins of international disorder: breakdown of the post-cold war era
Dr Philip Cunliffe
senior lecturer in international conflict, University of Kent; author, The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1999-2019: A critique of international relations; co-host, @Bungacast podcast
This lecture will consider the rise and fall of liberal international order, with a special focus on the international order that emerged in the wake of the Cold War, and how it disintegrated in the twenty years’ crisis across 1999-2019. What are the key pillars of international order? What might emerge from the reorganisation of international order today? How do different international orders relate to questions of sovereignty and self-determination? The lecture will argue that we must be willing to break up the inherited political structures and ideological legacies of the twentieth century if we are to lay the foundations for a twenty-first century politics of democracy and self-determination.
1545 – 1700
Lecture Choices 1
Decline of empire, rise of conflict: on the road to 1914
emeritus fellow, Kellogg College Oxford; visiting professor, China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the continent of Europe had enjoyed perhaps the longest period of stability since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the next two decades, that balance of power fell apart. Traditional enemies became allies. Rising powers, from the USA to Germany, sought new influence. Smaller nations, too, sought a new role. This session examines the twilight of the ancien regime and the tensions which tore this world apart.
Bordering on crisis: Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March
retired consultant and lecturer; trustee, Battle of Ideas charity
This great novel explains much about Europe’s past. It takes us on a journey with the Trotta family from a sense of security through the tumultuous and tragic changes that come with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This session will explore the way in which the emotional appeal of one of the greatest pieces of modern literature can help us get to grips with the relationship between continuity and change.
1730 – 1900
The problem of atomisation: from ‘bowling alone’ to lockdowns
Dr Jennie Bristow
senior lecturer in sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University; author, The Corona Generation: coming of age in a crisis and Growing up in Lockdown & Stop Mugging Grandma
Concerns about the demise of civil society go back a long way. Almost as soon as De Tocqueville had praised the many voluntary and civic associations of the newly independent United States of America was he forecasting and fretting over their inevitable decline. Throughout the 20th Century, similar concerns could be heard from authors from almost every ideological persuasion. A key theme has been the rise of ‘individualism’ and a supposedly atomised society of isolated individuals. At the turn of the millennium, Robert Putnam noted that civic participation was falling across all areas of American life, arguing that ‘social capital’ was lost when traditional civic associations atrophied. Many insist that the State must act to repair these damaged social bonds. Yet critics note that State activity seems only to degrade civil society further. Given the contradictory legacy of Covid lockdowns – which drew on civic spirit and collective sacrifice yet served to isolate many millions – do we need to ask what civil society is, and what it could be? How do we challenge atomisation and isolation? Should we be sceptical of those in power who want to mend ‘broken’ societies?
SUNDAY 17 JULY
0930 – 1100
The Western roots of anti-West thinking: from Dugin to Xi
Tim Black, columnist, Spiked
Prominent ideologues and intellectuals in Russia and China have been venturing increasingly strident critiques of the West. Liberalism and democracy are firmly in their crosshairs. The likes of Alexander Dugin in Russia have taken on the nihilism, atomisation and moral decay of Western societies, and conjured up Russia as a bastion of tradition and spiritual truth. And in China, leading CCP political theorist Wang Huning has been deepening his critique of America as a grossly unequal land of lonely individuals, adrift in a sea of decadence, and positing China’s collectivism as a viable alternative. Yet just how novel is this critique of Western society? After all, much of the critique offered by Dugin or Wang draws deeply both on counter-Enlightenment thought, and a broader, long-standing disillusionment with modernity among certain sections of Western society. So to what extent has anti-West thinking been generated within the West itself? And are we witnessing less a challenge from the East, than the internationalisation of a conflict and crisis internal to the West?
1130 – 1245
Lecture Choices 2
Democracy in danger: the Battle of Marathon
Dr Stephen Kershaw
professor of History of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum; tutor in Classics, University of Oxford; author, Three Epic Battles that Saved Democracy: Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis
2022 marks 2,500 years since the final defeat of the invasion of Greece by the Persian King Xerxes. This astonishing clash between East and West still has resonances in modern history, and has left us with tales of heroic resistance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. For centuries, the decisive battles of Thermopylae and Salamis were said to mark the beginnings of Western civilization itself. Classical Greece, too, is believed to be the bulwark of the West, representing the values of generous and unselfish peace, freedom and democracy in a neighbourhood ravaged by instability and war. How did the Greeks overcome the odds? What do these crucial battles reveal about civilisation – then and now?
The modernist solution: Joyce’s Ulysses and the search for new foundations
chief operating officer, Feature Story News (FSN); founder, Washington Hyenas’ Book Club
1922 saw the publication of not only James Joyce’s Ulysses, but also Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. The modernist project was accelerated by a profound disillusionment in the wake WW1, coupled with changing understandings of reality thrown up by the ideas of Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud and Einstein, and others. But modernism was always riven by differences and disagreements. Some modernists, like TS Eliot, were led to despair and melancholia and others, like Julio Cortázar, abandoned the idea that artists could be reliable interpreters of the world. How did Joyce fit into the modernist project? Was Joyce an expression of a more positive vision? Has literature since failed to live up to Joyce’s ambitions?
1245 – 1345
1345 – 1500
Lecture Choices 3
Against all odds: The Hungarian Revolution 1956
Dr Calum Nicholson
anthropologist; fellow, Danube Institute in Budapest.
Like a number of other famous tragedies such as the Battle of Mohacs in 1526, the War of Independence in 1848, and the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, the Revolution of 1956 continues to resonate in Hungarian culture, and act as a pillar of magyar national identity. This lecture will explore why the revolution happened, what occurred, and how it still shapes Hungarian society today. The lecture will examine what the revolution, and its aftermath, might teach us about how societies attempt to renew themselves, and the dangers that attend any effort to do so.
Houellebecq’s Submission: The misery of post-Modernism
visiting fellow, Ayn Rand Institute; instructor, Ayn Rand University
What would happen if the ultra-conservative National Front faced the Muslim Brotherhood in the second round of the Presidential elections in France? Houellebecq uses this alternate reality as a vehicle for dissecting a Western zeitgeist devoid of any meaning, passion, or prospects for the future. He seeks to critique a culture of liberalism, multiculturalism and narcissism that gave rise to it. But does Houellebecq have an answer? Or does he just recycle the pessimism of our times? Is there a way out of the post-modern cul-de-sac?
1515 – 1645
Reclaiming agency amid moral disarmament
Professor Frank Furedi
The resistance of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion took the world by surprise. This lecture will argue that one reason so many were surprised was that so many in the West have become estranged from the idea of resistance and the moral virtues of heroism, attachment to place, courage and trust in one’s fellows. Opinion polls suggest that many across Europe and beyond would be unwilling to fight for their country against an external invasion. From the standpoint of many, the idea of risking one’s life for national territory is a very alien idea. However, throughout history the idea of the freedom from external oppression has been intimately connected with the idea of freedom internally. This lecture will argue that Western societies need to reclaim the virtues of courage and resistance – not merely to sustain themselves externally in the context of an increasingly dangerous international situation, but also as a way of restoring freedom and agency to their rightful place in the internal life of democratic societies.