Talking Politics: HISTORY OF IDEAS

Talking Politics: HISTORY OF IDEAS

A new series of talks by David Runciman, in which he explores some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics – from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, from revolution to lock down. Plus, he talks about the crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – that generated these new ways of political thinking. From the team that brought you Talking Politics: a history of ideas to help make sense of what’s happening today.

Talking Politics News 19 rész Talking Politics : HISTORY OF IDEAS
Rousseau on Inequality
47 perc 2. évad 15. rész

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality (also known as the Second Discourse) tells the story of all human history to answer one simple question: how did we end up in such an unequal world? David explores the steps Rousseau traces in the fall of humankind and asks whether this is a radical alternative to the vision offered by Hobbes or just a variant on it. Is Rousseau really such a nice philosopher?


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Nietzsche on Morality
46 perc 19. rész

Friedrich Nietzsche’s masterpiece The Genealogy of Morality (1887) sets out to explain where ideas of good and evil come from and why they have left human beings worse off. He traces their origins in what he calls the slave revolt in morality. David examines the ways Nietzsche’s story unsettles almost everything about modern social conventions and leaves us with the troubling question: what can possibly come next?


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Butler on Machines
47 perc 18. rész

Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872) is a strange and unsettling book about a world turned upside down. Usually classified as utopian or dystopian fiction, it also contains an eerie prophecy about the coming of intelligent machines. David explores the origins of Butler’s ideas and asks what they have to teach us about the oddity of how we choose to organise our societies, both then and now.


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Douglass on Slavery
46 perc 17. rész

My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) by the former slave Frederick Douglass was the second of his three autobiographies and the one that contained his most radical ideas. In this episode David explores how Douglass used his life story not only to expose the horror of slavery but to champion a new approach to abolishing it. The name for this approach: politics.


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Bentham on Pleasure
47 perc 16. rész

Jeremy Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is a definitive early statement of the basis of utilitarianism: how do we achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number? David looks at Bentham’s rationale for this approach and the many criticisms it has faced. Bentham has often been accused of reducing politics to mechanical calculation and missing what really matters. But given the time in which he was writing, wasn’t the prioritisation of pleasure the most radical idea of all?


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Q & A with David
48 perc 14. rész

We got lots and lots of excellent questions from listeners about the themes and ideas in this series of talks. In this extra episode

David will do his best to answer some of them, from Hobbes to Weber, and from Gandhi to feminism. Plus he talks about what's missing from this series and where we might start next time.


Go to https://www.talkingpoliticspodcast.com/history-of-ideas for the full collection of reading lists.


Quentin Skinner on the state:


(Video) Quentin Skinner, ‘What is the state? The question that will not go away’


Orwell on Gandhi:


https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/reflections-on-gandhi/

 

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Fukuyama on History
46 perc 13. rész

Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History (1992) became associated with the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the twentieth century. But was Fukuyama really a triumphalist? David explores what Fukuyama had to say about the strengths and weaknesses of liberal democracy and asks whether his analysis still holds true today. What have we learned about the modern state from its history? And can it, and we, really change now?


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MacKinnon on Patriarchy
44 perc 12. rész

Catharine MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (1989) challenges two dominant ways of thinking about politics: liberalism, which wants to protect us from the power of the state, and Marxism, which wants to liberate us through the power of the state. What if neither is good enough to emancipate women? Mackinnon explains why patriarchal power permeates all forms of modern politics. David

discusses what she thinks we can do about it.


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Fanon on Colonialism
41 perc 11. rész

Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist who both experienced and analysed the impact of colonial violence. In The Wretched of the Earth (1961) he developed an account of politics that sought to channel violent resistance to colonialism as a force for change. It is a deliberately shocking book. David explores what Fanon’s argument says about the possibility of moving beyond the power of the modern state.


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Arendt on Action
44 perc 10. rész

Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition (1958) is a remarkably prophetic book. At its heart is an analysis of the relationship between labour, work and action, set against a time of rapid technological change. Arendt worried about the power of computers, believed in the capacity of people to reinvent themselves through politics and despaired of the influence of Thomas Hobbes. Was she right?


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Hayek on the Market
43 perc 9. rész

Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944) was written during the Second World War but Hayek was really worried about what would come next. He feared that wartime planning would spill over into the peacetime economy and destroy hard won freedoms. David explores where Hayek’s fears came from and asks why he worried that democracy would only make the problem worse. He also considers what makes Hayek such a politically influential and divisive figure to this day.


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Weber on Leadership
44 perc 8. rész

Max Weber’s The Profession and Vocation of Politics (1919) was a lecture that became one of the defining texts of twentieth century political thought. In it, Weber explores the perils and paradoxes of leadership in a modern state. Is it possible to do bad in order to do good? Can violence ever be virtuous? Does political responsibility send politicians mad? David discusses the legacy of Weber’s ideas and asks: who is the true Weberian politician?


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Gandhi on self-rule
44 perc 7. rész

Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj (1909) was a defining text of the movement for Indian independence from British colonial rule. It also articulated a radical new idea of politics in a modern context – peaceful protest or non-violent resistance. David explores the wider legacy of Gandhi’s ideas and asks what Gandhi’s withering attack on ‘machine’ politics means for the politics we have today.


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Marx and Engels on Revolution
43 perc 6. rész

The Communist Manifesto (1848) remains the most famous revolutionary text of all. But what was the problem with politics that only a revolution could solve?  And why were the working class the only people who could solve it? David explores what Marx and Engels really had to say about capitalism, crisis and class and he asks what still resonates from that message today.


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Tocqueville on Democracy
44 perc 5. rész

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835/40) can claim to be the best book ever written about democracy and the best book ever written about America. David discusses what Tocqueville was expecting when he went to see American democracy for himself and what he actually found. Tocqueville was amazed and impressed by the American way of doing politics, but his fears about how its democracy might go wrong remain as prescient as ever.


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Constant on Liberty
46 perc 4. rész

Benjamin Constant’s ‘The Liberty of the Ancients Compared to the Liberty of the Moderns’ (1819) examines what it means to be free in the modern world. Are we at liberty to follow our hearts? Do we have an obligation to take an interest in politics? What happens if we don’t? David explores the lessons Constant drew from the failures of the French Revolution and his timeless message about the perils of political indifference.


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Wollstonecraft on Sexual Politics
46 perc 3. rész

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is one of the most remarkable books in the history of ideas. A classic of early feminism, it uses what’s wrong with the relationship between men and women to illustrate what’s gone wrong with politics. It’s a story of lust and power, education and revolution. David explores how Wollstonecraft’s radical challenge to the basic ideas of modern politics continues to resonate today.


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Hobbes on the State
59 perc 2. rész

Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) reimagined how we could do politics. It redefined many of the ideas that continue to shape modern politics: representation, sovereignty, the state. But in Leviathan these ideas have a strange and puzzling power. David explores what Hobbes was trying to achieve and how a vision of politics that came out of the English civil war, can still illuminate the world we live in.


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Talking Politics: HISTORY OF IDEAS
2 perc 1. rész

A short trailer to introduce a new series of talks by David Runciman. In a series of twelve podcasts, he explores some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics – from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, from revolution to lock down. Plus he talks about the crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – that generated these new ways of political thinking. From the team that brought you Talking Politics: a history of ideas to help make sense of what’s happening today.

 

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