London inside-out: Politics in a World City

When the bombs went off on July 7th our response as Londoners was to confirm our defiant multicultural identity. It was in this guise that Ken Livingstone called the city ‘the future of the world’. But London heralds the future world in other ways too. It is, for example, a command centre of neoliberal globalisation, and the effects of this reverberate around the world, often in problematical ways. Doreen Massey, Professor of Geography at the Open University, has written widely on globalisation, regional uneven development, and the reconceptualisation of place. She is co-founder and co-editor of ‘Soundings: a journal of politics and culture’ and her latest book ‘For Space’ was published this year by Sage. She will be discussing how we can build an ‘outward looking’ politics for our world city – a politics of place beyond place.

Energy after the end of oil: Nuclear or renewable?

The recent surge in fuel prices caused by the beginnings of a dangerous race for oil and gas reserves between established powers and rapidly growing economies such as India and China, has led to opportunist lobbying by the nuclear industry to build more plants. At the same time, far from learning the lessons of the oil inspired Iraq war, Tony Blair has recently fallen into line behind Bush by asserting that no country is prepared to cut its growth or energy consumption. There is another solution, that of reducing energy consumption and gradually replacing nuclear power, oil and other fossil fuels with renewable energy. Prof.John Twidell is one of the pioneers in the UK of renewable energy application. He is Director of the AMSET Centre Ltd, Editor of the Journal ‘Wind Engineering’ , visiting Professor in Renewable Energy at Reading University, and has been an advisor to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy. He is the author of nine books on renewable energy including “Renewable Energy Resources”, and the second edition is due to be published in December 2005.

European property markets: A threat to urban society?

Inequalities are mounting in the modern world and in Europe. Michael Edwards, an urban economist and planner at Bartlett UCL, argues that private property markets, in the form we have them today, increase poverty. They also make Europe un-competitive, so they are dangerous for productive capital too. Edwards, who directs a masters programme in European
Planning & Property Development and is active in challenging the neo-liberal aspects of London, especially through the London Social Forum, challenges the way we think about housing, about saving and about income in retirement.

Iraq & the US occupation

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 22.12.59The US occupation is fragmenting Iraq and encouraging civil strife, with appalling consequences in terms of bloodshed and destruction. Sami Ramadani is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the London Metropolitan University, and a former exile from Saddam Hussein’s regime. He campaigned for democracy in Iraq, but strongly opposed the US-led invasion, and has written on the subject in the Guardian. He will discuss the nature of the US-led occupation and the prospects for the future: is the US planning a disengagement from Iraq.

The myth of Al Zarqawi & the New Jihadist generation

Loretta Napoleoni is an economist and expert on the economics of terrorism. She has several books to her credit, including a remarkable study of Arabic finance, its connection to Islamic terrorism and interface with western economies (see Cafe Diplo 24th January 2004). Her book “Terror Inc.” was published by Penguin, and “Made in America: Al Zarqawi & the Future of the Islamic Jihad” will be published in November by Constable & Robinson. This talk will cover the US creation of the myth of Al Zarqawi, his impact on the insurgency in Iraq and on the Jihadist movement in the West. Loretta was once consultant for US Homeland Security and was the Chair of the Countering Terrorism Financing Group for the Madrid Conference on Democracy, Terrorism and Security.

Can we trust a secret State?

At a time when our country is taken to war on flawed intelligence information, UK citizens are imprisoned without trial on the word of the intelligence services, and fear of terrorist attack is high, we need to know that those responsible for Britains security are really doing all they can to protect us. David Shayler, who worked for M15’s political and counter terrorism department in the 1990’s, was so concerned by its questionable activities and incompetence that he left and went on the record about the service’s failings. This courageous stand has led to a life on the run, exile in Paris, and two spells in jail. David will speak of his experiences at the heart of the secret state and on what happens when you stand up to it. His colleague, Annie Machon, who left for the same reasons, has recently written a book, ‘Spies, Lies & Whistleblowers’ which tells this fascinating and disturbing story.

Managed democracy, Russian style

Mr Putin calls himself a democrat. However, recent decisions taken by the Russian President are testimony to his anti-democratic instincts. According to an increasing number of commentators, the Russian Federation is sliding into authoritarianism. Margot Light, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, will discuss the future of democracy in Russia. She is an old Soviet hand, an expert on internal policy and foreign relations in Russia and the CIS, and author of numerous writings on Russian current affairs.

Immigration, racism & human rights

A recent audit revealed that asylum seekers, on average, have higher qualifications than the British population, and are able to make a strong contribution to the economy. Yet the worst human rights abuses in the UK are committed against refugees and asylum seekers. The government has denied them the right to work. A rising number are denied benefits, and end up on the streets. Former MP Keith Best is Chief Executive of Immigration Advisory Service, which provides free
legal advice and representation to people with immigration and asylum problems. Named in the Guardian as one of the 100 most influential people in public services in the UK, he will unravel the complicated immigration imbroglio

China and its business and industry sectors

The West has watched China’s development with growing apprehension. Emerging inequalities, rural poverty, pollution and other ‘side-effects’ of rapid industrialisation have yet to be fully examined. Central planning has now given way to a proliferation of neo-liberal strategies and it is time to count its true contribution, within China and to the world, as well as the costs. Author of several books on China, including ‘China at the Crossroads’ (2003) and ‘Transforming China: Globalisation’, ‘Transition and Development’ (2004).
Peter Nolan is Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management and Chair of the University of Cambridge’s Development Studies Committee. The Financial Times commented in a 2000 report: “Peter Nolan knows more about Chinese companies and their international competition than anyone else on earth, including in China”.

Inside North Korea

North Korea’s isolation and nuclear capabilities have become a prominent focus of international attention and US foreign policy, but information about the country remains very limited in the West. Dr Jim Hoare, who retired from the Diplomatic Service in January 2003, was in a unique position to learn about the country, since he established the British Embassy there in 2001. He has also served in South Korea (1981-1985) and in China (1988- 1991). He is now a consultant, and regularly broadcasts and writes about East Asia. He and his wife, Susan Pares, have just published ‘A Political and Economic Dictionary of East Asia’ (Routledge: 2005), and ‘North Korea in the 21st Century: A Critical Guide’, is due to
be published by Global Oriental shortly. He is the current President of the British Association for Korean Studies, and is an Honorary Research Associate at The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and of the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield.