Intelligence Squared tracks on Soundclound

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The Battle for the Countryside: Britain Should Rewild its Uplands
Intelligence Squared

Imagine if swathes of the British countryside were allowed to be wild once again, if trees and rare plants could flourish and beavers, boars and white-tailed eagles could retake their place in the ecosystem. That’s the goal of the growing numbers of nature-lovers who support the idea of rewilding Britain’s uplands. We tend to think of these uplands as ‘wild’ and ‘natural’. But in fact, as the rewilders point out, they are entirely man-made, the result of clearances by man to make way for millions of sheep whose grazing over the last 200 years has rendered the land bare. Sheep farming, once a major source of Britain’s wealth, is now largely uneconomic and depends on billions of pounds of subsidies. But where rewilding is taking place, in Britain and in Europe, a boom in tourism is providing a more sustainable local economy. We must make space for wild nature in places where farming does not make sense. That’s romantic tosh, say the opponents of rewilding. People matter too, and the idea that we should do away with traditional ways of life for the sake of wild bilberries and wolves is getting things out of proportion. Get rid of the farms in the uplands and you will destroy not just the livelihoods of farmers, shepherds and vets, but also the village schools, shops and pubs that are at the heart of rural communities. Yes, upland sheep farms are subsidised but so is almost every other kind of agriculture. And do we really want rampant scrub to replace peaceful scenes of grazing sheep and gambolling lambs, and introduce dangerous animals who will all too soon encroach upon the outskirts of our towns and villages? Intelligence Squared brought together four speakers who care passionately about the countryside but disagree profoundly on how we should manage it.

Learning
521
The World Should Recognise Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital
Intelligence Squared

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked outrage around the world. The Palestinian ambassador to London claims Trump’s move amounts to ‘declaring war on 1.5 billion Muslims’, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned that the US could ‘plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight’. But why all the fuss? According to many of Israel’s supporters, it’s no secret that Jerusalem has been the de facto capital of Israel since its creation. Jerusalem is home to Israel’s Parliament and Supreme Court. It’s where both the Israeli Prime Minister and the President reside. But more than that, Jerusalem has been the spiritual and cultural capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Sure, there might be some disputes over a few neighbourhoods and holy sites. But every other country across the globe has the right to choose their own capital. Why not the world’s only Jewish state? Others warn, however, that symbolic recognition of Jerusalem would be a mortal blow for the currently frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks — so Trump’s move stalls further progress and rules out US involvement in any future deal. And let’s not forget that East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel for over fifty years, giving Israel dominion over hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents and some of the most fiercely contested holy sites in the world. Why should the world recognise Israel’s sovereignty over land that doesn’t belong to it? The Palestinians insist that any two-state peace agreement must also include East Jerusalem as their own capital. So not only would it be a bad move for peace and stability — recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a denial of the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to their own homeland.

News & Politics
1,008
James Comey in Conversation with Emily Maitlis on Speaking Truth To Power
Intelligence Squared

When President Trump sacked James Comey as FBI Director in May last year, he ignited a political firestorm with huge implications for American democracy. Comey’s dismissal led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to look at possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — an investigation which may bring to light dark secrets about President Trump and his close associates. Now to mark the publication of his global bestseller, 'A Higher Loyalty', Comey came to the Intelligence Squared stage for an exclusive event. In conversation with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, he revealed what really happened in those strange early months of the Trump presidency, as well as his long career in public service and speaking truth to power. Before his tenure at the head of the FBI under Obama from 2013 to 2017, Comey served in the highest echelons of American law enforcement, first as a senior prosecutor during the Clinton administration and then as Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush. His career under both Republican and Democratic presidents brought him to the centre of the most important cases in modern history, including prosecuting the mafia, overhauling the Bush administration’s surveillance and counterterrorism policies, securing the conviction of lifestyle guru Martha Stewart and leading the controversial investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. In today’s era of fake news, polarised politics and ‘alternative facts’ — when the truth itself often seems under attack — integrity, honesty and ethical leadership seem more important than ever. Comey, who served under four very different presidents, has witnessed and experienced the struggles that arise when patriotism and principles careen headlong into the partisanship that has gripped American politics.

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Jordan Peterson on Gender, Patriarchy and the Slide Towards Tyranny
Intelligence Squared

In May 2018, we recorded a special episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast in London. Jordan Peterson, author of '12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos', was joined by Anne McElvoy, Senior Editor at The Economist and head of Economist Radio, to discuss identity politics, liberalism and #MeToo.

News & Politics
3,002
Revere or Remove? The Battle Over Statues, Heritage and History
Intelligence Squared

Statues and memorials to famous figures of the past adorn our towns and cities. But what should be done when some of these figures have come to be seen by many people as controversial symbols of oppression and discrimination? In Britain, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign hit the headlines when it demanded the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oxford’s Oriel College, of which he was a leading benefactor, because of his colonialism. In the US, violent protests in Charlottesville were sparked by a decision to remove from a park a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, because of the association of the Confederacy with slavery. Passions run high on both sides. Are those calling for the removal of controversial statues seeking to right an historical injustice or are they trying to erase history? And are those who object to removing memorials defending the indefensible or are they conserving historical reality, however unpalatable that may be? To discuss these emotive questions and examine the broader cultural conflicts which lie behind them, Intelligence Squared joined forces with Historic England to bring together a stellar panel including historians David Olusoga and Peter Frankopan, the journalist and author Afua Hirsch and the cultural commentator Tiffany Jenkins. The event was chaired by Guardian columnist, broadcaster and author Jonathan Freedland.

News & Politics
1,418
The nuclear deal with Iran won't make the world a safer place
Intelligence Squared

For this week's episode we're revisiting our debate from November 2015, "The nuclear deal with Iran won't make the world a safer place". Alan Dershowitz, one of America’s most formidable and celebrated lawyers, and Emily Landau, one of Israel’s top nuclear proliferation experts, went head to head with senior politicians Norman Lamont and Jack Straw, both impassioned advocates of rapprochement with Iran.

News & Politics
1,578
Jamie Bartlett in conversation with Helen Lewis on how the internet is threatening our freedoms
Intelligence Squared

This week's Intelligence Squared podcast features Jamie Bartlett, tech journalist and author of The People vs Tech in conversation with the New Statesman's Deputy Editor Helen Lewis. In this in-depth discussion on the politics of technology, they explored the addictive nature of social media and whether the tech giants are a threat to democracy.

Science
1,904
Rembrandt Vs Vermeer: The Titans of Dutch Painting
Intelligence Squared

(For a list of all paintings referenced by Simon Schama and Tracy Chevalier in this debate please go to: https://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/rembrandt-vs-vermeer-titans-of-dutch-painting-simon-schama-tracy-chevalier/ Rembrandt van Rijn is the best known of all the Dutch masters. His range was vast, from landscapes to portraits to Biblical scenes; he revolutionised every medium he handled, from oil paintings to etchings and drawings. His vision encompassed every element of life – the sleeping lion; the pissing baby; the lacerated soles of the returned prodigal son. Making the case for him in this debate was Simon Schama. For him Rembrandt is humanity unedited: rough, raw, violent, manic, vain, greedy and manipulative. Formal beauty was the least of his concerns, argues Schama, yet he attains beauty through his understanding of the human condition, including to be sure, his own. But for novelist Tracy Chevalier it can all get a little exhausting. Rembrandt’s paintings, she believes – even those that are not his celebrated self-portraits – are all about himself. Championing Vermeer, she will claim that his charm lies in the very fact that he absents himself from his paintings. As a result they are less didactic and more magical than Rembrandt’s, giving the viewer room to breathe. The debate was chaired by art historian , broadcaster and Director of Artistic Programmes at the Royal Academy Tim Marlow.

Learning
1,429
Psychiatrists & the pharma industry are to blame for the current ‘epidemic’ of mental disorders
Intelligence Squared

Drug pushers. We tend to associate them with the bleak underworld of criminality. But some would argue that there’s another class of drug pushers, just as unscrupulous, who work in the highly respectable fields of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. And they deserve the same moral scrutiny that we apply to the drug pedlar on the street corner. Within the medical profession labels are increasingly being attached to everyday conditions previously thought to be beyond the remit of medical help. So sadness is rebranded as depression, shyness as social phobia, childhood naughtiness as hyperactivity or ADHD. And Big Pharma is only too happy to come up with profitable new drugs to treat these ‘disorders’, drugs which the psychiatrists and GPs then willingly prescribe, richly rewarded by the pharma companies for doing so. That’s the view of those who object to the widespread use of the ‘chemical cosh’ to treat people with mental difficulties. But many psychiatrists, while acknowledging that overprescribing is a problem, would argue that the blame lies not with themselves. For example, parents and teachers often ramp up the pressure to have a medical label attached to a child’s problematic behaviour because that way there’s less stigma attached and allowances are made. And psychiatrists and the pharma companies also take issue with those who argue that the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of mental disorder is a myth. ADHD is a real condition, they say, for which drugs work. Research shows that antidepressants really are more effective than just a placebo, especially in cases of severe depression. Defending the motion in this Intelligence Squared debate at London's Emmanuel Centre in November 2014 were author and journalist Will Self and psychoanalyst and author Darian Leader. Opposing the motion were former Head of Worldwide Development at Pfizer Inc. Dr Declan Doogan and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Professor Sir Simon Wessely. The debate was chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA.

Science
2,169
Hilton Als and Afua Hirsch on Race, Gender and Identity
Intelligence Squared

In March 2018, we recorded a special episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast at the Acast studio in east London. Pulitzer prize winning writer and chief theatre critic for The New Yorker Hilton Als was in conversation with Guardian columnist and author Afua Hirsch. In this wide ranging discussion, they talked about issues of race, gender, culture and identity, which were some of the themes explored in Als' recent book White Girls. Image © Brigitte Lacombe (2018).

News & Politics
1,533
Stop Brexit
Intelligence Squared

It’s time we came to to our senses. Brexit is a disaster and must be stopped. Leave campaigners promised our exit from the European Union would herald a glorious new era – the sunlit uplands of ‘global Britain’, with new trade deals signed in a matter of months and an extra £350 million per week for the NHS. But what do we have today? Sterling has collapsed, Boris has been busy bungling in Brussels, and the government’s own leaked economic assessments show that leaving the EU will harm every single region of the country, especially ‘left behind’ areas that voted to Leave. The public was misled, and as David Davis once said, ‘If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’. Let’s end this madness and call the whole thing off. That’s the reasoning of the Remoaners. But can you imagine the damage we’d do to our politics if we overturned the democratic expression of 17 million people – the single biggest mandate in British history? If these sneering liberals had their way, the masses would be forced to vote in referendum after referendum until they gave the ‘correct’ answer. What part of ‘take back control’ don’t they understand? And spare us the whingeing over economic forecasts. We all remember Project Fear and the phoney establishment warnings that the sky would fall in once we voted to Leave. Is it time the public voted again on this defining issue of our times? Or should we embrace the opportunities presented by leaving the EU? Arguing in favour of the motion were Gina Miller, the businesswoman and campaigner who wasd the lead claimant in the successful legal fight to allow parliament to vote on whether the UK could start the process of leaving the EU; and Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham and a prominent pro-EU campaigner, who is now the leader of a coalition of cross-party groups representing 500,000 members pushing for a referendum on the final EU deal. Arguing against the motion were Gerard Lyons, one of the country’s leading economists and an expert on the global economy, and co-author of 'Clean Brexit: Why Leaving The EU Still Makes Sense'; and Isabel Oakeshott, a pro-Brexit journalist and broadcaster who was political editor of The Sunday Times and authored 'The Bad Boys of Brexit', an inside account of Nigel Farage and Arron Banks’ Leave.EU campaign. The debate was chaired by Nick Robinson, presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme and former BBC political editor.

News & Politics
1,717
The Power of Poetry, with William Sieghart, Jeanette Winterson and Helena Bonham Carter
Intelligence Squared

For 15 years, the power of the spoken word has been at the heart of Intelligence Squared’s mission. Argument and debate, we believe, can move, persuade and create real change. Now, in these anxious and divided times, we held a special event that celebrated the positive, transformative force of another kind of spoken word – poetry. William Sieghart told the extraordinary story of his bestselling book, The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. This is no conventional collection but one created from Sieghart’s own, personal experience of prescribing real poems to real people in need. Every poem is matched to a specific condition: fear of the unknown, unrequited love, stagnation, purposelessness, convalescence, oppression Joining him in conversation were novelist and poetry devotee Jeanette Winterson. Together they explored poetry’s uncanny ability to calm, console and, above all, connect us to the minds and feelings of others. Finding the right poem at the right moment is not just a problem shared, Sieghart says, but a problem transformed. It is ‘to discover a powerful sense of complicity, and that precious realisation: I’m not the only one who feels like this.’ It is to forge a connection with ‘this stranger who understands – and what results is a sort of peace.’ Bringing the poems to dramatic life were a cast of star actors including Helena Bonham Carter, Sue Perkins, Jason Isaacs and Tom Burke.

Entertainment
1,864
Disruption Ahead: Will Future Transport Systems Benefit Society Or Drive It Apart?
Intelligence Squared

A transport revolution in our cities is under way. Ride-sharing schemes, driverless cars and electric vehicles look set to bring us all kinds of benefits, such as lower pollution, faster flowing traffic and fewer accidents. But these benefits won’t just fall into our laps. What will we have to do to ensure that we reap the rewards of these changes and avoid potential pitfalls? Will technological change bring us closer together as a society or drive us further apart? Will we the consumers be the ones who make the all-important decisions, or will we be at the mercy of the tech and car companies and the policy-makers? And will these decisions actually result in a lower carbon future? There’s a lot of excitement about the future of cars: will people be prepared to give up the independence of the privately owned vehicle and use hailing schemes? Given that a total switchover to electric vehicles is unlikely to happen within the next ten years, how will a mix of vehicles on our streets affect the way we live? And is all this talk about cars a distraction from much needed investment in public transport? We were joined by author, journalist and Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, Jamie Bartlett; Uber's Head of Cities in the UK and Ireland, Fred Jones; creative technologist at the open innovation consultancy company Five by Five, Eugena Ossi; and journalist, author, and railway historian, Christian Wolmar. The debate was chaired by broadcaster Edith Bowman. You can continue the conversation online using #makethefuture.

Science
1,516
The Left has right on its side
Intelligence Squared

Letís be honest. Itís the political Left that has societyís best interests at heart, that works for the good of all. It has always been the Left that has struggled to protect the weak from the strong, that has fought for workersí rights, for sexual and racial equality, for the welfare state. It is the Left that now challenges abuses of power by corporations and financial institutions. And it is the Left that seeks to build a world based on mutual respect, not individualistic self-seeking. It is the Left, not the Right, that has right on its side. Yet according to conservatives, it is precisely that self-regard, that attempt to monopolise virtue, which exposes the hypocrisy of left-wing ideology. To flaunt your concern for your fellow man doesnít make you right ñ it just gives you the smug glow of virtue signalling. In fact, by expanding the state, overtaxing the rich and splurging benefits on the poor, the Left has always damaged society by crippling peopleís natural instinct to better themselves. It is the Right, by championing free markets, free choice and social cohesion, that has right on its side. Speaking for the motion were Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy and Guardian journalist and polemicist George Monbiot. Speaking against the motion were Conservative MP for Spelthorne Kwasi Kwarteng and Britainís leading philosopher of conservative thought Roger Scruton. The event was chaired by Razia Iqbal, one of the main presenters of Newshour and a regular presenter of The World Tonight on Radio 4.

News & Politics
2,283
James Rhodes And Armando Iannucci on the Transformative Power of Music
Intelligence Squared

In February 2018 Intelligence Squared brought Armando Iannucci and James Rhodes to our stage to discuss the transcendent power of music. Rhodes is known as the wild man of concert pianists. His approach to the piano is raw and unbridled, his tousled hair a whirl, his hands a blur over the keyboard – the diametric opposite to the composed figure in white tie and tails of classical music convention. He is as likely to play the Latitude pop music festival as the Albert Hall. His knowledge of, and passion for, the great composers is also unrestrained, pouring forth in recitals, documentaries, best-selling albums and his 2015 memoir, Instrumental. The extraordinary thing is that this virtuoso has no formal musical education. He had a place at the Guildhall but was unable to go, due to mental health issues brought on by harrowing sexual abuse at his London prep school. In his forthcoming book, Fire on All Sides, Rhodes airs his daily struggles with mental illness during a gruelling concert tour. In the depths of Rhodes’s sadness, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin were his solace. The lives of the great composers – as much as their music – inspired Rhodes’s recovery and his mission to spread the word about their genius. Armando Iannucci is Britain’s leading comedy writer, the creator of Alan Partridge, Veep and The Thick of It. But he is also an obsessive classical music fan, devoted since he was 11 to what he calls ‘the single most inspiring, most moving, most magical thread running through my whole cultural experience’. Although it is comedy that made his name, it is classical music that is his most comforting art form. In his latest book, Hear Me Out, he tells the story of his lifelong love for music. It isn’t just the canon – particularly Beethoven, Bach and Mahler – that he adores, but also modern composers like Philip Glass and John Adams. Although Iannucci proclaims himself a curious amateur rather than a technical expert, he has composed a complete libretto to a surreal, comic opera about plastic surgery, called ‘Face’. Like Rhodes, Iannucci is concerned that the British don’t talk about classical music enough. He longs to enthuse the public with his conviction that the greatest artistic miracle of all is man’s ability to create something as extraordinary as Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Rhodes shares Iannucci’s reverence for the work – he is currently recording a BBC Radio 4 documentary on Glenn Gould, the greatest interpreter of the Variations. Listen to these two evangelists for the power of sound, as they explain how music transformed their lives.

Storytelling
1,797
Ten Years On: The Financial Crisis and the State of Modern Capitalism
Intelligence Squared

It’s been ten years since we saw suddenly unemployed Lehman Brothers bankers carrying their possessions out of their offices in boxes; since whole neighbourhoods in suburban America turned into empty ghost towns; since the British and American governments pumped trillions into the banking system, saving some institutions and abandoning others. The crash of 2008 and 2009 shook the very foundations of modern capitalism. So where are we today? Although we may have been spared a second Great Depression, post-crisis productivity has flatlined and the last decade has seen Britain’s worst pay squeeze since the nineteenth century. And according to some, the seeds of today’s political upheavals, from Brexit to Trump to the Corbyn surge, were sown during the 2008 crash, which irreparably damaged public trust in the establishment and its institutions. To look back at this critical moment for the global economy and examine its repercussions today, Intelligence Squared brought together a panel of the country’s top economic experts: Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England during the crash and its aftermath; acclaimed UCL Economics Professor Mariana Mazzucato, who recently advised Jeremy Corbyn on industrial strategy; and Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, a think tank focusing on improving the living standards of those on low incomes. Chairing the discussion will be the BBC’s economics editor Kamal Ahmed. Has enough been done to regulate the banks and protect our economy from future shocks? Is it only a matter of time before we face a new, even worse crash? And did we let the crisis go to waste by failing to rethink the system and rebalance the economy away from financial services?

News & Politics
2,435
Brian Cox and Alice Roberts on the Incredible Unlikeliness of Human Existence
Intelligence Squared

Who are we? Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? How did we become the creatures that we are? How might we further evolve? These are some of the big questions that Brian Cox and Alice Roberts tackled when they came to the Intelligence Squared stage in December. Brian Cox is the rockstar who became a scientist, and is now a rockstar scientist. He is known to millions as the presenter of the BBC Wonders series in which he unravels the complexities of the universe with calm clarity and an infectious sense of wonder. Alice Roberts is a no less talented science story-teller. A doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist and writer, she has enthralled television audiences with BBC series such as The Incredible Human Journey. In this wide-ranging conversation Cox and Roberts discussed the origins of the universe, life and humanity – and you. You’re the product of what seems to be an extremely unlikely chain of events. Our universe was born with just the right laws for galaxies to form, with at least one planet capable of producing and sustaining life. The origin of muliticellular life on this planet was essentially an accident; the mammals were lucky to outlive the dinosaurs; a handful of two-legged apes survived, against the odds, on the plains of Africa… and then there’s the unlikeliness of your mother meeting your father and that particular sperm fusing with that particular egg. The chance of you being here at all is tiny. How can physics and biology help us to make sense of all that unlikeliness? How did chance and accident combine to create us?

Science
3,048
Inside The Head Of Terry Gilliam
Intelligence Squared

Terry Gilliam is one of the most multifaceted, visionary talents alive. He first found fame as a member of Monty Python, the surreal comedy troupe that has had a cult following since its inception in 1969 right up to today. Had Gilliam stopped there, his artistic immortality would have been guaranteed. But over the decades his talent has rampaged across different genres – comedy, opera and above all cinema. He ranks among the tiny handful of film directors the world’s leading actors will drop everything for. Hollywood royalty including Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Uma Thurman and Johnny Depp have flocked to work on his masterpieces Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In October 2015, Gilliam made an exclusive appearance at Royal Festival Hall, presented by Intelligence Squared and Southbank Centre. Joined on stage by BBC arts editor Will Gompertz, he took us on an immersive, multimedia journey through the many inspirations he has drawn on — from the Bible and Mad magazine to Grimm’s fairy tales and the films of Powell and Pressburger. Listen as we venture inside the mind of the filmmaker once described as ‘half genius and half madman’, whose popularity has remained undimmed for almost half a century.

Comedy
1,452
Caitlyn Jenner on Identity and Self-Realisation
Intelligence Squared

This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast was recorded in a studio in London's Soho. We were joined by Caitlyn Jenner, the world's most famous transgender woman, as she talked with the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland about US politics, Caitlyn's fascinating personal journey and the recent revolution in how people think and talk about gender and sexuality.

Entertainment
1,334
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