On BBC Radio 4’s “Start the Week”, veteran journalist Mary Ann Sieghart explores how far leaders and governments have shaped our world. She is joined by historian Tom Holland, archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, curator Julia Farley, and best-selling author Matt Ridley.
Drawing from his new book, “The Evolution of Everything” (2015), Matt Ridley dismisses the assumption that history has been made by those on high, whether in government, business or religion, and argues for a system of evolution in which ideas and events develop from the bottom up.
He gives the example of how things like the English language or the economy emerged – nobody invented it, nobody is in charge of it. Matt explains that these sorts of phenomena are all around us, and points to Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson who attributes these achievements to collective human action, rather than human design.
Another example can be seen with the evolution of technology, which goes through a process of trial and error; if Thomas Edison died of an electric shock, we know that there were at least another 23 people who were close to inventing the lightbulb.
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Professor Peter Bofinger, one of Angela Merkel’s council of “wise men”, says that whilst he has some sympathy for the Greek’s position, he believes that austerity is not the answer to Greece’s problems. Instead, he suggests that the most important action is to develop a grow trajectory for Greece which is realistic.
Professor Bofinger goes on to add that if Angela Merkel were running the US economy, the world would be in a depression now.
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BBC Radio 4’s annual prediction fest, moderated by veteran political journalist Mark Mardell, looks ahead to the major geopolitical developments in 2015.
Trying to guess what disruptions might be in store on the global stage is certainly a risky game; after all, no-one last year saw the rise of the Islamic State, the annexation of Crimea or the Ebola outbreak. Nonetheless, Mark invites the BBC’s top international news correspondents to discuss the major news stories to come in 2015, the people to watch out for, and the elements that will shape the year ahead.
He is joined by chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, China editor Carrie Gracie, business editor Kamal Ahmed and diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall.
What will happen in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine – and how will it affect the rest of us in Europe? Will Britain and other Western nations succeed in stopping the advance of the group calling itself Islamic State – and which other countries’ help will they need to obtain? What are the prospects for the global economy? And how will China flex its muscles on the international stage?
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In a new programme for BBC Radio 4, “The Devolutionaries: Powering Up England’s Cities”, BBC Breakfast business presenter Steph McGovern explores proposals to devolve more powers to England’s cities.
There are growing calls for devolving more powers to England’s cities in the wake of the Scottish referendum. Proponents argue that devolving more power to cities, enabling them to take decisions about taxes and spending, could be the key to making them grow. Compared with other countries, the UK is highly centralised and the devolutionaries believe it is holding back cities outside London from growing.
Steph looks at these arguments, hearing from economist Jim O’Neill, who has chaired a year-long investigation into the subject, the City Growth Commission, which publishes its final report later this month. She finds out why Jim believes it is important for cities outside London to be able to grow into metro regions, in the way that American cities like Boston have been able to recover from deindustrialisation. Steph also meets civic leaders in Manchester and hears about their innovative “earnback” scheme for investing in new infrastructure, finds out how proposals for fiscal devolution might work and how such plans will require new forms of accountability, such as proposals for city mayors.
The show kicks off tonight (Monday 13 October) from 20.00-20.30. Click here for more information.
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Tune into BBC Radio 4 to catch up with Adair Turner, Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, who featured on the weekly discussion programme, Start the Week, which sets the cultural agenda every Monday.
Today, Adair focused on the politics of finance, arguing that structural reforms may be required to avoid future financial disasters. He explained that rather than these being purely governmental failures, banks should accept the majority of responsibility, partly because their trading activities are ‘socially useless.’
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For more information, or to book Adair Turner as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.
Last night, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, one of America’s top foreign policy experts and practitioners, featured on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight to talk about possible outcomes from today’s Geneva II Middle East peace conference.
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