363 episodes

Coronavirus! Climate! Brexit! Trump! Politics has never been more unpredictable, more alarming or more interesting: Talking Politics is the podcast that tries to make sense of it all. Every week David Runciman and Helen Thompson talk to the most interesting people around about the ideas and events that shape our world: from history to economics, from philosophy to fiction. What does the future hold?
Can democracy survive? How crazy will it get? This is the political conversation that matters.


Talking Politics is brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, Europe's leading magazine of books and ideas.
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TALKING POLITICS Talking Politics

    • News
    • 4.7 • 596 Ratings

Coronavirus! Climate! Brexit! Trump! Politics has never been more unpredictable, more alarming or more interesting: Talking Politics is the podcast that tries to make sense of it all. Every week David Runciman and Helen Thompson talk to the most interesting people around about the ideas and events that shape our world: from history to economics, from philosophy to fiction. What does the future hold?
Can democracy survive? How crazy will it get? This is the political conversation that matters.


Talking Politics is brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, Europe's leading magazine of books and ideas.
Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics

    Hilary Mantel

    Hilary Mantel

    In a special episode recorded in front of a live audience, Helen and David talk to Hilary Mantel about power, monarchy and political intrigue. From the Tudors to the present, from Henry VIII to Boris Johnson, from Thomas Cromwell to Dominic Cummings. A fascinating insight into politics and the writer’s imagination, from one of the greatest modern novelists.


    Mentioned in this Episode: 
    - Mantel Pieces, a new collection of Hilary’s LRB essays
    - ‘Royal Bodies’ (from 2013)
    - The Wolf Hall trilogy
    - A Place of Greater Safety 
    - David and Helen on Hilary Mantel (from April 2020)


    And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
     
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    • 53 min
    Free with Lea Ypi

    Free with Lea Ypi

    David talks with Lea Ypi about her astonishing new memoir Free: Coming of Age at the End of History, which tells the story of her childhood in Stalinist Albania and what came after. It’s a tale of family secrets, political oppression and the promise of liberation - and a profound meditation on what it really means to be free. From Marxism to liberalism and back again, this is a conversation that brings political ideas to life. Lea Ypi is Professor of Political Theory at the LSE and Free has been shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize


    Talking Points: 


    Albania was a socialist country that went through various alliances.
    - By the time that Lea was born, it was largely isolated.
    - The dominant narrative was that Albania was a country surrounded by empires, which stood on the moral high-ground.
    - In other words, it was socialist and anti-imperialist but also fiercely nationalist. 


    For Albania, the key year was not 1989 but 1990.
    - Initially, dissidents were described as ‘hooligans.’
    - In December 1990, protesters requested political pluralism.


    How do we conceptualize freedom? 
    - People in Western countries often relate to non-liberal societies by conceptualizing themselves as liberators.
    - What does freedom mean in a limit-case like Albania? 
    - There is a risk of paternalism in the dominant liberal conceptions of freedom. There are always margins of dissidence.
    - What does it feel like to suddenly gain freedom in the liberal sense? How does this affect relations between generations?


    For Lea, freedom is about being the author of your own fate, even when it seems overdetermined.
    - Studying political ideas can make one a nihilist, or you can choose to believe that there is something about humans that is inherently moral.
    - In other words, freedom is moral agency.


    Mentioned in this Episode: 
    - Lea’s new book, Free
    - Lea on political legitimacy in Marxist perspective
    - Book tickets for our upcoming event with Hilary Mantel


    Further Learning: 
    - Lea in the Guardian on growing up in Europe’s last communist state
    - More on Albania after the fall of communism from the FT
    - More on Enver Hoxha
    - More on the Albanian-Soviet split
    - Lea talks to David and Helen about states of emergency
    - TP History of Ideas on Fukuyama and the ‘End of History’
     
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    • 56 min
    German Lessons

    German Lessons

    David and Helen are joined by Politico’s chief Europe correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig to explore the consequences of the German elections. Who were the real winners and losers? Are there lessons for centre-left parties in other countries, including the Labour Party in Britain? And what are the choices facing Germany as it decides on its place in an increasingly unstable world? Plus we ask whether this was a Covid election. If not, why not?


    Talking Points:


    What was surprising about the German elections?
    - To expect something is different from seeing it actually happen.


    Do campaigns make a difference to election outcomes? 
    - In this case, it looks like it did. It was pretty clear that Laschet was a poor candidate.
    - Laschet’s response to the floods was a turning point.


    Scholz prevailed because of his experience—he isn’t perceived as a change candidate.
    - The SPD base has moved to the left, but Scholz is more of a centrist. 
    - The CDU, on the other hand, was much less stable. 


    Most German voters wanted change, and yet it is the continuity Merkel candidate who is most likely to become the next chancellor.
    - This reflects grand coalition politics. Merkel pushed the Christian Democrats into the space of the Social Democrats. 
    - But the initiative to form this government is coming from the change parties: the Greens and the FDP. 


    The parties seem to believe that their differences are bridgeable. 
    - The two smaller parties are more popular among younger people. 
    - Change might be driven from below. 
    - The larger party only has about 26 percent; this gives the other parties more leverage.
    - What kind of change would be embraced by both the FDP and the Greens? 


    Mentioned in this Episode:
    - Peter Tiede on German schadenfreude in the Times
    - The German election results
    - What are the coalition options after Germany’s election? 


    Further Learning: 
    - Matthew Karnitschnig on Olaf Scholz, the ‘teflon candidate’
    - More on Merkel’s legacy for the FT
    - More on Germany policy towards China
    - Background on the Scholz money-laundering scandal
    - Our most recent episode on Germany


    Hear more of Matthew on Politico's podcast on European politics, EU Confidential, which he hosts.


    And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
     
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    • 53 min
    Shutdown/Confronting Leviathan

    Shutdown/Confronting Leviathan

    We’re back from our summer break with David, Helen and Adam Tooze exploring what the pandemic has revealed about politics, economics and the new world order. From Covid crisis to China crisis to climate crisis: how does it all fit together? And what comes next? Adam’s new book is Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy. Plus David talks about his new book based on series one of History of Ideas: Confronting Leviathan. 


    Talking Points:


    The term ‘lockdown’ can be misleading. Many aspects of the response were not top-down.
    - Most of the reduction in mobility predated government mandate.
    - The financial markets made huge moves and central banks then had to step in.
    - The popular response cannot be separated from the actions of the state.


    The term ‘shutdown’ better captures the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
    - Huge parts of the productive economy literally ground to a halt. 
    - It seems like central banks learned something from the last crisis.
    - Is there still a realistic prospect of normalization? Adam and Helen are skeptical. 


    Is there such thing as democratic money?
    - If so, then democracy has changed.
    - The condition of possibility for the freedom of action of central bankers is a political vacuum.
    - Parts of the left see an opportunity in monetary politics. 


    The entire monetary order in China is political, but there was a debate within the regime over stimulus.
    - The conservatives won out.
    - Some Western financial leaders used this to push back against central bankers in their own countries. 


    The Republican party is becoming increasingly incoherent.
    - Some, such as Mnuchin, emphasize the structural necessity of some kind of continuity. 
    - Others, such as Jay Powell, argue that the priority is confronting China. 
    - There is an ongoing de-centering from the West in a dollar-based world. 


    The U.S.-China competition has changed. 
    - We have moved from a realm of competition over GDP growth rates to a much starker contest involving hard power.
    - The tech sanctions are a sovereignty issue, not just an economic issue.


    Mentioned in this Episode:
    - Adam’s new book, Shutdown
    - James Meadway on neoliberalism
    - Rudiger Dornbusch, Essays (1998/2001)
    - Quinn Slobodian on right-wing globalists
    - Perry Anderson’s review of Adam’s work, and Adam’s response
    - Marx’s Capital Volume 1
    - Helen’s book, Oil and the Western Economic Crisis
    - Daniela Gabor on macrofinance 
    - Niklas Luhmann on social systems
    - David’s new book, Confronting Leviathan


    Further Learning:
    - Adam’s new podcast, Ones and Tooze
    - Adam for the LRB on the rise of China
    - From the archives… talking to Adam about the pandemic in March 2020


    And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
     
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Q & A with Helen and David: Trump and Everything Else

    Q & A with Helen and David: Trump and Everything Else

    Our final session of answering your questions, starting with Trump and moving on to where we get our ideas from and what we've learned from all our failed predictions. Plus, were the 1990s really the decade of missed opportunity? After this, Talking Politics is taking a summer break. We will be back in September with lots of new things to talk about. See you then! We hope you have a lovely summer and thank you so much for listening.
     
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    • 53 min
    Q & A With Helen and David: UK Politics and the Union

    Q & A With Helen and David: UK Politics and the Union

    The second part of our attempt to answer your questions, this week covering British politics. Helen and David tackle whether Labour can win, what happened to the Lib Dems, where the Greens are heading and what's in store for the Union. Plus, how much is being held together by the Queen and what will happen when she is no longer around? Next week, Trump, and much more.


    Talking UK Politics… 


    Our State of the Union Series: 
    - On Scotland
    - On Northern Ireland
    - On Wales
    - On England


    From our archives:
    - Election Fallout (May 2021)
    - Where is the Opposition? (December 2020)
    - Labour and Brexit: Beyond the Crisis (May 2020)
    - What’s the Future for Labour? (January 2020)
    - Party like it’s 1974 (November 2019)
    - The Party Splits! (In 1846!)
    - Who is Jeremy Corbyn? (February 2018)


    And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
     
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    Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
596 Ratings

596 Ratings

danimal303 ,

Wonderfully informative, a treasure!

David Runciman and his team produce a terrific podcast. Although originating in the UK it takes a thorough and eclectic view of world events and ideas to be of universal interest.

Helena Tica ,

Great podcast

My favorite guest is Gary Gerstle.

Expat^2 ,

Curtis episode is a low point

Letting Curtis jam and jazz on every topic as if he knew what he was talking about is a disservice to your audience.

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