In September 2000, the Centre inaugurated a three-year programme on Challenges to Democratic Politics in the 21st Century, coordinated by Melissa Lane (Centre for History and Economics) and Richard Tuck (Department of Government, Harvard University). Based jointly at Harvard University and Cambridge University the programme has explored two distinct but related themes. The first is the theoretical skepticism about the value and possibility of electoral decision-making which marked American political science in the 1950s in the work of Arrow and Downs, and was related to other sources of skepticism about the value of majoritarian politics and electoral competition in the work of Hayek and Schumpeter. Such currents remain influential today even though official advocacy of democracy runs counter to them. Arguments for unelected central banks, for example, draw on the idea that certain policies are too important to be left to the representatives of the citizenry to decide. Meetings on this theme, exploring the relation of electoral democracy to other basic political values, have included those listed below on ‘Representation’; ‘Democracy and Security’; and ‘Democracy and Political Science in the 1950s’.
The second theme explored in the programme has been the nature of democratic legitimacy in contexts where electoral control is viewed as either impossible or undesirable. In this connection, we have explored for example the political roles of corporations and global philanthropy, and the possibility of accountability and legitimacy for such institutions. Meetings on this theme have included those listed below on ‘The New Philanthropy and its Significance for International Institutions: The Case of Education’; ‘Agency, Accountability, and Obligations of Corporations’; and ‘The New Philanthropy and its Significance for International Institutions: The Case of Health’.
A small meeting on Friedrich von Hayek and The Road to Serfdom: 1944-2004, organised by Melissa Lane and Sylvia Nasar in June 2004, considered The Road to Serfdom in its historical context after sixty years. Participants included historians of Britain, of continental Europe, and of the longer and wider history of ideas, together with economists, political theorists, and a journalist, and several people who had known Hayek intimately. The Road to Serfdom emerged as a warning message from the world which Hayek had left – the world of planned economics carried out by socialist (Vienna in the 1920s) and fascist governments alike – to the world of Keynes, Beveridge, and the wartime debate over whether planning and in particular, a policy of a full employment, should be continued into peacetime. A further world in which the text must be situated was that of economic theory and thinking in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Participants also stressed the intended audience of The Road to Serfdom, in particular the opinion-formers (journalists, politicians) whom Hayek believed to be crucial in effecting historical and intellectual change, and its significance as a turning point in Hayek’s work, in which he began to put his great insight about the distribution of information in the market into the framework of history, psychology, and political philosophy. Click for the programme. Click for a list of participants.
A meeting on The Forms of Political Representation, organised by Melissa Lane and David Runciman, was held on 25 September 2003 in King’s College, Cambridge. The aim of the meeting was to focus on political representation while bracketing (for purposes of discussion) the question of democracy, and to see what could be learned about political representation by considering ideas of representation in art, theology, and law. Papers were presented by David Runciman (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge) on Political Representation, with a commentary by Ross Harrison; by Frank Ankersmit (History, Groningen) on Aesthetic Representation, with a commentary by Melissa Lane; by Monica Brito-Vieira (History, Cambridge) on Representation in Theology: Hobbes, with a commentary by Ben Quash (Divinity, Cambridge); and by Janet McLean (Faculty of Law, Auckland) on Representation in Law, with a commentary by David Howarth (Law, Cambridge). Other participants included John Dunn (Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge); David Hugh-Jones (Government, Essex); Istvan Hont (History, Cambridge); Duncan Kelly (Politics, Sheffield); Ruth Scurr (Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge); Michael Sonenscher (History, Cambridge); Janet Soskice (Divinity, Cambridge); and Wim Weymans (Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Policy, Leuven). Click for the programme. Click for a list of participants.
A meeting on The New Philanthropy and its Significance for International Institutions: The Case of Education, organised by Melissa Lane, was held on 2-3 May 2003 in King's College, Cambridge. The meeting was conceived as a parallel to the one held on health two years ago (see below), drawing on democratic theory to illuminate the question of legitimacy of philanthropic initiatives in international education. Papers for the meeting examined the current state of American philanthropic funding of international educational initiatives (Paula Johnson), changes in the nature of philanthropy and the public sector in Indian higher education (Pratap Mehta), the involvement of philanthropy in education in nineteenth century Britain (Joe Bord), and (in a discussion note) the legitimacy of philanthropic initiatives in international education (Melissa Lane). Participants included Sunil Amrith (Faculty of History and Christ's College, Cambridge), Joe Bord (Trinity College, Cambridge), Roy Carr-Hill (Institute for Education, London), Lincoln Chen (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), Martha Chen (Harvard University), Shaila Fennell (Development Studies, Cambridge), Sarah Hodges (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University), Paula Johnson (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), Ananya Kabir (Centre for History and Economics), Pratap Mehta (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), Andrea Sangiovanni (Harvard University), Amartya Sen (Trinity College, Cambridge), Emma Rothschild, Gareth Stedman Jones, and Rosie Vaughan (Centre for History and Economics).
A one-day meeting was held on Democracy and Security in January 2003 in the Saltmarsh Rooms in King’s College, Cambridge. Richard Tuck delivered a paper on Democracy and Terrorism, and Melissa Lane presented a paper on Security, Compensation and the Purposes of the State. Amongst participants were Ze’ev Emmerich (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge), John Grimond (The Economist), Ross Harrison (Faculty of Philosophy and King’s College, Cambridge), Istvan Hont (King’s College, Cambridge), Emma Rothschild, Andrea SanGiovanni and Gareth Stedman Jones.
A meeting on Democracy and Political Science in the 1950s was held in King’s College, Cambridge on 2 July 2002. The meeting was based on a paper by Richard Tuck on Kenneth Arrow and the High Theory of Democracy in the 1950s and examined the formative period of late twentieth-century political ideas, in which the characteristic features of the modern discussion of democracy were born. These include the analysis of the rationality of conventional voting systems, associated with the work of Anthony Downs; the general theory of preference aggregation, found in Kenneth Arrow’s work; and the contrasts between ‘totalitarian’ or ‘mass’ democracy (thought to have been at the heart of both Nazism and Bolshevism) and liberal democratic politics. Amongst participants were Istvan Hont, Ross Harrison, Melissa Lane and Richard Tuck.
In January 2002, a meeting was organised by Melissa Lane on Agency, Accountability and Obligations of Corporations in King’s College, Cambridge. There were two sessions: Corporations as Artificial Persons and Popular Acceptability and Accountability of Actions by Corporations and their Interlocutors. Participants included Mark Bovens (Utrecht School of Law), Simon Deakin (Judge Institute of Management, Cambridge), David Howarth (Department of Land Economy and Clare College, Cambridge), Emma Rothschild, David Runciman (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge), Tom Sorell (Department of Philosophy, University of Essex), Gareth Stedman Jones and Richard Tuck.
A meeting on The New Philanthropy and its Significance for International Institutions: The Case of Health, organised by Melissa Lane, was held on 5-6 July 2001 in St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Participants included Sunil Amrith (Faculty of History and Christ’s College, Cambridge), Lincoln Chen (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies), Joshua Cohen (Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT), Helen Epstein (Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard), Tim Evans (Rockefeller Foundation), Pratap Mehta (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), Emma Rothschild, Carl Tham (Olof Palme International Center) and Richard Tuck. Background papers for the conference were provided by Melissa Lane on Global Health and Global Philanthropy: Issues for Democratic Theory, Lincoln Chen and Tim Evans on Public-Private Partnerships in Global Health, Helen Epstein on AIDS in Africa: Globalization's Achilles Heel, and Sunil Amrith on The Crisis of Public Institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The first meeting to plan the programme was held at Harvard on 16 September 2000, and was attended by Melissa Lane, Richard Tuck, Emma Rothschild, Peter Hall (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), Istvan Hont, Andrew Moravcsik (Department of Government, Harvard University), Pasquale Pasquino (School of Law, New York University) and Anne-Marie Slaughter (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University).
It was followed up by a meeting held at King’s College on 23 February 2001. Participants included Joshua Cohen, Ross Harrison, David Held (LSE), Istvan Hont, Emma Rothschild, David Runciman, Gareth Stedman Jones, Helen Thompson and Richard Tuck. The discussion drew on Helen Thompson's research on the European Central Bank as a springboard to address fundamental questions of sovereignty and accountability.
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