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Is The West Fundamentally Racist?

With Kehinde Andrews and Jeremy Black

The West is rich because the rest is poor. Capitalism is racism. So argues Kehinde Andrews, academic and self-described Black radical, who comes to Intelligence Squared on March 29 to set out the ideas in his latest book,The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World

The West, Andrews will contend, prides itself on being founded on the three great revolutions of science, industry and politics. But the cornerstones of the West, he will argue, are in fact genocide, slavery and colonialism. And the European Enlightenment, which underlies every part of modern thought, was from its outset profoundly racist. Colonial oppression, he will say, is not just part of our history: it still operates today, with America at the helm, perpetuating global inequality through business, government and institutions like the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.

Wrong, says eminent historian Jeremy Black. All that is a complete misrepresentation of the historical and present-day facts, Black will counter in this timely event. It’s simply not accurate, he will say, to deny the importance of science, industry and politics in the formation of Western culture – or indeed the benefits we still derive from them. All our modern ideas of freedom, equality, individual rights and universal values can be traced back to the Enlightenment, he will claim. Yes, racism still exists in modern societies but it is disingenous to argue that it defines life in the 21st century as fundamentally as it did during the time of slavery and direct colonisation. ‘Western values’ don’t belong just to white people they are the tools for all of humanity to build a better world.


Speakers

Speakers

Kehinde Andrews

Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University and author of The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World


Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, a regular opinion writer for the Guardian and editor of the series ‘Blackness in Britain’. He was part of the team that launched the first Black Studies degree in Europe, is co-chair of the Black Studies Association and Chair of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity. He is author of Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century and most recently The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World.

Jeremy Black

Historian and author of over 100 books, many of which concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European and American history


Historian and author of over 100 books, many of which concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European and American political, diplomatic and military history. His publications include A Brief History of Slavery; The British Empire: A History and a Debate; Imperial Legacies: The British Empire Around the World and most recently A History of the 20th Century: Conflict, Technology & Rock'n'Roll.
Chair

Anne McElvoy

Senior Editor at The Economist and head of Economist Radio podcasts


Senior Editor at The Economist and head of Economist Radio podcasts. She is a regular presenter of arts and politics shows on Radio 3 and Radio 4, and a panellist on the BBC's Moral Maze. She also writes a weekly political column on British and European politics for the Evening Standard.

 

Speakers subject to change.