The Rise of Populism and the Backlash Against the Elites

With Nick Clegg and Jonathan Haidt

Monday 21 November 2016, 7pm | VIDEO & PODCAST NOW ONLINE

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What is going on in the Western democracies? From Britain’s vote for Brexit, to Donald Trump’s election victory in America and the growth of populist movements across Europe, voters are expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Economic anxieties go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose. In this special Intelligence Squared event, renowned American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and politician Nick Clegg examined the complex web of social, moral and political concerns that are driving the unrest. How can we explain the new illiberalism that is growing on both left and right, as authoritarian trends spread across campuses throughout the Anglosphere (the no-platforming of speakers being a typical example)? How should we understand the new ‘culture war’ emerging in Britain, America and elsewhere between the ‘globalists’ and ‘nationalists’?

As deputy prime minister during the Coalition government, Clegg witnessed the upheaval in British politics from the inside. Haidt, author of the acclaimed bestseller The Righteous Mind, has long been studying the moral and cultural drives that divide people into different political camps.

Together they discussed how the West’s longstanding liberal institutions and traditions can be updated for the 21st century, and what kind of future lies ahead for post-Brexit Britain.

Praise for Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind

“A landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself”
– The New York Times

“A truly seminal book”
– David Goodhart, Prospect

Praise for Nick Clegg’s Politics: Between the Extremes

“Essential reading for anyone fearful of the rise of populist extremism”
– Robert Peston

“A compelling account from the inside of the strange, sad death of liberal Britain”
– Ian McEwan

Nick Clegg

Leader of the Liberal Democrats for eight years from 2007, and deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2015. He has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam since 2005, and is now the party’s European Union spokesperson. His new book, Politics: Between the Extremes, is part memoir and part call to arms on the need to reform our political institutions and restore belief in the values of liberalism.

Jonathan Haidt

Psychologist whose work focuses on the moral foundations of politics. He is Professor of Business Ethics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His books include The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics.


Speakers are subject to change.