Now in its eighth year, the Battle of Ideas is London’s foremost public forum for debating the big issues of day. This year’s event, organised as ever by the Institute of Ideas, takes place at the Barbican Centre on 20-21 October and offers perhaps its most varied programme yet.
Panel discussions range across politics, science, law, media, economics and a dozen other things we could append to the list. Over 80 sessions (PDF) are crammed into the two day conference. Closing our eyes and dropping the index finger randomly on just four conjures up the following sampler: “Bored of the Booker”, “Racism Today: Alive And Kicking?”, “Why Isn’t Poverty History Yet?” and “Atheism: What’s The Point?”.
Plenty of ideas, then. But is the Battle of Ideas really a Battle? While the organisers clearly don’t want an exchange of cannon fire, they’re certainly hoping for some verbal fireworks:
“No doubt many of the ideas expressed at the festival will be contentious; no doubt sensibilities will be offended. But let’s hold our nerve. After all, as the name suggests, the Battle of Ideas is not afraid of dissenting opinions and encourages people to speak their minds…The festival’s slogan is FREE SPEECH ALLOWED, and we mean it.”
So, gloves off, but thinking caps on.