The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday, June 10th, at 1.45pm in Veritas Bar.

Following on from the Headingley Festival of Ideas and in particular John Douglas’s introduction to a discussion on borders and nation states we will consider the prospects for “Western liberal democracies”.

In the 90’s Francis Fukuyama in “The End of History and the Last Man” claimed that this model had no competitors and was the historically discovered form of government. Now the existing liberal democracies are threatened by independence movements like those in Scotland, Catalonia and Ukraine. Institutions such as a free press, an independent judiciary, separation of powers and representative democracy are under assault from right wing populists. The Western form of government has proved difficult to export through regime change in Iraq and Libya and unsustainable in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Meanwhile borders are again in the news: the Irish border, the border between Mexico and the US and the external border of the EU as well  as those between EU states. The Dutch historian Rutger Bregman has offered a radically different take on the problem in “Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There” . He suggests that borders should be removed alongside the introduction of a universal income and a 15 hour working week.

John Douglas


Next week the Headingley Festival of Ideas features two meetings of interest.

On Wednesday the 22nd of May, a meeting of THINK, the Headingley PIPs group, is called “A Focus on Veganism”. Pauline will ask,  ‘What boundaries do we set ourselves on what we are prepared to eat?’.
This will be held in Heart cafe from 7pm to 9pm

On Friday the 24th of May, John Douglas will give a talk on “Memory, Amnesia and Nation States”. John will explore three approaches to nation states and their borders – the realist, idealist and critical; providing the basis for a participatory and lively discussion.
The venue is the New Headingley Club, 7.30pm to 9pm.

Festival of Ideas

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday, May 13th, at 1.45pm in Veritas Bar.

The topic is “The Gender Question”.

While in our society there is the acceptance of same-sex relationships and few roles are considered to be exclusively male or female, the issue of gender identity is still in dispute. The attached text sets out the background and some of the questions which are raised.

Gender – Its Meaning and Future.doc

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday, April 8th, at 1.45pm in Veritas Bar.

We are looking at the ways in which discussions and debates often lead to polarisation and deadlock instead of agreement and resolution.

Putting aside fake news and alternative facts, we will try and identify the rhetorical tricks, dodgy analogies and errors in logic which frustrate reasoned argument.

A popular introduction to this subject is “Straight and Crooked Thinking” by Robert Thouless. The full text is available on line. An edition updated by C.R. Thouless (his grandson) is in print.

This site deals with the related topic of fallacies:

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday, February 11th, at 1.45pm in Veritas Bar.

Ian will introduce a discussion on “Cults and Conspiracies.”

Is it possible for groups to hold unorthodox or unfashionable views without creating a cult? Can one have suspicions about the motives of the rich and powerful without subscribing to fanciful conspiracy theories? What connect cults with conspiracies?

The next meeting of Talking Allowed in Leeds is on Monday, January 14th, at 1.45pm in Veritas Bar.

Our topic is “Nationalism v. patriotism.”

Emmanuel Macron, in November, said in a speech, “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism”. What did he mean, and do we agree?