Galbraith Lecturer looks at moral roots of economic crisisBy Janet Harron
It’s been just over a year since the Wall Street collapse that triggered the worst global financial setback since the Great Depression.
What lessons have we learned in the past year as a result of this collapse? And besides the purely financial, what causes might have contributed to the severity of the recession?
It’s fitting, perhaps, that a lecture series founded by one of the great economists of our time, is attempting to answer some of these questions.
On Oct. 16, the John Kenneth Galbraith Lecture in Public Policy is hosting Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, who will speak on The Moral Roots of Economic Crisis.
Dr. Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name of Dr. Anthony Daniels, a philosopher, physician, psychiatrist, world traveller, sociologist, journalist and critic. He has worked as a doctor in Africa and the South Pacific, and also been a foreign correspondent in several war-torn countries. Until his recent retirement he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a British prison, and in a general hospital. He is commonly referred to as “the George Orwell of our time,” as his writing produces a body of thought that is deeply suspicious of contemporary intellectual fashions.
“Dr. Dalrymple was chosen by the selection committee for his ability to take an unflinching look at societal problems — such as criminality, domestic violence, drug addiction, aggressive youths, hooliganism, and broken families — and to associate these problems with a decrease in civilized behaviour on the part of ordinary citizens,” said Mike Clair, associate director, Public Policy, at the Harris Centre. “According to Dr. Dalrymple, the decline of civilized behaviour (such as self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, and detachment) is a disaster for social and personal life.”
In his analysis of economic crises, John Kenneth Galbraith gave a great deal of attention to human conduct. Dr. Dalrymple’s lecture will address how peoples’ fear of inflation and the resulting loss of faith in the value of money, promotes greed and encourages speculation. He argues that, although greed is an integral part of nature, it can be controlled and asks what safeguards can be put in place to control greed. He also considers the role of individual responsibility and what we can do to bring more sanity to economics in order to prevent a similar calamity from occurring again.
Dr. Dalrymple/Daniels has written 16 books on an extensive amount of topics including culture, arts, politics, education, medicine and travel. His published works include Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass (2001), In Praise of Prejudice (2007) and Not with a Bang But a Whimper (2008). Theodore Dalrymple is Dietrich Weismann Fellow of the Manhattan Institute of New York.
The free public Galbraith Lecture takes place at 7:30 p.m., in the Inco Innovation Centre, Lecture Theatre room IIC-2001. Questions and discussion will be invited from the audience. A reception will follow.
The Galbraith Lecture Series in Public Policy is an initiative of Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre and the Offices of the President and the Dean of Arts.
The annual event brings to Memorial outstanding figures whose work reflects excellence in scholarship and public affairs. It is intended to help put significant, timely and complex issues in context.
The series was made possible through a generous donation from Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith, the internationally-renowned Harvard economist and author who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Memorial University in 1999.
Dr. Galbraith died on April 29, 2006, at the age of 97.