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Lionel Shriver – We need to talk about complacency


Upload: October 14, 2020

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation

Award-winning author and journalist Lionel Shriver presents a Ramsay Lecture titled – ‘Just because we’ve been okay doesn’t mean we’ll stay that way’

Lionel Shriver talks about the ‘tear-everything-down social turmoil of post-Floyd’ and the coronavirus lockdowns together under a single thematic umbrella: complacency.

A surfeit of Western security, with no major wars and nearly uninterrupted prosperity for 75 years, has created an ahistorical underappreciation for the fragility of order, she claims.

Lionel credits her 2016 novel The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 -which describes a near-future US, in which the president has renounced the national debt, inflation subsequently goes through the roof, and social order unravels – with providing her with an appreciation for the frailty of civilization.

She decries the response of world leaders to a novel pathogen, who she says have ‘…cupped suffocating tumblers over their own economies for months on end, like an interminable episode of The Dome.’ And she speaks of ‘would-be revolutionaries’ imagining that they can bring an end to capitalism and still keep all the fruits of capitalism that they like. How they think they can install a neo-Marxist equality of outcome, boot out all the evil old white guys, and keep their iPhones.

A prolific journalist with a column in The Spectator magazine, Lionel Shriver has published one collection and thirteen novels, including the bestsellers The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, Big Brother, So Much for That, The Post-Birthday World, and the Orange-Prize winner We Need to Talk About Kevin (a 2011 feature film starring Tilda Swinton). Her latest novel is The Motion of the Body Through Space (2020), with the forthcoming Should We Stay or Should We Go scheduled for June of 2021. Her work has been translated into over 30 language

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