Globalisation critic to give Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture

29 September 2010

Professor Fred Block from the University of California will deliver the Ted Wheelright Memorial Lecture.
Professor Fred Block from the University of California will deliver the Ted Wheelright Memorial Lecture.

The global economic crisis did not resolve the battle between free market liberalism on the one side, and social democracy on the other, says Professor Fred Block, a leading economic and political sociologist from the University of California.

Professor Block will deliver the third annual Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture entitled Reinventing Social Democracy for the 21st Century next Tuesday 5 October.

The Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture is presented by the Department of Political Economy in the Faculty of Arts. It is named in honour of one of the greatest contributors to the field of political economy in Australia, Edward Lawrence Wheelwright (1921 to 2007), who was instrumental in the development of the breakaway political economy program at the University of Sydney, as well as being an influential critic of global capitalism and orthodox economics.

Professor Block says Australia needs to make serious revisions to its ideas about social democracy if it is to socially equitable and prosperous in the 21st century.

"The Australian voters deserve a real choice between 21st century social democracy and a continuation of free-market policies that have failed to produce the results that have been promised," he says.

"While Australia's current government has little leeway for major new initiatives," Professor Block says, "the next few years are an ideal time for generating bold new proposals to reverse this country's growing income inequalities and to create a more durable economic foundation than raw material exports".

Professor Block first came to prominence with his book The Origins of International Economic Disorder: Study of United States International Monetary Policy from World War II to the Present. In this study he asserted what would become a career long interest in the destabilizing influence of unregulated capital flows across national borders.

His lecture will examine the future of social democracy in Australia and around the world, and will include an introduction by Eleanor Hall of ABC Radio's The World Today.

According to Professor Block, "a reconsideration of social democracy is urgently needed.

"Sweden, Norway, and the other Scandinavian social democracies were widely seen as unhealthy societies slowed down by too much government and excessive taxation," he says.

Nonetheless, in a surprise to critics, Block says, "They have the lowest levels of inequality, the fewest children living in poverty, the highest rates of union density, and they have also had more rapid economic growth, more creation of new jobs by small entrepreneurial high-tech firms, and more vibrant innovation sectors than most other advanced nations."

Event details

What: Reinventing Social Democracy for the 21st Century, the Third Annual E.L. Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture

When: 6pm, Tuesday 5 October

Where: Eastern Avenue Lecture Theatre, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free

Media enquiries: Jacqueline Chowns, 0434 605 018,