Adrian Tinniswood

Speaker: Helen Thompson

Topic: Energy, History and Conflict

Venue: Ondaatje Lecture Theatre, Radcliffe Centre

Time: 10:30-11:30 Saturday 8 October

Talk Summary:

The 21st century has brought a powerful tide of geopolitical, economic, and democratic shocks. Their fallout has led central banks to create more than $25 trillion of new money, brought about a new age of geopolitical competition, destabilised the Middle East, ruptured the European Union, and exposed deep political fault lines in the United States. Helen Thompson reveals the long history behind this this present political moment. She examines three separate histories – of geopolitics, of the world economy, and of western democracy – and explains how in the years of political disorder prior to the pandemic the disruption in each became one big story. She shows how much of this turbulence originated in problems generated by fossil-fuel energies, and explains why, as the green transition takes place, the long-standing predicaments energy invariably shapes will remain in place for generations to come.


Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University. She is the author of Oil and the Western Economic crisis (2017), China and the Mortgaging of America (2010), and Might, Right, Prosperity and Consent: Representative Democracy and the International Economy (2008). Since 2015 Helen has been a regular contributor to the podcast Talking Politics and has written articles for the London Review of Booksthe New York Times, History Today, and the Financial Times.