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Lars Ivarsson - On Social Democracy

When you come from Sweden to Auckland to do a PhD in philosophy on the underlying thinking behind social democracy in the contemporary age you want to cause ripples. Indeed, more than ripples. You want to use the insight to clarify purpose and direction. Lars Ivarsson has now had that thesis assessed and highly commended. He will also speak to us about the issues raised, the challenges for progressive politics and role of activists in a contemporary quest for social and climate justice. 

Lars’ thesis examined German philosopher Axel Honneth and the tradition of social democracy. His assessment of Honneth’s theory gives the social democratic tradition a new sense of purpose and clarity. It challenged how social democracy is merely a compromise between liberalism and socialism, and that somehow social democracy fell apart when the neoliberal reaction hit in the 80s and 90s. Instead, argues Lars, social democracy is a political- philosophical ideal that has been ‘becoming’ for a long time and can now finally come into its own.

Lars’s political and academic background began at Lund University, 70 kilometers from the farm he grew up on in southern Sweden. There he studied history and philosophy and eventually got wrapped up in politics, first in the student union and then in the Swedish Social Democratic Labour Party. He moved to New Zealand in 2015 to undertake his PhD at the University of Auckland.

When: 23 July, 6.30pm

Where: Owen Glenn Building, University of Auckland

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