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Civilisation

Bidisha looks at what it means to be civilised, and asks whether it is an outdated concept. She talks to philosopher John Armstrong who calls for a new debate about civilisation.

Bidisha looks at what it means to be civilised, and asks whether civilisation is an outdated concept. She talks to philosopher John Armstrong, who calls for a new debate about civilisation. According to Armstrong, we no longer talk seriously about civilisation.

The idea has been tainted by history, he argues, being eagerly invoked to justify colonial expansion. The view that industrially developed countries had a mission to rule less developed societies was facilitated by deployment of the term 'civilisation'. More recently, in an effort to get America to back the war in Iraq, George W Bush talked of 'a struggle for civilisation'.

Armstrong champions an unfashionable campaign to revive the meaning of civilisation. He argues that the idea is a way of reconnecting grand, societal forces - economic liberty and social freedom - which will lead to a cultural renaissance.

45 minutes

Last on

Wed 24 Jun 2009 21:15

Broadcast

Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.