UCL European Institute


Thomas Piketty and Naomi Klein

14 December 2015, 12:00 am

SSEES Centenary Conference

Event Information

Open to


14 December 2015 
Thomas Piketty is arguably the most influential writer on inequality in the world today, and Naomi Klein, 'one of the most high-profile social activists' today (Rosie Scammel, The Observer). They will encounter each other for the first time on 14 December to open the conference Socialism, Capitalism and the Alternatives: Lessons from Russia and Eastern Europe with two keynote lectures and a debate, chaired by Paul Mason. The conference is part of a series of events, workshop, and seminars celebrating the Centenary of UCL's School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). Register now to avoid disappointment.

Piketty will offer his 'Reflections about Inequality and Capital in the 21st Century'. The title of Klein's talk is: 'Can the System Save Itself? Reflections on the twin crises of capitalism and climate, and the path to transformational change.'

14 December 2015, 12.30-3

Friends House 173-177 Euston Road London NW1 2BJ


During the 100 years of the existence of SSES, the world has seen the creation, dominance and dissolution of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Neo-liberalism, Communism's archenemy, which appeared dominant following the collapse of the European Socialist regimes, has recently suffered its own crisis of credibility. Yet articulating coherent alternatives to these entrenched conceptual categories remains stubbornly difficult. 

This conference explores how an analysis of the historical and political trajectories of both pre- and post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe may contribute to confronting this challenge to the global imagination. It brings together a unique range of high profile speakers, further including: 

  • Leszek Balcerowicz implemented in Poland the most far-reaching programme of economic reforms ('shock therapy') of any of the former Soviet bloc states.
  • Chantal Mouffe, seminal and prolific post-Marxist theorist, major contributor to the theory of culture.
  • Tomáš Sedláček, philosopher, historian of economic thought, economist and banker.
  • Ilya Ponomarev, State Duma Deputy, only member of parliament who voted against the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
  • Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative MP for Spelthorne in Surrey since 2010.
  • Dorothee Bohle, expert on the varieties of capitalism in post-Communist Europe.
  • Béla Greskovits, expert on the political and economic institutions of Eastern Europe.
  • Jacek Żakowski, one of the most influential journalists in Poland. 
  • Slavo Radošević, expert on industrial innovation and technological change with special emphasis on the countries of central and Eastern Europe. 
  • Jan Kubik, cultural and political anthropologist, expert on the sociology of protest and post-Communism and director of UCL-SSEES.
  • Anatole Kaletsky, one of the most widely-read economic journalists in the world.
  • Paul Mason, expert on social transformations and influential public commentator.
  • Liam Halligan, economist, journalist and broadcaster. 
  • Mary Dejevsky, a leading London-based political journalist.
  • László Bruszt, economic sociologist and activist.