The Kreisky Forum

At the podium of the Kreisky Forum, British economist Lord Robert Skidelsky leans in as he addresses the audience; his explanations are patient, his words clear.

More than eighty years ago, he tells us, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that we’d now be earning more, playing more, and working only three hours a day.

So why are most of us still working nearly three times that?

In his latest book, How Much is Enough? written with his philosopher son Edward, Lord Skidelsky raises questions that often get lost in the political battles over budgets and resources:

What is the good life?

What role does work play?

And how can we organise our society to make more time for leisure?

 

Robert Misik and Lord Skidelsky discuss  the privileged role of work | Photo: Kreisky Forum

Robert Misik and Lord Skidelsky discuss the privileged role of work | Photo: Kreisky Forum

A permanent centre for dialogue

At the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, such questions are at the top of the agenda.

Established in 1991 following the death of Austria’s great post-war chancellor Bruno Kreisky, the Forum set out to continue the open debate and internationalism Kreisky had fiercely sought and defended.

Carrying on in the European intellectual tradition, the Forum is a permanent centre for dialogue, inviting politicians, academics, and critical thinkers from all over the world.

The Kreisky Forum’s goal is to address complicated global issues, offer potential solutions, and crucially, to exchange opinions and ideas.

Many distinguished writers and thinkers from around the world have participated, such as Amos Oz, Ruth Klüger, Tariq Ali, Tony Judt, Doris Lessing, John Kenneth Galbraith and Jacques Delors, as well as many leading Austrians like former chancellor Franz Vranitzky, who is the Forum’s honorary president.

Talks are in German or English, as shown on the website.

 

Focus on Europe

All this takes place in what was Bruno Kreisky’s home at Armbrustergasse 15 in the 19th District, where the former chancellor often brought state visitors – Willy Brandt, Yasser Arafat or George McGovern – for talks in a more intimate setting. Now, the Kreisky Forum selects a focus for each year. Past years have looked at unemployment and the global economy, and the peace process in the Middle East.  This year’s focus is Europe.

Lord Skidelsky’s talk addressed the need to intervene in the economy to slow the rate of growth, and curtail the insatiable desire that he argued was a product of modern civilisation.

He advocated a shift away from the ideology of work, suggesting an unconditional income, restrictions on advertising, and a tax on consumption rather than earnings.

There is a quality of listening to a human voice in a room that can’t be captured by a podcast or a video lecture. Lord Skidelsky spoke to a rapt audience and took questions over the course of two hours.

Did you know that the average commuter spends seven years in a car? As people collected their coats, voices were animated, the challenge seized, to work out what we mean by the good life, and how to begin to build it.

 

see TVR Kaffeehaus, Feb. 2013 with BKF Dir. Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo

Bruno Kreisky Forum 

for International Dialogue

19., Armbrustergasse 15

Full schedule at www.kreisky-forum.org

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