Green politician questions myth of progress

Published: 1 October 2014 at 14:04

Rupert Read kicks off Global Sustainability Institute seminar series at Anglia Ruskin

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Green Party politician and philosopher Rupert Read will discuss whether progress is actually a good thing in the opening talk of the Global Sustainability Institute seminar series at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge on Monday, 6 October (1-2pm).

Read, who will discover on the morning of 6 October whether he has been selected to stand as parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in Cambridge at next year’s General Election, narrowly missed out on becoming an MEP in May’s European Elections.

Read, who is also Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, said:

“We are endlessly told ‘you can’t stop progress’.  But what is meant by ‘progress’?  What is ‘progress’ toward?  Human flourishing?  A culture?  That would be a good start but rarely seems a criterion for ‘progress’.   In fact, survival would be a good start.
“Instead ‘progress’ and similarly ‘growth’ are simply processes which we are not allowed, apparently, to stop.  Questioning the myths of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’, and replacing them with the idea of real progress – progress which is actually assessed according to some independent, not-purely-procedural criteria – is a vital thing to do, at this point in history. 
“But it raises some difficulties for ‘the Left’ in politics, because it brings into question the catch-all understanding of Leftism as ‘progressive’ and questions whether being ‘progressive’ is a good thing.
“The challenge, in other words, is to generate an ideology or philosophy for our time, which might yet save us, and ensure that we are worth saving.  Life, or at least civilisation, may depend on it.”

The talk will take place at 1pm on Monday, 6 October in room Coslett 124 on Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus and is free to attend.  All talks in the Global Sustainability Institute seminar series are open to the public and include a “sustainable lunch”.

Katy Richardson, ‎Applied Climate Scientist at the Met Office, will deliver the second talk in the series on Friday, 17 October (1pm).  For further information, please phone 0845 196 5108 or email