Robert Skidelsky
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Miscellaneous Speeches

EBRD speech
Robert Skidelsky
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Saturday, October 28, 2006

 
Most people agree that the first 10 years of Russia’s so-called transition from a centrally planned to a market economy -1988 to 1998 – was uniquely disastrous.I start with 1988 because the transition started under Gorbachev, not Yeltsin. The speed and depth of the collapse of the Russian economy, coupled with the collapse of the Soviet empire,and the virtual disintegration of the Russian state, completely swamped positive developments, not least in the mind of the Russian people –namely the start of a competitive political and economic system, much disfigured though they were by criminality and corruption.
 
 
This collapse of state and economy gave President Putin his agenda: to restore state power and to punish the oligarchs for their

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The Meaning and Uses of the word Freedom in Current Public Discourse
Robert Skidelsky
Bilderberg Conference | Friday, May 06, 2005

 
I.
 
Freedom has become the most potent word in today’s political lexicon. George W Bush used it forty times in his second inaugural address. A Chechen doctor, Khassan Baiev, writes ‘Like everyone, we want to live in freedom’. They were using the same words, but they seem to mean different things. President Bush, I feel sure, was talking about the freedom of individuals, Khassan Baiev about the freedom of nations, his own especially, as might a Palestinian or Basque ‘freedom fighter’.
 
These, I think, are the two dominant senses in which people use, and understand, the term freedom today. They have a common origin, but point in two opposite directions. For the believer in individual freedom, it is dictatorship which is the enemy; for the

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Imbalance of Power
Robert Skidelsky
Washington | Wednesday, March 17, 2004

 
 
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor created the Grand Alliance against fascism, just as the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon created the global coalition against terrorism. The leaders of the Grand Alliance were the United States, Great Britain, and Russia, with China a somewhat distant fourth. Today’s chessboard has not changed that much.[] With his historical debt to the 19th century Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has talked [] about a new “concert of great powers” to keep the peace in the new century.
The parallel can be taken []further.[]. In each case it was an attack on the United States that brought the global coalition into

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The Origins and Consequences of the First World War
Robert Skidelsky
Brighton College Lecture | Tuesday, November 25, 2003

 
 
I once attended a lecture by AJP Taylor on Origins of 1st World War.
He ran through various possible causes, rejecting each one. After exactly one hour, he said: ‘Well, there’s one last thing. The chauffeur of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand did take the wrong turning in Sarajevo. Had he not, the Archduke would not have been killed. Had he not been killed, there would have been no war in August 1914’. With that he sat down.
 
This was not just Taylor being clever or paradoxical. He was giving us a profound lesson in historical thinking.
 
You may think: ‘But if not in 1914, the war –some war –would have started in 1915 or 1920. With all the explosive material lying around, a war was inevitable’. Spot the fallacy: True, one might have had

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Democracy and Globalisation
Robert Skidelsky
Golytsino Graduate Seminar | Tuesday, July 29, 2003

 
 
 
1. In Russia there is no tradition of democracy. The rule of the tsars was autocratic.This was followed by seventy years of communism. Democracy, as we understand it, only started with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Yeltsin was the first freely elected ruler of Russia. This was less than 10 years ago. In no other European country has democracy come so late.
 
2. Today it seems almost inconceivable that the clock will be turned back all the way. At the same time, there has not been enough time for democracy to strike deep roots. According to opinion surveys produced by Richard Pipes at the seminar last week, 50% of Russians thought multiparty elections were a waste of time. Only 8% said they would actively fight a Bolshevik coup, and 50% said

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