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2012 Dialektikon - The First R.D. Laing Memorial Lecture - Introduction

Poster for the 2012 Dialektikon event.


A unique gathering to demystify human violence in all its forms the social systems from which it emanates and to explore new forms of action….

The Sixties

the Vietnam war raging in all its horror

race riots flaring in the great American cities

the cozy suburban idyll of the 50’s cracking up; so too the Soviet monolith

capitalism sweeping everything into its grasp

the Bomb threatens human existence on earth

the first creeping signs of climate change, as yet unnoticed

hippies open other pathways through drugs and flower power

new forms of art, psychiatry, politics emerge

And all this ferment is concentrated in the event taking place in the Roundhouse in July ’67

Summoned by RD Laing a brilliant cast of characters debate the great questions –

What are the roots of violence? – Why have we gone so wrong? – How do we make a better world?

Round this grand rhetoric people smoke dope, make music, make love, make art…

This was an event of extraordinary passion and energy, fuelled by an intense dialogue between speakers and audience. Much of what was said will resonate with people today:

Stokely Carmichael’s cry of rage at racist violence –

Marcuse’s analysis of the tie-in between capitalism and war -

Ginsberg’s poetic wisdom: know yourself -

Laing’s belief that it’s not people, it’s society that’s truly sick –

Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on peace, from the heart of war -

Gregory Bateson’s vision of ecological destruction –

And with the collapse of the uneasy Blair-Brown equilibrium and harsher politics on the way back, with all of the troubles that were debated then getting worse not better, there’s surely an audience today both here and in the US for this great play of ideas