BRAINWASH FESTIVAL 2018

Rebellious thinkers and artists from the Netherlands and beyond share their insights on today’s most pressing questions, offer clarification in times of confusion and help create new frameworks for progress! In the historic inner city of Amsterdam, we’ll be thinking about narcissism and self-love, radical inequality, ideal images as the culprits of our time, visions of the future and dystopias, liberating algorithms, the flipside of authenticity and our post-capitalist culture.

A festival ticket grants you admission to some 100 talks and events held at more than 15 locations from 1pm till 1am. Allow yourself to be fascinated and inspired by the world’s most fabulous speakers giving talks in churches and theatres in Amsterdam´s city centre. The venues are: De Brakke Grond, the theatre of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Frascati, the Waalse Kerk, Zuiderkerk, Perdu, University theatre, Compagnietheater, Kapitein Zeppos and the Agnieten Chapel. In the run-up to the festival, additional related programmes will be held commencing 20th October.


We are proud to announce the first speakers at Brainwash Festival taking place on Saturday, the 27th of October 2018. The five speakers listed below will take the stage in the English-language programmes. Go to brainwashfestival.nl/programmas for a list in Dutch of all speakers confirmed to date.


– Afua Hirsch

‘Where are you from?´ Afua Hirsch is tired of being asked that question. Why is she, a black woman, not considered to be British? The British barrister contends that the divide between races lies at the basis of Western societies. Racism is not a temporary or innocent phenomenon, but a social structure that we must get rid of. For all those who wish to hear the truth about the meaning of race and identity for society.

– Paul Mason

Dislocation of the labour market by widespread automation, the multiplication of ‘bullshit jobs’ and hyperintelligent algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves. This will be our future if we don´t change our course fast, according to British economist Paul Mason. Time for a new post-capitalist system in which the economy is collaborative, based on self-management and basic income. Only then, can we escape the all-determining financial logic of neoliberalism.

– Susan Blackmore

It´s hard to get a good meme out of your head – and it spreads like wildfire among all your friends. The eccentric psychologist and physiologist Susan Blackmore contends that Darwin´s theory of evolution can be applied not only to memes, but also to technological ‘temes‘. According to her, Apps, tools and digital systems have their own reproductive urge and survival instinct. A warning against technology that uses and abuses us and may one day even destroy us.

– George Monbiot

Ecologist and activist George Monbiot is considered to be one of the most influential British thinkers of our time. In his view, thirty years of neoliberalism have broken the world. It is the cause of our social, ecological and political crises. Monbiot concludes that we need a new story, a new narrative to liberate society. He holds up a merciless mirror and suggests that it is above all the relationship with ourselves that we need to reinvent. Cheerful yet determined, Monbiot shows us how.

– Branko Milanović

Branko Milanović is a former Lead Economist at the World Bank and one of the world´s foremost economists on inequality. The winners of our time are not only the super-rich, he says, but also the middle class of upcoming economies in Asia. The losers are us: working people in developed countries. Does that explain our Western discontent? A must-hear for those who want to understand how we got where we are, where we are heading and which changes of course must be made to avert disaster.

– Carl Cederström

Carl Cederström is an advocate for a new conception of happiness. He demonstrates how our current ideal, based on the notion of freedom and self-development, holds us hostage and limits us. Among the factors that have contributed to our current notion of what happiness is are the flower power movement, psychoanalysis, consumer society and the American president Donald Trump. According to Carl Cederström – associate professor at Stockholm University, contributor to The Guardian and (co)author of several successful books – it’s high time we used our imagination to design and implement a new ideal.

– Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini – co-founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine – provides us with reassurance:  the truth does exist! At a time when we are swamped by fake news and politicians who blatantly deny facts, Baggini shows us various sources of truth. The British philosopher arms us against the rise of social media as news source and the growing distrust of facts. A discourse for all those who have had enough of post-truth, alternative facts and fake news.

– Fabian Scheidler

Fabian Scheidler talks about how 5,000 years of human civilization has led to an all-encompassing system of oppression. A system whose sole aim is to make profit, and that transgresses the boundaries of earth´s ecological system. The German historian and philosopher describes how our civilization is a product of a history of oppression, greed and violence. Slavery under the Romans, the role mining, metal and the arms industry played in the forming of states, the devastating effects of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of independence movements and their suppression – and finally the continuous destruction of the natural world. A remedy, according to Fabian, lies in simple common humanity, self-organization, true democracy and resistance to oppression.

– Wolfram Eilenberger

Wolfram Eilenberger – chief editor of the German Philosophie Magazin from 2011 till 2017- talks about the lives and ideas of the biggest thinkers of the beginning of the last century. About the soaring popularity of Martin Heidegger and his love for Hannah Arendt. About the wandering Walter Benjamin, who goes to Paris in search of the roots of modern times. And about the genius and billionaire’s son Ludwig Wittgenstein who, while he was adored like a god in Cambridge, worked and lived in poverty in Austria. From their personal stories and thinking, the philosopher, author and journalist extracts a warning, but also great inspiration for the problems of our times.

– Maurizio Montalti

Which material will lead us out of the plastic era? Since its invention, plastic has conquered the world of packaging, toys, everyday products and even medical implants. But now our oceans risk clogging up with this virtually non-degradable material, it is high time to look ahead. Artist and researcher Maurizio Montalti is in pursuit of the material of the future. One of his favourites? Fungus! He joins philosopher Lisa Doeland in a conversation about the plastic soup and how we can escape the era in which plastic is the solution for everything.