The Western Civilisation conference, held in Perth, November 2017, attracted speakers and attendees to discuss the West’s unique features internal and external threats, Australian characteristics and dynamism. It came at a time when reports about populist and nationalistic sentiments (such as Brexit), as well as automation and the rise of the sharing economy, dominated the popular media.
Ron made this speech, on behalf on Mannkal Economic Education Foundation to introduce the conference. Other speaker videos can be viewed via the following links:
Back in October, 2010 (through our student involvement) we became aware that the study of Western Civilization was totally overlooked in university education. It was possible to obtain a university degree in alternative cultures and religions but not in the core foundations of Australia’s success as a nation.
It seems strange we can not study the reasons for our success. To counter this problem, Mannkal approached the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and organized a Perth conference — The Sun Rises in the West. A wide-range of local and international speakers accepted our invitation to speak. Fortunately we recorded most of their presentations video library and you can watch them here.
Upon reflection I recall, my amazement, that very few of the over-40 year olds approached to support and attend, showed any interest and even less understanding of the term Western Civilisation and its structures of individual rights, property rights, rule of law, which have been central to creating investment, industry and civil society in Australia.
So, seven years after our original conference, by public request we have today’s conference, to coincide with Mannkal’s 20th Anniversary.
What has changed since our first Western Civilisation conference in 2010?
Our concerns have become apparent to a larger circle of commentators and the ‘language of Western Civilisation’ is spoken over a broader front, encouraged by the continuation of the Western Civilisation Project by IPA and others.
IPA sent me an email, this year, stating:
“Because of Mannkal’s support for the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program the IPA was able to undertake a systematic review of all 746 history undergraduate courses taught in 2017 at the 35 Australian universities which offer history as a program of study. The Rise of Identity Politics report, by Dr Bella d’Abrera, found that the teaching of history has moved away from the study of significant historical events; and periods to a view of the past seen through the narrow lens of class, gender and race.”
The next steps
So it is a pleasure to have the IPA team with us today, along with the carefully selected group of notable speakers (detailed introductions later).
It is Mannkal’s vision, that the best years for Australia are ahead of us, but only if we continue to invest in the brightest minds of the next generation (many of whom are here today). Today is yet another building block in creating a better future.
Today we have limited time for complaining. You have been selected as activists, not passive complainers. Let’s make a few assumptions:
- Politics in Australia is completely broken.
- Faith and confidence in politics and, for that matter, corporate capitalism (because of the rise of crony capitalism) is at an all-time low.
- Government is out of control, with a belief that the solution to too much debt is yet more debt.
- Student loan debt is currently $52 billion and that is still shown as an asset on our national accounts (if politicians were corporate directors they would be in jail with that misrepresentation of assets).
- Australia is currently spending $1 billion building Islamic schools in Indonesia. The Indonesians are offended that we are meddling with their culture in that way.
I have a list here that would take three hours to read out in detail on how Australia has gone off the rails. So, today as activists, let us work toward ending the day with a list of things that we can and will do to rectify the problems outlined by our speakers.
Don’t leave it to the politicians or the universities to solve the problems that are largely of their own making, promoted by their own self-interest.
What about the Constitution?
Australia has a very good Constitution which recent events show is not widely read by our politicians. The Samuel Griffiths Society is to be congratulated for raising our consciousness of the power and contents of our Constitution. Politicians may think that the Constitution is there to protect them from, us, the people. Many of us think the opposite; the Constitution is there to protect us from the politicians.
My old philosophy teacher, Professor John Hospers, puts it this way:
“The Constitution protects individual citizens against the power of government by specifying what the government is permitted to do and what boundaries it must not cross. A government may do only that which the Constitution permits; that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. On the other hand, private citizens under such a political system have unlimited freedom, within the sphere of their own personal rights.”
So, having set the tone, let us proceed with today’s exciting program.