We owe many aspects of our free society – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law, and parliamentary democracy – to the legacy of Western Civilisation, and traditions and institutions that have evolved over a long history spanning several centuries.
This legacy is precious, but vulnerable. In the twenty-first century, there is a tendency for many Australians to take the traditions of Western Civilisation for granted.
The Program has already involved the publication of many important books and research monographs, including In Defence of Freedom of Speech: From Ancient Greece to Andrew Bolt and100 Great Books of Liberty.
To make a tax-deductible donation in support of theFoundations of Western Civilisation Program, click here.
‘Liberty and Democracy in Western Civilisation’ Symposium – Videos now online
The 2014 Western Civilisation Symposium, ‘Liberty and Democracy in Western Civilisation,’ was a great success. Thank you to everyone who attended.
In case you missed out, the full videos for the symposium are now online.
Here are some highlights: the keynote address by English conservative philosopher Roger Scruton; Q&A panel with Roger Scruton, Andrew Bolt and John Roskam; panel discussionfeaturing Nick Cater, Claudio Véliz, and Jennifer Oriel; and Janet Albrechtsen talking about the dangers of big government.
Roger Scruton visited Australia as a guest of Campion College and the Institute of Public Affairs. During his short stay, he made a number of appearances in the media. You can hear him on ABC local radio here in an excellent interview with Richard Fidler.
Here is a review of Roger’s latest book – The Soul of the World – from The Wall Street Journal ($). And here is a review fromForbes of another recent book, Notes from Underground – a fictional novel based on his experiences working underground in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.
Reading, Watching and Listening
On Tuesday 6 May, Dr. David Kemp delivered the 47th Alfred Deakin Lecture at the University of Melbourne on liberalism and good government. You can read the speech here.
Dr. Kemp also appeared on the final panel discussion at the Symposium on 9 May, where he, Professor Greg Melleuish of the University of Wollongong and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson discussed the future of freedom in Australia.
The future of freedom is certainly a topic that has been discussed in symposia before. Recently, some rare recordings were discovered of the First National Meeting of the Philadelphia Society (1965), which includes lectures by Milton Friedman, Frank Meyer and Russell Kirk. You can listen to their speecheshere.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove shocked the left-wing academia after a rumour arose that he had removed To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men from the GCSE reading list.
The media controversy has blown out of proportion, with some commentators even accusing Gove of ‘banning’ these books from classrooms.
As it turns out, the rumours aren’t even true. You can read Gove’s response to the accusations here.
Following Gove’s review, GCSE English Literature students will be required to study a range of high quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial whole texts in detail, including at least one play by Shakespeare, at least one 19th century novel, a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry, and diction or drama from the British Isles written after 1914, all of which need to have been originally written in English. Which makes sense, given that this is, after all, an English Literature curriculum.
Meanwhile in Australia, we don’t even have a reading list for 15-16 year olds – though we do have a counter-productive, jargon-drenched and vague English curriculum that strongly emphasises cultural differences, different languages, and ‘texts’ from other cultures (many of which were not originally written in English).