According to the the Times Higher Education Supplement, there is only one Australian university in the world’s top fifty: the Australian National University. It is not only disappointing but deplorable that the ANU’s leadership has caved in to the agitprop of the tertiary education union and student activists and ditched its partnership with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to develop a degree course in the one civilisation that, above all others, has made the entire world what it is today.
The ANU wanted to believe that it was making a stand for academic freedom and autonomy, despite no attempts being made by the Ramsay Centre to limit them. Yet it is very happy to offer degree courses in Asian, Pacific, Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern studies. The ANU’s decision is intellectual cowardice when it comes to acknowledging the triumph of the very civilisation – Western European civilisation – that gave the world its first universities almost a thousand years ago.
Who we are, why we are and where we come from as a nation and society is a heritage to be proud of, instead of being shamed by the anti-intellectuals who pass themselves off as leaders on campuses today. Besides Confucius 2,500 years ago, who can name a single Chinese philosopher who has left their mark on the world as has a long line Western thinkers from ancient Greece to the Enlightenment and today? Indeed, who and what inspire modern China’s politics and economy? Marx, Engels and Western market capitalism.
After the Dark Ages, when other peoples (and the modern-day pseuds who see in them Rousseau’s noble savage) were satisfied with subsistence lifestyles and living in mud, bark and grass huts, and other civilisations rose and fell, Western Europeans built grand public buildings and mighty cathedrals. They knew the power of the written and, later, printed word. Where they didn’t invent for themselves, they imported, innovated and disseminated ideas and inventions from other cultures. In Christianity, the West gave the world its major and most enduring belief system, with a gospel of love for one’s fellow man rather than hate. In its various legal systems, it gave mankind powerful traditions of justice, fairness and the rule of law. While other cultures complain of ‘cultural appropriation’, their politicians and intellectuals drive Western-invented cars, ride Western-invented railways, and surf the Western-invented Internet on Western-invented computers. Even Kim Jong-un wears Western clothes and is obsessed by Western cinema. Who are the real cultural appropriators?
The West is the original cradle of democracy, and through its Enlightenment reinvention in Britain, the United States, Australia and France, among others, Western liberal democracy – and arguably Anglosphere parliamentary democracy above all – is the standard against which all other political systems are measured and fall short. And in colonisation by Britain and other Western powers, the light of Western civilisation and ideas reached the darkest corners of the globe, doing far more good than harm to peoples everywhere.
Unlike those seeking to block it, the Ramsay Centre in its measured response to the ANU’s calculated slap has shown great tolerance and restraint for the attacks on it and on its motives. It respects the personal and institutional freedoms of its antagonists, even as they shout it down. Ironic, isn’t it, that freedoms of speech, thought and expression are basic rights secured for us all by Western culture and learning, but exploited readily by activists and pseudo-intellectuals who refuse to accept the validity of any opinions but their own? The Ramsay Centre, including former PMs John Howard and Tony Abbott, must not let the small-mindedness of destructive left rabble-rousers thwart this vital and invaluable project.
There’s a certain schadenfreude in watching the Left eat their own. Punctiliously politically-correct Meanjin editor Jonathan Green, jumping on the #metoo bandwagon with a #tooclever by half cover, was eaten alive this week by one Aboriginal woman’s bizarre complaint about his anti-Aboriginality, and suffered his own contributors – including Clementine Ford – turning feral and holier-than-thou on him. An excruciating apology to the luvvies ensued.
Unlike Meanjin, The Spectator Australia is unashamedly loud and proud. We provoke intelligent debate through quality writing, not caving in at the first whiff of grapeshot. To challenge stupidity wherever we find it is our duty: we will never surrender to such bullying and intimidation.