The “Sun Rises in the West” Conference considered the future of Western Civilisation and Western Australia.
Mannkal’s October conference was an opportunity for Perth to confound its critics. In the “Creative City index – how does Perth measure up?”, city transformation expert Charles Landry said of Perth, “The culture of Perth does not sufficiently value ‘thinking’ or being intellectual; it is more a material culture. Learning is not embedded in the culture.” But there is another school of thought – of which Perth’s Mannkal Foundation is an adherent – which says that Perth’s isolation has produced generations of travellers who have a finely honed awareness and relentless curiosity concerning cultures and values.
Addressing what some see as the bleak future of Western Civilisation, Mannkal Economic Education Foundation hosted a number of leading international thinkers and policy makers in Perth on October 7-8, 2010 to chart a path for the future.
Shallow, media-driven decision making by political leaders, as well as the rise of political correctness, were some of the reasons cited by supporters of Mannkal who urged the organisation to address this often controversial issue.
After considerable encouragement, we assembled an eclectic group of leading academics, economists, philosophers and decision makers who attracted significant interest from local business leaders, as well as national and international visitor’s to Perth.
The use of the term Western Civilisation was heavily debated by the organising committee and was why we looked to leading Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey to help come up with a suitable title. Geoffrey Blainey suggested the tongue in cheek title The Sun Rises in the West due to the fact that Western Australia is a product of Western Civilisation and is seen by some to be closer to its ‘Western’ heritage than other parts of the nation.
Reflecting the movement of the sun, the Western Civilisation moment could very easily pass as it did with the fall of Rome.
The Conference title served its role in guiding delegates to consider the journey of Western Civilisation and our collective history, but importantly, also on its future.
With Western values and traditions increasingly questioned, the decision to have a serious discussion on the future of our society was prompted by a number of private conversations and encouragement from friends and supporters of Mannkal.
We were dismayed by the low level of public awareness of the traditions which have given us such great wealth and prosperity. We seem to be systematically trashing the institutions and traditions that have allowed us to be successful and prosper.
Sometimes shrill and racist scaremongering has prevented a serious and substantive discussion on who we are as a society and where we want to go. This encouraged Mannkal to deal with these issues head on.
Sometimes, these issues are raised in the Western Australian media. However, aside from nostalgia and alarmist news reporting, little positive action is ever taken.
One galvanising point at the Conference was the proposed “Anti-Mining Tax”. This mining tax debate has mobilised the community.
Being no stranger to disputes with government and authorities, I personally saw more than simply self interested miners. Without knowing it, many of the business community and workers protesting against the tax were following in the footsteps of the Boston Tea Party participants and those in the Eureaka Stockade. The desire for liberty, idea of personal freedom along with responsibility; with the concept of a representative government not overstepping its mark are all informed by centuries of the development and debate within Western Civilisation.
Yet while the achievements of Western Civilisation used to be celebrated in classical centres of learning, such as universities, it is now shunned and seen as something to be embarrassed about. If Western Civilisation values are any good, then why can’t they be taught in our universities?
The speaker list of Sun Rises in the West included: Reverend Dr. Mark Durie, Hon. Christian Porter, Attorney General, Minister for Corrective Services, Western Australia and Mr James Bennett, author of The Third Anglosphere Century: The English-Speaking World in an Era of Transition.
We have been overwhelmed with feedback from the delegates and, in particular, from the 22 young scholars who attended the Conference. One such scholar noted, “The Conference proved to be a deeper discussion than we usually experience in Perth. Instead of lamenting the lack of options and neglect of Western Civilisation traditions, there is now a forum for constructive input.”
The Conference was not about being triumphal or seeking to return to mythical glory days and, most importantly, it was not about targeting those people from non-Western backgrounds. Western Civilisation has been enriched and has borrowed from so many other different civilisations and cultures and should continue to do so.
Drawing interest from the business community was Dr Jerry Jordan who spoke on “Currency Debasement Erodes Personal Liberty”. This presentation drew interest from stockbrokers and foreign exchange traders in Perth due to the US “quantitative easing” (printing of money) which has caused concern worldwide. Dr Jordan served as a Member of Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors before becoming President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Our Mannkal Foundation Team is currently preparing a full report on the Conference, complete with numerous YouTubes. This will be featured in next month’s Freedom Focus, with the full Conference papers to be published in book form early next year.