The latest of the Reclaiming the West: Freedom and Responsibility Conference Series, the Crisis of Liberty in the West Conference, took place at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London on December 1.
Speakers included Remi Brague, the recently knighted Sir Roger Scruton, Victoria C. G. Coates, Philip Booth, Veronique de Rugy and Declan Ganley. The conference included two sessions with lectures from three speakers and concluded with the presentation of the 2016 Novak Award and Calihan lecture delivered by Ryan T. Anderson.
Rev. Robert Sirico and Kishore Jayabalan, director of Acton’s Rome office, served as session chairs.
The morning sessions, featuring Brague, Scruton and Coates, included lectures on humanism, freedom and the nation state, and Western heritage. Coates, while arguing that we should always “defend, rather than apologize for” our heritage, also warned that “democracy is not a panacea for all of society’s woes.”
In the afternoon session, Booth, de Rugy and Ganley addressed the growth of government (both in the United States and Europe), threats to the free market and cronyism. During his address on cronyism, Ganley argued that individuals need to take a stand. “Freedom and liberty are not preserved by the many,” he said. “Freedom is preserved by the conscience and courage of individual persons.”
The theme of Anderson’s Calihan Lecture was liberty, including what has eroded it and how we can reconstruct it. Anderson argued that there are primarily three ways liberty has been lost: bad intellectual defenses of freedom, a collapse of the civil society that promotes human flourishing and cronyism. He also suggested that freedom serves the common good and offered several arguments in support of that.
The conference was streamed live online and people from all over the world tuned in at various times to catch the lectures and interact with individuals at the event.