Why Western civilisation is worth defending

Dr Bella d’Abrera
Insights Newsletter
6 March, 2020

New Zealand is vulnerable to the same threats to their freedoms Australia is struggling with – and arguably the risk has already arrived.
The worst assault across the ditch comes initially out of US and UK universities where a hybrid utopian movement of the most dangerous aspects of postmodernism and collectivism has been rebooted in the form of social justice, intersectionality and identity politics.
The movement caricatures and diminishes the history of Western civilisation, which they have weighed and found wanting, vowing to destroy it.
Broadly, they call themselves ‘progressives’ or ‘social justice warriors’. These new utopians hubristically claim to know exactly why the world has gone wrong. They conclude — much like philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau — that Western values and institutions are behind every type of suffering, pain and inequality and must be removed so we can create an earthly paradise to finally ‘get it right’.

This movement describes Western Civilization not much more than a story of white male patriarchy wielding power over and oppressing women, racial minorities and the poor. From their platforms in education, the media, corporate diversity departments, the law and government, these progressives work diligently to shove society towards their brave new world – whether society wants it or not, and often at society’s expense.
One of the recent targets for this movement is the attack on the institution of “Australia Day” by agitating for it to be called “Invasion Day.” This idea suggests that, according to progressives, nothing good at all came from the introduction of Europeans to the Australian continent.
But everyone in Australasia is, without exception, heirs to the cultural, political and economic legacy of the Western civilisation despised by progressives. The first settlers brought the ethics of Christianity, the ideals of sovereignty and the accountability of individuals. They also introduced modern ideas of liberty counterbalanced by a strong respect for the rule of law.
These institutions made New Zealand and Australia the free, prosperous, civil and stable societies they are today. Even newcomers can enjoy these same freedoms which have been tested and defended in both wartime and in peace. Migrants risk their lives to enter our two countries because, to put it simply, they are good places to live.
The threat to these values from the progressive movement is rising every month. But all is not lost. Normal, hardworking people are noticing and pushing back against the ‘social justice’ efforts to reshape this treasured and unique society.
Folk from every generation are displaying a deep faith in the beliefs and institutions of Western civilisation. They believe strongly in its culture, philosophy and laws. Above all, they believe it is worth preserving.
Dr Bella d’Abrera is director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Programme at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne. She will be giving the keynote speech at the NZ Initiative’s annual retreat dinner on 12 March in Auckland.

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates