The Better Story: The Liberal Democratic Ideal
NEW: Niall Ferguson, Andrew Hastie, and Rebeccah Heinrichs warn against the decline of liberal democracy and the rise of threats to the West | ARC Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Historian Niall Ferguson criticises Western leaders’ failure to defend liberal democratic values.
- Australian Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie calls for West to improve preparedness against adversaries.
- Academic Rebeccah Heinrichs says the West has been slow to react to threats
Historian Niall Ferguson warns of decline in liberal democracy
Historian Niall Ferguson has cautioned that liberal democracies are in decline around the world, with the number falling to just 32; or 13% of the world’s population.
Addressing the ARC conference, Ferguson called upon leaders across the political spectrum to come together to promote liberal democracies. “We must organise much better to uphold the values of individual freedom. Civilisation is too precious an achievement to become a conservative project only.”
“Liberal democracy in the US, the greatest of all the liberal democracies, seems to be threatened from within. The Axis of ill-will has fallen,” he warned. “These axes present much more of a strategic threat than any of the axes of the 1930s… This is true not just of the US, but also true of Anglosphere countries too.”
Ferguson took aim at the current lack of belief amongst Western leaders as insufficient in pushing back against autocracies around the world. “The current leadership don’t have a great level of conviction in their own institutions. They don’t have the same sense of passionate conviction that their enemies have. They cannot comprehend that Xi Jinping’s thought is Marxist–Leninist.”
Australian Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie calls for West to improve preparedness against adversaries
During a panel discussion at the ARC conference, Australian Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie said that there are “serious questions to answer in terms of our defence preparedness”, in light of the challenges posed to Western nations by adversaries.
He noted that he was “concerned about our resilience in the smallest organising group in society — the family”, and relayed an account from his own combat experiences where an Afghan family had suffered an IED explosion, and had returned home. He asked, “if the shoe was on the other foot, would we be as resilient as that family?”
Concluding, Hastie iterated that “bad government is the problem”, saying that “what people are crying out for is good government”. He ended by saying that “what people want is order”, and “moral leaders”.
Academic Rebeccah Heinrichs says the West has been slow to react to threats
At the ARC conference, in front of a crowd of 1,500 delegates, academic Rebeccah Heinrichs outlined the systemic challenges facing the West, with regimes that are “ideologically very committed”, in contrast to the West, where we have been “slow to realise what is upon us”.
She argued that the challenge for the West had come after the end of the Cold War, with the assumption that “commercialism” would “make the Chinese … liberal”, and that instead, they had become “happy and communist”.
Heinrichs warned that the West has to “believe that is worth doing” in order to succeed against adversaries like Russia, and that it “requires enormous amounts of statecraft and motivation to rebuild the defence industrial base to do that”. She said that a great distinction among the West was that we “value life”.
ARC is an international community that is building a vision for a better world where every citizen can prosper, contribute, and flourish, and where solutions to the challenges we face can be found. The inaugural conference will be held between October 30–November 1, in London, convening international leaders from the UK, US, and Australia, who will be contributing to discuss and debate these challenges to find practical solutions.
DAY 1 Capitalism and ESG
NEW: Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy sets out case against ‘woke capitalism’ | ARC Conference
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- Hedge fund boss Sir Paul Marshall criticises market dominance of firms including Google, Meta in speech railing against the effects of crony capitalism.
- Republican hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy denounces spread of ‘woke capitalism’ and Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives.
Investor Sir Paul Marshall calls for an end to crony capitalism
Speaking to 1,500 delegates at the ARC conference, Sir Paul Marshall introduced a discussion around capitalism by criticising “crony capitalism” and ‘corporatism’, and arguing that “the managerial classes… take control, and manage the system in their own best interests”.
He called for society to “‘rejoice in the abundance that true free enterprise and free markets create”, noting that “extreme poverty has fallen from 90% to 10% [and] … it has halved in the last twenty years alone”. He stated that “free market capitalism is the greatest instrument of poverty relief that the world has ever seen”.
Arguing that capitalism needed to be free in order to achieve its goals, Sir Paul declared that “predatory behaviour” was “rife” in the US, and challenged the market dominance of firms such as Google and Meta. Attacking extensive lobbying practices in the U.S. and EU markets, Marshall outlined that “corrupt societies practise tribalism and cronyism”, and develop monopolies in their markets.
Addressing the challenges posed by markets developing, Sir Paul noted that “‘advocates of free markets … need to explain how they can deal with the disruption to our communities”, and argued that “what we have seen since the 2008 crisis to the present day may be the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich since the Norman conquest”.
Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy denounces ‘woke capitalism’
In an address to the ARC conference, presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy criticised corporate adoption of ESG values as “a threat not just to capitalism, but also to democratic self-governance… that a small group of corporate actors have the right to decide through the back door what citizens could not do through the front door.”
Speaking to an audience of 1,500 from the campaign trail in Iowa, Ramaswamy argued that “good governance means the corporation is true to its own purpose, without diluting that missive with environmental or social objectives.”
The Republican hopeful was critical of Government’s role in bringing about existing ESG policies, identifying public vehicles such as pension funds as “trying to accomplish a political agenda” rather than deliver value.
The speeches preceded a panel featuring financier Helena Morrissey, free market think tank CEO Derek Kreifels, and industry veteran Terrence Keeley, who discussed whether capital has been misallocated to ESG initiatives, and how better corporate governance can be achieved.
DAY 1 OUR SOCIAL FABRIC
NEW: Miriam Cates MP warns of fraying Western social fabric
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- Miriam Cates MP and psychologist Jonathan Haidt address the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship conference in London.
- Cates warns against the fraying social fabric in the West, as fertility rates decline and family structures break down.
- Haidt calls for a ban on children under 16 accessing social media and backs phone-free schools, to fix the mental health crisis in young people.
Miriam Cates MP declares that our social fabric is under strain
Cates, addressing over 1,500 delegates at the ARC Conference, argued that the “triplet trophies of freedom, prosperity, and happiness are more fragile than any time since the war”. Commenting on the decline in fertility rates, she said that our “covenant…is under strain”, and that the “social fabric of our neighbourhoods is unravelling”.
Addressing the challenges of integration, she stated that “the last few weeks have shattered any remaining illusions that our communities are united”, and that “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand”. Cates further warned against the risks posed by “destabilising immigration” in a time of “declining economic prosperity”.
She reaffirmed the role of the family as “the building block of society…the unit that ensures children…are raised in the virtues they need”, and noted that “the support of extended family has weakened and loneliness has increased”.
Cates went on to criticise the inclination of parents to “shield their child from any discomfort”, and in so doing leave them ill-prepared for life. She argued that our “addiction to debt” had “robbed” them of their economic inheritance, and said that our “GDP-obsessed system demands that mothers of small children leave their child in daycare”, regardless of the best interests of the child.
She concluded by affirming that “freedom, prosperity, and happiness are not values…they may be the fruits of a successful society, but they are not its roots” and that “the true roots of Western civilisation are the pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful”.
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls for ban on social media for under-16s, backs phone-free schools
Speaking to Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson at the ARC conference, author and psychologist Jonathan Haidt argued for urgent action to address the rise in children’s mental health issues as a result of social media. “‘The Great Rewiring of Childhood happened between 2010 and 2015,” he told the conference. “But you can’t grow up in networks, you have to grow up in communities… Nobody defends this phone-based childhood. Everyone sees the problems.”
Haidt went on to propose a set of norms to curb the negative effects of social media on children including restrictions on smartphones for children before high school, a ban on social media for those under-16, and for the global expansion of phone-free schools. Haidt’s proposals come as Department for Education guidance on phone-free schools was announced by the UK Government earlier this month.
He also warned of the dangers arising from social media for Western society: “TikTok and Twitter are dangerous for our democracy, and incompatible with the kind of liberal democracy we have developed over the last 150 years.”
DAY 1 A BETTER STORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Leaders set out vision for a renewed future as three-day conference opens
- Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy channels Reagan, calls on West to stand up against threats from China, North Korea, Russia and Hamas
- Australia’s former Deputy PM seeks to restore trust following the ‘Voice’ referendum
ARC leaders open conference
Addressing over 1,500 delegates from 71 countries, ARC’s CEO Baroness Philippa Stroud and Board member Jordan Peterson set out their vision for a better future at a landmark gathering of international leaders.
Opening the conference, Baroness Stroud said: “We’re going to debate what needs to be renewed, and identify a path forward full of strength, hope and vision… to build a community filled with people of courage and strength, that sees the opportunity of abundance, not scarcity and decline”.
Peterson outlined his vision of distributive responsibility, saying that “ARC is our movement into the future… We have the responsibility to face an uncertain future with faith and courage.” He called on international leaders to “define reality and set out the choices that people must make.”
Current and former US House Speakers address threats to the West
Speaking at ARC’s opening session, Kevin McCarthy delivered his first overseas speech since his departure as Speaker of the House, saying that “there is no alternative to western civilisation” and warning that the West needs to “stand up to Communist China, North Korea, Russia and Hamas” in reasserting its values.
The former Speaker went on to echo President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 speech to the UK Parliament: “The ultimate deterrent in the struggle that now is going on in the world will not be bombs or rockets, but a test of wills. The values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated.”
The conference also heard prerecorded remarks from McCarthy’s successor, Speaker Mike Johnson, in his first public address since winning the speakership. “Democracy can be messy, and I believe US Congress and our entire nation has emerged better… the House is back in session” he told the conference, urging the “return [of] responsibility from the Government to the citizenry.”
Former Australian Deputy PM calls for restoration of trust following referendum
The opening session was followed by a panel on a better story for the West chaired by Peterson, and hearing from former Australian Deputy PM John Anderson, historian Os Guinness and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Anderson called for the restoration of trust in the Australian democratic process following the contentious Voice referendum earlier this month: “We want to reinvigorate a citizenship that feels alienated and patronised because they are being alienated and patronised. We can draw out the better angels of our nature, and try and ensure that our democracy works again properly on the basis of restored trust.”
On the need to reiterate a shared democratic story for the West, Anderson commented: “We do not tell our own story anymore. It has left us in a state of confusion… We leave our young people today without a sense of purpose or place or direction.”
The session featured calls from each of the panellists for a return to traditional values of equality of opportunity and faith following a period of directionlessness. “The West is in considerable confusion and uncertainty,” Guinness warned. “People don’t have a sense of meaning as they don’t feel part of a great story or tradition.”
NEW: Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove slams housing financialisation | ARC conference
Speaking on the second day of the ARC conference, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove discussed the state of the property market, criticising recent fiancialisation as “[seeing] housing being used increasingly as a tradeable asset”, and lambasting homeowners for “pulling up the drawbridge” in order to preserve the value of their properties.
Addressing 1,500 delegates from 71 countries at ARC’s inaugural conference, Gove addressed issues with capitalism, arguing that market inequalities have been exacerbated by the Bank of England’s Quantitative Easing regime inflating asset values following the Global Financial Crisis, and corporations concentrating gains “in the hands of the few” through an abuse of market power and extensive lobbying efforts.
Gove singled out big business for co-opting individuals from the ‘resentment industry’ — those who profit from manufactured grievances — to advise on ESG and DEI issues. “The DEI industry doesn’t go for diversity of thought, or genuine diversity of background,” he told the conference.
In his speech Gove broadened his critique of contemporary capitalism beyond economics, emphasising the importance of social policy. “Economics and culture are inextricably interlinked,” he said, advocating for a society which is “free of cancellation” and economically just, alongside promoting entrepreneurship.
“What we need is the Promethean spirit which grabs fire from the gods” – pursuing opportunity, & the “rabbinical spirit – in particular, that we must take inequality seriously”.
NEW: Erica Komisar calls for flexible working, family tax incentives to combat mental health epidemic | ARC Conference
- Speaking in front of 1,500 delegates at the ARC conference, academic Erica Komisar described the child mental health epidemic, and examined the underlying causes driving the issue forward.
- Komisar called for flexible working from employers, family tax incentives, and concerted action from parents to build stable environments for children to grow up in, to help to tackle the problem.
Childcare expert calls for flexible working, family tax incentives to combat mental health epidemic.
“‘Our children are under the worst academic pressure that we have ever heard in history” according to psychoanalyst and parental expert Erica Komisar, who warned of a mental health epidemic in children arising from an absence in parental presence due to contemporary labour market pressures and childcare costs.
Komisar, addressing 1,500 delegates from 71 countries on the second day of the ARC conference in Greenwich, called for a series of reforms to government childcare policies as a necessary step in alleviating the mental health crisis around the world.
“Governments need to give all mothers the option to stay home for a full year, and support them with resources so they can work part-time for another two years,” she told the conference. Komisar also called for school to start later for teenagers, tax incentives for married parents, and a tax credit system incentivising parents to invest in mental health care.
The author of two books on parenting, Komisar also called on the private sector to enable new parents to spend more time with their new children: “employers have a role to play in allowing parents the space and time to be present for their children, providing options of flexible hours and hybrid working hours, encouraging career pauses to parents raising their children…as well as providing re-entry points for women.”
NEW: Former Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane calls on UK Government to address low growth, regional inequalities | ARC Conference
- Royal Society of Arts boss calls for local decision making and increased private financing to solve UK’s regional malaise
Speaking on the second day of the ARC conference, Haldane called for the UK to localise decision-making and increase the level of private financing in a bid to address twin blights of “low growth and large regional inequalities.”
“Currently in the UK [decision-making] is both centralised and single,” Haldane told an audience of 1,500 delegates. “It needs to become localised and plural.” On the need to unlock private funding, Haldane commented that easing the pathways for private investment is needed, as “too little [money] is finding its home where it can be.”
Haldane spoke alongside Australian Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor and Blue Labour founder Lord Maurice Glasman, in a panel discussion on the communities economically left behind hosted by academic and pollster Matt Goodwin.
Glasman advocated for increased access to capital through regional banks in order to address local inequalities.”[We need to] restore place, restore access to capital, and restore the dignity of labour,” the Labour peer said. Glasman also called for largescale education reforms to reduce income divides, advocating for half of all universities to be converted into vocational colleges.
The session featured a discussion with siblings Korie and Willie Robertson, the stars of U.S. reality show Duck Dynasty, discussing their experience growing up in a ‘flyover state’ and the importance of local relationships. “When you live in a community you truly live in community. We can have different opinions and different views and we can come around the table and love and respect one another,” Korie said.
NEW: Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price heralds referendum as “turning point” for Australia | ARC Conference
- Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price addresses the ARC conference, declares the Voice referendum a “turning point” for Australia.
- Price calls for “no more separatism”, and criticises a Yes campaign that “sought to divide us along the lines of race”.
In a speech to the ARC Conference in London in the wake of the Voice referendum result earlier this month, Price called the vote “a turning point in our nation, in Australia.”
Addressing 1,500 delegates Price said that the vote “has emboldened everyday Australians to believe that it is perfectly OK to be who you are. To be proud of who you are as an individual.”
The Liberal Party politician criticised a Yes campaign that has “sought to divide us along the lines of race”, and had attempted to remove agency for indigenous Australians, sending the message that “it was the responsibility of white Australia to empower [indigenous Australians] through our constitution.”
Setting out a vision for the party’s approach to social policy ahead of a likely 2025 General Election, Price said that “the way forward from here is no more separatism, no more dividing us along the lines of race, no more political correctness, no more identity politics… recognising that we don’t need another to empower us. We can do that ourselves, and we can do it very well.”
Price said the result has created “hope and unity”, and “emboldened everyday Australians to understand that it is perfectly okay to be who you are.”