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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

Inspiring Pride in our Western Civilisation

Statue of Liberty by Francisco Diez

We hear, ad nauseam, of the need to prevent Muslim youth in Western societies from being radicalised.

Too little effort is made to inspire them with the values of our Western Civilisation.

We live in one of the most tolerant, prosperous and free societies in the history of mankind. Our liberties are based on certain rights which have been developed and refined over many centuries. These include our rights to free speech; to our religious and political beliefs; to choose our friends and associates, and whom we may marry; to nurture our children and to pass on our values to them; to choose our occupation; to choose where we may live; to choose what we may eat or drink or wear; to choose our entertainments; to private property - to retain the rewards from our work and to dispose of them as we see fit; to form voluntary associations – clubs, societies and businesses; to equal protection under the law; to habeas corpus - not to be detained unlawfully; to be able to enter into legally enforceable contracts; and so on.

These are what distinguish us from the totalitarian regimes which deliver poverty, destroy trust among their citizens, and terrorize, censor and imprison or kill those who disagree with the party line.

Perhaps if there was a little more in our school curricula about the roots of our culture, if our children were taught about Magna Carta; the Glorious Revolution; Adam Smith and the benefits we all derive from specialisation and exchange; the miracle of the price mechanism as the tool for the allocation of scarce resources; free trade - Richard Cobden[1] and the Corn Laws, Bastiat and the Candlemakers; John Stuart Mill and F.A. Hayek on liberty; and Ludwig von Mises on philosophy and economics; they would understand just how good it is and how lucky we are. They could be proud of our society and grateful to be its citizens. Their teachers would have set a good example.

The fight against Islamist terrorism is an ideological battle. If we are to succeed we must appreciate our civilisation and live its values. Then all our youth, including Muslim youth, can be inspired to be proud of our society and behave as good citizens. They will be resilient to radicalisation.


[1] Matthew McCaffrey, a young academic from the University of Manchester, in the Mises Wire on 8th June 2017 wrote:

“Many in Manchester are still reeling from the May 22nd suicide bombing that killed 23 people and left dozens more injured. Since then, thousands have come to visit a memorial in St. Ann’s square, a short distance from the site of the attack, to place flowers or to offer prayers for the victims and their loved ones. Such a peaceful response is inspiring, but the St. Ann’s memorial carries a deeper significance as well: many visitors likely do not realize they are placing their flowers at the foot of a statue of Richard Cobden (1804-1865), the great 19th-century liberal and Manchester political economist.”

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