Products – The Centre for Independent Studies

Acton Lecture 2017: Civic Virtues and the Politics of ‘Full Drift Ahead’

Iain Benson
19 June 2017 | OP155
Acton Lecture 2017: Civic Virtues and the Politics of ‘Full Drift Ahead’

Today almost everyone affirms the importance of ‘values’ but few would insist these are shared moral essentials.  How is it that the most common term of our political and even private moralities became so relativistic and what, in anything, could be offered as an alternative?

Law professor, cultural observer and theorist on religion and pluralism, Prof Iain Benson, will offer some insights and guidance on steps he argues are essential for education, justice and politics in our time.

Professor Iain Benson has been involved in many of the leading cases on rights of association, conscience and religion in Canada and other countries for two decades and acted for a wide variety of individuals and groups as legal counsel before all levels of court. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa have cited his work. His scholarly work is referred to in many books and articles and he is listed in Canada’s Who’s Who. Prof Benson was one of the drafters of the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms (signed by all major religions in that country in 2010) and remains closely involved in advancing the Charter in that country and similar projects elsewhere.

His international work means he divides his time between France, Canada, South Africa and now Australia.

Latest Publications

Reflections on the EU Project and its Flaws: A fatal conceit about markets and the real world
Richard Alston
09 September 2021 | OP185

The European Union shows all the signs of worsening economic, social and political decline — from tepid economic growth and chronically high unemployment to social unrest and rising political extremism. This paper reflects on the idealistic roots of early European integration in the wake of two world wars, before exploring how these worthy intentions have long given way to a…

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The Threat of Identity Politics
Simon Heffer
01 September 2021 | OP184

Global outrage over the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman in America last year has been harnessed by activist groups such as Black Lives Matter to support demands for social and political upheaval that go way beyond making racial equality a reality. This has led to the weaponisation of identity politics across much of the Western world, causing…

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The Psychology of Populism: Tribal Challenges to Liberal Democracy
Joseph P. Forgas
19 August 2021 | OP183

The resurgence of both left-wing and right-wing populism presents a serious challenge for liberal democracies. Whereas liberal democracy is based on the Enlightenment principles of individualism, tolerance and freedom, populism is a fundamentally collectivist, anti-individualist and anti-Enlightenment tribal ideology. This paper goes beyond economic and other explanations for the resurgence of populism to provide a much fuller psychological account —…

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Scaling up success in majority Indigenous schools
Noel Pearson
08 July 2021 | OP182

Addressing the Centre for Independent Studies, Noel Pearson outlines his insights and observations from decades of experience supporting education in remote majority Indigenous communities. He outlines the 6C Education model — Childhood, Class, Club, Culture, Civics, Community — adopted at Good to Great Schools, the organisation he co-Chairs, and the critical role played by teacher-led, direct instruction. Noel argues that…

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Afghanistan on the brink of an abyss
William Maley
01 July 2021 | OP181

Australia’s recent closure of its embassy in Kabul, and the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan after 20 years by 11 September 2021, casts a deep shadow over Afghanistan’s future prospects. In this paper, leading expert on Afghanistan, William Maley, examines the implications of the US withdrawal. He discusses how the ‘peace process’ that was supposed to flow from…

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