Friends, I don’t usually do reporting, but I made an exception for the second National Conservatism Conference in Rome where I finally met our own @melissaosullivan! I don’t remember anyone else from Ricochet being there, so, as I said, I’ll do the reporting.
Let me start with the important things: Rome on February 3-4 is bright, clear, with intense blue skies, scarcely a cloud, the temperatures rise to the low 60s, winds get strong, sometimes approaching 20 mph, and the cypresses and pines are evergreen. You can see the gulls’ padded feet in the Tiber working rhythmically against the current. You can see the Romans go around in winter coats with silly little pocket dogs. It is paradise with occasional chills. Not a lot of tourists, either, so I recommend it if you’re ever in the mood to visit a city where they have big buildings from 2,000 years ago and they make decent coffee, too.
The organizer is Mr. Yoram Hazony, the most active and successful organizer among intellectuals nowadays. This Rome conference follows last year’s conference in Washington DC, the first of its kind, and will be followed by this summer’s new Washington DC conference. Too many famous and interesting people spoke in Washington — you can find most of the conference speeches on YouTube.
I’ll just say who spoke at the Rome conference: Doug Murray, Rod Dreher, and Poland’s Ryszard Legutko were among the intellectuals. (The latter was a dissident under communism, involved in samizdat publishing, and I felt honored to shake his hand and grumble about who isn’t really a conservative or a nationalist.) There were also a number of politicians from Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and three important ones: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, the hope of the French Catholic Right, Marion Marechal, and President of the Brothers of Italy, Deputy Giorgia Meloni, a notable Italian politician apparently a messenger from Italy’s only important politician of the moment, Matteo Salvini.
As to the day’s work, I’ll just mention it briefly, because there is very much to say and I’m not sure how interested you are in minor politicians or intellectual positions that might become important in the next decade. Lots of interesting ideas and almost an entire absence of debate, despite very many disagreements just visible on the surface. So it was both very agreeable and remarkably fertile so far as thinking goes, but I have no idea what practically follows from the proceedings. I wrote up the conference for:
- Law & Liberty, writing about the difficulty of yoking together intellectuals and politicians, and what European politics looks like these days.
- Catholic World Report, the coming confrontation within Catholicism between global and national loyalties, between the European past and African future.
- American Greatness, on Hungarian PM Orban’s astute remarks to intellectuals. He’s the most successful politician in Europe and remarkable.
- American Mind, on Christianity’s spiritual war against trans-humanism, in Rod Dreher and Marion Marechal’s speeches. (Upcoming.)
- City Journal, the relationship between liberalism, conservatism, and Christianity in right-wing politics as it is now articulated. (Upcoming.)