The National Conservatism Conference in Rome


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:

  1. Law & Liberty, writing about the difficulty of yoking together intellectuals and politicians, and what European politics looks like these days.
  2. Catholic World Report, the coming confrontation within Catholicism between global and national loyalties, between the European past and African future.
  3. American Greatness, on Hungarian PM Orban’s astute remarks to intellectuals. He’s the most successful politician in Europe and remarkable.
  4. American Mind, on Christianity’s spiritual war against trans-humanism, in Rod Dreher and Marion Marechal’s speeches. (Upcoming.)
  5. City Journal, the relationship between liberalism, conservatism, and Christianity in right-wing politics as it is now articulated. (Upcoming.)
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  1. GFHandle Member

    I read this in your report a few days ago,

    The one British member of Parliament in attendance, Daniel Kaczynski, was forced by the Tories to apologize publicly for being in the same room as the most successful politician on the continent, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

    and despaired.  Apparently, the left is always successful in its slander campaigns. Orbán is painted as some sort of atavistic anti-Semite. (E.g. ” When U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán Monday in Washington, he should realize that he is welcoming a leader who deals in hateful anti-Semitic tropes. Orbán will tell him otherwise. The Hungarian leader will insist that he’s the best friend of Hungarian Jews. He’s anything but”–Politico). You hear this stuff enough and unconsciously it starts to stick. Then the Tory Party gives it official sanction and you worry the other way–the spineless run the world.

    So they succeed. If I were asked to support Orbán,  I would actually hesitate because I do not know enough–and I follow this stuff more than most voters, I think. I would have to spend more time than I have to research the charges. I am pretty sure the charge is a slur. If I had to bet, I would put money on it. I know what the left does. But either way, I am depressed. Either, a good leader is being successfully slimed or an ugly sin is bubbling to the boil.

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  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Well, I think Mr. Hazony’s conferences & all the other ones associated with it–for example Mr. John O’Sullivan’s Danube Institute in Budapest was part of the organization…–are hard at work to defend the respectability of national politics. They indeed must face the ugliest things the press can throw at them.

    & it will be ugly, because there are many ugly things happening. In America, hatred of Jews is mostly the work of Progressives on campus. In that capacity, called BDS, it’s a small faction of the Democrat party, & receives protection institutionally, not just in the press. So of course these people have to call someone else names.

    In Europe, it’s not different. The best example is France. Thousands of Jews run from the country every year, but the authorities & the elite press are very proud of themselves as friends of Jews. They call the right-wing anti-Semitic, yet it is the policies & protection of the liberal center & the left that led to so much violence against Jews, mostly, it seems, by African immigrants, that they’re running scared.

    There’s an implication that liberals will police speech to smear the political right, nationalism, while abetting & aiding a left that hates Jews & wants to do violence to them. The relationship between the British elite press & Labour is not much different. If most British Jews are worried & Jewish organizations complain about Labour, they should just learn to shut up & obey their liberal betters.

    I’ve not heard yet of PM Orban doing anything comparable. His crime seems to be that he’s a successful nationalist politician. We need not believe he is wonderful or a hero. Only to see if he’s actually doing anything wicked; whereas Western elites have done & are doing & are encouraging many things that are either themselves unjust & wicked, or directly protect the wickedness of others they have brought in as immigrants.

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  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    More by me for you:

    • #3
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