The alt-right and the Ramsay Centre

What does the alt-right think of a degree in Western Civilisation?

The Ramsay Centre logo repeated three times over a gold and blue gradient background

Much has been written on the ideological underpinnings of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation and what running such a course at public universities would mean. Central to the critiques levelled is that the Ramsay Centre is a Western supremacist project, courtesy of its content and those — like Tony Abbott    who have pushed for it.

This year, the list of the Ramsay Centre’s “distinguished visiting speakers” was revealed. Speakers included Rod Dreher, whose response to the Christchurch massacre was that “everything [the shooter] Tarrant identifies as qualities of a disintegrating Western civilisation is true”, as well as Rachel Fulton Brown, an academic who in her spare time runs a fan blog dedicated to alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos has solicited the advice of neo-Nazis and endorsed pedophillia.

With the Ramsay Centre openly promoting views associated with the alt-right, it’s pertinent to ask what the local Australian alt-right think about the Ramsay Centre’s attempts to set up degrees at various public universities?

Founded in 2016 by Tim Wilms and Sukith Fernando, The Unshackled produces regular articles, videos and podcasts from an alt-right perspective. The publication is perhaps best known for their interviews with a smorgasbord of the Australian far right. On the Ramsay Centre, Wilms takes the view that Ramsay degrees in Western civilisation would provide “balance” within “left wing universities”, which are “dominated by Marxist academics and students” and the Ramsay Centre is an example of a “right wing or positive institute”.

The Unshackled’s political editor, Michael Smyth, concurs with Wilms and pushes the messaging further, outlining the positive benefits teaching “teaser courses in Western civilisation” would have if done at the primary or secondary school level, saying that it would “smash the left.”

The Dingoes (who popularised amongst the Australian far-right a meme character that Brenton Tarrant used) are a group of young men who go by pseudonyms such as Tory and Digger, with former Sydney University Liberal student, Clifford Jennings — who orchestrated the alt-right stack of The Nationals — believed to be intimately involved. The group run a regular podcast called The Convict Report in which the Ramsay Centre is a frequent topic of discussion. The podcasters describe the Centre as “our great civilisation backers”, refer to the National Tertiary Education Union as “terrorists” and believe that one cannot separate Western civilisation from “the people who made it and the people shaped by it.” It’s clear from their complaints about the “soft gloves” used in the Australian National University’s dealings with the Ramsay Centre that the Dingoes would much prefer the Centre push ahead with the kind of secretive dealings it recently engaged in with the University of Wollongong (UoW).

Anti-feminist Youtuber, Sydney, who video blogs under ‘Sydney MGTOW’ (Men Going Their Own Way) also supports the Ramsay Centre setting up degrees in Western civilisation. In a livestream video after the UoW deal went public, he specifically targets academic Sarah Keenan, a former Visiting Fellow at the University who resigned from her post when news of the Ramsay-UoW deal went public, saying the “Ramsay Centre seeks to… institutionalise a far-right intellectual agenda into Australian higher education.” Sydney argues Keenan’s resignation is “proof of the feminist takeover of universities.”

The XYZ blog which is “dedicated to Western restoration” supports the Centre’s attempts, albeit with a pessimistic outlook on its chances of success. Editor David Hiscox writes “option B involves a major coordinated helicopter night assault by patriots against every major institution of so called ‘higher learning’ in the West.” He concludes by advising colleagues on the right that “we could do with a little more aggression.”

Ultimately, the alt-right’s support for the Ramsay Centre’s is not surprising to those with even a cursory knowledge of the alt-right. A false binary of ‘the West and the rest’ and a supremacist ‘West is best’ philosophy underpins the alt-right movement, as does the notion that universities are corrupted by left wing thought promulgated by academics and pandering to snowflake students.

The Ramsay Centre thus represents a political project which speaks to both of these concerns. With a focus on the unique and superior nature of Western civilisation, combined with running this course through the public university system (as opposed to private institutions, such as Campion College which is noticeably similar) — the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is an alt-right delight.

Honi has seen minutes from the University Executive’s College Consultative Committee from March which indicate that “a response remains pending” to the University’s MoU submitted last year.