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Inside the ARC: a dispatch from the ‘anti-WEF’ think-tank
"Those who want to resist the globalist status quo will require funding, organising & strong leadership. The ARC appears to be an earnest attempt to fulfill this mandate."
This is a The Dossier contributor post from Rebekah Barnett, an independent journalist based in Perth, Australia. She is the author of the Substack, Dystopian Down Under.
Inside the ARC
Positioned as an ‘anti-WEF’ think-tank, the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) held its inaugural three-day international conference from 30th of October – 1st of November in London.
I was fortunate to attend as a member of The Aussie Wire’s media team (not sponsored by the ARC). Following is my experience of the invite-only conference, which was attended by a who’s-who of conservative politicians, academics, media personalities and other thought leaders, totalling 1,500 guests from just over 70 countries.
What did they talk about for three days?
Founded by psychologist Jordan Peterson, think-tanker Baroness Philippa Stroud, and former Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, and with a slew of high-profile names on its advisory board, the ARC is big picture in orientation. Its core concerns are organised into three main categories:
Family, social fabric and population
Affordable energy and environmental care
Free enterprise and good governance
The audience heard keynotes and panels discuss all these topics, all folded into the overarching theme of ‘better stories.’
“Decline is not inevitable. We believe there is a better story, one of optimism.”
- Baroness Philippa Stroud
It is well-understood that the stories we tell ourselves – as individuals and as groups - powerfully determine our experience of any given situation, and how we respond to it. The ARC seemed very focused on getting the vision and values in place at the high level, and so the talks and panels dwelt on narrative, values and principles moreso than brass tacks policy talk.
Geopolitics wasn’t discussed much from the stage, but it’s worth mentioning that on the few occasions that it came up, the take was pro-Israel. Anyone who had a differing view expressed it quietly off to the side.
Religion and spirituality were a surprisingly strong theme, with talks from a bishop, several pastors, a rabbi, amongst others. Art was also a major theme, with the organisers seeming to have a keen understanding of the role and power of faith and art in changing hearts and minds. Konstantin Kisin joked, in his talk, about destroying someone on Twitter “with facts and logic.” Everyone laughed because obviously, facts and logic rarely change a person’s mind. Mostly, you have to reach the heart before the mind can open. The ARC clearly gets this.
Who was there?
The guest list skewed conservative and/or academic. You can see the ARC advisory board here, most of whom were in attendance and/or spoke. Other people I met or saw wandering around were Bret Weinstein, Jay Bhattacharya, Aaron Kheriaty, Nick Hudson, a lot of Australian and British politicians, Konstantin Kisin, James Lindsay, Douglas Murray, and heaps more.
Some have expressed annoyance that some of the invitees are known globalist types and/or associated with authoritarian and dishonest conduct during the pandemic. Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (‘Scomo’), UK politician Michael Gove and US politician Dan Crenshaw are names that come to mind.
I suspect that the inclusion of some globalist types is due to the fact that the ARC is operating in the political sphere and is therefore subject, to a degree, to the rules of the political game. They appear to be aiming for a broach church approach rather than a purist approach.
There were some notable omissions from the guest and speaker list, particularly those thought leaders who had been most vocal about the shortcomings of our political and media leadership during the pandemic. Names like Mattias Desmet, Peter McCullough, Robert Malone and Tess Lawrie seemed conspicuously absent given their calibre and influence over the past several years.
Were Covid crimes addressed?
On day one I looked around and thought, ‘I bet at least half the room stayed silent or supported draconian pandemic policies. I wonder if it will be addressed?’ We had to wait until day three for the reckoning, when artist Jonathan Pageau took to the stage.
Using the pandemic response, and the West’s particular preoccupation with ‘safety’, as an example of how a myopic approach can cause widespread damage, Pageau said, “We sacrificed and subjugated all other goods… that provide meaning and purpose for nearly two years in some places.” He added, “Safety is a good… it is simply not a supreme good.” Pageau gave the topic a crack, but given who was in the room, they could have gone harder.
Be real - is the ARC just WEF 2.0?
The main similarity to the WEF is in the event structure: a pre-determined message was delivered by hand-picked speakers to an audience of selected influencers and policy makers from around the world, with the express purpose of creating change. There were no debates, no plebs, and while speakers were diverse in most respects, they were not diverse in thought. All of this fits fairly neatly with what we know of the WEF model.
But the content of the message and the formula for change was ideologically the opposite of the WEF. For starters, one of the ARC’s core principles is that policies must be voluntarily entered into. No mandates, no force.
Another anti-WEF theme at the ARC was that power should be decentralised and distributed at the most local level possible (subsidiarity). ARC speakers characterised the West’s preoccupation with Net Zero and ‘renewables at all costs’ as technocratic and anti-human, calling instead for a rational, pro-human approach to climate and energy policy. They were similarly critical of centralised monetary policy, with calls for an end to ‘crony capitalism’ and ‘theft by inflation in order to finance wars you would never agree to if the government sent you the bill.’
The ARC speakers were pro-traditional values, pro-family autonomy (i.e.: government policies and funding streams should support families choosing what’s best for them) and pro-faith, or spirituality, as a means of moral orientation. Also, no one suggested eating bugs.
You really couldn’t be less WEF in terms of the actual content.
But isn’t the ARC funded by George Soros, and therefore WEF in sheep’s clothing?
Again, not as far as I can tell. This rumour seems to stem from the fact that one of the ARC’s advisory board members, hedge fund boss Sir Paul Marshall, received seed funding from Soros about 25 years ago. The amplification of this fact in some circles can possibly be put down to Soros Derangement Syndrome.
There were so many wonderful talks it hurts to only share a handful, but here are my top picks for highly recommended viewing.
A Pro-Human Environmental Policy, Michael Shellenberger
Energy expert and science communicator Michael Shellenberger ‘debunked’ climate hysteria myths with data, suggesting that our climate challenges are not insurmountable, and proposing practical solutions. In particular, Shellenberger argued for nuclear energy as a clean and energy-dense alternative to fossil fuels.
Children Need a Childhood, Erica Komisar
Psychoanalyst and parent coach Erica Komisar described the child mental health epidemic and examined the underlying causes, calling for better support for families, which in turn will benefit the social fabric. “There is no social fabric without healthy families,” said Komisar.
Overcoming Woke Nihilism, Konstantin Kisin
Satirist and podcaster Konstantin Kisin told the conference, it’s time to stop fostering victimhood. “There are some people whose brains have been broken. To them our past is abominable, and our future is one of managed decline. My message is simple. How Dare You!? You will not steal my son’s future with empty words.” Cue laughter and applause.
Panel: Sexual Revolution
Louise Perry, Jordan Peterson, Mary Harrington, Stephen Blackwood
Panellists discussed the modern rejection of sex-based norms and questioned whether this “progress” had in fact improved life for men, women, and children.
What Japanese art can teach us about the Culture War, Makoto Fujimura
Artist Makoto Fujimura spoke about the Japanese art of Kintsugi as metaphor for personal and societal restoration. The Kintsugi master doesn’t just restore what is broken to its original form, but “instead highlights the fractures. They sprinkle gold on top, therefore accentuating the fractures and making something new out of the brokenness.”
Fighting Monopoly, Cronyism and Woke Capitalism, Sir Paul Marshall
Hedge fund boss Sir Paul Marshall called for an end to “crony capitalism,” arguing that “predatory behaviour” in business and finance is rife.” He argued that “free market capitalism is the greatest instrument of poverty relief that the world has ever seen”.
And finally, an honourable mention for a talk that is not yet featured on the ARC YouTube channel, but can be watched via ADH TV. Author and theologian Amy Orr-Ewing argued that forgiveness is fundamental to a joyful and peaceful life. This topic might seem esoteric, but may be pertinent to the many who have been aggrieved during the pandemic era by the actions of government, healthcare practitioners, employers and even family members.
Love or hate the idea of the ARC, those who want to resist the globalist status quo will require funding, organising and strong leadership. The ARC appears to be an earnest attempt to fulfill this mandate.
Follow Rebekah Barnett’s Substack, Dystopian Down Under