Welcome to the Center for Western Civilization, a block from UC Berkeley.

Ignorance is the greatest threat to our civilization. Departments of Liberal Arts are shrinking in our major universities. Courses in the Western Tradition, history, literature, art, poetry, philosophy, and ethics are no longer required. Few students have enough understanding of the origins and principles of Western Civilization to maintain or advance our democratic institutions. The absence of this critical knowledge threatens the future of our personal freedoms.

It is our responsibility to support every effort to keep the lights of freedom burning before we descend into darkness.

Located near the University of California, Berkeley, the Center will host symposiums, retreats, lectures, meetings, and provide housing for interested students from home and abroad. It will be a place to research, discuss, and further our understanding of the institutions and moral values of Western Civilization.

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“An advanced society functions by creating a series of institutions, telling them what it wants them to do, and funding them to do it. Institutions like the police, fire departments, courts and schools do the jobs society creates them to do. But one American institution—higher education—has decided to repurpose itself. It has set aside the job given to it by society and substituted a different one… a destructive and long since discredited political ideology is now using colleges and universities to gain a degree of influence over society that it could never have achieved at the ballot box. That’s election interference on a scale not remotely matched by anything that was alleged in the 2020 election.”
— John Ellis in the Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2021. John Ellis is professor emeritus of German literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of “The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done.”

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“No people will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved.”

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American Founding Father, 4th Governor of Massachusetts (1794-1797)


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“For most of its history, America was a nation characterized by reverence as much as by love of liberty. Like the Israelites at Sinai, the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, seeking to serve God, covenantally entered into a civil body politic even before they hit land or had an economy. Our Constitution is not neutral as between religion and irreligion. Although, unlike other nations, we have no established religion, our most fundamental right, enshrined in the First Amendment, protects religion’s free exercise.”

Leon Kass, in an essay adapted from his new book, FOUNDING GOD’S NATION: READING EXODUS (Yale University Press, 2021), Wall Street Journal, Saturday Essay, January 9-10, 2021

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“Neither America nor any other nation has perfectly lived up to the universal truths of equality, liberty, justice, and government by consent… But no nation before America ever dared state those truths as the formal basis for its politics, and none has strived harder, or done more, to achieve them… Historical revisionism that tramples honest scholarship and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated by more discrimination, is an ideology intended to manipulate opinions more than educate minds.” 

The 1776 Commission Report, 2020, quoted in The Epoch Times.

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“For the past four years, potted histories have warned about the rise of fascism in the U.S., but the real danger is the transformation of ‘tolerance’ into an ideology with its own courst, informers and punishments, all of them reminiscent of the Soviet Union… One of the pillars of the Soviet Union was a controlled press in which all coverage was organized to confirm a mendacious ideology.” 

David Satter, author of Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union and a member of the academic advisory board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. This quote was taken from the Wall Street Journal’s article, “Soviet Politics, American Style”, December 23, 2020

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“When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”

—Thomas Paine, American Founding Father (1737-1809) and political activist supporting the American Revolution

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“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.”

“Paul Revere’s Ride,” Stanza 1, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1860

“If we don’t know the stories of America, how can we know America? We are more than political ideas. We are a people who live those ideas out in common. Knowing those ideas is a vital first step, but part of how we know them is knowing how they came into being and how they were subsequently lived out in history. So by pushing away these common stories of our heroes, we have allowed ourselves to be drained of our very common identity as Americans… If we don’t feel the power of what has gone before, we will hardly be drawn to do our part in perpetuating American liberty. That’s what songs and poems and stories and paintings and sculptures can do… So go forth and love America, knowing that if your love is true it will be transmuted one way or another into a love of everything that is good beyond America, which is her golden promise to the world, and the promise that we, you and I, must keep.” 

Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (Penguin 2016)

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“Moral relativism is antithetical to the American founding, which relies on transcendent, immutable truths as in ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God’ – for its justification. ‘That all men are created equal’ is articulated as a moral principle in the Declaration of Independence. Either that is true universally, at all times, for all peoples, and you can therefore have something like the American Republic, or it’s not, and you get something like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or communist China.”

Robert R. Reilly in an interview with Joseph Pearce, Epoch Times, September 9-5, 2020. Mr. Reilly’s most recent book, released by Ignatius Press, is titled: “America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding”.

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“Socialism, which dates back to 1917, when Lenin founded the world’s first socialist state… collapsed across the world because the people who lived under it considered it to be a form of slavery… Socialism has made everyday existence a living hell nearly everywhere it has been tried, all over the world…”

Dinesh d’Souza, The United States of Socialism (New York: All Points Books/St. Martin’s, 2020)

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“The Western tradition is the source of America’s founding principles and constitutional system. That is the most important reason for civic-minded citizens to study it. And while America has been shaped by the particularities of Western civilization, the liberal principles nurtured by this tradition represent our best hope for national reconciliation across boundaries of race, ethnicity, and religion…  ( 7)

“We used to believe that individual liberty, religious freedom, liberal democracy, free markets, constitutionalism, scientific rationality, and the rule of law were significant enough to justify a focus on the traditions that created them—traditions that originated in the biblical and classical worlds, then developed through the Christian Middle Ages and the Europe of the Enlightenment, and finally spread to America and beyond. This was the core idea of Western Civilization…  (15)

The Lost History of Western Civilization, A report by the National Association of Scholars 2020, by Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

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“The legacy of our culture is unsurpassed in human history; to ignore it is an act of rank self-hatred… The origin of the concept of Western civilization as a subject is found in the “War Issues” course offered to students at Columbia University in 1918, just after the United States’ entry into World War I. By learning the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world, students were given the opportunity to understand the values for which they were about to be asked to risk their lives. In 1919, the Columbia course was developed into “An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization,” which was followed by a similar innovation at the University of Chicago in 1931.”
Andrew Roberts, “Why We Must Teach Western Civilization,” National Review, May 18, 2020;
(Viking, 2018)

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“A West whose ethicists coolly contemplate infantile euthanasia, whose nations roll back their magnificent jurisprudence to make room for the atrocity of sharia, whose historians argue themselves out of the objective reality of human rights because they have lost faith in the numinous basis of those rights—such a West may not be heading for disaster as much as it is living in the midst of one, a comfortable and prosperous disaster to which our default atheism makes us blind, a dystopia in which we are increasingly happy and increasingly savage at the same time.
It need not be so. Outside the Enlightenment Narrative, there is absolutely no reason to abandon the faith that created our civilization. The flowering of the Western mind took place under the Christian sun. The light that led us here can lead us on.”
Andrew Klavan in “Can We Believe?”, City Journal, Spring 2019, https://www.city-journal.org/faith-western-civilization


“Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (103 BC – 43 BC)   Read Michael Poliakoff’s excellent article, “A Childish Fear of Western Civilization,” found at the Imaginative Conservative online magazine.

“What do we mean by “becoming American”? When we break it down, there are three irreducible elements. First, accepting the values encoded in the U.S. Constitution: free speech, the division of powers, religious toleration, and so on. Second, understanding the unwritten codes bound up with those values: civic engagement, open competition, private contract, equality for women. Third, speaking English. And where do these three characteristics have their origin? Not in Korea or Romania or Ecuador, though people from those places can adopt them as easily as anyone else. What we mean by Anglo-Saxon civilization is the set of cultural, social, and political assumptions parceled together in the English-speaking world.”
Daniel Hannan, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World. Broadside e-books, 2013. Kindle edition, Loc.5139


“Plato’s Forms are remarkably inconvenient. They remind us that there is always a higher standard, a model of excellence by which everything we do or say or encounter must be measured—and inevitably be found wanting. At one level, we all become Platonists when we are conscious of our own shortcomings and weaknesses. We move through life aware we could be, or should be, someone different: someone more honest, more courageous, more compassionate…For Plato, that someone is the higher self. We may resent its presence, but it’s hard to ignore. Being true to that self, the soul, means living up to those models of perfection in thought, word, and action.”         

Arthur Herman, The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization (Random House, 2014) 21


Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020), upon receiving the Defender of Western Civilization award  from Intercollegiate Studies Institute, September 19, 2019:

“Our Western Civilization is not some peculiar, narrow little obsession of people who happen to live in a certain geographical part of the world. It is an inheritance, constantly expanding, constantly including new things. It is something which has given us the knowledge of the human heart, which has enabled us to produce not just wonderful economies and the wonderful ways of living in the world that are ours, but also the great works of art, the religions, the systems of law and government, all the other things which make it actually possible for us to recognize that we live in this world, insofar as possible, successfully.”

For video and full speech, visit: https://isi.org/intercollegiate-review/a-thing-called-civilization/