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Western Civilisation is in Terminal Decline


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China is fast becoming the next world superpower, while India – with its vast young population, booming jobs market and burgeoning economy – is on the march. Meanwhile, Wall Street has plunged the world into the global financial crisis. In the West, economies are crashing, mortgages are defaulting, and the armies of unemployed are growing, while birth rates shrink and the population ages.

And America, which entered the new millennium as the world’s one superpower, is facing record debt, a shrinking middle class and an uncertain future.

Who are the world leaders in technology, science, manufacturing and the environment? Who cultivates the best students, and the brightest innovators? And where’s the intelligence in a culture that celebrates Snooki and endless Spiderman reboots over the classics?

After 500 years in the spotlight, the West just might have lost its way.

Speaking for the proposition will be The Australian’s economics editor David Uren, Asialink CEO Jenny McGregor and Professor Kenneth Chern, former director of Asian Affairs at the White House and current Professor of Asian Policy and executive director of the Swinburne Leadership Institute.

Speaking against the proposition are journalist/author/broadcaster Dr Susan Maushart; Dr John Lee, a foreign policy academic and China expert; and writer, academic and founding editor of The Asian Law Journal, Professor Tim Lindsey.

This event is also part of our series AMERICA, in which we explore the future of the superpower nation and the challenges it presently faces.

Too often, the big issues feel ill-served by parliamentary question time or the 24-hour news cycle. Big issues and bigger ideas deserve informed and passionate consideration. Beyond the soundbites, beyond the sloganeering, beyond the posturing, there’s the debate.

The Wheeler Centre and St James Ethics Centre combine once again in 2012 to bring you another series of Intelligence Squared debates.

Established in 2002, IQ2 has spread from across the globe, bringing the traditional form of Cambridge and Oxford Unions-style debating – with two sides proposing and opposing a sharply formed motion – to Melbourne Town Hall.


Jenny McGregor

Jenny McGregor is the founding CEO of Asialink at The University of Melbourne and founding Executive Director of the Asia Education Foundation. Under her leadership Asialink has become Australia’s largest non-government centre for the promotion of Australia-Asia relations, with an annual budget of... Read more

David Uren

David Uren is Economics Editor with The Australian, where he has run the paper’s economics coverage since 2004, and is author of the new book on Australia’s relationship with China, The Kingdom and the Quarry, which explores the tension between our economic ties and our strategic fears. He is al... Read more

Susan Maushart

Journalist, broadcaster and recovering academic Dr. Susan Maushart is the author of five books, including the feminist classics The Mask of Motherhood and Wifework and the internationally acclaimed memoir and BBC Book of the Week The Winter of Our Disconnect (soon to be a minor motion picture). As a... Read more

Kenneth Chern

Kenneth Chern is Professor of Asian Policy at Swinburne University and Executive Director of the Swinburne Leadership Institute. A former diplomat, he served as US Consul General in Perth, Deputy Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, and Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Desk at the Department of ... Read more

Tim Lindsey

Tim Lindsey is Malcolm Smith Professor of Asian Law and Director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne. He is also chair of DFAT’s Australia Indonesia Institute and was a member of the Reference Group for the former National Asian Languages and Studies ... Read more

John Lee

Dr. John Lee is the Michael Hintze Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Centre for International Security Studies, Sydney University. He is also a non-resident Senior Scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. An expert in China’s political-economy, East and Southeast Asian foreign... Read more


Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.