"Democracy, Secularism, and the Conservative Argument"

Held Thursday July 7th - Sunday July 10th, 2011 at Leuven, Belgium

     The 6th Annual Vanenburg Meeting took place last year, from July 7 to 10, at La Foresta Monastery outside of Leuven. Under the auspices of the Center for European Renewal, the Vanenburg Meeting once again brought together academics, lawyers, writers, philosophers, and students for three days of discussions about the cultural and political challenges facing Europe.

     The theme of the Meeting was “Democracy, Secularism and the Conservative Argument,” which inspired many of the lectures, presentations, and evening discussions.

     Welcome remarks were given on Friday by local host Frank Judo, followed by a formal introduction to the theme of the Meeting given by current CER President, András Lánczi.

     Philosopher Roger Scruton, conservative scholar Mark Henrie, and Polish parliamentarian Ryszard Legutko were just a few of the other main speakers attending the Meeting.

     There were several opportunities to listen to Country Reports given by European participants and members of the CER. Recent political and legislative developments in Belgium, Hungary, and Sweden, for example, were discussed. And a look ahead at the 2012 US presidential election was also featured.

     There were also presentations on theoretical aspects of conservative political thought. Italian journalist and scholar Marco Respinti spoke about the concept of the human person, while Dutch academic Melvin Schut expounded on democracy and populism in the work of Alexis de Tocqueville.

     German political philosopher Harald Bergbauer gave an overview about the work of Eric Voegelin and Hungarian academic Attila Molnar described the main features of Hungary’s new constitution. Both of these presentations have been summarized in this issue of The European Conservative.

     The final dinner was held in central Leuven, after a walking tour of the historic city.

     There was one final session on the morning of the last day, with Dutch legal philosopher and ethicist Andreas Kinneging speaking about democracy, populism, and the importance of virtues.

     Concluding comments and plans for the 2012 Meeting were then outlined by Jonathan Price, Secretary of the Vanenburg Meeting.

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