Saturday, 3 February 2018

Sir Roger Scruton shines in a naughty world

I do not agree with Sir Roger Scruton on all things and found his book England: An Elegy a big disappointment (it was tired, too easy, too backward-looking and reminiscent of the Daily Mail in a bad not good way). I don't agree with him on nationalism which I see as another baleful product of the French Revolution (patriotism and love of ones nation, though, are the very best political emotions there are and wholly good). But he is mostly right and I agree with him here. 

"People who think of conservatism as oppressive and dictatorial have some deviant example in mind, such as fascism, or Tsarist autocracy. I would offer in the place of such examples the ordinary life of European and American communities as described by 19th century novelists."

"Free speech is not the cause of the tensions that are growing around us, but the only possible solution to them. If the government is to succeed in its new measures to eradicate Islamic extremism, therefore, it should be encouraging people to discuss the matter openly"

"Ours is a 'non-judgmental' culture, and its hostility to judgment arises from the democratic belief in human equality. To criticize another's taste, whether in music, entertainment or lifestyle, assumes some tastes are superior to others. And this, for many people, is offensive."

"I'm more of a paleo than a neo-conservative, since I believe that the conservative position is rooted in cultural rather than economic factors, and the single-minded pursuit of competitive markets is just as much a threat to social order as the single-minded pursuit of equality"

"Conservatives should study the ideas and arguments that prevail on the left. There is always something to learn from these, if only which way the wind of resentment is now blowing. And lifting your eyes from this joyless stuff, you will thank God that you are a conservative"

"Once identified as right-wing you are beyond the pale of argument; your views are irrelevant, your character discredited, your presence in the world a mistake. You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned. This has been my experience"

"The most important obligations governing our lives as social and political beings – including those to family, country, and state – are non-contractual and precede the capacity for rational choice"


  1. the single-minded pursuit of competitive markets is just as much a threat to social order as the single-minded pursuit of equality

    I certainly agree with him on that point.

    1. I do too. I remember he said that Margaret Thatcher said nothing to people like him. Nor did she to me. Though now I wish she were taking us out of the E.U. rather than the homunculus who sits in No. 10.

    2. "the single-minded pursuit of competitive markets is just as much a threat to social order as the single-minded pursuit of equality" - so what is the alternative? Allowing big brother to allocate resources instead of allowing the market (i.e. the billions of decisions made by free individuals) to do so? Socialism might sound clever to those on the "right" when it's cloaked in nationalist rhetoric, but it's just as diabolical as when it's espoused by the"left"

    3. RS was commenting on Mrs. Thatcher's economic policies, which seemed all about free market economics. Of course behind them were conservative principles - but an unromantic conservatism that seemed to him and me uninterested in culture. Mrs Thatcher was not socially conservative.

    4. By today's standards she would have been a cis-gendered epitome of social conservativism hehehe.
      In all fairness, by one can probably advance social conservative agenda more by keeping social policy out of the public discourse, rather than making social policy a political topic. Given who the political elites tend to be, by allowing social issues to be part of the democratic process, regardless of intent, one will end up eroding the social fiber of a nation much quicker than just letting people be. This is one area where libertarians are much wiser than social conservatives, who simply don't understand the harm they are doing to society by even allowing discussion of social issues in the public sphere.