Monday 13 January 2020

More from Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020)

The right way to live is by enjoying one's faculties, striving to like and if possible to love one's fellows, and also to accept that death is both necessary in itself and a blessed relief to those whom you would otherwise burden. The health fanatics who have poisoned all our natural enjoyments ought, in my view, to be rounded up and locked together in a place where they can bore each other rigid with their futile nostrums for eternal life. The rest of us should live out our days in a chain of linked symposia, in which the catalyst is wine, the means conversation, the goal a serene acceptance of our lot and a determination not to outstay our welcome.

Left-wing people find it very hard to get on with right-wing people because they believe that they are evil. Whereas I have no problem getting on with left-wing people because I simply believe that they are mistaken.

Once we came before God’s presence with a song; now we come before his absence with a sigh.

GK Chesterton once said that to criticise religion because it leads people to kill each other is like criticising love because it has the same effect. All the best things we have, when abused, will cause bad things to happen. The need for sacrifice, to obey, to make a gift of your life is in all of us and it’s a deep thing. In the Islamic world today, people are trying to rejoin themselves to an antiquated and ancient faith and the result is massive violence when they encounter people who have not done that. We’d say that sense of sacrifice is good but only if you’re sacrificing your own life; once you sacrifice another’s life you’ve overstepped the mark.

Madeleine Kearns: What are the main differences between classical liberalism and conservatism?

Sir Roger Scruton: Conservatives believe in unchosen obligations (pieties), whereas classical liberals think that the only source of obligation is choice.

Madeleine Kearns: And yet they are, you observe, on the same side in today’s culture war. Why is that?

Sir Roger Scruton: Because there are so many people who wish to control us, and in doing so to wipe away the image of the past.


  1. The words of Dr. Johnson’s epitaph for Oliver Goldsmith come to mind: he left scarcely any style of writing untouched, and touched nothing that he did not adorn.

    Roger Scruton, R.I.P.
    Theodore Dalrymple

  2. off-topic

    Emil Cioran: The Criticism of the Idea of Historical Progress
    by Daniel Branco
    Melbourne: Manticore Press, 2019
    Reviewed at

  3. My favorite memory of Roger is of attending a lecture he gave, in the vain hope of self-improvement. I didn’t understand it, but dissolved into relieved laughter (along with almost everyone else there) when he finished by saying: ‘I have often wondered why this argument hasn’t made more impact, but I suppose it is because nobody else understands it.’
    Peter Hitchens

    When he was sacked as a government adviser for a thought-crime he didn’t commit, Robin Birley and I threw a jolly lunch to cheer him up at 5 Hertford Street, where friends like Douglas Murray and Iain Martin came to laud and magnify him. ‘It’s been a bit like being present at my own funeral,’ Roger said on that occasion, ‘but able to hear nice things being said about me by friends.’
    Andrew Roberts

    Sir Roger Scruton is dead. The knight errant of modern philosophy, the Edmund Burke of our time, the pimpernel of dissidents, is no more. He was only 75.

    If a French philosopher of his stature had died, there would be a state funeral in what is left of Notre Dame, with an oration by the President of the Republic, and a tomb in the Panthéon. Here, not even the Times, for which Scruton once wrote a coruscating column that electrified and enraged England in the Eighties, decided that his death was front-page news. No man is a prophet in his own land, least of all England.

    The British have never cared for those who think too much.

    Daniel Johnson