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Philosopher, scholar, academic, and perhaps the most articulate conservative of our time, Sir Roger Scruton died this morning, a victim of cancer.
Conservatism, he held, means, above all, protecting what we hold dear—it means conserving. This view made Scruton a champion of freedom (during the Cold War, he smuggled books into Eastern Europe, assisting the Czech freedom movement in particular). It also made him a champion of beauty (read his work on the glories of European architecture), tradition (although never a believer, he admired the Church of England’s music and liturgy), and a patriot of a the most impressive kind (a proponent of Brexit, he devoted much of his final years to explaining, calmly, that centuries of development had given Britain a distinctive character, including a distinctive form of self-government, that was well worth withdrawing from the European Union to preserve).
State solutions are imposed from above; they are often without corrective devices, and cannot easily be reversed on the proof of failure. Their inflexibility goes hand in hand with their planned and goal-directed nature, and when they fail, the efforts of the state are directed not to changing them but to changing people’s belief that they have failed. – Roger Scruton
Like Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman and others, Roger Scruton quotes seem obvious, but they also show great wisdom. Even after his death on January 12, 2020, the quote above rings true with the present nonsense from all governments – villages, cities, states, countries, and especially the pan-national World Health Organization. Ricochet includes many conversations about Scruton, including those on Conservatism and Good Things in the Quote of the Day series.
At a certain age on the path to adulthood, we begin to realize not just that our heroes are human, but that they are mortal. In the last five years, we have said goodbye to Harry Jaffa, Kenneth Minogue, Rene Girard, Bernard Lewis, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and Forrest McDonald, among brilliant others, and I have watched each go with an increasing sense that I was seeing my pantheon of intellectual greats fade rapidly.
Roger Scruton always held a special place in my heart, much as he might despise the trite cliche, because he was with me almost from the very beginning (I first read one of his books when I was 14) and because he spanned such a wide variety of mediums and topics with stunning skill. He showed me that a conservative could claim a place in academia, could show true genius and originality of expression in their field, and also claim a place outside of it, in the culture. On an even more personal level, his love of Britain, so beautifully expressed in much of his work, and the way that he had simply represented British academia for me was one of the things that inspired me to push aside myriad fears and take up a place at a British university.
I’m not part of the Quote of the Day group, so I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes by posting this, but when I got this in my feed this morning I knew it had to be disseminated.
“Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.” — Sir Roger Scruton
TOPICS: The presidential nominating process, U.S. foreign policy, RNA, and the 2012 Hillsdale College commencement address
Host Scot Bertram talks with Adam Carrington from Hillsdale’s politics department about the way we nominate our candidates for President. Ret. Major General Melvin Spiese discusses U.S. foreign policy and external threats. Chris Hamilton from Hillsdale’s chemistry department teaches us about RNA. And we hear excerpts from the 2012 Hillsdale College commencement address given by the late Sir Roger Scruton.
Professor Scruton is a brave man for daring to criticise the sacred feminine and comparing it unfavourably with medieval theology. For those whose French is rusty, he’s not swearing at the 3:47 mark but saying Foucault, which of course sounds like a Gallican corruption of an epithet from the Anglo Saxon netherworld.
Fake news, fake views. The full talk from which this is excerpted can be found here.
When Sir Roger Scruton passed away at the age of 75 on January 12, the world lost a giant in philosophy. Scruton wrote approximately 50 books on topics ranging from food to music to conservative thought, and in 2016 he was knighted for his contribution to philosophy and education. On this episode, Acton’s Samuel Gregg explains the most important veins of Scruton’s thought, especially those related to political philosophy and the arts.
This week on the United Kingdom’s Fastest Growing and Most Trusted Podcast®, James and Toby discuss (what else?) the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s ‘conscious uncoupling” from the Royal Family and speculate about the source of Meghan’s power over Harry.
Then it’s on to the lack of diversity in the Oscar and BAFTA nominations, their fair-weather Brexit friends and the untimely death of Sir Roger Scruton. (Links to Toby and James’ written tributes can be found here.)
Do modern campuses actually value ideas and intellectual discourse? Should there be limits on capitalism? Is modern architecture bad? Sir Roger Scruton and Christina Hoff Sommers join ‘Viewpoint’ on the AEI Podcast Channel to discuss each of these topics and more.
This conversation originally aired on the AEI YouTube Channel on March 22, 2017.
In The Soul of the World, Roger Scruton writes:
My face is … the part of me to which others direct their attention, whenever they address me as ‘you.’ I lie behind my face, and yet I am present in it, speaking and looking through it at a world of others who are in turn both revealed and concealed like me. My face is a boundary, a threshold, a place where I appear as the monarch appears on the balcony of the palace….
Recently I had the pleasure of listening to Lt. Col. Allen West speak during the service of a local church. His presence and purpose, as much as the words of his excellent message, brought to mind something that I had been mentally digesting since the recent death of the British philosopher and writer Sir Roger Scruton. Both Col. West and Sir Roger serve up mental meals far richer than this poor cook can scramble together but I do have a few beginning bites partially digested enough to serve up a notion or two from them.
It was Scruton’s reflection on faith and family that I had been pondering. He had taken to task the need for government to tout so-called “family-friendly” policies. He contended that when the health of a nation’s faith was solid, the fate of the family was secure. He did not discount the importance and need of a strong family culture for the nation to flourish. But the foundation of that family culture was not in policy but the strong faith of individuals. A nation with a strong culture of faith will have strong families which keep the values of the faith, culture, and nation alive.
On Radio4, the BBC has posted a 15-minute reflection on the Brexit vote by the great English philosopher Roger Scruton. Scruton’s talk is an astonishing thing: for the sheer calm rationality with which it lays out its argument, for its insistence on championing the humble and traditional and unfashionable–and, I was struck again and again, for its applicability to our own country.
Consider this passage: