Roger Scruton

Professor Scruton is a philosopher of the Right as far as right means anything in politics. He is very much against Socialism, against Communism. The BBC, the flagship of the enemy in England proved it by Libelling him. He made £2,500 plus costs out of them. A jury decided that the Beeb was wrong.

Professor Scruton had the courage to do something about communism; going behind the Iron Curtain before the USSR fell, spreading ideas. He was captured by the secret police in Czechoslovakia. This was dangerous. It could have been permanent, even fatal.

He helped the fall of the Soviets. Now he tells us that the lies they told in the USSR were repeated by academics in England, America & the rest of Western Civilization. He is right, as in correct. He wrote On Hunting, a short book explaining why Fox Hunting is right, as in correct as well as right, as well as in Moral. He also gave us a good explanation of Conservatism, something very distinct from the Conservative Party in this foul Year of Our Lord 2014.

He also explains how our Reactions To Fear influence political views.
PS His biography in the Wikipedia might be read as fair minded. Remarks about his political views should be read with caution if not outright suspicion. The Wiki does not always play fair; it mentions  one libel action lost but not others won albeit there has some worthwhile insights.

Roger Scruton ex Wiki
Roger Vernon Scruton, FBA, FRSL (born 27 February 1944 in Buslingthorpe, Lincolnshire[1]) is an English philosopher who specialises in aesthetics. He has written over thirty books, including Art and Imagination (1974), The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), Sexual Desire (1986), The Philosopher on Dover Beach (1990), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), Beauty (2009), and Our Church (2012). Scruton has also written two novels and a number of general textbooks on philosophy and culture, and he has composed two operas.

Scruton was a lecturer and professor of aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London, from 1971 to 1992. Since 1992, he has held part-time positions at Boston University, the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and the University of St Andrews.[4] In 1982 he helped found The Salisbury Review, a conservative political journal, which he edited for 18 years,[5] and he founded the Claridge Press in 1987. Scruton sits on the editorial board of the British Journal of Aesthetics,[6] and is a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.[7]

Outside his career as a philosopher and writer, Scruton was involved in the establishment of underground universities and academic networks in Soviet-controlled Central Europe during the Cold War,[8] and he has received a number of awards for his work in this area.

Philosophical and political views

Aesthetics
Scruton has specialised in aesthetics throughout his career. In 1972 he completed a Ph. D. in philosophy at Cambridge University, with a thesis on aesthetics, which formed the basis of his first book,[9] Art and Imagination, published in 1974, in which Scruton argued that "what demarcates aesthetic interest from other sorts is that it involves the appreciation of something for its own sake".[10]...........

In 2009, Scruton wrote and presented the BBC2 documentary Why Beauty Matters,[15] in which he argued that beauty should be restored to its traditional position in art, architecture and music. In an article for The American Spectator subsequent to the programme's broadcast, Scruton claimed he had received "more than 500 e-mails from viewers, all but one saying, 'Thank Heavens someone is saying what needs to be said'".[16] In an Intelligence Squared debate in March 2009,[17] held at the Royal Geographical Society, Scruton (seconding historian David Starkey) proposed the motion: "Britain has become indifferent to beauty" by holding an image of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus next to an image of the British supermodel Kate Moss, to demonstrate how British perceptions of beauty had declined to the "level of our crudest appetites and our basest needs".[18]

Arguments for conservatism

Scruton first embraced conservatism during the student protests of May 1968 in France. Nicholas Wroe wrote in The Guardian that Scruton was in the Latin Quarter in Paris at the time, watching students overturning cars to erect barricades, and tearing up cobblestones to throw at the police. "I suddenly realized I was on the other side. What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilization against these things. That's when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down."[5]

 Activist campaigns, which tend to be conducted in the name of the people as a whole, neither consult the people nor show much interest in noticing them—a point that was noticeable to Burke, in considering the insolence of the French revolutionaries. Such campaigns are affairs of elites who are seeking to triumph over real or imaginary adversaries, and who make an impact on politics because they share, in their hearts, the old socialist view that things must be changed from the top downwards, and that the people themselves are not to be trusted now, but only later, when the revolutionary vanguard has completed its task.[19]

Scruton, writing in 2012

The Meaning of Conservatism (1980)—which he called "a somewhat Hegelian defence of Tory values in the face of their betrayal by the free marketeers"[20]—was the book that he said blighted his academic career. He wrote in Gentle Regrets (2005) that he found several of Edmund Burke's arguments in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) persuasive. Although Burke was writing about revolution, not socialism, Scruton was persuaded that, as he put it, the utopian promises of socialism are accompanied by an abstract vision of the mind that bears little relation to the way most people think. Burke also convinced him that there is no direction to history, no moral or spiritual progress; that people think collectively toward a common goal only during a crisis such as war, and that trying to organize society this way requires a real or imagined enemy; hence, Scruton wrote, the strident tone of socialist literature. He further argued, following Burke, that society is held together by authority and the rule of law, in the sense of the right to obedience, not by the imagined rights of citizens. Obedience, he wrote, is "the prime virtue of political beings, the disposition that makes it possible to govern them, and without which societies crumble into 'the dust and powder of individuality.'" Real freedom, Scruton argued, does not stand in conflict with obedience, but is its other side.[21] He was also persuaded by Burke's arguments about the social contract, including that most parties to the contract are either dead or not yet born. To forget this, he wrote—to throw away customs and institutions—is to "place the present members of society in a dictatorial dominance over those who went before, and those who came after them."[22]

Armed with his Rousseauist doctrines of popular sovereignty, or his Marxist ideas of power and ideology, the revolutionary can de-legitimize any existing institution and find quite imperceivable the distinction between law aimed at justice and law aimed at power.[23]

Scruton, writing in 1989

Scruton argued that beliefs that appear to be examples of prejudice may be useful and important: "our most necessary beliefs may be both unjustified and unjustifiable, from our own perspective, and the attempt to justify them will merely lead to their loss." A prejudice in favour of modesty in women and chivalry in men, for example, may aid the stability of sexual relationships and the raising of children, though these are not offered as reasons in support of the prejudice. It may therefore be easy to show the prejudice as irrational, but there will be a loss nonetheless if it is discarded.[24]

In Arguments for conservatism (2006), he marked out the areas in which philosophical thinking is required if conservatism is to be intellectually persuasive. He argued that human beings are creatures of limited and local affections. Territorial loyalty is at the root of all forms of government where law and liberty reign supreme; every expansion of jurisdiction beyond the frontiers of the nation state leads to a decline in accountability.[25] He opposed elevating the "nation" above its people, which would threaten rather than facilitate citizenship and peace. He argued that "conservatism and conservation" are two aspects of a single policy, that of husbanding resources, including the social capital embodied in laws, customs, and institutions, and the material capital contained in the environment. He argued further that the law should not be used as a weapon to advance special interests; people impatient for reform—for example in the areas of euthanasia or abortion—are reluctant to accept what may be "glaringly obvious to others—that the law exists precisely to impede their ambitions."[26]

He defined post-modernism as the claim that there are no grounds for truth, objectivity, and meaning, and therefore conflicts between views are nothing more than contests of power, and argued that, while the West is required to judge other cultures in their own terms, Western culture is adversely judged as ethnocentric and racist. He wrote: "The very reasoning which sets out to destroy the ideas of objective truth and absolute value imposes political correctness as absolutely binding, and cultural relativism as objectively true."[27]

Religion and totalitarianism

Scruton contends, following Immanuel Kant, that human beings have a transcendental dimension, a sacred core exhibited in their capacity for self-reflection.[28] ..............

He defines Totalitarianism as the absence of any constraint on central authority, with every aspect of life the concern of government. Advocates of totalitarianism feed on resentment, Scruton argues, and having seized power they proceed to abolish institutions—such as the law, property, and religion—that create authorities. Scruton writes, "To the resentful it is these institutions that are the cause of inequality, and therefore the cause of their humiliations and failures." He argues that revolutions are not conducted from below by the people, but from above, in the name of the people, by an aspiring elite.[29]

Scruton suggests that the importance of Newspeak in totalitarian societies is that the power of language to describe reality is replaced by language whose purpose is to avoid encounters with realities. He agrees with Alain Besançon that the totalitarian society envisaged by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty Four can only understood in theological terms, as a society founded on a transcendental negation. In accordance with T. S. Eliot, Scruton believes that true originality is only possible within a tradition, and that it is precisely in modern conditions—conditions of fragmentation, heresy, and unbelief—that the conservative project acquires its sense.[30]...........................

Life and career

Childhood and education

Scruton and his two sisters were born to John "Jack" Scruton, a teacher, and his wife Beryl Claris (née Haynes), and raised in Marlow and High Wycombe. Scruton told The Guardian that Jack was from a working-class Manchester family—he hated the upper classes and loved the countryside—and Beryl was fond of romantic fiction and entertaining "blue-rinsed friends."[5] He describes his mother as cherishing an ideal of gentlemanly conduct and social distinction, which his father "set out with considerable relish to destroy."[36] Although his parents had been raised as Christians, they regarded themselves as humanists.[37]

Scruton was educated at Royal Grammar School High Wycombe (1954–1961). He was expelled from the school shortly after winning a scholarship to Cambridge.[5] He studied moral sciences (philosophy) at Jesus College from 1962, receiving a BA in 1965, incepted as MA in 1967. He was awarded a PhD in 1972 for a thesis on aesthetics, also from Cambridge.[38].................

1970s–1980s
After graduating, Scruton spent two years overseas, teaching at the Collège Universitaire at Pau in France. He became a research fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 1969, and in 1971 joined Birkbeck College, London, where he taught philosophy until 1992, first as lecturer, then as reader and professor of aesthetics. He married Danielle Laffitte in 1973; they divorced in 1979. His first book, Art and Imagination, appeared in 1974. Also in 1974 he became one of four board members of the Conservative Philosophy Group, founded that year by Hugh Fraser, the Conservative MP, to develop an intellectual basis for conservatism.[39]

He studied law at the Inns of Court (1974–1976), and was called to the Bar in 1978, though he never practised.[38] His next publication was also in aesthetics, The Aesthetics Of Architecture (1979). In The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), he sought to shift the emphasis of the Right away from economics towards moral issues.[20] He told The Guardian in 2010 that the book blighted his academic career; the newspaper said he was vilified by his colleagues at Birkbeck for his political views.[33]

The Politics Of Culture and Other Essays (1981) followed; then a history and dictionary of philosophy in 1982; The Aesthetic Understanding (1983); textbooks on Kant and Spinoza (1983 and 1987); Thinkers of the New Left (1985), a collection of essays criticizing 14 prominent intellectuals; and Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy of the Erotic (1986).

1990s–2010s

In 1990 Scruton spent a year working for the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, then worked part-time from 1992 to 1995 as professor of philosophy at Boston University, though he continued to live in the UK.[40] He moved to the country, and discovered a passion for fox hunting with hounds.[41] [ See  ] It was through hunting that he met Sophie Jeffreys, an architectural historian; they married in 1996. They have two children, and live on a farm in Wiltshire.[42]

In 1999, Scruton was successfully sued for libel by the Pet Shop Boys, a pop group, for suggesting that they did not contribute to writing or producing their own songs. Writing for Salon, culture journalist Stephanie Zacharek commented that "[Group members] Tennant and Lowe are so well-known as producers in their own right that it’s obvious Scruton is completely ignorant of the genre he’s gassing on about."[43]

From 2001 to 2009, Scruton wrote a wine column for the New Statesman, and made contributions to The World of Fine Wine and Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine (2007), with his essay The Philosophy of Wine. His I Drink Therefore I am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine (2009) in part comprises material from his New Statesman column.[44][45]

Academic posts

Scruton held several part-time academic positions in the 2000s: from 2005 to 2009 he was research professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia, and from 2009 held a visiting scholarship at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., researching the cultural impact of neuroscience. In January 2010 he was awarded an unpaid visiting professorship at Oxford to teach graduate classes on aesthetics, and in 2011 took up a quarter-time professorial fellowship in Moral Philosophy at St Andrews. He is also an unpaid research professor at Buckingham University.[46] In 2010 he delivered the Scottish Gifford Lectures at St Andrews on the topic, "The Face of God."[47]

In 2001 A.C. Grayling described Scruton as a "wonderful teacher of philosophy. The pedagogic works he wrote for students and the general public are clear, lucid and accurate. It is partly because of Roger's presence that the department [at Birkbeck] is one of the best in the country."[5]

The Salisbury Review

Scruton speaking in 2012

In 1982 Scruton became founding editor of The Salisbury Review—a journal championing Traditional Conservatism, in opposition to Thatcherism—set up by a group of Tories known as the Salisbury Group, with the involvement of the Peterhouse Right, a circle of conservatives associated with the Cambridge college, including Maurice Cowling, David Watkin, and the mathematician Adrian Mathias.[5] Scruton wrote in 2002 that editing the journal effectively ended his academic career in the UK. The magazine attempted to provide an intellectual basis for conservatism, and was highly critical of some key issues of the period, including the peace movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, egalitarianism, feminism, foreign aid, multiculturalism, and modernism. "At last it was possible to be a conservative and also to the left of something," Scruton wrote, and "it was worth sacrificing your chances of becoming a fellow of the British Academy, a vice-chancellor or an emeritus professor for the sheer relief of uttering the truth"[48] (Scruton was in fact elected a fellow of the British Academy in 2008).[49]

In 1984, Scruton published in The Salisbury Review a controversial article by school headmaster Ray Honeyford which questioned the benefits of multicultural education. Honeyford was forced to resign because of the article and had to live for a time under police protection.[5] In 1985 The Salisbury Review was accused of scientific racism during the annual congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and thereafter, Scruton wrote in 2002, the magazine's writers were ostracized in the academic world.[citation needed] Scruton edited The Salisbury Review until 2001 and remains on its editorial board. He described in 2002 the effect of the editorship on his life: "[it] cost me many thousand hours of unpaid labour, a hideous character assassination in Private Eye, three lawsuits, two interrogations, one expulsion, the loss of a university career in Britain, unendingly contemptuous reviews, Tory suspicion, and the hatred of decent liberals everywhere. And it was worth it."[48]

Activism in Eastern Europe

From 1979 to 1989, Scruton was an active supporter of dissidents in Eastern Europe under Communist Party rule, forging links between Czechoslovakia's dissident academics and their counterparts in Western universities. As part of the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, he and other academics visited Prague and Brno, now in the Czech Republic, in support of an underground education network started by the Czech dissident Julius Tomin, helping to smuggle in books and organize lectures, and eventually arranging for students to study for a Cambridge external degree in theology (the theology faculty was chosen because it was the only one that responded to the request for help). Scruton has stated that there were structured courses, samizdat translations and printing of books, and people sitting examinations in a cellar with papers smuggled out through the diplomatic bag.[50]

Scruton was detained in 1985 in Brno before being expelled from the country. Someone[who?] who watched him walk across the border with Austria later wrote: "There was this broad empty space between the two border posts, absolutely empty, not a single human being in sight except for one soldier, and across that broad empty space trudged an English philosopher, Roger Scruton, with his little bag into Austria."[citation needed] On 17 June that year, he was placed on the Index of Undesirable Persons. He writes that he was also followed during visits to Poland and Hungary. For his work in supporting dissidents, Scruton was awarded in 1993 the First of June Prize by the Czech city of Plzeň,[51] and in 1998 he was awarded by President Václav Havel the Czech Republic's Medal of Merit (First Class).[52]

Peter Hitchens wrote in 2009 of his admiration for Scruton and others who did similar work,[53] and in 1994 Roger Kimball wrote, "In the late 1980s, Scruton worked courageously and effectively to aid the movements to end Communist tyranny in Poland and Czechoslovakia".[54] Scruton has been strongly critical of commentators and figures in the West—in particular [ the Marxist Jew ] Eric Hobsbawm—who "chose to exonerate" former communist regimes' crimes and atrocities.[55]

His experience of dissident intellectual life in 1980s Communist Prague is recorded in fictional form in his novel Notes from Underground published in 2014.

World Health Organization and tobacco company funding

In 2002 it emerged that Scruton had been receiving a fee of £54,000 p.a. from Japan Tobacco International (JTI) during a period when he had written about tobacco issues without declaring an interest.[56][57] He wrote articles for The Wall Street Journal in 1998 and 2000, and in 2000 wrote a 65-page pamphlet —"WHO, What, and Why: Trans-national Government, Legitimacy and the World Health Organisation"—for the Institute of Economic Affairs, a British free-market think-tank. The pamphlet criticized the World Health Organization's (WHO) campaign against smoking, arguing that transnational bodies should not seek to influence domestic legislation because they are not answerable to the electorate. He wrote that overall he was against tobacco—his own father died of emphysema after smoking for many years—but that it was an innocent pleasure.[58]

The matter became public when a letter signed by Professor Scruton's wife to Japan Tobacco International was leaked, in which they were asked to increase the payments to £66,000 p.a., in exchange for which "We would aim to place an article every two months in one or other of the WSJ (Wall Street Journal), the Times, the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Financial Times, the Economist, the Independent or the New Statesman." The failure to disclose these payments has led to criticism of a perceived conflict of interest. Scruton was later dismissed from roles with the Financial Times[59] and Wall Street Journal.[60][61][62]

Opera

Scruton has written three libretti, two of which he set to music. The first, a one-act chamber opera called The Minister, has been performed several times. The second, a two-act opera called Violet, was performed twice at the Guildhall School of Music in London in December 2005; it is based on the life of Violet Gordon-Woodhouse, the British harpsichordist.[46]

Publications

References

  1. Oxford Reference
  2. Dehn, Georgia (27 January 2012). "World of Roger Scruton, writer and philosopher". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-12-31........................