Posted on January 13, 2020

Roger Scruton, RIP

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, January 13, 2020

Sir Roger Scruton was a British philosopher, critic, prolific author, courageous champion for Eastern Europeans under Soviet occupation, and an authentic conservative. His oeuvre is so extensive it’s pointless to try to recount his entire career. I can summarize it in one sentence: Sir Roger championed beauty.

“It is not merely that artists, directors, musicians and others connected with the arts are in flight from beauty,” he wrote in 2009. “There is a desire to spoil beauty, in acts of artistic iconoclasm.” He argued that modernism should not be a “transgression” but “a recuperation: an arduous path back to a hard-won inheritance of meaning, in which beauty would again be honoured, as the present symbol of transcendent values.” However, today, “challenging” and “transgressive” art “exemplifies a flight from beauty.” It’s a way to “take revenge on the art of the past.”

Many American conservatives claim leftists are “moral relativists.” For example, Congressman Paul Ryan condemned moral relativism in 2018, along with “identity politics and tribalism.” Yet in Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, Sir Roger correctly observed that the New Left is far more absolutist than conservatives.

“History was rewritten as a conflict between good and evil, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness,” wrote Sir Roger. “And, however nuanced and embellished by its many brilliant exponents, this Manichean vision remains with us, enshrined in the school curriculum and in the media.” He recognized that ugly buildings dehumanize and deracinate people, making it impossible to ever “feel at home in them.” Fighting modern art, Brutalist architecture, and deliberate ugliness was Sir Roger’s way of defending his ancestors, culture, and way of life. “He was the great exponent of oikophilia, of love of home,” wrote Michael Warren Davis, “he wanted nothing but to worship in the ancient custom of his ancestors.”

Defending beauty means defending Western culture’s achievements. Because Western Civilization is white civilization, attacking beauty means attacking whites and deconstructing our history, culture, and aesthetics. This is why so many people celebrated when Notre Dame burned. It’s also why journalists repeatedly linked Sir Roger to the Alt-Right simply because he defended beautiful buildings. Here are examples.

  • “The controversy that followed [Sir Roger’s] Scruton’s appointment, where he denied accusations of bigotry, is partly informed by how easily conservative concepts of ‘tradition’ can be appropriated by those with more extreme views,” in “How classical architecture became a weapon for the far right,” New Statesman America
  • “[T]he report’s unambiguous criticism of ‘what went wrong in the twentieth century,’ its praise of ‘fine’ and ‘beautiful’ house building in the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, and the government’s decision to hire long-term champion of traditionalist architecture Roger Scruton as chair of the commission should leave us under no illusions as to its priorities,” in “The Far Right’s Obsession With Modern Architecture,” in Failed Architecture.
  • “For backup, [Paul Joseph] Watson quotes and weaves in clips of critics Theodore Dalrymple and Roger Scruton. . .” in Why Is the Alt-Right So Angry About Architecture?,” CityLab

Sir Roger also recognized mass immigration’s consequences, though in a restrained manner. In a New Criterion article entitled, “Should He Have Spoken?,” he said Enoch Powell was propagating a noble lie about an England that had already vanished by 1968. However, he also said “indigenous people must take precedence over newcomers, who have to earn their right of residence and cannot be allowed to appropriate the savings of their hosts.”

“The fact is that the people of Europe are losing their homelands,” he said bluntly, “and therefore losing their place in the world.” Yet he simply said the results would be “interesting.” This prompts an obvious question: Why bother defending beautiful buildings and art if you won’t defend the people who created them? Such decorum may be “conservative,” but it’s not what whites need today. The Great Replacement isn’t “interesting;” it’s a mortal threat.

Of course, Sir Roger’s restraint didn’t prevent him from being called “part of an intellectual culture giving respectability to racism.” The Left tried to silence him. Less than a year ago, the Conservatives dismissed Sir Roger from a government post after journalist George Eaton deliberately misquoted him. Mr. Eaton implicitly revealed that taking down Sir Roger was his objective all along. He posted a picture of himself drinking champagne along with the caption, “The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government minister.”

Yet the story didn’t end there. A few months later, Sir Roger got his job back after right-wingers revealed Mr. Eaton’s duplicity. Boris Johnson forcefully supported Sir Roger. Now Prime Minister and fresh from a sweeping electoral triumph, Mr. Johnson led the tributes after Sir Roger’s death, calling him the “greatest modern conservative thinker.” Thus, Mr. Scruton ended his remarkable life not in disgrace but triumph. His name will be long remembered after weaselly journalists are rightfully relegated to oblivion.

Sir Roger Scruton

The always interesting Aimee Terese quoted Sir Roger, and said she yearned for the “embedded relations” he championed.

“Conservatism,” said Sir Roger in this passage, should be seen “as part of a dynamic relation across generations.” True conservatives defend a people, a history, a place, an identity. It’s not about defending corporate profits but “a relationship that binds both present and absent generations, and which depends upon the perception of a place as home.”

I consider racial identity to be part of that defining relationship. Sir Roger may have disagreed, or at least thought that race was marginal rather than central. Nevertheless, his writing and his courage will be long remembered, and the world is poorer for having lost his voice. Let us hope that a new generation will discover his work, as we struggle in this deracinated, desacralized, and commodified world to find our way back Home.