Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020) died of cancer this past Sunday, January 12.
Scruton was a towering intellect, author of more than 50 books and countless articles and essays covering just about the entire spectrum of human affairs.
He was highly regarded as a philosopher, and a dearly loved philosopher of the people of Britain and of the English-speaking world. But he was far more than an ivory-tower philosopher only read by lesser, or pretend, philosophers talking among themselves in ivory-towers.
Scruton was truly that rare man of letters who delighted in writing about the pleasures of life, of love, of drinking – (I Drink, Therefore I Am: A Philosopher’s Guide To Wine) – and music and art. He wrote novels and poetry. And he wrote about religion, theology, aesthetics, sex, history, architecture, and published a personal memoir. One of my favourite books of Scruton is Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left.
But for those of us in the anglosphere who loved Scruton’s writings and sort of engaged in politics in some capacity, he was a conservative thinker who had kept vibrant for us the tradition of Edmund Burke as the alternative, and the truly right alternative to conserve against the current stream of left thinking, new and old, that continues to corrupt and stain all things we cherish that are good and beautiful and even sacred.
Scruton’s conservatism, as with Burke’s, was not ideological.
Scruton taught that conservatism is not an ideology, it is instead love.
It is love that drives a conservative to hold dear what is good in tradition, in life, in family, among friends and, hence, politics, that binds the living people with those now dead and those not yet born in a circle of shared love and trust that gives meaning to our fleeting existence between birth and death.
Scruton’s conservatism, unlike the progressivism of our Liberals and New Democrats and the whole jing-bang on the left with their militancy about climate change and gender politics broadcast as alphabet soup, underscores why with conservatives the sanctity of life is the axiomatic principle of politics and the ground upon which the politics of ethics is constructed. Progressivism in contrast is the politics of dismantling what is good for what is expedient, and expediency is the trademark of the progressives.
I had the sheer joy of meeting Scruton a few years ago in Vancouver during the annual meeting of Civitas, “a gathering of people where ideas meet”, on the west coast. Scruton was invited as a keynote speaker, and I had the opportunity to engage with him in a conversation about Islam, Islamism, and multiculturalism. He had given much thought on these subjects, and also written about them in his own inimitable style. He shared with me his love for the Sufi poets of Islam and his travels in North Africa. And I will long cherish the friendship he extended to me with his embrace.
Below is a video interview Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute did with Sir Roger Scruton embedded in the obituary posted in the blog Ricochet.com. <[link removed]>Please make time if you may, and watch the late great Sir Roger Scruton speaking on conservatism in life and politics.
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Peoples Party of Canada London North Centre EDA - Canada
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