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November 09, 2018



Roger Scruton, judged by his ideas, is despicable. Filled with despicable prejudice, and to praise and for any Conservative to support the thinking of such a person is shameful.



A perhaps salient difference between Scruton and McDonnel?

McDonnel is elected - officially as an MP and defacto as an ally of Corbyn. A majority of his constituents want him and a majority of Labour party members want him despite his views on the IRA.

We can't be ruling people out from elected office due to controversial views, but perhaps we might rule them out from being simply appointed?

(I suspect a majority of Tories might be happy with Scruton's various views, but he's not been put to the test and the people appointing him who have been elected wouldn't subscribe to his views publicly...)


Also, watched the video where he talks about date rape.... I came away with the impression that he doesn't actually know what it means?

Ralph Musgrave

The faux outrage on the political left about Scruton is hilarious: eugenics was popular in respectable Guardian reading circles in the 1930s and up to around the mid 1950s.


"Note that the silencing here need not be legal suppression; it could be via the tyranny of the majority, or simply self-censorship."

Capital plus equally bourgeois and unaccountable bureaucracies appear to be the the preeminent censors de nos jours.


There seems to be a clamour to shut down public proclamations by rabid right wingers like Tommy Robinson, and in the past Nick Griffin. That same impulse has shut down Abu Hamza and earlier Gerry Adams. In a sense these people are all contrarians* when they offer up non-mainstream views. Some think it’s better to have all views on the table, and offence is trumped by the need for freedom of speech. But I suspect the no-platforming clamour arises from the emotions rather than the intellect: off-message views threaten the harmony of the group and therefore the group itself. There might also be an implicit awareness that the expression of contrarian views move the Overton window. Your instinct wouldn’t frame it like that, but it would still prefer that a group’s focus were not displaced. I think Jung might have said something about this: when we “no-platform” holders of opinions we view as bad or dark, we fail to integrate our shadow and therefore we fail to manage it: control your shadow before it controls you, he warned. Better to let the Robinsons, Abu Hamzas and Gerry Adams of this world talk - and manage and wrestle with these demons rather than letting them fester and explode in an uncontrollable Brexity sort of way.

* we often use the word contrarian to refer to people who are part of the establishment but hold views which are non-establishment. Roger Scruton is a contrarian, but we probably would never call Abu Hamza that. A parallel is eccentricity: if you’re rich you’re eccentric, if you’re poor you are mad!

Dave Timoney

I disagree that Roger Scruton is a contrarian. Within his own social milieu - shire Tories still resentful of the 60s & 70s - his views on Jews, gays, eugenics and women are pretty much par for the course. A real contrarian is one who seeks to oppose (or at least satirise) conventional wisdom and must therefore risk alienating his own tribe.

Scruton isn't interested in changing public opinion (that would be contrary to his own conservative philosophy), nor is he engaged in social engineering (his views on architecture will focus on elite buildings, not standards for new council houses). As such he is neither a contrarian-entertainer, a la Christopher Hitchens, nor a wind-up grifter targeting the media, a la Tommy Robinson.

I don't admire the man (I think his emotional resentment towards French philosophy betrays the empirical tradition he claims to cherish), but I don't think his opinions are egregious (they're ugly but all too typical). As you note, he is unlikely to bring anything of value to the role, though in his favour he probably wouldn't be as destructively stupid as Toby Young would have been had the latter secured his own government sinecure.

I think you're over-straining in making the parallel with McDonnell's (conditional) support for the IRA. McDonnell came to that position through a lot of thought and debate, rather than just ancestral loyalty, and has never been shy about justifying it. Scruton's habitual prejudices are the product of his milieu, not some lifelong project of philosophical enquiry.


McDonnell and Scruton may be selective, misguided, incorrect or sloppy in their rationale but they at least attempt to operate within a rational framework. The likes of Hamza have no such constraints as their basis is unfalsifiable and infallable faith, which overrides any empirical reality.

However, the palatability of an opinion is no guide to its soundness. The likes of Robinson, Griffin and Hamza exploit sound but unpalatable opinions to prop up the unsound ones and to make unwarranted leaps.


Does Scruton's support foe eugenics make him a Keynesian?

Miguel Madeira

"The faux outrage on the political left about Scruton is hilarious: eugenics was popular in respectable Guardian reading circles in the 1930s and up to around the mid 1950s.

Posted by: Ralph Musgrave | November 09, 2018 at 04:59 PM"

Like it says in the footer of the coment, "November 09, 2018", not " November 09, 1948"


Doesn't the potential to harm matter? There is a difference between someone talking on the street corner and someone making policy for public housing- the later can make the objects of his 'controversial' opinions suffer, on a large scale. My tolerance for no-platforming goes up with the degree to which I expect pain and suffering to come out of the opinion expressed: I would have no problem with someone who did a prime-time national address saying that there IS a best color and it is blue, but I would do my utmost to prevent a Nazi from getting a position of prominence to speak from.

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