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January 14, 2020



Ralph McTell's a communist?

Sure you don't mean Ewan MacColl? (an actual member of the CPGB).

harry b

Ewan MacColl, not Ralph McTell (the latter no doubt a much more admirable person, but not as central to the folk revival).

Dave Timoney

Surely the common interest that "Scrutonians" and free-marketeers share is the primacy of private property.


"All of this, though, raises a question. Why is there not more hostility between Scrutonian and free market conservatives? Why is there not the vicious bitterness we see in the Labour party between Corbynites and their critics?"

Easy, no one on the Right thinks themselves morally superior to everyone else. They may think someone is wrong, deluded or stupid, but not morally inferior. Thats the Left's position - they are morally right and all their opponents (even others on the Left) are thus morally wrong, and therefore actively evil. They have turned politics into religion.


Er Jim, Roger Scruton said that society should be brought up to be revolted by gay people. If that's not claiming a moral inferiority, I don't know what is.

Moreover, when you're done patting yourself on the back there, you might want to take a look in the mirror and realise "all THOSE people on the Left think they're morally superior, whereas we on the Right are pure and innocent" is a pretty obvious example of you claiming moral superiority: "we're better than them because they do the bad thing and we never do" said no humble person ever.


"Thats the Left's position"

I don't think that's true - it's the "left" liberal position. Neophytes apart (we've all been there) I don't think they even believe it themselves.

From Cobden, through Pinkerton through the eugenicists to academia to Silicon Valley and so on they do like the self-exculpatory narratives that utterly monstering their class enemy du jour provides though.


"Moreover, when you're done patting yourself on the back there, you might want to take a look in the mirror and realise "all THOSE people on the Left think they're morally superior, whereas we on the Right are pure and innocent" is a pretty obvious example of you claiming moral superiority:"

There's a difference between thinking you are right (ie correct) and thinking you are morally superior. The Right do the former not the latter. You don't get 'Labour Scum' posters when the Labour Party conference come to town.

The difference is that on the Right one assumes that the Left want to help the poor etc but just are deluded as to the best way to do it, the Left assume that the Right are devils who wish evil on the poor etc. The Left assume that those who oppose their policies (or implement ones they oppose) are actively seeking malice on their fellow man.

Paul Walker

Scruton was a true Conservative, never a classical liberal. The question I would have liked to ask him would have been, Hayek wrote his essay on "Why I'm Not a Conservative", what would your counter essay "Why I'm Not a Classical Liberal" have said?


Jim confers sainthood ...on himself!
Plenty of reason to think those on the right frequently want nothing to do with helping the poor. Whether it was the Irish famine of the 18thC or the Indian one of the 20thC the attitude was always to look the other way. 'The poor will always be with us' so why try to fight what is natural?
Whether it was Norman on yer bike Tebbit or Maggie no such thing as society Thatcher yesteryear or more recently in the austerity directed at those in most need whilst taxes were reduced for the wealthy. Callousness or indifference suffused much of the right's actions and comments. It was ever thus.


@ Roger, Harry - thanks. I'm mortified by that error. Correction made.


And Paulc156 makes my point for me. The Right are evil personified, and the Left are the Good Guys.

Its just religion masquerading as politics.

Bloke on M4

"Scruton himself saw this. In England: An Elegy (a book whose very title is anti-Thatcherite) he describes how his father blamed the Tories for the “desecrated townscape of High Wycombe.”"

The problem with conservatives like this is that they were always plenty rich enough to not care about architecture being efficient. They were rich enough to afford a good lifestyle while shopping in small shops and so were up the Maslow's pyramid where beauty of buildings mattered.

They've always been awful in the Conservative Party, because they're out of touch with the floating voters who want things like towns to be more efficient, to allow them a better life than the one they have.


"whilst strictly not constitutive of libertarianism are in fact widely shared by libertarians."

In reality, the authoritarian ideology which calls itself "libertarianism" has little in common with the ideas of actual libertarians:


"We fear that what also unites free market and Scrutonian Tories is, as Corey Robin said, a love of hierarchies – ones in which people like us are at the bottom."

Anarchists and other libertarian socialists have been saying that for far longer than Robin when it comes to the right-"libertarians." But, yes, propertarians love the hierarchies associated with wealth and power, conservatives with those of tradition -- which generally also involve wealth and power. The overlap is significant -- and neither has much to do with liberty.


A pretty fair assessment of Sir Roger. Terry Eagleton, who’s a Catholic Marxist, frequently debated Scruton. At the time of those debates, Eagleton was fighting a bitter war-of-words against the “four horsemen” of New Atheism - Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens. It’s clear Eagleton massively preferred the company of Scruton to any of those classical liberals. He would try and tempt Scruton to the economic left (not the cultural left), pointing out that unrestrained capitalism was far more destructive of tradition than Attlee-style socialism.

And now the nitpicking.

1. “A defence of Christianity can tip into Islamophobia.”

The Christians with the most apprehensive view of Islam tend to be the ones who come from an Islamic milieu. Michael Nazir-Ali has often been called an Islamophobe. Rowan Williams took a favourable view on Sharia Courts, which got him into trouble with the “One Law for All” campaign, run by Communist ex-Muslim Marayam Namazie.

Here is Sir Roger in amiable discussion with American Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf:


Yusuf perceives - rightly, in my view - that Islam is inherently right wing.

2. “A love of “home” (a key element of Scruton's thinking) can easily spill into animosity towards immigrants.”

Here is well-known American conservative, Bernie Sanders, arguing forcefully for immigration restriction:



More nitpicking:

“…support of “high” culture can become a poncy snobbery.”

Have you ever read Adorno? He makes Sir Roger seem like Danny Dyer. He despised all pop culture, from jazz to Hollywood movies. He even thought most classical music was insufficiently highbrow.

A serious follow-on:

I think there are two interesting American thinkers of an earlier generation who combined a left-wing analysis of class and economics with a conservative view of culture: Daniel Bell and Christopher Lasch. Maybe it’s time to consider their work again.


You tweeted:

"Blairism was a continuation of Thatcherism in some senses (eg low top tax rates, relaxed about growing income share to the 1%, similar share of govt spending in GDP), but not in others (eg NMW, tax credits). Why is this so difficult?"

I suggest you look at this graph if you think Blairism and Thatcherism's views on govt spending as a % of GDP were somehow similar:



Steven - your graph shows change not rates. So, it could be that Thatcher thought there was too much but Blair too little and because of the history just before their respective rises to power, they end up in the same place.


Jim - You have been taken to the cleaners here. I hope you can see that and perhaps make a few introspective observations.


Thanks for the article Chris - told me a lot I didn't know, as always.

Would be interested to know in what way you think Scrutonians have a reverence for unplanned emergence? I would have thought this was one of the key differences, not similarities, with free marketeers? Emergence is a nightmare if you're trying to preserve the existing hierarchy and your position in it, which is surely the defining priority of a small-c conservative mindset?

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