The Philosophy Of Roger Scruton

Mervyn F. Bendle is one of Australia’s foremost conservative intellectuals. He frequently contributes to Quadrant magazine and Quadrant Online, Australia’s foremost organ for the display of conservative thought. Quadrant‘s importance is highlighted by the constant attempts of Australia’s dominant leftist class to shut it down. It is a magazine that belongs in the library of every philosophical conservative. The article below is a survey of the philosophy of the world’s foremost conservative intellectual Roger Scruton. There could hardly be a more readable survey and introduction to Scruton’s thought than this article. Lovers of the writings of Edmund Burke will recognise Burke’s deep influence on Scruton.

The Philosophy Of Roger Scruton

Quadrant May 2014

Mervyn F. Bendle

As the conservative philosopher put it, his “unacceptable” views prompted character assassination, three lawsuits, two interrogations, one expulsion, the loss of a university career, contemptuous reviews, Tory suspicion, and the hatred of decent liberals everywhere. And, he swears, it was all worth it

scrutonReality itself had been affronted. Repulsed, it had recoiled and collapsed into countless pieces, never to be reconstituted. Such is the striking image of the May 1968 French student rebellion recalled by Roger Scruton in his autobiography, Gentle Regrets (2005; all quotations are from this source unless otherwise stated). The twenty-four-year-old Scruton had completed a BA in philosophy at Cambridge and was determined to be a writer, taking Jean-Paul Sartre as his role model because the French existentialist’s prose moved effortlessly “from the abstract to the concrete and from the general to the particular [and] wound philosophy and poetry together in a seamless web, which was also a web of seeming”, as Scruton later recalled on his web page. From Sartre he learned that intellectual life need not be confined to the academy but can flourish around the creative arts like literature, art and music, “through which the world strives to become conscious of itself”. But he rebelled against the Frenchman’s conviction that such a life demanded a radical political commitment, and Sartre’s mindless embrace of Maoism in 1968 alienated him completely.

In the decades since, Scruton has established himself as Britain’s leading conservative public intellectual and as an influential philosopher in a large number of fields, publishing some forty books, innumerable articles, several novels and many other works. Nevertheless, on that May Day forty-six years ago, anarchic leftism held sway and appeared momentarily to threaten President Charles de Gaulle’s Fifth Republic.

Transfixed, Scruton watched as a violent battle between students and police unfolded beneath his attic window until abruptly “the plate-glass windows of the shops appeared to step back, shudder for a second, and then give up the ghost, as the reflections suddenly left them and they slid in jagged fragments to the ground”. In this moment, at the centre of an archetypal 1960s event, it appears that Scruton enjoyed an epiphany, a sudden intuitive insight into the advent of the nihilistic postmodern era, characterised by the collapse of representation, and the fragmentation, violence, heresy and unbelief that Scruton later claimed in A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (2006), provided the context for the conservative philosophical response of which he has proven to be the most articulate British proponent.

Continue reading

Will Australia’s Red Guards get away with it again?

Most of the media reported the punch-up at Coburg as the clash between ‘anti-racist demonstrators’ and the ‘far right’. The vision below shows the usual masked rabble of Trotskyites, Maoists, Communists, Anarcho-Syndicalists and sundry left-wing crazies violently putting down people with an opposing view. It is this violent rabble the media give the anodine title of anti-racist demonstrators. With the help of a largely sympathetic media (Age, SMH, Guardian, ABC) the mad violent left have been getting away scot-free with their violence for sixty years – three generations. Most radicals come from a radical middle class background. Father-mother-son-daughter.

Mail Online’s report is typical. Although they refrain from the ‘far-right’ vs. ‘anti-racist’ tag, they feature the ‘fascists’ in their Australian flag attire, whereas the media vision of the riot began with a group of the masked far-left advancing on the ‘patriots’ with their well-known strategy – which they carried out.

 

 

ALP’s fairness means socialist ideology

There are few commentators in the Australian media better informed or more capable of penetrating social analysis than Dr Jennifer Oriel.  Click the link just below for a list of Dr Oriel’s articles in the Australian.

Federal election 2016: ALP’s fairness means socialist ideology

Labor has gained poll popularity by mastering the art of framing. No concept has been subjected to more radical reframing during the election campaign than fairness. By modern Left reckoning, indebting citizens to expand state power constitutes fairness.

The ideals of fairness and equality have been retrofitted to serve the New Left’s voracious statism and our most vulnerable citizens are paying the price. Continue reading

The ordinary conservative

In Chapter 1 of Roger Scruton’s How to be a Conservative, we find the following description of an ordinary conservative in our present society.

Ordinary conservatives – and many, possibly most, people fall into this category – are constantly told that their ideas and sentiments are reactionary, prejudiced, sexist or racist. Just by being the thing they are they offend against the new norms of inclusiveness and non-discrimination. Their honest attempts to live by their lights, raising families, enjoying communities, worshipping their gods, and adopting a settled and affirmative culture – these attempts are scorned and ridiculed by the Guardian class. In intellectual circles conservatives therefore move quietly and discreetly, catching each other’s eyes across the room like the homosexuals in Proust, whom that great writer compared to Homer’s gods, known only to each other as they move in disguise around the world of mortals.

How ironic that Scruton uses the image of the secretive homosexual in Proust’s books to describe how the conservative must behave in intellectual circles today.

Scruton, Roger. How to be a Conservative (Kindle Locations 75-81). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The Lifted Brow – or is it The Spitting Lips?

The Lifted Brow (also known as TLB and/or the Brow) is a not-for-profit literary organisation from Australia that publishes magazines and books for both Australian and global readership, as well as producing events, running prizes, and more. Its flagship publication is a quarterly print magazine/journal, also called The Lifted Brow, which is read all around the world.’ Wikipedia

On its website The Lifted Brow acknowledges the following assistance:

‘The Lifted Brow is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and is also supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office, and Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.’

One of its cartoon contributors is Nicky Minus the delightful young woman who spat in the face of a public servant merely for carrying out work he had no direct control over. Miss Minus’s assault caused outrage in the general community. Not so at the leftist government-funded Lifted Brow. The principals of The Lifted Brow immediately rushed out their fulsome support for their colleague artist’s spitting episode as The Sydney Morning Herald reported: Continue reading

The Marxist Greens in action

The Daily Telegraph provides a full pictorial report on the meeting of the new Inner West Council on Tuesday 24 May 2016. The meeting turned into violence ‘whipped up by Greens and Labor politicians’. The vision of the mob violence gives a representative view of the way the extreme left operates. Whenever you have such scenes you will find (often the same) members of the various far-left groups behind the chaos and violence. Foremost among the originators of political violence are the Greens.

NSW Greens MP Jamie ­Parker was at the front of the political agitation and you can be sure he had a contingent of supporters backing him up.  ‘The Greens MP for Newtown, Jenny Leong, cheered the chaos, posting on Facebook: “Amazing effort — the campaign for local democracy and to stop Westconnex will continue.”’ An example of Newspeak: silencing opponents equals democracy. Continue reading

Mob journalism and the merciless persecution of Cardinal Pell

Gerard Henderson’s most recent Media Watch Dog (No. 315, 13 May) had a well-deserved go at Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham for picking up a Daily Mail story about Cardinal Pell and his lunch, and running with the pack. The sneering mocking headline of the Daily Mail piece by an Australian ‘journalist’ is:

Heart condition improving then, George?
Cardinal Pell pictured tucking into steak, chips and beer in a Roman piazza – weeks after claiming he was ‘too ill’ to come home to face child sex abuse royal commission.

The headline tells us which sector of our liberal-democratic society is the object of his incitement. Continue reading

Australia did not exist before 1788

I imagine that most people would think that the claim Australia did not exist before 1788 could only issue from the mouth of an imbecile – and a racist imbecile at that. But, no, I reject both titles. It’s simple really. Australia as a nation did not exist before 1788 if one understands a nation as being a moral incorporation of people, and not a mass of land decided by geographical coordinates.

Of course, the land mass that today is inaccurately called ‘Australia’ did exist before 1788 under various titles known only to the civilized world far to the north. People from that civilized world either by accident or design came across that mass of land. In that context they discovered it. ‘Discovery’ is the right word.

My full argument for the origin of Australia as a people is in the first eleven pages of chapter 2 of my book: Prison Hulk to Redemption: Part One of a Family History 1788-1900. Those pages are reproduced here: Prison Hulk to Redemption pdf chapt 2

A paperback edition is available in Australia here and on Amazon here

Gerard Wilson

Tony Abbott lecture on Freedom of Speech

Tony Abbott will give the Fr Gregory Jordan, SJ, Memorial Scholarship Lecture in Brisbane on 29 April 2016. The title of the lecture is: FREEDOM OF SPEECH: THE RIGHT AND THE RESPONSIBILITY. Details of the time and place can be found Here.

Fr Gregory Jordan was a much loved and respected theologian and former headmaster of St Ignatius Riverview. Both Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce were at St Ignatius during his headmastership. They attended his funeral in July 2015.

A favourite accusation of Abbott’s army of unappeasable enemies in politics and the media is that he is a religious zealot, eager to force the Australian population to convert – or else. It is one of the most serviceable parts of the Abbott persona they have created, and they keep hammering it.

Those familiar with his background, however, know that Abbott is considered by many orthodox Catholics to be on the liberal side, far from the dogmatic finger-wagging zealot of the manufactured image. Indeed, he fits the image of the modern Jesuit. In his book Battlelines, he gave a short account of his main (religious) influences.

Apart from my parents, the church was the biggest influence on my early life. From 1966 till 1975, I was at St Aloysius and then St Ignatius College, Riverview, in Sydney. The college mottos, ‘born for higher things’ and (roughly translated) ‘do as much as you can’, give a good idea of the Jesuit ethos at that time, which I thoroughly assimilated…

The Jesuits who taught me wanted to bring out the very best in their students but didn’t expect them to be saints. They weren’t dis­loyal to the Pope or subversive of the church but often seemed impa­tient with the ‘scold’ side to religious teaching. ‘Don’t bother giving up chocolates for Lent’, Father Emmet Costello used to advise, ‘but do something positive like going to Mass more often’. ‘We are all the prod­ucts of those who have loved us or failed to love us’, he often observed, quoting, I think, the American Jesuit John Powell. For me, the mes­sage was that God preferred big-hearted people who might sometimes make mistakes rather than robotic rule worshippers.

Tony Abbott’s actions as a politician bear that out. There are numerous ordinary people who give accounts of his generosity and compassion – a sympathetic word, a phone call about a sickness or death. Then there are the public demonstrations – his working with the SES, his yearly stay with the Aboriginal communities in the north, the pollie pedal, and so on. He shows his faith in his works rather than in his words.

The organizers of the Fr Gregory Jordan, SJ, Memorial Lecture have chosen well.