And so the world becomes that much poorer. After a fight with cancer, Sir Roger Scruton has passed away. Renaissance men are like a meal to a poor person; you don’t know where your next one’s coming from. Sir Roger was the closest we shall get to a Platonic philosopher king; it is not hyperbole to say he may have been the greatest Prime Minister Britain never had, although he was far too canny and honest for the carnival of deceit that is British politics.
Unlike modern politicians, Sir Roger lived a rich, intellectual life which was actually of value to others. He was at home, intellectually, discussing art, the nature of sexual desire, or Immanuel Kant’s complex philosophy. He had his Damascene conversion to Conservatism during the 1968 Paris student riots. He smuggled samizdat literature into Eastern Europe at a time when this was fraught with danger, and helped set up and encourage underground movements and universities there. He was subsequently honoured for this work by European leaders, including Hungary’s charismatic nationalist leader Viktor Orbán. Of this period in his life, and with signature modesty, Sir Roger had this to say;
‘I helped to plant a few seeds of conservative thinking in those countries, and to emphasise that it is possible to love your country more than the global forces that wish to suppress it… In 1989 the destructive materialism of the Communists was replaced by the soft materialism of the new Europe. My small influence comes from expressing the belief that materialism, in whatever form, is the problem.’
The Left, of course, despised Sir Roger. Articulate and principled Conservatism triggers the modern progressive, and Sir Roger’s worldview drew predictable responses from the vicious dullards of the modern Left. Frank Furedi recalls reading Sir Roger’s Art and Imagination in 1987;
‘[O]ne of my colleagues confronted me and asked: “Why are you reading that shit?” When I explained that I was interested in the philosophy of mind, my colleague gave me a look of contempt and reprimanded me for wasting my time on a “right-wing bigot”.’
Reprimanded for non-conformist thinking. How very progressive.
This hatred by the British Left culminated in a disgraceful incident towards the end of Sir Roger’s life, one for which the Left should hang its head in shame.
In 2018, Sir Roger was appointed chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. You could not imagine a more fitting appointment. But the Left never sleep and, like weevils in a ship’s biscuit, they began scurrying around using the shabby tactics of ‘offence archaeology’. A scion of that toxic hybrid of class and cultural privilege – that’s both posh and progressive – George Eaton, then deputy editor of The New Statesman, dug up some old quotes of Sir Roger’s which committed the twin heresies of being both accurate and conservative. Sir Roger was promptly removed from his post after the predictable outcry, some of it even from the spineless among his own party. Eaton Tweeted a photograph of himself drinking champagne to celebrate.
Although journalist Douglas Murray salvaged Sir Roger’s reputation with a forensic examination of the original interviews and their subsequent decontextualisation, the damage was done. This is how the Left operate; a lie is halfway around the media before the truth has even got its boots on.
And so passes another supporting wall, as it were, of the fast-fading intellectual edifice that used to be conservatism. Sir Roger will be missed by those intelligent enough to appreciate his work and ideas, and sneered at in death by those intellectual troglodytes who are taking over British cultural affairs. The eloquence – a word Leftists will have to look up – of the man is painted in miniature in the last lines of an interview in The Spectator;
‘Falling to the bottom in my own country, I have been raised to the top elsewhere, and looking back over the sequence of events I can only be glad that I have lived long enough to see this happen. Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude’.
Sir Roger Scruton, the gratitude is ours. RIP.