The impetuous call to sack Roger Scruton shows those who clamored for the blade of the guillotine to fall on his head for what they are. His sacking also exposed the concerted effort to demonize and silence anyone outside the public orthodoxy of thought…
Sir Roger Scruton is one of the preeminent conservative intellectuals in the Western World and an indispensable treasure for those who know him and those who live in the Anglosphere where his works are timely, topical, and deeply relevant. He was recently sacked from his non-paid government position on housing; this after having survived an earlier attempt to get him sacked which failed. His guilt? For honestly and freely talking with a left-wing interviewer who distorted Sir Roger’s words then celebrated his firing in an ugly manner which didn’t even respect the art of champagne. The rush to condemn Sir Roger and his sacking was predicated on incomplete facts and the misleading characterizations of the interviewer—which is itself indicative of our age where zealous indignation, rather than concern with facts and thinking, reign supreme.
I have the great honor of having Roger Scruton as a teacher alongside a handful of other students. He has, for more than 30 years, been a bugaboo man that the Left has attempted to silence. How can there be an articulate, charismatic, and intellectual conservative? Moreover, how can he attract such a following for his supposedly repugnant and reactionary views?
Sir Roger has been honored with a knighthood for his teaching career in philosophy. He has numerous Muslim friends has held conversations with Hamza Yusuf and written for Zaytuna College’s humanities journal Renovatio. I wonder if the Left will demand an Islamic liberal arts school remove all traces of his work who was invited by them to discuss on matters of truth and beauty in an ugly and profane world?
He is a world-renowned scholar on Immanuel Kant and Georg W.F. Hegel. My undergraduate philosophy professor used his book as a supplement for teaching modern philosophy. He is the premier writer on the philosophical content of art, music, and opera; his books on Richard Wagner are the simultaneously scholarly and popularly accessible works on the genius of Wagner and his project to which he is regularly invited to speak on the matter; his works on religion and the arts are also taught at my alma mater, Yale. No one apart from an ignoramus can dispute his impact on scholarship and academia despite having much of academe arranged against him to keep his views silenced. In this sense his ability to persevere is a wonderful success story against all odds.
The impetuous call to sack Sir Roger shows those who clamored for the blade of the guillotine to fall on his head for what they are. His sacking also exposed the concerted effort to demonize and silence anyone outside the public orthodoxy of thought which is stunting minds, hearts, and souls from any serious intellectual development and consideration. But this is not a new phenomenon.
Thucydides informs us language often becomes so thoroughly debased that it serves as a weapon for the mob:
To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defence. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching.
According to Thucydides, in times of moral degradation language and zeal are weaponized to show worth on the part of the party of the zealots. One’s worth as an ally, a friend, or someone accountable, is turning thoughtless acts of aggression into commendable, laudable, and salutary actions! Anyone who showed reason, moderation, or skepticism; anyone who dared put their mind to use and offer a second opinion, was deemed a coward and pushed aside by the “fanatical enthusiasm” of degenerate political plotting.
Edmund Burke, the seminal figure of Anglophone conservatism, also commented on how “despotic governments… are founded on the passions of men.” Burke continues to reflect how totalitarian movements are the result of irrationalism masquerading as rationalism. Man’s reason, Burke writes, becomes so eviscerated that the “hurr[ied] spirits” of the “disordered imagination”—now “unrestrained by the curb of reason”—lead to fanatical zeal leading to abuse, destruction, and the tyranny of the passions. Burke also commented on the sadistic impulse of such people who revel in “delightful horror” at “the present destruction of the person.”
People who suffer from this “disordered imagination” are the most dangerous people among us. They have fixed presupposed conceptions of persons and ideas and only see something, or someone, who needs to be destroyed. Any attempt to employ rational argumentation is seen as a marker of weakness and cowardice. Fanatical passion is now the hallmark of “reasonable” people.
The West’s plunge into a new dark age is the result of its cultural, metaphysical, and intellectual suicide. Sacred truths in a profane world cannot stand. Plato’s philosopher, in leaving the Cave and returning to free the enslaved masses with his knowledge, was killed. Ironically it was the guardians of the of the totalitarian Cave of Opinions who did the butchering just as it was the leaders of the leftwing establishment who did the same murdering with Roger.
Roger Scruton will live on because truth is eternal. Those ephemeral forces of hurried spirits will be forgotten. Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Tolstoy et al. live on for all posterity because they grappled with the fundamental questions of life, reality, and the human condition that all thinking persons necessarily grapple with. The Left’s attempt to destroy men of learning is for a very purposive reason, but any person who is moved by the intellect, that is the soul, will find friends in those now deemed hateful for the modern audience. St. Thomas famously said, “The human mind can only understand truth by thinking.” And thinking has defined Sir Roger’s raison d’être.
His writings on metaphysics, human nature, the soul, religion, and beauty; his contributions to philosophical scholarship and exegesis; his reflections on history and human condition; place him alongside a small cadre of figures who tried to use their mind to understand truth by thinking.
It is predictable that his enemies are the ones controlled by their disordered passions who’d prefer to strike at him rather than think with him. The attacks against Sir Roger are nothing less than an attack on the mind veiled with self-congratulatory righteousness which masks the iconoclastic and profane impulses of a now degenerated and ugly society with no respect, or want, for beauty, articulation, and consideration. Considerate, intellectual, and thinking people have a far different view of Sir Roger than those who claim he gives “intellectual respectability” to the “far-right” and other such “deplorables.” The sacking of Roger Scruton represents the descent into a world of profanity and ugliness, a world in which truth, beauty, and intellectual consideration are condemned and destroyed.
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