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A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism Paperback – 3 Oct 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury 3PL; New Ed edition (3 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826496156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826496157
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Product description


'What may be found here is a collection of acute observations about modern attitudes, arguments underming their essential assumptions, and references to the past which enable the reader to set moral and intellectual enquiry into a wide frame of reference.  The essays are certainly polemical, and are clearly intended to be; they are, however, elevated above the trivial rhetoric of modern politics, and achieve a distinction that is at once apparent and readily accessible.  His essays are prophetic assaults upon the superficial and false understandings inherent in the substitute morality now mandatory in modern materialist thought...there remains intellectual engagement of a high order.' --Church Times

About the Author

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and writer. Formerly Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London and Visiting Professor at Boston College, USA. He now lives as a freelance writer in Wiltshire. He has published The West and the Rest and News from Somewhere with Continuum.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not, of course, a political manifesto more a series of brilliant fragments of commentary on the state we are in.
The country has been moronized and degraded in virtually every sense since 1945.
Very tight controls over the content of what can be said has gone fist-in-glove with an obsession with everything global and international as a panacea. The rise of television is emblematic. The pain people feel with their lives and the world is soothed by TV as by some opiate. No government can now do without TV as a means of propaganda, social control and uniformity. People are in key senses now servile - servile to (Left) opinion, tastes, outlook, prejudices, ideology, vacuity. Never have people been so effectively disenfranchised. Never have people begged more to be enslaved - even Rome's enemies expressed a desire for freedom.
Scruton is really the first important Right intellectual figure in Britain, in recent years, to gain traction and a following by engaging with these issues.
The project might be called the counter-revolution to re-establish our borders, language and culture.
Scruton makes a fascinating reference to the Ummah and ijima of the Muslims (the search for unity and consensus) which I think explains much of the elites bahaviour in recent years. The Left has become obsessed with the violence, fanaticism and ideology of radical Islam which they see as a useful tool to hammer what remains of the Christianity and independence they hate so much. They stress that 'we all agree' as the modus operandi which reflects the Muslim view that we are all part of the one society of believers. Let's all hold hands and sing 'we are the world.'
Make no mistake - those at the top are radicals in every respect, for others that is, not themselves.
An outstanding collection of essays.
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Format: Hardcover
Scruton covers numerous themes to outline the conservative view, areas covered are interesting and varied, it is fortunately not merely a tick box outline of oft repeated conservative platitudes. Following on from this it must be recognised that Scruton seeks to emphasise broad conservative themes and principles, as opposed to offering policy solutions to current problems. However undoubtedly this was not his intention, and lack of specific recommendations does little to lesson the impact of the vast majority of chapters (however regarding the environment it is not completely clear how he plans to reconcile his understandable environmental concerns with his equally understandable antipathy of transnational institutions).

There are elements within this book which both appeal and question the right and left of British politics. Scruton's conservative philosophy would question the faith many conservatives now have in globalisation and in the unfettered operation of the free market, reminding them of the loss of sovereignty and socio-cultural cohesion that this would inevitably entail. Scruton also covers the issue of animal rights, marriage, abortion and euthanasia and postmodernism his comments in these areas raise important questions as to the future of politics in this country.
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Format: Hardcover
Former Dutch prime minister Abraham Kuyper said that the difference between liberals and conservatives was ten years. If Scruton was read and adopted by Conservatives today we would see some clear blue water. He is a philosopher so do not expect an easy read but you will find a most rewarding one. Scruton starts with citizenship in a nation state as fundamental. He is no admirer of any sovereignty above the nation for that is where loyalty stops. Conservatism should mean the conserving of nature. Environmental concerns are not limited to the left. Animals are friends we can eat. Humans are not merely higher animals. Their lives must be protected from predatory apostles of euthanasia. Marriage is fundamental to the stability of society. It is more than a mere contract but I do not accept his high Anglican assertion that it is a sacrament. Scruton does not seem conversant with the Protestant covenantal view of marriage. He gives us a good critique of the cultural negativity of post-modernism. He enlightens one with his analysis of religion before and after the Enlightenment and rightly contends that religion must be studied not merely for its utility but for its claims to truth. His analysis of totalitarianism, particularly the power plan that is Marxism is masterful. "It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world. And since, as Swift says, it is futile to reason someone out of a thing that he was not reasoned into, we can conclude that Marxism owes its remarkable power to survive every criticism to the fact that it is not a truth-directed but a power-directed system of thought.".Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
As a social democrat I approached this book in order to get a better idea of the kernel of conservative thought. It would be wrong for me to criticise this book on the basis that I do not agree with Roger Scruton's outlook. By the same token, in saying that I rather liked his presentation of conservative values I do not mean to endorse his views.

The most important feature of this book is to redefine the important difference between Burkean conservatism and free-market "conservatism" which is proprerly termed liberalism. (This is not to be confused with the American usage of the term where liberal means left-of-centre.)
This important difference is worth bearing in mind because the free-market liberalism of low-taxation, the minimal state and business-friendliness is at odds with Burkean notion of the contract between generations dead, living and unborn. This is a touchstone to which Scruton comes back time and again throughout the book. Specifically, big business is unable to cope with issues of animal welfare and moral limits to consumerism. There is no market-conservative argument against pornography while Tory conservatives are so equipped to provide a critique.

My only specific criticisms of the book are twofold: one is that while Roger Scruton is entitled to his views on same-sex marriage, he really ought to lay out a much better case against than he does. If there is a conservative objection to same sex marriage his one-and-a-half page throwawy aside is not it. If social stability is a worthwhile public good, then extending this structure beyond the standard heterosexual couple would seem to be a legitimate aim. If it is not, Scruton has not fully explained why.
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