By B. William Alexander
Photo credit: WeAreCEU
Was the late Roger Scruton right when he said that the left’s apparent ideals were more appealing than the conceived conservative ideals?
The late, great Sir Roger Vernon Scruton (1944-2020) passed last year on 12 January. He would have been 77 years old on the 27 February. Already, little over a year on without one of, if not the most relentless defenders of conservatism ever to have lived; and his commentary and his insight is already sorely missed. Writing over fifty books across his marvellous career, one of the most notable was his opus ‘How to be a Conservative’ (2014). In this work, he touches on something he continued to voice until his death; that being that people gravitate towards ‘the left’ much more easily compared to ‘the right’ or more specifically to socialism rather than conservatism. Now Scruton was not merely pointing out the obvious but rather aiming to sway the people’s attention to this fact and to make us give it some of our time and prudence.
Scruton put the statement in perspective when he pointed out that 70% of intellectuals identify as on ‘the left’ or ‘far left’. However, he also pointed out that because of the failures of past and current intellectuals, they are not as valued today and rightfully so he admitted. So that is not as important as it first seems. Further you look and our education system, after already being a grim example of the effects of government interference, has also had claims of seemingly nonchalant bias such as only teaching the first three chapters of Adam Smith’s opus ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776). Nonchalant until tied with the afore mentioned statistic. But a more interesting and less speculative observation of Scruton’s was that consumerism and the short sighted and materialistic culture that it spawns is actually in some ways epitomised by the political individuals, claiming to be on ‘the left’, in their use of government funds as a tool to gain support. Scruton and Thomas Sowell both observed that it is much easier to run a campaign on the Robin Hood myth rather than what Edmund Burke (1729-1797) said politicians ought to invoke in their affairs which was prudence, and even some of those who claim to be conservatives and intern are indebted to Burke, do not always stand true to his words.
In doing the dichotomy of this they make the lives of the people they claim to be endowed to help even worse or simply better by a bureaucrat’s own justification rather than coming to admittance of the fact that yes he/she may have more affluence than they did prior to government involvement; but their motivation to ever use what little fiscal power they’ve been seemingly given to become self-dependent from the monstrous third party is repined from the receiver in the process of qualifying and maintaining said qualification by way of having their liberty restricted in subtle and perverse ways in order to meet the conditions allocated by said bureaucrat. They both have sarcastically joked that a suitable conservative campaign slogan would be the like of ‘don’t change, stay the same’ or something similar. Their point being, that in a world where almost everyone spends there money just as fast as they obtain it, even sometimes quicker, it is dubious, even alien to see a party run on Burke’s principle of prudence let alone Sowell or Milton Friedman’s belief that generally speaking government ought not to do much at all outside of Smith’s three principal roles of a minimalist government. Number one and two being to protect the citizen from external and internal threats by way of a proficient army, police force and court system. The third being government should only delve into the formation of a public work barring that it will benefit all, and that private enterprise has proved insufficient or incapable in providing the work thus far.
Roger Scruton spent much of his life fighting to change the circumstances in which we conservatives have inherited and have here begun to discuss, for conservatives dead, alive and unborn, undoubtedly with the knowledge that if these circumstances are changed then the unborn number of conservatives is likely to rise. With him gone, I think it to be imperative that conservatives pick up this cause and many of the others that Scruton championed during his life in the name of conservatism. He and the others mentioned, their ideas and insights will remain prevalent as long as government is prevalent. As conservatives it is our duty and most definitely in our interest to take their works, their meaning and questions, in the greatest of heed.