Roger Scruton’s Life Against the Tide

By Paul Krause

Against the Tide: The Best of Roger Scruton’s Columns, Commentaries, and Criticism, by Roger Scruton, edited by Mark Dooley (Bloomsbury, 2022), 242 pages.

“Society depends on the saints and heroes who can once again place [music, poetry and art] before us and show us their worth.” Roger Scruton did precisely that throughout his life. And because he defended the truth and beauty of the arts, religion, and social life from the onslaught of modernity, he was ostracized from the academy, which has turned its back on the goods of existence and promoted hatred and resentment in its place. Even so, his tenacity in the defense of the important things in life—those eternal things the heavens hold—merited begrudging admiration and respect from his philistine enemies.

Against the Tide: The Best of Roger Scruton’s Columns, Commentaries, and Criticism reveals Roger through the decades of his public intellectual life. We are treated to Scruton the man, Scruton the stalwart defender of “conservatism,” Scruton the critic of the fashionable pieties of the left, Scruton the defender of the sacred and transcendent, and more. Over 40 years of Scruton’s columns and commentaries, published and unpublished, as well as diary entries are gifted to us in this remarkably concise but substantive volume.

Most of the included pieces are short columns from Scruton’s stint writing for the Times and freelancing with other British newspapers. Other short essays come from his time as editor of the Salisbury Review, the history of which we are treated to in the introductory essay published in the Spectator. Speaking of that venerable redoubt of intellectual culture and criticism, many of the longer-form critical essays included in this volume are from Scruton’s time writing for that journal. We are therefore graced with a mix of short opinion pieces from newspapers far and wide in America and England, longer critical essays in premier cultural journals, and personal diary entries that give us a window into the heart, mind, and anguish of this bardic soul.

Is there a theme that unites this seemingly disparate collection of writings? One might be inclined to say the intellect—after all, Scruton was a leading public intellectual for most of his life and certainly the entirety of his public career. While there is truth to this, I would submit another theme: love. Love, as those who have studied Scruton extensively or had the opportunity to study under him personally know, is the great theme that preoccupied his soul.

Writing of his work in the anti-communist underground in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland, Scruton described the dissident students and intellectuals yearning to claim the hearts of their national cultures that were suppressed by the Stalinist authorities in Moscow and their lackeys in the satellite capitals of the Warsaw Pact (threatened today by the soft Bolsheviks of Brussels). Young men and women, Scruton tells us, hungered for something that was theirs—something that they could affix their hearts to and gravitate towards and triumphantly and passionately shout “Mine!” while simultaneously sharing that culture, identity, and tradition …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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