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What Would Scruton Think of the World Today?

A year ago, the European conservative movement lost a close friend and loyal ally when Sir Roger Scruton passed away at the age of 75. From very early on he was a supporter of many conservative movements in Europe. He was influential in the creation of conservative political movements across the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, many of which would go on to form political parties that would govern in the years following the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

His contribution to the cause of freedom in Central and Eastern Europe did not go unnoticed, in 2016 he was conferred a Knighthood by the Queen, and in 2019 he received the highest honours in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic respectively. Of course to him these were not as valuable as living in the knowledge that conservative ideas had won over communism in Europe.

This week marked a year since his passing and his loss is still felt heavily across the conservative movement. It’s difficult on this auspicious anniversary to not reflect on what he might have made of the year that has passed, which has seen so many conservative fundamental principles challenged, and at the same time so many confirmed.

For instance, there is no doubt that he would have shared a sense of appalment at the scenes at the Capitol Building in Washington DC last week. He would have condemned the needless violence and the desecration of beauty and tradition carried out by the rioters. He would have taken the assault on the Capitol Building for what it was, an assault on tradition and liberty.

His position would likely have followed that change can only come through gradual reform, not through revolutionary acts – something he constantly described as being unconservative. His argument would have been that attacking traditional institutions would only act as a destabilising force, rather than any reasonable means of establishing change.

Equally, he would have seen the way in which nation states worked together throughout the pandemic is further proof of the fact that real sovereignty can only lie with the nation state, not with collectivism at the top. And no doubt he would have been proud of the way in which those countries he had once supported sprung to action in support of other sovereign nations across Europe.

Of course there is still much that we can learn from Sir Roger’s work – including, above all, the fact that gradual change and the defence of traditional institutions is a better sources of stability and prosperity than revolutionary structural change to the fabric of our society. All too often in the 21st century we want immediate change and immediate answers – we ask far too much too quickly – and it risks undoing all that is good in the world.

As conservatives we should heed Sir Rogers own warning on the matter: “Societies endure only when they are devoted to future generations, and they collapse like the roman empire when the pleasures and fancies of the living usurp the inheritance of those unborn”

Scruton’s body of works should forever be a helpful guide for conservatives to remain moderated, conviction driven and true to their base principles. Throughout his life, his works acted as a calm and reflective voice of reason, offering conservatives the answers that they were looking for. He along with others such as Edmund Burke, F A Hayek, Russel Kirk, William F Buckley Jr, Milton Friedman, and many more continue to offer a firm intellectual backing to our movement.

In the spirit of Sir Roger Scruton’s work we conservatives have a duty to today to stand for the preservation of our national, sovereign institutions, rather than seeking to undermine them for something unestablished.