Scruton and the Left

Carlos Rodriguez Braun

Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso

This article was published in La Razón (Spain) on June 5th, 2021.

British thinker Roger Scruton, who died last year, called progressive ideologues “Fools, frauds, and agitators.” Such is the title of one of his latest books, published in 2015. This is a very valuable revision and update to 1985’s “Thinkers of the New Left”. Scruton makes a tremendous effort to analyze these anti-liberal thinkers, idolized in the political, academic, cultural, and journalistic worlds, and whose appreciable theoretical and empirical gaps are rarely pointed out. It highlights a single economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, considered an unblemished sage around the world.

Galbraith at least was a talented writer, something which cannot be said for many of the figures mentioned in this volume: Habermas, Althusser, Lacan, Said, Badiou, Zizek, Sartre, Foucault, Gramsci, Deleuze, Dworkin, Thompson, Hobsbawm and others.

 Roger Scruton detects common threads, such as, precisely, the recondite language used by many of these so-called luminaries: “a thousand questions could be asked and, although they have no answers, this only increases the feeling of their relevance and depth … this obscurity can be interpreted as the proof of a depth and originality so great that they cannot be covered by means of a normal language”.

Another norm is the insistence on a wonderful utopia that awaits us if we overcome the obstacles to progress: private property, free-market capitalism, traditions, religion, and morals. Scruton puts his finger on the terrible sore that these thinkers avoid: the horrors that the left perpetrated on the world when it managed to eliminate those obstacles.

The new left, however, does not recognize said disasters. It has inverted the burden of proof: they don’t have to answer, because those who want to change the world are intellectually and morally superior to those who question their idyllic projects.

No progressive defends concentration camps. But this book exposes his fallacious argumentation, his denial of human nature, his moral relativism, his tolerance for lying, his hatred of individual freedom, his false egalitarian god, and his terrible collectivist mentality. He rightly concludes: “This mental scheme leads to the Gulag with the same logic that the Nazi ideology of race leads to Auschwitz.”