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Meaning Of Conservatism

by Roger Scruton

ISBN 189031840X / 9781890318406 / 1-890318-40-X
Publisher St. Augustines Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

This is a major contribution to political thought from conservatisms greatest contemporary proponent. Originally published in Britain in 1980 and revised in 1984, this edition  the first ever in the United States  is a major rewriting of the work. Scrutons idea of conservatism  what in America we tend to call "paleo-conservatism"  might well shock the sensibilities of those American "conservatives" who view it as little more than the workings of the free market. Conservatism, says Scruton, is neither automatic hostility toward the state nor the desire to limit the states obligations toward the citizen. Rather, conservatism regards the individual not as the premise but the conclusion of politics, a politics that is fundamentally opposed to the ethic of social justice, to equality of station, income, and achievement, or to the attempt to bring major institutions of society (such as schools and universities) under government control.

The conservative outlook, says Scruton, is neither outmoded nor irrational. On the contrary, it is the most reasonable of political alternatives. The evils of socialism, he maintains, lie precisely where its supporters find its strengths, and the conditions for the credibility of socialism have long since disappeared. Neither socialism nor liberalism can come to terms with the real complexity of human society, and both appear plausible only because they direct attention away from what is actual, toward what is merely ideal. [via]