Friday, 6 February 2009

White Water Space-Hopper Polo

Trying to summarise an essay from the great conservative philosopher Roger Scruton is likely to meet with as much success as white water space-hopper polo....

Unless it goes something like; 'He is very clever and I am thick.'

If there was an SAS of the culture wars, Professor Scruton would be in the troop recruited mainly from the Guards regiments.

Well, I am thick..
And this is a conservative political blog and what with Barack Obama in the White House and Gordon Brown having nearly another two years to use his inherited
massive Labour majority as only he knows how, and with the Iranians not far from getting the Bomb it's not like I'm unaccustomed to pain and fear, so you can either:

A) do the sensible thing and read his recent and typically brilliant City Journal essay here - which I recommend, or

B) read my précis below.

Western society today lacks self-belief.
Western society today lacks a sense of common belonging and a cause around which its population can unite.
Alienated Moslems find Islamism a better alternative to this apparently aimless and rootless existence.
Christendom equipped us with two priceless treasures:
# The ability and inclination to forgive an so we don’t tear each other apart, and
# A sense of irony: that is as individuals we can be judged as being imperfect as well as judging others.
These two make western civilisation agreeable and worth preserving.
Alienated Muslims find release and a nihilistic pleasure in the destruction of others and self in jihad.
We can't hope to stand against jihad...
Unless we have the courage of our cultural convictions and accept that a polity which encompasses forgiveness and ironic self-criticism is worth fighting for by all means necessary.
Then we better do it.

Now, I hope that you read his essay before my summary.
And if you did, it will have demonstrated two things:
1) He is very clever, and
2) I am thick.

In which case,

But if you read my summary first, I suggest you now go on to read the essay here.

Done that?
1) He is very clever, and
2) I am thick.

Sometimes I'm so thick, I'm almost clever.



Sue said...

I've only just started reading it and I disagree with him already! He takes no consideration as to how close knit communities USED to work, especially after the war.

Much of what we have lost is because our communities have been scattered, families don't live close any longer and those that have replaced them, aren't interested in community spirit. We moved to get new jobs and a better life and future for our children. Much of what motivates us is materialistic and has been encouraged by this government.

That others find brotherhood in Islam is true of all religions (even cults).

That's only the first page so far :)

North Northwester said...

Sue, I'm sure what you say about established communities is true - and from my own personal experience at that.
I also think you'll find that Professor Scruton is a strong supporter of such communities - and part of his opposition to the economic reforms of the Thatcher years was due to the erosion that those reforms. We move to work - and leave much behind.

But I don't think that that's the main burden of this case.
We are - or tend to be - atomised by our wanderings and torn from fellow-feeling or community as a result of the secular, citizens-as-equals world of free(ish) trade and opportunity.

Muslims miss fellow-feeling and community and hold to Islamism instead of integrating and competing and producing like the rest of us in market institutions.

I don't have a close kinsman in this county, for example, and I see more of my friends and colleagues than I do of the family I grew up amongst. That gets lonely, sometimes. Citizens – his atomised and deracinated individuals – are free to pick and choose between social circles and to cleave to a handful of them – goth-rockers here, perhaps, or tree-huggers there, and England rugby team supporters there – Right-wing bloggers over here. But where is home? On what land to we stand to resist the Islamists and other enemies?

We are descended from creatures that spent their whole lives rarely more than a few hundred yards from all their closest relations, and who worked and fed and conversed with each other every single day. It must have been comforting as well as stifling.

So, I think, to combat people who commit themselves so strongly and bloodily with Islam as a route back to that comfort, we need to recognise and celebrate our togetherness; our common heritage of [what we think are] better morals than Islam has.

You and I come from the land that gave the world anti-slavery and a legacy of common law and small, honest, effective government. The Declaration of Independence was composed in our language - the language of international trade, science, shipping, aviation, etc. the first language spoken on the Moon. You have settled in the land of El Cid, and from which America was first colonised from Europe; away from your birthplace, yes? - but not away from your culture.

I think the deep point that Scruton is making is that we need something of the fellow-feeling and shared pride of our common history - Europe WAS Christendom perched between two hostile continents of Islam and paganism until Isabella stumped up a few quid so it could spread. But how to achieve it when our lives are compartmentalized?
A pride in and a sense of belonging to something bigger and older than our current circles of employment and our nearest neighbours is just the ticket - the path and the prize if you like - to retrieve for all Westerners what alienated Muslims seek and seem to find in Islamism. And this means that our project – the culture war – is part of what he thinks we should do.

And be comforted: even if you disagree with Professor Scruton, and me, and Guido for all I know, our tolerant and pluralistic society is built on institutions that allow us to agree to differ, but also at the same time to share in common goals and common values despite it.

Tory Poppins said...

Hi North
Thank you for your comment:-) I still intend to comment of matters pertaining to education, but as I'm in the process of leaving the profession (ha!) I thought it best to move on from that blog also.
Keep up the good work - you're blogs great. Tp

Anonymous said...

"our tolerant and pluralistic society is built on institutions that allow us to agree to differ,"

Oh, really!

Fast vanishing!

North Northwester said...

Welcome Anonymous. Thank you for your comment.

...and yes, one way or another, the censors and the bullies and the 'not in front of the excitable natives' crowd have invaded our political discourse and are well into the process or poisoning it.

Still, we civilian on, talking to a world that doesn't listen.

Except sometimes new visitors, like you, and maybe others...


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