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    Roger Scruton, L’intellectuel de gauche : cet évangéliste, ce prêtre sans Dieu + Her Virtue Was Thatcher’s Downfall + Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the Planet

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 17048
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Roger Scruton, L’intellectuel de gauche : cet évangéliste, ce prêtre sans Dieu + Her Virtue Was Thatcher’s Downfall + Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the Planet  Empty Roger Scruton, L’intellectuel de gauche : cet évangéliste, ce prêtre sans Dieu + Her Virtue Was Thatcher’s Downfall + Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the Planet

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Mar 12 Nov - 22:21



    "When the Athenians sent Themistocles into exile in 470 BC, they conveniently forgot everything he had done for them. It was he who had created the Athenian navy, held the Persians at Artemisium and finally defeated them at Salamis. It was he who had fortified Athens and made it the most prosperous city of the Aegean. His work was continued by Pericles, (without whose energy and public spirit the democratic traditions of Athens would certainly have been destroyed). But Pericles also was driven from office, tried on trumped-up charges and threatened with exile.
    Democracies have a natural tendency to turn against their saviors. It happened to Winston Churchill. It happened to Charles de Gaulle, and now it has happened to Margaret Thatcher. It was not the faults of those great leaders that caused their downfall but their virtues. Thatcher, like Themistocles, has been overthrown by the resentment of her inferiors. For in a democracy, inferior people have power.

    When she took office in 1979, it looked as though Britain was in a state of terminal decline. The trade unions, with power to bring down the elected government, were busy accumulating privileges for their largely idle membership. The country had no foreign policy to speak of, had irresolutely entered the European Community without any conception of the political cost and could no longer be relied upon to defend itself. Socialist mandarins reigned in the civil service, in the schools and in the universities, while more than half the gross national product was absorbed in public expenditure. Industry was crippled by strikes, and whole sections of the economy, run by central government, were protected from competition and maintained in a state of bankruptcy.

    When it came to communism, our leaders either maintained an embarrassed silence or made craven offers of friendship. For the Labor Party, the Soviet Union was a “socialist” state that had slightly deviated from its good intentions while remaining a friend of the working class. The threat to peace came from our habit of defending ourselves, in the face of which the poor Soviets could only reply in kind.

    In short, Britain was ready to surrender all that it stood for: its pride, its enterprise, its ideals of freedom and citizenship, even its national defense. The country wallowed in collective guilt feelings, reinforced by the dependency culture of the welfare state.
    Thatcher changed all that. She compelled the British people to recognize that the individual’s life is his own and the responsibility of living it cannot be borne by anyone else, still less by the state. She released the talent and enterprise that, notwithstanding decades of egalitarian claptrap, still exist in British society. She broke the power of the unions, exposing such men as Arthur Scargill, leader of the mine workers, for the Stalinists they are. She restored our national pride and sense of sovereignty, first by resisting the Argentine invasion of the Falklands, second by countering the Soviet threat and exposing the peace movement as a part of it, and third by defying the ambitions of the Eurocrats. She began to reform the education system, opposing the socialist apparatchiks who control it and holding up their “progressive” curriculum to scorn. She even took on the welfare state itself, trying to persuade people that their lives could be better, freer and simpler without this great cancer on the national economy, which benefits nobody so much as those appointed to control it.

    Those achievements led to her downfall. Anyone who threatens the dependency culture in Britain threatens the Establishment: the media, the universities, the schools, the welfare services, the vast heap of redundant civil servants. The chattering classes rose up in alarm, recognizing that Thatcher’s triumph would be their destruction. Nobody was more disturbed than my university colleagues: For decades they have enjoyed financial security with no real obligations. They are natural believers in the state that nourishes them, and natural socialists when it comes--as occasionally happens--to exercising their minds. Acting together with their friends in the media, such people have created the myth of Thatcher as an “uncaring” and bossy woman, armed with Victorian values and a handbag. In fact she threatens nobody but the parasites.
    But the relentless campaign of denigration has at last paid off. The Tories, in a fit of nerves, have followed the rest of the nation in preferring mediocrity to excellence. And, like the Athenians, they are sure to regret it
    -Roger Scruton, "Her Virtue Was Thatcher’s Downfall", Los Angeles Times, novembre 1990: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-11-25-op-7210-story.html


    « [Conservatives] have tended to see modern politics in terms of a simple dichotomy between individual freedom on the one hand, and state control on the other. Individual freedom means economic freedom and this in turn means the freedom to exploit natural resources for financial gain. The timber merchant who cuts down a rainforest, the mining corporation that decapitates a mountain, the motor manufacturer that churns out an unending stream of cars, the cola producer that sends out a million plastic bottles each day -all are (or at any rate seem to be) obeying the laws of the market, and all, unless checked, are destroying some part of our shared inheritance. Because, in a market economy, the biggest actors do the most damage, environmentalists turn their hostility on big businesses, and on the free economies that produce them. Abolish the market economy, however, and the normal result is interprises that are just as large and just as destructive but which, because they are in the hands of the state, are usually answearable to no sovereign power that can limit their predations. It is a plausible conservative response, therefore, not to advocate economic freedom at all costs, but the recognize the costs of economic freedom, and to take all steps to reduce them.

    We need free enterprise, but and we also need the rule of law that contains it, and law must keep pace with the threats. When enterprise is the prerogative of the state, the entity that controls the law is identitical with the entity that has the most powerful motive to evade it -a sufficient explanation, it seems to me, of the ecological catastrophe of socialist economies. Studies have shown that free economies, with private propery rights and an enforceable rule of law, not only consume far less energy per comparable product than economies where private propery is insecure or absent, but also are able to adapt far more rapidly to the demand for clean energy, and for the reduction of emissions. And while markets cannot solve all our environmental problems, and are indeed the cause of some of them, the alternatives are almost always worse.

    There is another and better reason for thinking that conservatism and environmentalism are natural bedfellows. Conservatism, as I understand it, means the maintenance of the social ecology. It is true that individual freedom is a part of that ecology, since without it social organisms cannot adapt. But freedom is not the only goal of politics. Conservatism and conservation are two aspects of a single long-term policy, which is that of husbanding resources and ensuring their renewal. There resources include the social capital embodied in laws, customs and institutions ; they also include the material capital contained in the environment, and the economic capital contained in a free but law-governed economy. According to this view, the purpose of politics is not to rearrange society in the interest of some over-arching vision or ideal, such a equaliy, liberty or fraternity. It is to maintain a vigilant resistance to the entropic forces that threatan our social and ecological equilibrium. The goal is to passe on to future generations, and meanwhile to maintain and enhance, the order of which we are the temporary trustees
    . »

    "While socialism and liberalism are inherently global in their aims, conservatism is inhernently local: a defense of some pocket of social capital against the forces of anarchic change. And it is precisely this local emphasis that uniqyely suits conservatism to the task of adressing environmental problems."

    "It is as obvious to a conservative that our reckless pursuit of individual gratification jeopardizes the social order as that it jeopardizes the planet. It is obvious too that the wisest policies are those that strive to protect and keep in place the customs ans institutions that place a brake on our appetites, renew the sources of social contentment and forbid us to pass on the costs of what we do to those who did not incur them."

    "Less [growth] is precisely what no democratic governement can afford to promise."

    "It is true that the big players externalize their costs whenever they can. But so do we. Whenever we travel by air, visit the supermarket, or consume fossil fuels, we are exporting our costs to others, and to future generations."

    "De Maistre gave a central place to piety, as a motive that puts divinely ordained traditions and constitutions above the temptations of self-interest."

    "We should recognize that environmental protection is a lost cause if we cannot find the incentives that would lead people in general [...] to advance it. [...] Here is where environmentalists and conservatives can and should make common cause. That common cause is territory -the objet of a love that has found its strongest political expression throught the nation state."

    "However, environmentalists will tend to baulk at the suggestion that local loyalty should be seen in national terms, rather than as the small-scale expression of a humane universalism. Yet there is a very good reason for emphasizing nationality. For nations are communities with a political shape. They are predisposed to assert their sovereignty, by translating the common sentimen of belonging into collective decisions and self-imposed laws. Nationality if a form or territorial attachment, but it is also a proto-legislative arrangement. Moreover, nations are collective agents in the sphere of global decision-making. Through membership in a nation the individual has a voice in global affairs."

    "In so far as we have seen any successful attempts to reverse the tide of ecological destruction, these have issued from national or local schemes to protect territory recognized as "ours" -defined, in other words, through some inherited entitlement. I am thinking of the following: the initiative of American nature lovers, acting upon the United States Congress, to create national parks, the action by Iceland to protect the breeding ground of the Atlantic cod, the legislation that freed Ireland from polythene bags, the clean energy initiatives in Sweden and Nordway, the Swiss planning laws that have enabled local communities to retain control over their environments and to manage those environments as a shared possession, the British "Green Belt" policies that brought and end to urban sprawl, the initiatives of lobstercatchers in Maine and cod-fishers in Norway to establish self-regulating fisheries with local people in charge. These are small-scale achievements, but they are real, and could, if replicated more widely, change the fae of the earth for the better. Moreover, they are successful because they appel to a nature motive -the shared love of a shared place.
    That, it seems to me, is the goal towards which serious environmentalism and serious conservatism both point -namely, home, the place where we are and that we share, the place that defines us, that we hold in trust for our descendants, and that we don't want to spoil. [...] Nobody seems to have identified a motive more likely to serve the environmentalist cause than this one, of the shared live for our home. It is a motive in ordinary people. It can provide a foundation both for a conservative approach to institutions and a conversationist approach to the land. It is a motive that might permit us to reconcile the demand for democratic participation with the respect for future generations and the duty of trusteeship. It is, in my view, the only serious resource that we have, in our figt to maintain local order in the face of globally stimulated decay.
    I describe this motive (or family of motives) as oikophilia, the love of the oikos, or household. The Greek word appears, in Latinate form, in "économy" and "ecology" ; but i use it to describe the deep stratum of the human pyche that the Germans know as Heimatgefühl. Respect for the oikos is the real reason why conservatives dissociate themselves from the currently fashionable forms of environmental activism. Radical environementalist tend to be suspicious of national feeling. They repudiate old hierarchies and and strive to remove the dead from their agenda, being largely unmoved by Burke's thought that, in doing so, they also remove the unborn. They tend to define their goals in global and international terms, and support NGOs and pressure groups that will fight the multinational predators on their own territory and with weapons that make to use of national sovereignty."

    "Oikophobia (the repudiation of the home)."

    "So whom should we believe: the 'warmists" or the sceptics ? How can you and i know, without devoting the rest of our lives to the study of climatology ? Even then we will be entering a field in which there seems to be very little consensus about anuthing, and only competing "computer models" without genuine "laws of motion" of the kind familiar from the other physical sciences."

    "The global warming that is occuring may not be all man-made ; but it is still our problem. The question therefore arises: what measures will prevent or mitigate it, and if we cannot take them, how do we face the future ?"

    "There is evidence that certain kinds of geo-engineering are likely to be many times more cost effective than emission controls, with the added advantage that their effect will be manifest immediately, and not after years or decades -during which the climate may reach one of the "tipping points" that the alarmists fear. At the very least, we should be researching this option, if only as "Plan B". Moreover, some forms of geo-engineering -carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, for example- will symply undo the damage, rather than adding a new form of damage to the old. [...]
    "Resilience solutions", therefore, ought to be part of the repertoire of every thinking environmentalist."

    "British society adapted to the Industrial Revolution in the same way as it had set the revolution in motion: by private enterprise and civil association."

    "The fatories liberated children from the farms, where they are worked just as hard and with less hope of rescue. Children working in factories came under the eye of educated people who could afford the luxury of campassion, and within a few decades the Factory Acts had rescued them from slavery."

    "Sacrifices are undertaken by self-identifying communities ; large-scale projects (such as will be required by geo-engineering) are the enterprises of wealthy capitalist countries [...] Change, adaptation and remedial efforts will be the work of self-identifying nation states, and in particular of those nation states in which public spirit, enterprise and economic activity are all strong enough to bear a burden that might be at least as great as that involded in fighting a defensive war."

    "In the influential writings of Ayn Rand we find a kind of Nietzschean contempt for ordinary dependent beings and a supremacist assertion of the world-transforming risk-taker, who will save us from the degeneracy into which we are being led by envy and resentment."

    "Love directed towards what is unknown must arise from what is known. The future is not known, nor are the people who will inhabit it. But the past is known, and the dead, our dead, are still the objectfs of love and veneration. It is by expending on them some part our care, Burke believed, that we care also for the unborn."

    "Tradition is a form of knowledge. Not theoritical knowledge, of course, concerning facts and truths ; and not ordinary know-how either. There is another kind of knowledge, which is neither knwoledge that nor knowledge how, which involves the mastery of situations -knowing what to do, in order to accomplish a task successfully, where sucess is not measured in any exact or fore-envisaged goal, but in the harmony of the result with our human needs and interests. Good manners form an excellent illustration of what I have in mind. Knowing what to do in company, what to say, what to feel -these are assets we acquire by immersion in society. They cannot be taught by spelling them out but only by osmosis, yet the person who has not acquired these things is rightly described as ignorant."

    "We have that great founding narrative of Western literature, the Odyssey of Homer, in which a hero gives up immortality and life with a goddness in order to journey through every kind of danger to his home."

    "It is precisely the message of Burke and Hegel that the home is to be rediscovered by moving forward and creating it anew. It is created, not as a shrine or a memorial, but as a place where life goes on, and where love, affection and mutual obligation are renewed."

    "Those who believe that the division of Europe into nations has been the primary cause of European Wars should recall the devastating wars of religion that national loyalities finally brought to an end."

    "Conservatism is the voice of people who find their social needs and aspirations in a familiar and loved environment, a place that is home to them and which they strive to improve."

    "To look on a thing as beautiful is to value it for what it is, not for what it does or for the purposes it serves. It does not follow from this that beauty is useless. On the contrary, it is the intrinsic value of beautiful things that renders them useful. The case may be compared to that of friendship. Your friend is valuable to you as the thing that he is. To treat him as a means -to used him for your purposes- is to undo the friendship. And yet friends are useful: they provide help in times of need, and they amplify the joys of daily living. Friendship is supremely useful, so long as we do not think of it as useful.
    Many people treat their surroundings as having only instrumental worth. They recognize future generations among its users ; but, for such calculating people, the environment is still no more than a tool. [...] The instrumental treatment of nature, which puts a price on everything, has led to a deep disgust in many of the younger generation, whose sense of sacrilege has been awakened by the exploitative habits of their fellows."

    "Things seen in the light of oikophilia are not to be exploited, surrendered or exchanged. It is fair to say that, seeing the environment in this way, we are far more likely to be of service to future people than if we regard it merely as a means, even if as a mean to their ends rather than ours."

    "Mumford takes the tightly packed and field-surrounded medieval city as his ideal."

    "Aesthetic side-constraints disappeared for another reason than changes in the materials and forms that architects employed. They disappeared also because a new kind of planning took over the cities of Europe and America -a kind of planning that grew from the socialist and communist experiments in politics, and which was absorbed by the early modernists as part of the air they breathed. The Bauhaus under Hannes Meyer was an explicity socialist esthablisment, influenced by the "democratic centralism" of Lenin ; its contribution to urbanization was the comprehensive plan, involving the demolition of streets and settlements and their replacemeent by tower blocks of workers' flats. Urban planning was henceforth seen as an integral feature of the architect's task, which was no longer concerned with fitting in but with replacing whole neighbourdhoods and even cities. The modernist styles emerged from the spirit of the top-down plan, which replaced that of the side-constraint all across the Western word at the same tome, and with the same force, as the spirit of socialism. Like socialism it spelled ecological disaster. Typical was Le Corbusier's plan to demolisj all of Paris north of the Seine."
    -Roger Scruton, Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the Planet, London, Atlantic Books, 2012.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".

      La date/heure actuelle est Jeu 21 Sep - 12:59