Roger Scruton

Moreover, howsoever you build your career, one thing will be certain, you are ‘on the left’ politically, vindicated by all the righteous causes (whatever they might be) [I love that bit] of the day, and therefore immune from serious criticism. Your academic discourse is really play, self-expression, jouissance. What matters is where you stand, and in this you are impeccably correct, secure in your academic entitlement, and a worthy recipient of taxes paid by the bourgeoisie.

Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands. p. 196

The Parisian nonsense machine [Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze] was used to mount a ballistic assault on the bourgeois culture, throwing dense blocks of impenetrable Newspeak over the battlements into the public square of the beseiged city. The effect was to destroy the conversation in which civil society depends. All delicate ideas concerning law, constitution and the roots of civil order, all the ways in which human beings argue over rights and duties, honor their opponents and seek for compromise, were flattened by mathemes, ‘deterritorialized’ and buried beneath the debris of the great Event. This was the turning point in a battle that has now been raging for a century – the battle to take possession of the culture, by defining the intellectual life as an exclusively left-wing preserve.

Roger Scruton, Ibid, p. 197

Alan Sokal’s efforts via the post-modern generator fail to get literary journals to close up shop because something’s being nonsense is beside the point. Of course the editors can’t tell the difference between sincere nonsense and satirical nonsense. How can you parody something that is itself a parody of thought?

13 thoughts on “Roger Scruton

  1. Pingback: Roger Scruton | Neoreactive

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  4. “How those deformed ideas, noseless, blind,
    So deeply root themselves within the mind
    And draw the eyes apart and sag the skin
    And blur the face as if stretched by a pin,
    And make a terrified confusion, where
    The noble human glance should clear the air…”

    Frederick Turner, “On a Bigot of the Postructuralist Persuasion.”

    • Do you know the creeda’ of Jacques Derrida?
      There ain’t no writa’ and there ain’t no reeda’ eider

      Borrowed from an LA Times piece written shortly after Derrida’s death, and also from an old lecture by Dr. David Allen White. You’ve probably heard it before, but this post brought it to mind and I felt like sharing.

  5. Postmodernism originally had some healthy strains. Some writers were simply pushing back against an imperious Positivism and affirming a modest methodological pluralism. They argued that the natural sciences were not the model on which studies in history, theology, aesthetics, etc., should be based. They were not anti-science, only anti-scientism. But the whole thing was infected with the identity politics of the New Left and became a anti-intellectual BS machine.

      • Many people would say he is too old to be a postmodern, but the earliest “postmodern” critique of Postivism I read was by the Oxford philosopher John Lucas. I’m afraid I don’t remember where it was, but it came as a breath of fresh air as I was then slogging through the mire of French postmodernism. Lucas’ was a healthy postmodernism because he was at the same time premodern. I came across the same ideas in Alastair McGrath. Going back farther, I found intimations in the later works of C.E.M. Joad, especially Decadence.

  6. Althusser, in particular, had many perfectly sensible and important things about such subjects as the epistemological grounds of social theory, the prospects for a general scientific theory of social and historical processes, the intrinsic foibles of positivism, the applicability of the concept of causality in sociology and historical studies, the nature and workings of ideology, et cetera. It’s true that many of these discussions are rather convoluted and inaccessible, but there’s no easy way to talk about these subjects (or at least, you have to do it the hard way before you can do it the easy way).

    In any case, the present de-intellectualized Left no longer has any real use for a difficult and esoteric theorist like Althusser; SJW discourse today consists of a congeries of mission-statement boilerplate, administrative jargon, and legal and quasi-legal phraseology. You don’t need any particular intellectual background or expertise in order to play, you don’t need to have read anything, and you don’t have to understand what the various buzzwords and cliches mean or even pretend to.

    • Scruton’s assessment – “Althusser … offers a model of a new fortified language, in which no question can be posed, and no answer offered, except in terms that are barely intelligible to those who have not renounced their capacity to think outside them. As Orwell perceived, the first target of every revolution is language. The need is to create a Newspeak that puts power in the place previously occupied by truth and, having done this, to describe the result as a ‘politics of truth.’

      “…Althusser’s writings … engage with nothing written by those outside the Marxist camp, nor do they acknowledge any tradition of social and political thinking that does not bear, from its inception, the stamp of the Marxist dogma towards which it tends. About every serious objection to the theory and practice of Marxism Althusser remains silent.

      Thus he praises the labor theory of value and purports to be persuaded by it. What then does he make of the extensive literature critical of that theory? Precisely nothing.” p. 160.

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