Political Correctness and the Death of Education – Requiem for a Dream

Sydney Traditionalist Forum today published Political Correctness and the Death of Education – Requiem for a Dream which argues that we in the West are not supposed to prefer our own culture to other cultures and that the culture of repudiation that rejects our cultural heritage as patriarchal, oppressive, imperialist, etc., makes the notion of aspiring to be well-educated a politically incorrect anachronism.

Roger Scruton, Utopia and the Final Solution*

Courts and laws

Humans are social beings and we have a sense of justice, just as some furry animals do. This sense of justice seems to be innate – certainly furry animals are not taught it. Young children consider it unfair if they get a small ice cream and someone else gets a bigger one. This complaint has a dose of egocentrism, but also relies on notions of fairness. Fairness means getting one’s just deserts and desserts, and involves reciprocity e.g., one good turn deserves another.

Scruton points out that “law” preexists written law. The original law embodies customs, traditions, and expectations that involve notions of justice/fairness. British common law is an attempt to make implicit law explicit. In this way, the law is discovered, not invented. Even parliament was seen originally as having the function of a court, making commonly agreed upon laws explicit in the interests of resolving disputes.

Common law thus arises organically from the bottom up in patterns of social behavior embodying intuitions of justice. When a judge adjudicates a case he is trying to settle it in terms already being employed by members of the community. Common law represents a piecemeal attempt to solve unanticipated problems as they arise with a degree of trial and error. If a new decision seems to make things worse, then later decisions can modify the law.

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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 besieged 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?

What is to be Done? Samizdat Classical Education

The most effective thing that we can still do to conserve our civilization is raise and educate our own children in the way that they should go. Shortly after the Orthosphere began operating in early 2012, I posted an item about the superiority of homeschooling. But what about middle and secondary school? What about college?

Two of our most luminous and percipient writers, both themselves professors – Anthony Esolen and Roger Scruton – have recently posted on these questions.

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Reactionary Composer of the Week: Roger Scruton

Yes, that Roger Scruton. I assume he needs no introduction around these parts. Scruton has written extensively on music (I recommend his book The Aesthetics of Music, a difficult but rewarding read), as well as doing some occasional composing. Recordings of his two operas, Violet and The Minister, are unfortunately not available, but he has posted a lovely trio of Lorca songs on his blog.

Modern Architecture, Islam, & the Indispensability of the Trinity

From time to time the Orthosphere publishes essays submitted by readers. This essay, by frequent commenter Dale James Nelson, is our first. It is particularly apt for Maundy Thursday.

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On March 16, at his Miscellany, Dr. Bruce Charlton posted a brief entry under the title A Soul-less Building vs. a Soul-Destroying Building. He wrote, “A building that actively sucks-out your soul is worse than a building which is a desert for the soul.”

Reading Dr. Charlton’s entry, I remembered part of an essay by Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest, published in 2002. If you’re like me, you tend to skim or skip long quotations in blogs.  Please do read the following passages from Scruton. They speak to Dr. Charlton’s point about architecture – living spaces, work places – that nurture the soul – or that, as is the way of modernity, starve or damage the soul.

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Basic Readings on the Web

This is an incomplete list, and based largely on what I’ve personally found enlightening or interesting (I’ve even taken the liberty of including some of my own writings), so feel free to suggest additions.

On Liberalism and Modernity

On Conservatism and Tradition

On Particular Issues

On the Orthosphere