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This review is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

REACTIONARY CONCERNS Roger Scruton, The Politics of Culture and other essays (Carcanet) £8.95

This collection of Roger Scruton's essays encompasses such a diversity of subject matter that one hesitates at first to impose some semblance of unity on it for fear of distorting the original to the point of caricature. Each essay is a discrete and densely argued engagement with some doctrine of our time. Yet it is possible, I think, to discern a common pattern and purpose to the book as a whole. Moreover, one is encouraged to do so by the author himself who admits in the preface to a 'reactionary' concern 'with culture, and with the institutions and practices through which culture is upheld'. Scruton ranges widely over the contemporary cultural landscape but not as a mere dispassionate observer of its follies. These essays do indeed reveal a 'reactionary' solicitude for the sustaining bonds of a civilised polity; it is the kind of solicitude which is seldom given expression now except in anger or in sorrow, and which consequently is usually lost for words.

It is not the least of Roger Scruton's strengths that he is able to argue, energetically and without embarrassment, on behalf of a consciousness at once older and more permanent than that which our liberal culture attempts to implant. Thus, in discussing 'the state of the Language', Scruton insists that once 'the order, the manners, and the traditions of hallowed usage' are removed there remains only 'the state of nature in its brutishness'. It is all very well for the 'docile liberal' to ...


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