Quote of the Week: Roger Scruton, “The Meaning of Conservatism”

Roger Scruton

It is a limp definition of conservatism to describe it as the desire to conserve; for although there is in every man and woman some impulse to conserve that which is safe and familiar, it is the nature of this ‘familiarity’ that needs to be examined. To put it briefly, conservatism arises directly from the sense that one belongs to some continuing, and pre-existing social order, and that this fact is all important in determining what to do. The order in question may be that of a club, society, class, community, church, regiment or nation – a person may feel towards all these things that institutional stance which it is the task of this book to describe and defend. In feeling it – in feeling thus engaged in the continuity of his social world – a person stands in the current of some common life. The important thing is that the life of a social arrangement may become mingled with the lives of its members. They may feel in themselves the persistence of the will that surrounds them. The conservative instinct is founded in that feeling: it is the enactment of a historical vitality, the individual’s sense of his society’s will to live. Moreover, in so far as people love life it is in order to perpetuate what they have. In that intricate entanglement of individual and society resides the ‘will to live’ that constitutes conservatism.

▪ Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism (St. Augustin’s Press, 2002) extract from page 10.

SydneyTrads is the internet portal and communication page of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, an association of individuals who form part of the Australian paleoconservative, “traditionalist conservative” and “independent right”.

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