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

Roger Scruton

Roger ScrutonOf course, the old aristocratic society has vanished. But the vision of culture and public spirit survived for a while the society that engendered it. This vision animated our universities and schools, was imparted through the BBC, and retained its hold on our national life until very recently. It was – to use a much abused word – ‘elitist’. That is to say, it was concerned to safeguard difficult and exclusive attainments, and to ensure that they were not diluted by cheap substitutes and outright fakes. It was funded on critical judgment, taste and social distinction; and it supported educational and cultural institutions which had the generation of elites as their natural outcome. Nobody can deny that this vision of the national culture rapidly became offensive to democratic ways of thinking, or that curriculum reforms and educational philosophies sprang up which expressly repudiated the ‘elitist’ ideal. The result has been the serious loss of knowledge, and a decline in standards throughout the media of communication. It may be too late to arrest this decline; nevertheless, the attempt to do so defines a goal of conservative policy, and one that is more popular that its critics suppose.

▪ Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism (St. Augustin’s Press, 2002) extracts from page 51.

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