National Review Interview - What it means to be a Conservative. July 18

Sir Roger Scruton speaks to Madeleine Kearns for The National Review. The full interview can be found online HERE.

The celebrated philosopher talks to National Review about what conservatism is, isn’t, and ought to be.

Madeleine Kearns: In your most recent book, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition, you provide a distilled synthesis of modern conservative thought. First, I’d like to begin with your book’s last chapter, “Conservatism Now,” in which you reference William F. Buckley Jr.’s first book, God and Man at Yale (1951). In that book, which arguably launched the conservative movement in America, a 24-year-old Buckley wrote: “I believe that if and when the menace of Communism is gone, other vital battles, at present subordinated, will emerge to the foreground. And the winner must have help from the classroom.”

Do you think Buckley was correct? If so, what are these “other vital battles”?

Sir Roger Scruton: Yes, Buckley was right. There is the vital battle to defend fundamental institutions, such as marriage and the family, and to counter the censorship of all opinions that express an attachment to our cultural and political inheritance.

MK: The second half of God and Man at Yale’s title is “The Superstitions of Academic Freedom.” Is academic freedom a superstition?

SRS: No, but professors praise it without really believing in it. They do not grant freedom to those who threaten them intellectually or ideologically. This has been documented by people like Roger Kimball, and it has certainly been my experience.