A year of awakening

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. Forty-nine of openDemocracy’s distinguished contributors, from Mariano Aguirre to Slavoj Zizek, Neal Ascherson to Jonathan Zittrain – offer their predictions for the coming year. Since this is openDemocracy, we did not expect them to agree. We were not disappointed. (Part Two)
Roger Scruton
22 December 2005


In Britain, I look forward to a revival of the Tory party under David Cameron’s leadership, and the adoption by Tony Blair and the Labour Party of a more tentative style of government. On the domestic front I assume that the Islamist threat will continue to grow, and that there will be atrocities at least as revolting as those we saw last summer.

Of course it is dangerous to make such prophecies – look what happened to Enoch Powell. But the country has received its wake-up call and it is now more acceptable to say what we all know in our hearts to be true – that immigration must be followed by integration if it is not to blow our society apart. It is a tragedy that people have to die before the truth can be publicly acknowledged, but that is the way establishments work.

In the world of culture there is much to hope for: the revival of tonality in serious music; the return to classical styles and principles in architecture; a new moral seriousness in art and literature. In architecture especially people are beginning to look for ways to escape from the vinegary prescriptions of the modernists, and to use styles and materials that blend with the urban fabric.

In this matter, as in so many others, the Labour establishment has remained bogged down in the 1960s, mulling over opinions that were once progressive and which have therefore dated far more quickly than the conservative sentiments they aimed to replace. The architecture of the 1960s, based in the half-crazed theories of Le Corbusier and Gropius, is one major cause of social breakdown in our cities. Thanks to the recent riots around Paris, educated opinion has begun to focus on exactly what happens to immigrants from village communities, when they are shut up in the satanic mills fabricated from Corbusian lego.

2006 may very well be the year when people finally wake up to the fact that the state educational system cannot be rescued, and that pouring money into this bankrupt organisation will only make matters worse. Whether an effective political consensus concerning the alternative will emerge I do not know. It could be that 2006 will see the beginning of a wholly new approach to education, and a recognition that, after all, it is not the business of the state.


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