Roger Scruton cached version 17/01/2018 13:09:19 en Notes from the Prague underground, part 2 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part 2 of an interview around Roger Scruton's new novel, <a href=";qid=1394819250&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=scruton+notes+from+underground">Underground Notes</a>. The contrast between Prague in the early 1980s and Washington in the late 2000s is the backdrop for a reflection on the nature of love, freedom and necessity</p> </div> </div> </div> <object width="460" height="344"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="460" height="344"></embed></object> <p> <a href="">Download this episode (right click and save)</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/roger-scruton-tony-curzon-price/notes-from-prague-underground-part-1">Notes from the Prague underground, part 1</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Czech Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Prague </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Prague Czech Republic Ideas Tedworth Podcast Tony Curzon Price Roger Scruton Sat, 15 Mar 2014 08:28:31 +0000 Roger Scruton and Tony Curzon Price 80174 at Notes from the Prague underground, part 1 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part 1 of an interview around Roger Scruton's new novel, <a href=";qid=1394819250&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=scruton+notes+from+underground">Underground Notes</a>. Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s is the backdrop for an exploration of a conservative existentialism.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <object width="460" height="344"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="460" height="344"></embed></object> <p> <a href="">Download this episode (right click and save)</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/roger-scruton-tony-curzon-price/notes-from-prague-underground-part-2">Notes from the Prague underground, part 2</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Czech Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Prague </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Prague Czech Republic Civil society Ideas Tedworth Podcast Tony Curzon Price Roger Scruton Fri, 14 Mar 2014 15:22:03 +0000 Roger Scruton and Tony Curzon Price 80169 at Unreal Estate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The legal fiction of the "corporate person" has helped economic growth through making possible limited liability, fractional reserve banking, insurance and many other fictions. But it has also made it easier to divorce the moral realities of debt and obligation from economic fictions. The endless economic crisis suggests that it is time for a return to a moral understanding the underpinnings of the financial fictions </div> </div> </div> <p><span>&nbsp;</span><span>A verse of the Koran says: ‘Oh ye who believe, do not eat up your property among yourselves in vanities’ (</span><a href=""><span>An-nisa, </span></a><span><a href="">4, 29</a>). This is one of many verses and hadiths interpreted as forbidding interest, insurance and the trade in debts. The Prophet was appalled by the sale and purchase of unreal things, and especially when people seek to forestall the will of God, by selling something that they do not possess or which they may never be called upon to provide. Traditional Islamic law therefore forbids many of the commercial constructs that we take for granted: for example, limited liability, which permits people to escape from the consequences of what they do by wearing a corporate mask. Of course, an economy without interest, insurance, limited liability or the trade in debts would be a very different thing from the world economy today. It would be slow-moving, restricted, and comparatively impoverished. But that’s not the point: the economy proposed by the Prophet was not justified on </span><span>economic </span><span>grounds, but on moral grounds, as an economy of righteous conduct.</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>The desire for a moral economy is by no means confined to Islam. In the post-war world in which I was raised economic life was equally circumscribed by moral edicts. For a long time following the Second World War, something called ‘capitalism’ was regarded with great suspicion by European elites, and also by large sections of the people. Capitalism meant ‘greed’, ‘profiteering’ and ‘exploitation’. Private business was regarded as an assault on public assets, if not on public morals, and in the England of nationalised industries and massive state projects, it was rare to find the ‘profit motive’ referred to except as an object of abhorrence. When, during the 1970s, I read for the Bar, I was astonished to discover that the English law of Corporations still required companies to make a profit. How was it that, after years of Labour government, such a law had not been repealed, and corporations required, instead, to work for the common good or, failing that, to reshape themselves as cooperatives, and wait to be taken over by the state?</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>Then came the Thatcherite revolution. We lived through what was, in retrospect, a radical transformation in the world of ideas and also in day-to-day politics. Quite suddenly the system that had been condemned as capitalism was being praised as ‘the market’. Economics, we were told, was not about profit and exploitation but about freedom. The market was not just a social necessity but a moral good. It was the system whereby each person dealt openly and honestly with every other, to the benefit of everyone. It offered freedom, and demanded responsibility as the price. The state was no longer the guardian of the common good but the great intruder, the free rider on all our contracts, the robber who took the proceeds of honest workers and spread them around its pampered clients.</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>After the dreary years of socialist Puritanism, this new morality was undeniably liberating. But it liberated both good things and bad, and never faced up to the truth that had dawned on Muhammad – the truth that, in an economy of fictions, nobody can be called to account. Whether bubbles of the kind we have recently seen are a necessary part of the trade in unreal estate I do not know. I suspect that they are, and that the search for regulations that would prevent them is a futile use of public funds and political energy. Nobody can enjoy the sight of people becoming stinking rich by trashing the scant savings of others. </span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>But matters are not usually improved when the state steps in. The underlying premise of state interference is that the state and its clients come first. The main concern of the political class is to ensure that those on whom it immediately depends for an easy life – the bureaucrats and the clients – will be properly provided for, with a reserve fund to buy favour from the discontented. The trade in unreal estate goes on.</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>The European norm, in which the largest part of the economy is controlled by the state, represents a kind of default position of modern democracies, and one to which the USA, long the exception in Western politics, is now tending. High taxes on all who work hard, take risks and keep the economy going, combined with a free ride for all those from whom votes can be most easily purchased – such is the tendency of the democratic state. Nobody in Greece or Portugal has ever doubted it, and only a residual glimmer of the Protestant Ethic has distracted the Germans from the truth that they are not really entitled to complain, when the Greek political class tries to transfer the cost of its borrowing, which it cannot pay, to the German taxpayer, who can. For that is what social democracy means, and social democracy has been Germany’s greatest post-war export.</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>Many economists write learned and technical articles to explain how the current debt crisis arose, and how it might be managed. The theory of re-financing and sovereign debt fills many a volume of innocent-seeming graphs and statistics. But this should not blind us to the truth that dawned on the Prophet, which is that we have another and truer way of perceiving these matters, which is the way of moral judgement. If you borrow money you are obliged to repay it. And you should repay it by earning the sum required, and not by borrowing again, and then again, and then again. For some reason, when it comes to the state and its clients, those elementary moral truths are forgotten. </span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>Keynes’ contribution to economics in his <em>General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money</em> was to show that under some exceptional circumstances, we can get ourselves into a stable but bad configuration - a sort of economic coma - in which households would spend more if they had work; and companies would employ more if households spent more; but in which neither dares move first. In such cases, the state can indeed, by borrowing from future generations, become a </span><span>deus ex machina</span><span> “spender of last resort”. Who knows, maybe we are in such an extreme situation today. </span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>But if we are, it is because the elementary moral truths of debt and obligation were forgotten and ignored so thoroughly during the last 10 years. Bernard Madoff set up a fund which borrowed from one person to service the debt to another, and so on ad infinitum. As a result he was sent to prison for life. When states do the same they describe their actions as ‘responsible’, ‘compassionate’, gestures of ‘social inclusion’, since the residue of the money borrowed, when the villas, yachts and lovers have been paid for, is spent on pensions, on lowering the retirement age, on unemployment benefits, in other words on reducing productivity to the point where the debt can never be repaid. </span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>If a private person behaves in this way we expect him to be punished by bankruptcy. To escape this punishment by borrowing again is merely to augment the crime. But when businesses and banks judged by the state to be ‘too big to fail’ do likewise they have to be ‘rescued’, in other words nationalised. This is good news for those who have been wearing the corporate mask, since they can continue to transfer the costs of their behaviour. Thus last year the CEO of Chrysler, a fiction now maintained by the state, rewarded himself with a salary of $8 million dollars for his work in the world of dreams. Only in this way could he show that he, too, was ‘too big to fail’. And the same goes for states. ‘Defaulting on a sovereign debt’ is supposed to be inconceivable, just as it is inconceivable that the dead industries of Detroit or the profligate banks should be buried.</span><br /><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>You may say that there is a disconnect here, between economic and moral wisdom. But I am not convinced by that. It seems to me that the moral sense emerged in human beings precisely because it has proved to be, in the long run, for their advantage. It is the thing that puts a brake on reckless behaviour, which returns the cost of mistakes to the one who makes them, and which expels cheating from the fold. It hurts to be punished, and states that act wrongly naturally try to avoid the punishment. And since they can pass on their hurt so easily to the rest of us, we turn a blind eye to their behaviour. But I cannot help thinking that the result is at best only a short term economic advantage, and that the long term costs will be all the greater. For what we are seeing, in both Europe and America, is a demoralisation of the economic life. Debts are no longer regarded as obligations to be met, but as assets to be traded. And the cost of them is being passed to future generations, in other words to our children, to whom we owe protection and who will rightly despise us for stealing what is theirs.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a name="unreal_replies"><br /><span>There are replies to this article here:</span></a></p><p><a href=""><span class="image-caption">&nbsp;</span></a></p><p><a href="">Freedom to re-invent financial reality<span>, Tony Curzon Price, 14/9/11 &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></a></p><p><a href=""><span>It is simpler than this,&nbsp;</span><span>Michael Bullen, 16/9/11</span></a></p><p><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><a href="">Money, public debt and the Euro: defences against fragmentation, Sergio Bruno, 20/9/11</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/corporate_liability">Corporate liability and social interest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/openeconomy/brodbeck-on-bentham">Brodbeck on Bentham</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/email/die-herrschaft-des-geldes-the-rule-of-money">The Rule of Money </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openeconomy/tony-curzon-price/freedom-to-re-invent-financial-reality">Freedom to re-invent financial reality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openeconomy/michael-bullen/return-to-financial-health-is-simple-glass-steagall-plus-transparency">A return to financial health is simple: Glass Steagall plus transparency</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openEconomy openEconomy Roger Scruton money crash Mon, 12 Sep 2011 19:48:12 +0000 Roger Scruton 61404 at Roger Scruton <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Roger Scruton </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Roger </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Scruton </div> </div> </div> <p>Roger Scruton is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. He is a professor in the department of philosophy at St Andrews University and a scholar at the American Entreprise Institute. His home on the web is <a href=""></a>.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;p&gt;Roger Scruton is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. He is a professor in the department of philosophy at St Andrews University and a scholar at the American Entreprise Institute. His home on the web is &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt; </div> </div> </div> Roger Scruton Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:12:13 +0000 Roger Scruton 50946 at Leszek Kolakowski: thinker for our time <p> A few weeks ago I was at a dinner in Bucharest, hosted by a small centre-right think-tank, at which the discussion focused on the continuing dominance in western universities of certain familiar styles of intellectual subversion: postmodernism, Michel Foucault, American feminism and the occasional bureaucratised version of these things in <a href=",,4399618,00.html">Jürgen Habermas</a>, <a href="">Ulrich Beck</a> and <a href="">Anthony Giddens</a>.   </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> Roger Scruton is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. Among his recent books are <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125092"><em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em></a> (Continuum, 2005); <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=123511"><em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em></a> (Continuum, 2006); <a href=""><em>Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged</em></a> (Encounter Books, 2007); <a href=""><em>A Dictio</em><em>n</em><em>ary of Political Thought</em></a> (Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd edition, 2007); <a href=""><em>Beauty</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2009); <a href=";SntUrl=145104"><em>Understanding Music: Philosophy and I</em><em>n</em><em>terpretation</em></a> (Continuum, 2009); and <a href=";SntUrl=145104"><em>I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philos</em><em>o</em><em>pher&#39;s Guide to Wine</em></a> (Continuum, 2009). His website is <a href="">here</a><br /> <br /> Roger Scruton&#39;s many articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/2783">Maurice Cowling&#39;s achievement</a>&quot; (26 August 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3492">Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life</a>&quot; (2 May 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3325">Power inquiry, public debate</a>&quot; (6 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3889">The great hole of history</a>&quot; (11 September 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-kingdom/england_identity_4578.jsp">England: an identity in question</a>&quot; (1 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/people/richard_rorty_legacy">Richard Rorty&#39;s legacy</a>&quot; (12 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/art_culture/film/ingmar_bergman">Ingmar Bergman: the sense of the world</a>&quot; (4 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/faith_ideas/europe_islam/secular_world">Islamic law in a secular world</a>&quot; (14 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/alexander-solzhenitsyn-the-line-within">Alexander Solzhenitsyn: the line within</a>&quot; (7 August 2008) </p> <p> Most of those present had spent time in a western university, and all had been troubled by the curriculum they had encountered there. In their eyes the western curriculum seems to have no other appeal than that which comes from deconstructing the forms of authority and order which have come down to us from our Judaeo-Christian culture. And yet that appeal is enough: nothing else seems required for academic legitimacy, and even if you write the kind of constipated sociologese of a Habermas or a Giddens, you can be guaranteed a position by those who would read you only so far as to extract the subversive and postmodern message. </p> <p> Someone put on the table a copy of the first volume of <a href=""><em>Main Currents of Marxism</em></a>, which had that day appeared for the first time in Romanian, and invited us all to contemplate it. The question on everybody&#39;s lips was &quot;How did he get away with it?&quot; How did Leszek Kolakowski not only survive coming into the open with the most devastating critique of Marxism and its intellectual fellow-travellers in existence, but go on to enjoy an academic <a href="">career</a> of unparalleled success in western universities, becoming a fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University, winning the MacArthur &quot;genius&quot; prize, normally reserved for prominent leftists, and the million-dollar <a href="">John W Kluge prize</a> for a lifetime&#39;s achievement in the humanities? He picked up honorary degrees and awards by the score, and retired to a comfortable life in Oxford, there to write <a href="">books</a> on subjects normally held to be marginal, if not shocking, by the liberal establishment - topics such as man&#39;s religious need, the concept of the sacred, and the need for a counter-Enlightenment in defining our spiritual home. </p> <p> I was not able to answer the question. For I too have always been puzzled by Kolakowski&#39;s unorthodox <a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-1927-2009-a-life-of-courage">journey</a>. He fled Poland in 1968, part of an intellectual exodus that later included <a href="">Włodzimierz Brus</a> - whose continued adherence to Marxism facilitated an extended career in Oxford, having nothing else to recommend him to the English intellectual establishment. While Brus achieved only a brief moment of vicarious notoriety, when the attempt was made in the late 1990s to <a href="">extradite</a> his wife to Poland to stand trial for her <a href="">alleged</a> crimes during the Stalinist period, Kolakowski went from strength to strength. </p> <p> <strong>The grand survey</strong> </p> <p> <em>Main Currents of Marxism</em> began appearing in English in 1978, and made little impact on the curriculum in London University, where I was <a href="">teaching</a>, and where philosophy students had the chance to take an option in Marxism. The official view was that this book was a piece of marginal continental baggage, left over from 19th-century ways of seeing things. Kolakowski, it was said, had failed to see the real scientific potential of the Marxist vision, and his book was far too mired in literary controversies to deserve close attention. </p> <p> Elsewhere, however, the impact of <em>Main Currents</em> began to be felt. It was impossible to dismiss it as a mere anti-communist diatribe: Kolakowski had himself been a Marxist, had joined the Communist Party in the period of post-war <a href="">reconstruction</a>, and had for a while shared the illusion of many Poles that communism offered the only secular alternative to fascism - the only way of organising a modern society that would remove oppressive relations between people and ensure some kind of social justice overall. He had grown <a href="">away</a> from communism, like most of his countrymen, in a state of disillusion rather than contempt, and had meanwhile read widely and deeply in the Marxist literature, so that <em>Main Currents</em> remains the most comprehensive <a href="">survey</a> of Marxism in existence, and one that traces the intellectual roots of the Marxist idea right back to tendencies in western thinking that were already revealed in the <em>Enneads</em> of <a href="">Plotinus</a>. </p> <p> Most impressive, in my view, is the third volume of the work, in which Kolakowski directs his attention to the post-war forms of intellectual Marxism which were reshaping the western curriculum, and which were the real cause of those changes which had so appalled my Romanian friends. Kolakowski treats characters like <a href="">Antonio Gramsci</a>, <a href="">György Lukács</a>, <a href="">Louis Althusser</a> and <a href="">Theodor Adorno</a> with enough respect to make his criticisms stick, and he perceptively traces the French structuralist and post-structuralist movements of the 1960s to the way in which Marxist ways of seeing things had become institutionalised in French intellectual life. </p> <p> The book does contain one huge lacuna - <a href="">Michel Foucault</a>, who is not menioned, even though it was he who was to pick up the banner that had been dropped in the gutter by <a href="">Jean-Paul Sartre</a>. My own view is that Foucault owes his appeal to perpetuating the Marxist way of seeing things beneath a non-judgmental veneer. He is giving what Marx hoped to give in <a href=""><em>The German Ideology</em></a> - an account of &quot;bourgeois&quot;&#39; society and its institutions that would remove the mask, and reveal the underlying workings of power. This lacuna aside, however, Kolakowski&#39;s survey of post-war Marxism provides a better explanation than any source that I know, of the decline of the humanities in western universities. </p> <p> <strong>The human secret</strong> </p> <p> In later <a href="">life</a> Kolakowski showed a growing attraction to the Catholic heritage in which he had been raised. It is never clear, in his later writings, precisely where he stands on the question of God&#39;s existence, Christ&#39;s resurrection and those minor details like the immaculate conception and the virgin birth. Nevertheless, he writes with enormous respect not just for those who believe in those things, but for the concepts which they use to organize their experience and to make sense of the world. In particular, he emphasised the great loss, as he saw it, which has ensued with the disappearance of the sacred from the worldview of western intellectuals. &quot;With the disappearance of the sacred&quot;, he wrote, &quot;arises one of the most dangerous illusions of our civilization - the illusion that there are no limits to the changes that human life can undergo, that society is ‘in principle&#39; an endlessly flexible thing, and that to deny this flexibility and this perfectibility is to deny man&#39;s total autonomy and thus to deny man himself.&quot; </p> <p> He was increasingly concerned with the need, as he saw it, to fill the god-shaped hole in the scheme of things which had been made by the Enlightenment, and which Marxism had tried to fill with an ideology of equality - an ideology that left its followers with a disenchanted vision of the social world, and an inability to find meaning in anything save political activism and the pursuit of power. He defended capitalism in the same spirit as Winston Churchill defended democracy, as the least worst system available. </p> <p> &quot;Capitalism&quot;, he wrote in 1995, &quot;developed spontaneously and organically from the spread of commerce. Nobody planned it, and it did not need an all-embracing ideology, whereas socialism was an ideological construction. Ultimately, capitalism is human nature at work - that is, man&#39;s greed allowed to follow its course - whereas socialism is an attempt to institutionalize and enforce fraternity. It seems obvious by now that a society in which greed is the main motivation of human action, for all of its repugnant and deplorable aspects, is incomparably better than a society based on compulsory brotherhood, whether in national or international socialism.&quot; </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> Adam Szostkiewicz, &quot;<a href="/article/leszek-kolakowski-1927-2009-a-life-of-courage">Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009: a master figure</a>&quot; (21 July 2009) </p> <p> As the quotation reveals, <a href="">Kolakowski&#39;s</a> thought was marked to the end of his life by his former Marxism. That he should see capitalism as motivated by greed alone, overlooking the beautiful constructs of contractual obligation, accountability and the rule of law, shows just how much the Marxist marginalising of such things as mere &quot;superstructure&quot; had left its mark on him. </p> <p> Those who knew Kolakowski will remember his remarkable liveliness, achieved in defiance of long-standing physical frailty. I would encounter him, for the most part, at conferences and academic events. Nothing about him was more impressive than the humour and modesty with which he would deliver his opinions. He wore his scholarship lightly and showed a remarkable ability, until his <a href="">death</a> on 17 July 2009 at the age of 82, to respond with freshness and understandiong to the arguments of others. </p> <p> And perhaps this was his secret, and the explanation of the way in which he &quot;got away with it&quot; - that he never entered the foreground of others&#39; judgment as a dangerous opponent, but always as a sceptical friend. No alarm-bells sounded when he began his gentle arguments; and even if, at the end of them, nothing remained of the subversive orthodoxies, nobody felt damaged in their ego or defeated in their life&#39;s project, by arguments which from any other source would have inspired the greatest indignation. </p> Ideas faith & ideas people europe Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal email Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:23:30 +0000 Roger Scruton 48415 at Alexander Solzhenitsyn: the line within <p> Alexander Solzhenitsyn, like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, combined the gifts of a novelist with the stature and ambitions of a prophet. He may not have matched their achievements as a writer of imaginative prose, but he was their equal when it came to insight into evil and its collective manifestation. Moreover his literary monument - <em>The Gulag Archipelago</em> - was an achievement little short of the miraculous, given the circumstances under which the information was collected and digested, and given the obstacles that stood in the way of the work&#39;s seeing the light of day. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <strong>Alexander Solzhenitsyn</strong> (1918-2008) is among the greatest Russian and world <a href="">writers</a> of the 20th century. He survived the second world war, incarceration in the Soviet Union&#39;s prison-camp system, and internal exile to produce a series of novels and essays that retrieved and reimagined the history of the Soviet state and the experience of its people. His major works include <a href=""><em>A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich</em></a><em> </em>(1962), <a href=""><em>The First Circle</em></a> (1968), <a href=""><em>Cancer Ward</em></a> (1968), <a href=""><em>The Gulag Archipelago</em></a> (three volumes, 1974-76), and <em>The Oak and the Calf</em> (1975). Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the <a href="">Nobel prize</a> for literature in 1970, and was deported to the west in 1974. He returned to Russia in 1994 and died near Moscow on 3 August 2008<br /> <br /> By Alexander Solzhenitsyn in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:&quot;<a href="/article/a-world-split-apart">A world split apart</a>&quot; (4 August 2008) - an extract from his Harvard address in June 2008 </p> <p> It is fair to say that the three-volume <a href=""><em>The Gulag Archipelago</em></a> did more than any other publication to cause the scales to fall from the eyes of those who had been tempted to believe that communism would have been fine, had it not been perverted from its true course by Stalin. Solzhenitsyn showed the way in which, once accountability has been set aside, as it was set aside by Lenin in 1918, and once society had as a result been conscripted to a single goal, with all institutions gathered up into the collective advance, it is not &quot;corruption&quot; that leads to the triumph of evil. The conditions are now in place for evil to prevail, since there is nothing to prevent it. </p> <p> Yet this evil should not be seen as an impersonal thing. Solzhenitsyn was far from endorsing the <a href="">thesis</a> of the &quot;banality of evil&quot; as Hannah Arendt had expounded it. Nor did he see totalitarianism as the ultimate source of the evil that it promotes. Rather totalitarian government is the great mistake, made for whatever noble or ignoble purpose, of putting the final goal before the present dilemma. It is this which gives evil intentions the same chance as good ones, which enables the criminal and the psychopath to compete on a level with the saint and the hero. Yet even in totalitarianism the evil belongs to the human beings, and not to the system. This is the remarkable message that Solzhenitsyn, crawling from the death-machine, carried pressed to his heart. It is worth reproducing the passage at the end of the <a href="">first volume</a> of <em>The</em> <em>Gulag Archipelago</em> in which he bears witness to what he took to be the great moral gift that he had received in prison: </p> <p> &quot;It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains . . . an uprooted small corner of evil. Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person. </p> <p> And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: they destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them (and also fail, out of haste, to discriminate the carriers of good as well). And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself, magnified still more.&quot; </p> <p> <strong>The call and the echo</strong> </p> <p> <a href="">Solzhenitsyn</a> saw totalitarianism as the inevitable result of revolution (something which modern history has proved many times over), and also as the thing which gives evil its biggest chance. And in his heart he drew the contrast between the revolutionary way of confronting evil, by seeking the &quot;system&quot; that would lead mankind towards perfection, and the example set by Christ, who confronted evil by refusing to adopt its weapons, and by offering himself as a sacrifice. Not surprisingly therefore, Solzhenitsyn tuned his prophetic spirit, as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy had tuned theirs, to the Christian message. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Roger Scruton</strong> is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. Among the most recent of his many books are <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125092"><em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em></a> (Continuum, 2005), <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=123511"><em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em></a> (Continuum, 2006), and <a href=""><em>Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World B</em><em>e</em><em>sieged</em></a> (Encounter Books, 2007)<br /> <br /> Also by Roger Scruton in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3492">Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life</a>&quot; (2 May 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/3889">The great hole of history</a>&quot; (11 September 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/people/richard_rorty_legacy">Richard Rorty&#39;s legacy</a>&quot; (12 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/art_culture/film/ingmar_bergman">Ingmar Bergman: the sense of the world</a>&quot; (4 August 2007)</span>When he was finally <a href="">expelled</a> from the Soviet Union, to take up residence in Vermont, he found himself still face to face with evil, but in its more seductive guise. He did not dispute the public image of America, as the land of the free. But he wanted people to know that freedom too gives evil a chance. Not the same chance, to be sure, and one that could be resisted; a chance, nevertheless, to pursue the pleasures of the flesh and to forget about the spiritual calling of mankind. </p> <p> Many Americans blamed Solzhenitsyn for this, and in particular for his <a href="/article/a-world-split-apart">Harvard lecture</a> of 1978, in which he denounced modernity, and the &quot;flight from spirituality&quot; that he witnessed around him in America. Was he not repeating that old chestnut of &quot;moral equivalence&quot;, doing what Jean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, Eric Hobsbawm, Noam Chomsky and others had done, by responding to criticism of communism with an equal and opposite criticism of the west - as though control from the top were the same thing as control from the bottom, and as though things deliberately done for evil ends were no worse than bad things happening though no-one intended them? Was he not, in other words, denying the value of human freedom, and the crucial difference that it makes to all our moral judgments? It has to be said that the mantic nature of Solzhenitsyn&#39;s language, and his way of looking on the world from a point somewhere above it, fed these accusations. His <a href="">time</a> in America was not, from the PR point of view, a success, and many were the sighs of relief when, after the collapse of communism, he decided to return to his native Russia and preach to the converted from there. </p> <p> But now, looking <a href="">back</a> on it, we must surely recognise, not merely the courage and integrity of the man, but also the truth of his message to our times. If there are evil systems, he is telling us, it is because there are evil people, evil intentions, and evil states of mind. The best we can achieve through amending the system of government is to ensure that mistakes can be corrected and evil condemned. But we should not deceive ourselves into believing that the solution to the problem of evil is a political solution, that it can be arrived at without spiritual discipline and without a change of life. It is to us human beings that the call to the good life is addressed. And it is only when we recognise that &quot;the line separating good and evil is drawn through the human heart&quot; that we will have finally understood the lesson of the 20th century. </p> Culture arts & cultures people russia & eurasia literature Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Thu, 07 Aug 2008 14:16:21 +0000 Roger Scruton 45698 at Islamic law in a secular world <p> The response to the Archbishop of Canterbury&#39;s lecture on 7 February 2008, &quot; <a href="">Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective</a>&quot;, has included discussion of the character of the &quot;<em>sharia</em>&quot; that formed an important part of the address. Fred Halliday&#39;s contribution on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> focuses on this question as part of a general questioning of the integrity of such terms as &quot;Islamic law&quot; and &quot;Islamic finance&quot; (see &quot;<a href="">Islam,law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot;, 12 February2008). His is an excellent contribution to a developing discussion; but thereare a couple of points to be added that highlight what is really at stake inthe controversy following <a href="">Rowan Williams&#39;s</a> intervention. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on religious identity and the <em>sharia</em> controversy in Britain:<br /> <br /> Callum Brown, &quot;&#39;<a href="/globalization-aboutfaith/britain_religion_3335.jsp">Best not to take it too far&#39;: how the British cut religion down to size</a>&quot; (8 March 2006) <br /> <br /> Tina Beattie, &quot;<a href="/article/faith_ideas/europe_islam/sharia_law_uk">Rowan Williams and <em>sharia</em> law</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday, &quot;<a href="">Islam, lawand finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> Theo Hobson, &quot;<a href="/article/rowan_williams_sharia_furore_anglican_future">RowanWilliams: <em>sharia</em> furore,Anglican future</a>&quot;(13 February 2008)<a href=""><br /> <br /> <strong>OurKingdom</strong></a>, the conversation on the future of the UnitedKingdom, features a collection of posts and debate about the sharia controversy <a href="">here</a> <a href=""></a> </p> <p> Halliday rightly argues that there is no fixed and settled system of law called <a href=""><em>sharia</em></a>;<em> </em>that this word does not, originally,have the meaning of &quot;law&quot;, and is indeed cognate with the word for &quot;path&quot; or&quot;street&quot;. He also usefully recalls that the various schools of <em>fiqh </em>(Islamic jurisprudence) have issued divergent opinions down the centuries on all kinds of legal matters; and concludes that it is no more sensible of the Church of England&#39;s spiritualleader to anticipate some &quot;<a href="">unavoidable</a>&quot; compromise between the United Kingdom&#39;s secular jurisdiction and <em>sharia</em> than it is to believe that banks operate in themiddle east according to the rules of something called &quot;<a href="">Islamic banking</a>&quot;. </p> <p> <strong>The divine and the human </strong> </p> <p> If these propositions are true, what follows? In English exile in the1790s, François-René de Chateaubriand wrote a book called <a href=""><em>Le génie du Christianisme</em></a> (which was to be published in Francein 1802). This once-famous work of apologetics presented to his contemporaries the great virtues, as <a href="">Chateaubriand</a> saw them, of a faith that had survived the militant atheism of the 1789 revolution and offered moral and institutional guidance to the French in their darkes thours. The author was calling his countrymen back to the faith which was being resurrected in the countryside, and which he hoped to see re-established in its original majesty, before the corruptions of the 18th century and the violence of the revolution had deprived the church of its social influence and political power. </p> <p> It seems to me that we stand in need of a similar work today - not one that sets out on a task of re-evangelisation, but one that reminds people in Britain (and Europe) of what we owe to the Christian <a href="">legacy</a>. And one of the things that we owe to that legacy is the idea that law is and ought to be a secular institution, whose authority is founded in human decisions and is independent of, and in an important respect takes precedence over, divine commands. </p> <p> It sounds paradoxical to put the point in that way, and it is not surprising if Muslims find it difficult to accept such a vision of law. How can human decisions take precedence over divine commands? How can something demanded by God be set aside by a merely human institution? </p> <p> None of the schools of <em>fiqh</em> could admit to such a thing. Their <em>ijtihad</em> (effort) was expended on showing that divine law, as revealed in the <a href="">Qur&#39;an</a> and the<em>Sunnah</em>, is indeed compatible with this or that practice found to be necessary in the government of society. This effort was by turns approved and disapproved, so that by the time the Ottomans strove to lead the Muslim people into the modern world, there was no choice but to adopt European codes of law, while allowing the various communities within the empire to settle matters of marriage, domestic strife and inheritance according to their own legal traditions. </p> <p> <strong>The cost ofcompromise</strong> </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <strong>RogerScruton</strong> is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. Among the most recent of his many books are <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125092"><em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em></a> (Continuum, 2005) and <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=123511"><em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em></a> (Continuum, 2006), and <a href=""><em>Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged</em></a> (Encounter Books, 2007)<br /> <br /> Roger Scruton&#39;s articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> include:<br /> <br /> &quot;Tony Blair and the wrong America&quot; (29 April 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;The hunting debate: aquestion of democracy&quot; (17 September 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;Maurice Cowling&#39;s achievement&quot; (26 August 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities forlife&quot; (2 May 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;Power inquiry, public debate&quot; (6 March 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;The great hole of history&quot; (11 September 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;England: an identity inquestion&quot; (1 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy_power/people/richard_rorty_legacy">Richard Rorty&#39;s legacy</a>&quot; (12 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/art_culture/film/ingmar_bergman">Ingmar Bergman: the sense of theworld</a>&quot; (4 August 2007) </p> <p> The Christian vision of law is very different, and its roots are deep.The privatisation of religious law was clearly a part of Jesus&#39;s mission, andone of the reasons why he aroused such hostility from the Jewish religious authorities. His striking pronouncement in the story of the tribute money, that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar&#39;s and unto God what is God&#39;s, has served for many centuries as authority for the view that, in public matters, it is human and not divine government that should be obeyed. This idea gained credibility through <a href="">St Paul&#39;s</a> letters, influenced as they were by Roman law and by the knowledge that the early church enjoyed the protection of a developed system of law. </p> <p> This law did not claim religious authority, and was tolerant of all gods who did not openly confront it with intransigent demands. Even if religious edicts crept back into European jurisdictions after the triumph of Christianity, the Roman vision of sovereignty as exercised through secular law survived into modern times. It served as the foundation of national (in other words territorial) jurisdictions, and shaped legal systems in which religious diversity is not merely permitted but openly tolerated, as being no concern of the secular state. </p> <p> This kind of secular jurisdiction has enabled people to accept thelegitimacy of laws which clearly violate what they believe to be divine commands. We in Britain must accept the legality of abortion; we must accord the same rights and the same space to homosexual as to heterosexual conduct; we must allow our children to marry whom they will and also to divorce when the going gets tough, among other rules that may conflict with settled religious convictions. Moreover any change in these provisions is to be secured by decisions taken in parliament, by elected representatives whose religious views are often unknown, and whose private conduct is in many cases appalling. Christians accept this, as do Jews. Muslims have got to accept it too. For that is the basis on which we are governed. If you don&#39;t accept it, then you should explain why it is wrong and why Britain should be governed on the basis of (for example) a Muslim understanding of law; or else go somewhere else, where people are governed in away more congenial to your conscience. </p> <p> <strong>The test of conversion</strong> </p> <p> That the Christian outlook on law is very far from that which prevails in Muslim countries today is illustrated by a year-long controversy in Egypt over the question of apostasy. This has received far less attention in western (including British) media than it deserves, even though it offers fresh light on the arguments raised by the archbishop&#39;s address. </p> <p> A group of twelve (Orthodox Christian) Copts who had converted to Islam in order to obtain a divorce had sought for a year to revert to their ancestral faith; on 9 February 2008, Egypt&#39;s supreme administrativecourt <a href="">ruled</a> in the men&#39;s favour. This was consistent with a judgment by the court of administrative justice on 29 January which ruled against the government&#39;s denial of identity documents to Bahai&#39;is (Egypt obliges its citizens to register according to their religious faith, and allows only three options: Muslim, Christian, Jew). </p> <p> Does Egyptian law permit a Muslim to convert? The civil court&#39;s recognition of the Copts&#39; right in this case <a href="http://powerful%20religious%20authorities/">overturns</a> earlier legal declarations that it does not, on the grounds that apostasy is expressly forbidden by <em>sharia</em>. Fred Halliday points out that what the <em>sharia </em>forbids depends to a great extent on who is speaking for it. </p> <p> The Coptic case is important in a country where religious authorities have a strong influence in judicial decisions. But it will remain much harder (in Egypt as elsewhere) for Muslims, if they so wish, to convert; the Copts who benefited from this ruling are not <a href="">considered</a> apostates because, after all, they were born Christian. The Grand Mufti has already caused trouble for himself by suggesting that the <em>sharia</em> does not forbid Muslims to convert in this life, but punishes them only (and horrendously) in the hereafter. For many in Egypt, the decision on conversion is not about how the Egyptians should best be governed now, but about what God intended and <a href="">revealed</a> 1,400years ago. </p> <p> As for the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is surely the case that his words, however qualified, betray a lack of respect for one of the great Christian achievements - the achievement of a religion that has survived by relinquishing government, rather than exerting it. </p> Ideas faith & ideas ourkingdom europe & islam Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Sharia Thu, 14 Feb 2008 14:07:30 +0000 Roger Scruton 35787 at Ingmar Bergman: the sense of the world <p>You can read a great novel - <em>Nostromo</em>, for example - and immediately, on finishing, want to read it again. You can listen to a great symphony - Bruckner&#39;s 7th, for example - and have the same experience. Ditto for great works of painting, sculpture and architecture. But very few films have this effect on their intended audience, and even if you occasionally want to see a film twice or thrice, it is rare that a film proves inexhaustible, in the way that Conrad and Bruckner are inexhaustible. </p> <p>In cinema, too much is built upon effects, which do not bear repetititon once they have lost the element of surprise; too much in the image is accidental, intrusive or irrelevant to the story; too much is dependent on the arbitrary appearance of the actors, rather than the depths of the characters they portray - in short, too much is focused on that first and startling impression, and little or nothing on the meaning that can only reveal itself in time. The cinema is an art in which redundancies proliferate, flooding and diluting the dramatic image. And it has all got worse since the introduction of colour, and the subsequent loss of control over light, shade and contrast.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p class="pullquote_new"><strong>Roger Scruton</strong> is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. His most recent books are <em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em><a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125092" target="_blank"> (Continuum, 2005</a>), <em>News from Somewhere: On Settling (</em><a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125181" target="_blank">Continuum, 2006</a>), and <em>Culture Counts</em>: <em>Faith and Feeling in a world Besieged</em> (<a href="">Encounter Books, 2007</a>). His website is <a href="">here </a><br /><br />Also by <a href="/author/Roger_Scruton.jsp">Roger Scruton</a><br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/article_1877.jsp">Tony Blair and the wrong America</a>&quot; (29 April 2004) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/ecology-hunting/article_2098.jsp">The hunting debate: a question of democracy</a>&quot; (17 September 2004) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/node/2783">Maurice Cowling&#39;s achievement</a>&quot; (26 August 2005)<br /><br /> &quot;<a href="/node/3492">Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life</a>&quot; (2 May 2006)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/public_3325.jsp">Power inquiry, public debate</a>&quot; (6 March 2006)<br /><br /> &quot;<a href="/faith-europe_islam/grievance_3889.jsp">The great hole of history</a>&quot; (11 September 2006) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-kingdom/england_identity_4578.jsp">England: an identity in question</a>&quot; (1 May 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/democracy_power/people/richard_rorty_legacy">Richard Rorty&#39;s legacy</a>&quot; (12 June 2007) in openDemocracy: (</p><p>There are exceptions, of course: Renoir, Godard, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Welles, and many more. But few if any have equalled <a href="">Ingmar Bergman</a> in the ability to subdue the redundancies of the moving image, and to make it into a unique vehicle of dramatic expression. Even now, after ten viewings, I want to see <a href=""><em>Wild Strawberries</em></a> again, not for the story only, but for specific snatches of dialogue, specific images and the specific atmosphere which makes this film enter the soul with the evocative force of a play by Ibsen or Strindberg. </p> <p>The comparison with those dramatists is, I think, important. For Bergman was a man of the <a href="">theatre</a>, who understood that, if the cinema is to justify its claims as an independent art-form, it must show how its techniques contribute something of their own to the drama. Bergman&#39;s approach to the screen was like Henry James&#39;s approach to the novel: a constant obedience to the supreme command - &quot;Dramatise!&quot; Not only is the dialogue in his films masterly, flowing smoothly between the characters in exactly the manner of a well-made play; the camera filters out all that distracts from the action, with images carefully composed so as to frame the word, the gesture, the facial expression which tells us all. In <em>Persona</em>, in which the central character does not speak, the camera speaks for her, dramatising her silence as intensely as her garrulous nurse is dramatised by her flood of trivial narrative. </p> <p><strong>The fabric of the tale </strong></p> <p>Perhaps there has never been a director as conscious as <a href="">Bergman </a>was, of the temptation posed by the camera, and the need to resist it. The theatrical stage, like the frame of a painting, shuts out the real world. The camera, however, lets the world in - spreading the same bland endorsement over the actor pretending to die on the pavement and the accidental balloon drifting across the street in the background. And the temptation is to turn this defect into an enticement, by encouraging a kind of &quot;reality addiction&quot; in the viewer. The temptation is to focus on aspects of real life that grip us or excite us, regardless of their dramatic meaning. </p> <p>Hence the realistic sex and violence, which wrench the cinematic image from the frame of art into the formless current of our real lusts and terrors. The temptation to which Tarantino yields, because he has nothing important to say (just look, if you can bear it, at <em>Kill Bill</em>), is one that Bergman elaborately resists, and makes an art out of resisting. You could frame a still from a Bergman film - the dream sequence in <em>Wild Strawberries</em>, the dance of death in <a href=""><em>The Seventh Seal</em></a>, the dinner party in <a href=""><em>The Hour of the Wolf</em></a> - and it would sit on your wall like an engraving, resonant, engaging and composed. Just try doing the same with Tarantino.</p> <p>Bergman&#39;s actors behaved, under the disciplined eye of his camera, with an unusual empathy for their rôles. They were not film-stars, pouting out their good looks, nor were their features adjusted to some predetermined repertoire. In Bergman&#39;s hands they were entirely reimagined, immersed in the story and guided by its inner meaning. And Bergman was not merely a master of the camera: he was a great storyteller, who knew how to cut the fabric of a tale, so that not a line or an image was superfluous. </p> <p>Like Shakespeare or Wagner (and the comparison with the latter is irresistible), he entered into each of his characters, finding their words and gestures out of a true dramatist&#39;s abundance of sympathy. Evil enters the world of his films only metaphysically, as it were, as part of the human condition. He has no stage villains, or Hitchcock-like destroyers. For the most part he finds in his characters, whatever the degree of their loneliness and anxiety (and they are all suspended at some point on the scale of metaphysical solitude) the aspect which can be loved. He has given us some of the most tender images in all cinema - the reminiscences in <em>Wild Strawberries</em>, the death-scene in <em>Cries and Whispers</em>, the Shakespearian flowering of young love in <a href=""><em>Smiles of a Summer&#39;s Night</em></a> - and, by bringing words and images together with the kind of exactness that unites the words and music in Wagner, he has shown what the cinema can do, by way of ennobling human sympathy.</p> <p><strong>The two dimensions</strong></p> <p>Music was important to Bergman, and his lifelong fascination with <em>The Magic Flute</em> culminated, first in the strange puppet show version in <em>The Hour of the Wolf</em>, and then in his own <a href="">realisation</a> of the opera. This fascination was continuous with his love of symbols, Mozart&#39;s masterpiece achieving its effects only because we see its protagonists as symbols, without knowing what they symbolise or why. Each of Bergman&#39;s films follows that pattern, being organised on two dimensions, as drama, and as myth. For we live our lives, in Bergman&#39;s view of things, both as individuals and as archetypes. Much that happens to us enacts the universal myths that describe our pilgrimage through this world. </p> <p>Hence, even at his most humorous, Bergman takes a religious view of human beings, as creatures who are not merely in the world, as animals are, but also aspiring to make sense of it. <em>Wild Strawberries</em> shows that we achieve that aspiration when we look upon all that has happened to us, and accept it in a condition of forgiveness. That very Christian theme constantly recurs in Bergman&#39;s most important films. It may be one reason why he has fallen out of fashion; but it is also a reason why he will very soon be in fashion again, and appreciated for what he was: the man who brought cinema into the fold of western art. </p> Culture arts & cultures film Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Sat, 04 Aug 2007 11:26:27 +0000 Roger Scruton 34267 at Richard Rorty’s legacy <p>Richard Rorty, who died on 8 June 2007, was a philosopher whose high reputation was bestowed on him, not by fellow philosophers, but by the many literary scholars who took comfort and inspiration from his writings. In this he resembled the contemporary philosopher whom he most admired, Jacques Derrida. Like Derrida, Rorty had a mind that ranged widely over philosophy, literature and the history of ideas; and like Derrida he was less concerned to present valid arguments than to offer a subversive perspective, in which the distinctions between valid and invalid, true and false, real and imaginary, would disappear or at any rate lose their former importance. Unlike <a href="" target="_blank">Derrida</a>, however, Rorty wrote in a clear and unaffected style, presenting his ambitious claims with disarming modesty, and leaning at every point on authorities to whom he accorded a higher distinction than he claimed for himself. </p> <p>Rorty began his <a href="" target="_blank">career</a> as an exponent of the analytical philosophy which was, and to a great extent remains, the principal school in the Anglophone academy. His early papers on subjectivity, consciousness and the first-person case were rightly admired and, in the small way which is the way of real advances, were taken up and added to by other writers. At a certain point, however, Rorty suffered a conversion experience, rebelling against analytical philosophy not, primarily, because of its finicky irrelevancies, but because of its entirely erroneous vision - as Rorty saw it - of the nature of human thinking, and of the relation between thought and the world. </p><p><span class="pullquote_new">Richard Rorty exchanged letters with the Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo in <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s</strong><a href="/democracy-letterstoamericans/article_2067.jsp"><br /></a>&quot;Letters to Americans&quot; series in 2004:<a href="/democracy-letterstoamericans/article_2067.jsp"><br /><br /></a>&quot;<a href="/democracy-letterstoamericans/article_2067.jsp">America&#39;s dreaming</a>&quot; (11 June 2004) <br /><br />In his letter, Richard Rorty wrote:<br /><br />&quot;The acclaim with which (Walt) Whitman&#39;s poems were greeted in many different countries showed how widespread was the need to believe that the human future can be made very different from the human past. Reminding the world of what the United States managed to accomplish is still a good way to encourage hope that every adult human will, some day, be a free citizen of a democratic, global, political community.&quot;</span><strong>A journey through pragmatism</strong></p> <p>The result was <em><a href="" target="_blank">Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature </a></em> (1979), a schizophrenic book, the first half of which repackaged Rorty&#39;s work as an analytic philosopher of mind, the second half of which argued that there is no such thing as an analytic philosophy of mind, since philosophy does not hold a mirror up to nature, but moves forward with the logic of history, constantly seeking new conceptions for which there is no standard outside philosophy itself. His painstaking refutation of the Cartesian theory of the mind in his early papers was thereby eclipsed by a far from painstaking dismissal of Descartes and all who thought like him. Such thinkers, according to Rorty, make the mistake of believing that a God&#39;s eye perspective on the world is attainable and that it is the task of philosophy to ascend to it. </p> <p>Rorty tried to make sense of his new position by espousing a version of &quot;<a href="" target="_blank">pragmatism</a>&quot; - the school associated with CS Peirce, William James and John Dewey, which holds that the concept of truth is to be understood through that of utility. Pragmatism is controversial, but its more recent followers have, on the whole, managed to avoid its more paradoxical implications - such as that the core doctrines of feminism must be true since it is useful (at least in an American university) to assent to them, but that they must certainly be false, given the disaster that would come from espousing them in rural Iran. </p> <p>It is uncertain to what extent Rorty succeeded in escaping that kind of paradox. For, unlike fellow pragmatists like CI Lewis or WV Quine, he adopted pragmatism as a <em>revisionary</em> theory, one that changes the aspect of the world, and opens the way to moral, social and political possibilities that have been blocked by the rigid truth-directedness of traditional philosophical thought. In a series of papers, therefore, Rorty experimented with highly politicised applications of the <a href="" target="_blank">pragmatist idea</a>, arguing that &quot;pragmatists view truth as... what is good for <em>us</em> to believe. So they do not need an account of a relation between beliefs and objects called ‘correspondence&#39;, nor an account of human cognitive abilities which ensures that our species is capable of entering into that relation. They see the gap between truth and justification not as something to be bridged, but simply as the gap between the actual good and the possible better. From a pragmatist point of view, to say that what is rational for us now to believe may not be <em>true</em>, is simply to say that somebody may come up with a better idea...&quot; (<em><a href="" target="_blank">Objectivity, Relativism and Truth, 1991</a></em>). </p> <p>That quotation would prompt a quick response from any philosopher suspicious of the pragmatist tendency, namely: &quot;When is one idea <em>better</em> than another? When it is more useful? Or when it is more true? Are we not going round in a circle here?&quot; However, Rorty had become convinced that such questions are irrelevant: they presuppose the very language that he was trying to put in question, the language which makes &quot;truth&quot; the central aim of discourse, and which represents all our utterances as attempts to approximate to a reality independent of our perspective. </p> <p>Rorty&#39;s conversion experience therefore led him away from academic philosophy, which he believed to have got stuck in an untenable (because profoundly unhistorical) vision of the relation between human beings and their world. He gave up his prestigious position as a tenured professor in the Princeton philosophy department (then, as now, the foremost philosophy department in the United States) and took up a chair in comparative literature at the University of Virginia. His love of literature was one cause for the move; but he was also struck by the fact that his thinking was going in the very same direction as the literary theories of the time - in particular those associated with Derrida, <a href="" target="_blank">Paul de Man</a> and &quot;deconstruction&quot;. Like them Rorty was attracted by the thought that <em>il n&#39;y a pas de hors texte</em> - that there is no independent reality against which our utterances can be measured for their accuracy or <a href="" target="_blank">truth</a>, and that all human thinking occurs <em>within</em> language. Intellectual discoveries are a matter of replacing one form of discourse with another. To justify this replacement is to justify a way of life, a social condition, a posture towards others that requires just <em>this</em> new discourse as its authenticating discipline.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new"> Roger Scruton is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. His most recent books are <em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em> (<a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125092" target="_blank">Continuum, 2005</a>) and <em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em><a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125181" target="_blank">Continuum, 2006</a>)<br /><br />Also by <a href="/author/Roger_Scruton.jsp">Roger Scruton</a> in openDemocracy: &quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/article_1877.jsp">Tony Blair and the wrong America</a>&quot; <br />(29 April 2004) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/ecology-hunting/article_2098.jsp">The hunting debate: a question of democracy</a>&quot; (17 September 2004) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/node/2783">Maurice Cowling&#39;s achievement</a>&quot; <br />(26 August 2005) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/node/3492">Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life</a>&quot; (2 May 2006)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/public_3325.jsp">Power inquiry, public debate</a>&quot; (6 March 2006) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/faith-europe_islam/grievance_3889.jsp">The great hole of history</a>&quot; <br />(11 September 2006) <br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization-kingdom/england_identity_4578.jsp">England: an identity in question</a>&quot; (1 May 2007)</span><strong>The turn to irony </strong> </p> <p>It is easy to see the political <a href=";article_id=188" target="_blank">appeal</a> of that idea, though the philosophical arguments given for it were, in my view, no better than those given by Hegel for the coherence theory of truth - indeed they were the same arguments. However, Rorty added an interesting twist of his own, presenting in <em>Contingency, Irony and Solidarity</em> (1989) what he thought to be a fundamental contrast between those thinkers (among whom Plato is the paradigm) who look for an independent, objective and necessary foundation for their world, and who identify that foundation as God or as truth (which is simply God&#39;s successor in the procession of illusions), and those who look for no such independent foundation, who recognise the contingency of everything, themselves included, and who live and think, as a result, in a spirit of irony. Foremost among this second class of thinkers was Nietzsche, who typified, for Rorty, a kind of creative and poetical subversiveness that he also found in Freud. </p> <p>From his new-found adoption of irony, as the counter to the Platonic realism which history has in any case swept away, Rorty went on to defend a kind of political <a href="" target="_blank">liberalism</a>. Solidarity - the recognition of the other as your equal and as entitled to your sympathy - is the natural companion of irony, and becomes, for Rorty, the true basis of political life. This venture into political theory took Rorty in new and unforeseeable <a href="" target="_blank">directions</a>, as he tried to reconcile his view that some versions of political order are superior to others, with his belief that there is no trans-historical perspective from which any such judgment can be made. It is a testimony to his literary skills that he was able repeatedly to stare refutation in the face, and to go on staring. </p> <p>How should we assess Rorty&#39;s <a href="" target="_blank">legacy</a>? Undoubtedly he was the most lucid of the postmodernist philosophers - though that is, given the competition, no great achievement. And undoubtedly he added, in his thoughts about contingency and irony, a real insight into a peculiarly postmodern way of thinking. However I believe that the concept of truth is fundamental to human discourse, that it is the precondition of any genuine dialogue, and that <em>real</em> respect for other people requires an even greater respect for truth. I therefore cannot go along with what seems to me, whenever I encounter it, to be a wholly specious and even cheap way of arguing, which Rorty typified and indeed perfected. Rorty was paramount among those thinkers who advance their own opinion as immune to criticism, by pretending that it is not truth but consensus that counts, while defining the consensus in terms of people like themselves. </p> democracy & power people pragmatism Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Tue, 12 Jun 2007 15:59:10 +0000 Roger Scruton 33058 at England: an identity in question The 300th anniversary of the Act of Union on 1 May 1707, which completed the <a href="" target="_blank">merger</a> of the English and Scottish crowns, provides an occasion to reflect on the future of a kingdom which, though united in name, is increasingly divided in aspiration. The voting preferences of the <a href="" target="_blank">Scots</a>, and the openness with which separation is now advocated north of the border speak for themselves. The Welsh too seem fairly content to drift away. The only enigmatic factor is the English: what do <em>they</em> think, of a union in which they are never mentioned as the central component?<p>At the last United Kingdom general election in <a href="" target="_blank">May 2005</a> more people in England voted Conservative than voted Labour; however, the Labour Party was returned to the House of Commons with a massive majority, thanks to the <a href="" target="_blank">votes</a> of the Welsh and the Scots (as well as to currently <a href="" target="_blank">favourable</a> treatment by the electoral system and constituency-boundary arrangements). The Labour Party has always relied on those votes in order to secure its periods of office, knowing that the separatist feelings of the Celts readily lend themselves to the fight against the somewhat mythical, but still resonant, threat of the English Tory establishment. However, the strategy of using the Celtic vote to govern the English has depended upon keeping the Celts within the kingdom, which is why the Labour Party granted them some measure of independence, lest their grievances cause them to break entirely away. </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Roger Scruton is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. His most recent books are <em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em> (<a href= target=_blank>Continuum, 2005</a>) and <em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em> (<a href= target=_blank>Continuum, 2006</a>)</b></p> <p>Also by <a href="">Roger Scruton</a> in openDemocracy: </p> <p>"<a href="">Tony Blair and the wrong America</a>" (29 April 2004) </p> <p>"<a href="">The hunting debate: a question of democracy</a>" (17 September 2004) </p> <p>"<a href="">Power inquiry, public debate</a>" (6 March 2006) </p> <p>"<a href="">The great hole of history</a>" (11 September 2006) </p></div><p>This strategy could only deliver the required result on two conditions: first that the Celts remain satisfied with this partial autonomy, so as happily to remain within the United Kingdom; and secondly that the English be rigorously prevented from acquiring a parliament of their own. Inevitably, however, the process of devolution, once set in motion, has gathered a momentum of its own, and we face the real possibility of a <a href="" target="_blank">break-up</a> of the United Kingdom. A party whose leaders are mostly Scots, who rely on the Scottish vote to govern the English, and who have devoted the last nine years to the demolition of institutions towards which many English people feel a real, if sometimes irrational, affection, is clearly inviting an upsurge of English nationalism. </p><p>The attempt by the deputy prime minister <a href="" target="_blank">John Prescott</a> to follow the notorious European Union map of our continent, and to divide England into artificial <a href="" target="_blank">regions</a>, four of which would have their own elected assembly, has backfired (notably in the <a href="" target="_blank">rejection</a> by voters in November 2004 of plans for such a body in England&#39;s northeast); in any case the creation of regional assemblies would merely amplify the demands of the English for a government of their own, within a loosely defined union of the kind exemplified after 1945 by the <a href="" target="_blank">British Commonwealth</a>. </p><p>Well, why not? The British government made a great mistake in holding on to Ireland long after the Irish people had made it clear that they wanted to govern <a href="" target="_blank">themselves</a> - a mistake that jeopardised the kingdom during the first world war, and led to <a href="" target="_blank">Irish neutrality</a>, and the resulting loss of a vital ally, during the second. Of course, the Labour Party is determined to prevent the birth of an English parliament, knowing that such a parliament will be dominated by the Conservatives for the foreseeable future - a disastrous outcome for Labour, given the fact that England remains the economic and cultural heart of the United Kingdom. The attempt by <a href="" target="_blank">Gordon Brown</a> (the Scot who is Britain&#39;s chancellor, and Tony Blair&#39;s probable successor as prime minister) to forge a British identity can be seen as a characteristically astute response to this emerging danger. Only if the English can be prevented from identifying themselves as such, will the <a href="" target="_blank">pressure</a> for English autonomy be diverted. </p><p>Unfortunately, however, the English are less likely to identify themselves with the United Kingdom, now that the Celtic parts of it are enjoying the fruits of self-government; and in any case, <a href="" target="_blank">Britishness</a>, insofar as it has ever existed, was always an extension of an identity forged in England and responsive to the language, religion, culture and imperial politics of the English crown.</p></div><p><strong>England</strong><strong> after Britain</strong></p><p>Three questions confront the English people today: first, can a viable English identity be forged, that will provide the social cohesion and pre-political loyalty required by a modern nation-state? Secondly, can the break-up of the kingdom be managed without losing the good relations and common interests that have created such a successful partnership in the past? Thirdly, will the resulting loose alliance of nation-states be able to defend the interests of each of them, against the adverse pressures emanating from the wider world, or will their separation result in a loss of influence and security for them all? </p><p>Rather than turn away from those questions, so as to insist on the United Kingdom as an indivisible whole, and Britishness as the core of our identity, politicians ought to be encouraging a peaceful and fair-minded discussion, in which the voice of the people - and of the English people in particular - can finally be heard. Here, briefly, is what I think.</p><p><strong><em>Identity</em></strong></p><p>The desire for an English, as opposed to a British, <a href="" target="_blank">identity</a> is growing rapidly. When I was a teenager, crowds who supported England in football or cricket matches waved the Union Jack; now they wave the flag of St George. This flag is beginning to appear on suburban lawns and in rural farmyards, and the word &quot;England&quot; is increasingly heard in contexts where until a few years ago &quot;Britain&quot; would have been the norm. </p><p>The Englishness of English culture is a growing source of appeal - and not only to members of the older generation. The recently founded English Music Festival is the work of a 24-year-old woman, <a href="" target="_blank">Em Marshall</a>; public figures who iconise England, like <a href="" target="_blank">Billy Bragg</a> and Boris Johnson, have a large following among the young; the most popular feature films on television present the serene and pastoral England of Jane Austen; and young people seem to have less and less time for the &quot;multicultural&quot; agenda of superannuated revolutionaries like Ken Livingstone, and more and more desire to identify with the places where they are and the customs that <a href="" target="_blank">grow there</a>. It has surely not escaped the Labour Party&#39;s attention that its attempts to <a href="../ecology-hunting/article_2098.jsp">ban fox-hunting</a>, which the party hated largely as a symbol of old England, has led to a rapid expansion of the hunts, with hundreds of young people joining in a spirit of cheerful defiance of an unenforceable law. </p><p>However, none of that amounts to an English identity. The factors that shaped that identity in the past - the Anglican church and its non-conformist constellation, the empire, the common law, the monarchy and parliament - are all in a state of retrenchment or decline. For most people English literature survives only in TV adaptations, English music, whether folk or classical, is a closed book, and English art is represented by a few kitsch <a href="" target="_blank">Gainsboroughs</a> and a mound of offensive &quot;young British art&quot;. There is a real question how one might build an English identity from such ruins. </p><p>On the other hand, the question is not peculiar to the English. Although modern Scottish writers, artists and composers from <a href="" target="_blank">Hugh MacDiarmid</a> to <a href="" target="_blank">James MacMillan</a>, have shown a commendable desire to produce the art that will express and affirm their nation&#39;s identity, the mass of ordinary Scots are as indifferent to modern Scottish literature and music as the English are to Ted Hughes or <a href=",%20THOMAS" target="_blank">Thomas Ad&egrave;s</a>. Nevertheless, the forging of the Scottish national identity proceeds apace. So maybe a similar process could begin in England: maybe it has <em>already</em> begun.</p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p>Also in openDemocracy on the British union in a time of transition: </p> <p>Stephen Howe, "<a href="">Dying for Empire, Blair, or Scotland? </a>"<br /> (12 November 2004) </p> <p>Neal Ascherson, "<a href="">Scotophobia</a>" <br />(28 June 2006)</p> <p>Christopher Harvie, "<a href="">Union in a State: a Scots eye</a>"<br /> (16 January 2007) </p> </div><strong><em>Commonality</em></strong> <p>As to the question whether the break-up of the kingdom can be peacefully managed, it seems to me that this is the easiest to answer. Neal Ascherson points out in the <em>London Review of Books </em>that there is a clear precedent before us in the break-up of Czechoslovakia, where a country - admittedly of recent creation - divided peacefully along the ancient faultline between Austria and Hungary, while maintaining good relations, and privileged social, economic and legal ties (see &quot;Diary&quot;, <a href="" target="_blank">5 April 2007</a> [subscription only]). </p><p>True, the book Ascherson draws on to make his case - Abby Innes&#39;s <em><a href="" target="_blank">Czechoslovakia: The Short Goodbye</a></em> - argues that disunion was the product of political orchestration rather than the natural restoration of historic boundaries. But a workable outcome has survived a precipitous process. The problems that existed in the Czech and Slovak case, and which worry observers of the United Kingdom (such as the unequal distribution of populations, natural resources and skills), have been peacefully accommodated. More important, since the divide, the more belligerent and chauvinistic form of Slovak nationalism, associated with Vladim&iacute;r Meciar, has become largely irrelevant, to the great relief of the Hungarian and Roma minorities. The first result of the split between the Czech lands and <a href="" target="_blank">Slovakia</a> was a much needed lowering of the political temperature.</p><p><strong><em>Influence</em></strong></p><p>The third question is surely the most serious: does not every division weaken the ability of a country to hold its own in the world, whether in the commercial, the diplomatic or the military sphere? How would England, as sole heir to the vestigial obligations of empire, succeed in meeting those obligations? What would happen to the armed forces, for example, when the Scottish regiments and Scottish bases and naval facilities are controlled from Edinburgh? Such <a href="" target="_blank">questions</a> are not high on the Labour Party agenda; but they will be high on the agenda of a future Tory government, seated in a purely English parliament. And they might involve a complete rethinking of England&#39;s position, not only <em>vis-&agrave;-vis</em> Nato, but also as a member of the European Union, and a contributor to its global policies. </p><p>Indeed, the EU is certain to oppose the break-up of the union. Instead of two low-tax liberal economies - the UK and Ireland - it would have to face four, each resisting the attempts by France and Germany to export the cost of their state-controlled economies by unifying taxation across the continent. The French would certainly wish to exploit ancient <a href="" target="_blank">alliances</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">antagonisms</a>, in pressing for a <em>dirigiste</em> economy in Scotland, and a high-tax regime across Great Britain. And would our vestigial nation-states be able to stand up to the pressure?</p><p>Even so, we should not assume either that England would lose its pre-eminent international role, or that such weakening as might occur would necessarily be bad for us. Maybe less time spent in policing distant waters would give us more time and energy to police our own borders. Maybe a renewed sense of England as our much diminished home would stir a new desire to defend it and to enhance its negotiating powers. Maybe England will emerge from the final fragment of its former empire with a new sense of why it matters to survive. If that were the result of separation, what English patriot could be opposed to it?</p></div> ourkingdom institutions & government Globalisation democracy & power europe Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Mon, 30 Apr 2007 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 4578 at Tony Blair's genius <p>Nobody can doubt that Tony Blair has exhibited extraordinary skill during his time in <a href="" target="_blank">office</a> since 1 May 1997 - maintaining a strong parliamentary majority even after re-election in 2001 and 2005, holding together a party not known for its internal cohesion, facing down a constant challenge to his leadership from <a href="" target="_blank">Gordon Brown</a>, and all the while conducting an unpopular war and confronting the growing threat of Islamist terrorism on British soil.</p> <p>He has made an impression as strong as that made by <a href="" target="_blank">Margaret Thatcher</a> and, like her, is relinquishing his post (scheduled for 2007, though at a moment still not specified) not because the people have risen against him, but because he has been stabbed in the back by his rivals. Any assessment of his time in office ought to begin by recognising that the Labour Party has never had such a leader - one capable of winning successive elections, and maintaining his party&#39;s unity while reshaping it to fit the <a href="" target="_blank">mould</a> of democratic capitalism.</p> <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Roger Scruton is a philosopher, writer, political activist and businessman. His most recent books are <em>Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life</em> (<a href= target=_blank>Continuum, 2005</a>) and <em>News from Somewhere: On Settling</em> (<a href= target=_blank>Continuum, 2006</a>)</b></p> <p>Also by <a href="">Roger Scruton</a> in openDemocracy: </p> <p>"<a href="">Tony Blair and the wrong America</a>" (29 April 2004) </p> <p>"<a href="">The hunting debate: a question of democracy</a>" (17 September 2004) </p> <p>"<a href="">Power inquiry, public debate</a>" (6 March 2006) </p> <p>"<a href="">The great hole of history</a>" (11 September 2006) </p> </div> <p>Much of this has been achieved by spin - a new force in democratic politics that Blair has made his own. But the spin has worked. </p> <p>The British people still believe that the Labour Party is less corrupt than the Conservative opposition, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. (The questioning of the prime minister and his senior aides over the relationship between donations to the party and the distribution of honours, and the government&#39;s <a href="" target="_blank">halting</a> of the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into possible bribery attending the al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia, are but the latest indications of the <a href="" target="_blank">culture</a> at the heart of Blair&#39;s government).</p> <p>The British people still think that the Labour Party is the friend of the health service, of the education system and of the social services, despite the fact that all three are in a state of near collapse. </p> <p>The British people have been prepared to give the Labour Party the benefit of the doubt in those matters which caused their former suspicion - immigration, policing and defence - even though all are attended by serious and evident policy failures.</p> <p>I think Blair deserves the greatest credit for this. He has replaced real politics with a carefully crafted fiction, a kind of postmodern holograph, in which unreal issues occupy the stage, while the country wobbles unguided to its fate.</p> <p>It took genius to ensure that at a time when the country was being taken into a wholly new kind of pre-emptive war, the matter would be discussed in parliament for only eighteen hours, all attention being captured by the 220 hours devoted to the issue of <a href="../ecology-hunting/article_2098.jsp">fox-hunting</a>.</p> <p>It was a further stroke of genius to persuade the British people that reform of the House of Lords was necessary in order to democratise our constitution, and then to fill the upper chamber of parliament with a collection of appointed cronies.</p> <p>And it was with a deft sense of stagecraft that Blair was able to <a href="" target="_blank">personify</a> a bereaved nation at the death of Princess Diana, to make it appear that this was the greatest spiritual crisis since the abdication of Edward VIII, and to pose as the rightful successor to the fairy crown worn by the late princess.</p> <p>In these and many other ways Blair has entirely changed the <em>style</em> of British politics. And his success is evident in the fact that the Conservative Party leader David Cameron is now <a href="" target="_blank">striving</a> to imitate him, conjuring up his own Disneyland visions with which to tempt the British people. </p><p> The only problem is that serious matters are looming on the horizon: the imminent implosion of Europe, the Islamist threat, the rise of <a href=";CountryID=1&amp;ImprintID=2&amp;BookID=125119" target="_blank">English</a> nationalism, and a host of other matters that have been driven off the agenda. But then, it is only further proof of Blair&#39;s genius that he knows when it is best to step down.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div> democracy & power europe the blair legacy Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Mon, 18 Dec 2006 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 4191 at The great hole of history <p>The international order that emerged in the wake of the second world war was based on the assumption that grievances are non-transferable. If one group or nation has a grievance against another, then it is the business of diplomacy to resolve the issue. If resolution is impossible, then we must rely on the balance of power to deter any conflict.</p><p>The attacks of 11 September 2001 awoke us to the fact that some grievances are transferable. They arise in one place and are transferred to another; they originate between A and B and are fought out between C and D. The problem confronting the world today is that of the transferable grievance: how to resolve it and - more importantly, since resolution is unlikely - how to deter it. </p><p>My resentment of my neighbour because he refuses to cut down the tree that shades out my garden is a non-transferable grievance, which will end when my neighbour changes his mind or when I, in my anger, march round and shoot him. Bill&#39;s resentment because his talents have never been recognised is a transferable grievance, which scans the world like a searchlight, targeting the unjust success of other people, and sneering at the things that it longs to destroy. </p><p>The important feature of transferable grievances, it seems to me, is that they do not understand themselves. There are plenty of people whose talents are unrecognised, but who don&#39;t suffer from the burning resentment that animates Bill. They devote their lives to ordinary things, ordinary loves and ordinary satisfactions. Bill, however, is cut off from ordinary life by an existential chasm. He is a case for treatment, and - as we know from the annals of psychotherapy - the treatment rarely works. The love that might have cured him was never provided, and it is too late to look for it now.</p><p>We do not explain the 9/11 attacks by referring to a concrete and resolvable grievance against America. It is true that, in the wake of the attacks, various rationales were given: the presence of American troops in the holy lands of Islam; the support given by America to Israel; the gross and pornographic culture of America; the spoliation of the middle east by western values, western commerce, and modernist architecture; the overbearing insolence of <a href="">McWorld</a>. </p><p>But these rationales showed not that there was a single target of the resentment, but a single source. And that source was radical Islam. Hence we should understand the attacks by linking them to Islamist terrorism elsewhere (whether in France or <a href="">Holland</a>, in Algeria or Bali, in <a href="">India</a> or Chechnya) terrorism which invariably involves the mass murder of innocents, justified by vague and metaphysical goals that have no real relation to the means chosen to advance them.</p><p>Radical Islam has a transferable grievance. True, it is not shared by all Muslims or even the majority of them. But the grievance lies coiled in the heart of the religion all the same, and like every such grievance it does not understand itself. It targets democratic governments, peaceful communities, passengers on trains and buses, villagers who have lived by the <em>sharia</em> as well as the good monks who have looked after them (the story of <a href="">Tibhirine</a> in Algeria). </p><p>It targets both the critics of Islam (<a href="">Theo Van Gogh</a>, Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and its friends (<a href="">Naguib Mahfouz</a>); it shouts with a loud self-righteous voice that Islam is a religion of peace (<a href="">Tariq Ramadan</a>), while daring you to suggest the opposite. It threatens the infidel with damnation while tearing itself asunder, as <em>Sunni</em> and <em>Shi&#39;a</em> dispute a right of succession that has no meaning whatsoever in the world in which we live. </p><p><strong>A more open debate</strong></p><p>Like every transferable grievance, that of Islamism is often right in its judgment of the things that it hates. Who among us is entirely pleased with McWorld? Who among us does not wish that some kind of lid could be put on the licentiousness of modern societies? But that is not the point. Most of us recognise that there is an organic connection between freedom and its abuse, and that licentiousness is the price we pay for political liberty. </p><p>Muslims want that liberty as much as non-Muslims do: and to obtain it they migrate in their millions from the places where Islam is sovereign to the places where it is not - America being the longed-for final haven. And that is the source of the grievance. Radical&nbsp;<a href="">Islam</a> is cut off from the modern world: its revelation and its law are by their nature fixed and unadaptable, and the sight of people successfully living according to other codes and with other <a href="">aspirations</a> is both a cause of offence and an irresistible temptation. </p><p>How should we respond to this kind of grievance? It seems to me that it is almost impossible to respond at the level of diplomacy. Although there are Islamic states, like Pakistan, they have only to enter into cordial and negotiated relations with western powers for the Islamists to turn against them and to plot their overthrow. The signals have to be sent to the <a href="">Islamists</a> themselves: it is they who must be persuaded that their grievances are illusory, and their goals unobtainable. </p><p>Muslims <em>were</em> so persuaded, in the days of <a href="">Ottoman decline</a>, because they perceived the west not as a defiance of Islam but as an assertion of Christianity. A <em>modus vivendi </em>existed, in which the two revelations acknowledged the boundaries between them. We no longer confront Islam with a counter-revelation; insofar as western societies are built on a shared assumption, it is that no assumptions need be shared. And that is the very thing that radical Islam&nbsp;cannot cope with. </p><p>To Islamic radicals, western societies seem to be evading Islam rather than saying no to it. And this feeds the great illusion that Islam is the destiny of all people everywhere. and that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism and agnosticism are all defeatible heresies, rather than the firm and considered convictions of those who adopt them. It feeds that fundamental disrespect for the Other which is the great blemish on the face of radical Islam and which Muslims everywhere must learn to overcome.</p>The next few years will be dangerous; we can expect more terrorist attacks, and more insolent abuse of our freedoms, from those who come to the west to enjoy them. But we can also hope for a more public debate <a href="">about Islam</a> and what it means, and a steadily dawning sense among ordinary Muslims that their faith needs to adapt. The great truth which Christians have acknowledged since the Reformation - that a revelation can come from God and still be misunderstood by the one who receives it - is a truth that might yet lodge itself in the heart of Islam.<br /><br /> Ideas faith & ideas europe & islam Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Sun, 10 Sep 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3889 at Lebanon: the missing perspective <p>Alex Klaushofer, in her <b>openDemocracy</b> article, is right to emphasise the Lebanese tradition of inter-communal cooperation, and its attempts to form a national loyalty above religious faction: it is what made the old Lebanon, the self-consciously <a href= target=_blank>Phoenician</a> mediator between east and west, such a beacon of light in a region of darkness (see "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3740">Lebanon: unity within diversity</a>", 17 July 2006).</p> <p>It is also what made Lebanon offensive not only to Syria, where the Alawi minority clings precariously to power, but also to Iran, which looks to Lebanon as the proving-ground for its foreign policy. Lebanon is the only country with a <em>Shi'a</em> minority large enough to form a government, and the purpose of Hizbollah (founded by Sheikh Fadlallah in 1982, and funded first by Iran and subsequently by Syria) was to radicalise the Lebanese <em>Shi'a</em> and prepare the way for an <a href= target=_blank>Islamist</a> <em>coup d'état</em>. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Roger Scruton is responding to earlier openDemocracy articles on the war between Hizbollah and Israel:</b></p> <p>Alex Klaushofer, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3740">Lebanon: unity within diversity</a>" <br />(17 July 2006)</p> <p>Paul Rogers, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3743">Israel, Lebanon, and beyond: the danger of escalation</a>" (17 July 2006)</p> <p>Paul Rogers, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3749">War defeats diplomacy</a>"<br /> (18 July 2006)</p> </div><p>However, Klaushofer is surely wrong to imply that the old Lebanese project, of a multi-confessional democracy, can be readily revived, or that Hizbollah can be marginalised or disarmed by the Lebanese themselves. In his <b>openDemocracy</b> columns, <a href="">Paul Rogers</a> criticises Israel for its over-violent and destabilising reaction to Hizbollah's incursions. But he too seems not to have taken note of the real nature of Hizbollah, and writes as though the cause of the current war (and war it is) is simply Israeli aggression, combined with American partiality towards the Israeli cause. The fact is that <a href= target=_blank>Hizbollah</a> is a force operating in Lebanon, but supported from outside the country, depending on both Syria and Iran for its arms and logistical support, and maintained in a state of hysterical belligerence by its own high command. </p> <p>Under Lebanon's <a href= target=_blank>national pact</a> of 1943 that Klaushofer rightly extols, the army was to be recruited from all the sects, in numbers proportional to the populations, as they were at the last legal census. The purpose was to ensure that no sect could use the army as a means of overthrowing the constitution. The minister of defence was to be a Greek Orthodox &#150; in other words, a member of a minority sect that had the confidence of both <em>Sunni</em> and <a href= target=_blank>Maronites</a> yet was itself too small to attempt a seizure of power. The hope was to build up a "patriot army" that would defend the secular settlement against religious madness, and also secure the territory of Lebanon as the territory of an independent nation-state &#150; the first goal being deeply offensive to Muslim radicals, the second deeply offensive to Syria. </p> <p>At present, because of the long-sustained breakdown in the old confessional <a href= target=_blank>constitution</a>, the minister of defence is a <em>Shi'a</em>, and 75% of the Lebanese army is <em>Shi'a</em>. This preponderance is owed less to confessional bias (though that exists) than to the fact that young, unemployed <em>Shi'a</em> from rural districts are by far the easiest recruits &#150; a demographic trend not foreseen when the confessional state was set up. Not surprisingly, the Lebanese army, confronted with the task of disarming Hizbollah, refused to enter into conflict with its co-religionists, and has relinquished the southern border to this heavily armed, and insanely belligerent Islamist faction. Hizbollah's leader, <a href= target=_blank>Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah</a>, has declared war on Israel on behalf of his "party", knowing that the costs of the war will be borne by the Lebanese people, and not by his own militia, which will melt into the countryside when the going gets tough. </p> <p>No doubt there are many indigenous <em><a href= target=_blank>Shi'a</a></em> who sympathise with Hizbollah, and maybe even endorse its pro-Syrian policies. However, it should be remembered that the current situation, in which Hizbollah has effectively entered into war with Israel in partnership with Hamas, is not one that corresponds to the rooted sympathies of Lebanese <em>Shi'a</em>. Not only is Hamas a <em>Sunni</em> organisation; it is also the Lebanese <em>Shi'a</em> from the south who have suffered most from the lawless exploitation of their country by the armed gangs of Palestinian refugees. It is bound to go against the grain, for most Lebanese <em>Shi'a</em>, to be allied with the Palestinians in a war that cannot in any case be won. </p> <p>Although none of that justifies the Israeli <a href= target=_blank>incursions</a>, it is surely relevant to point out that peace cannot come to the region except through negotiation between sovereign states, and that this negotiation can be effective only if all military forces in the region are <em>controlled</em> by sovereign states. This control of military forces within its territory has not been achieved by the Palestinian authorities; nor is it now exemplified by the Lebanese government, as the current prime minister Fouad Siniora openly <a href= target=_blank>acknowledges</a>. </p> <p>Israel's current assaults can be seen as attempts to disarm those factions that <em>impede</em> negotiation, rather than an attempt to replace negotiation with force. So it seems to me, at any rate. And as for Hizbollah, it is now abundantly clear that only Israel <em>can</em> disarm it &#150; though whether the cost of doing so will be acceptable is quite another question. </p> <p> <table width=550 cellpadding=5 cellspacing=5 border=0 bgcolor=#E3F2F9> <tr><td> <p> </p><p><a href="">Roger Scruton</a> is a writer, philosopher and farmer. Among his many books is <em><a href= target=_blank>A Land Held Hostage: Lebanon and the West</a></em> (Claridge, 1987) </p> <p>Also by Roger Scruton in <b>openDemocracy</b> on the politics of Lebanon:</p> <blockquote>"The first step following withdrawal of foreign forces would have to be an attempt to bring the sects together once again, so as to negotiate a new national pact that does justice to the demographic realities, and which imposes on the <em>Shi'a</em> a duty to respect the idea of secular government in which Christians, <a href= target=_blank>Druze</a> and <em>Sunni</em> have an equal role. Can this be done? And would the result be a model for other middle-eastern countries &#150; Iraq in particular &#150; or merely confirmation of Lebanon's exceptional status?"</blockquote> <p>See "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2367">Lebanon before and after Syria</a>" (9 March 2005)</p> </td></tr> </table> </p><p> </p></div></p> Conflict conflicts middle east the middle east Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Wed, 19 Jul 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3754 at The trouble with Islam, the European Union - and Francis Fukuyama <p>Francis Fukuyama has the gift of shining a cheerful American light on the mystical visions of the German romantics. He takes Hegel's apocalyptic idea of the end of history and, instead of standing it on its head as Marx did, strips off its funereal clothes and gives it a carnival suit of democratic values. </p> <p>In <em><a href= / target=_blank>The End of History and the Last Man</a></em>, Fukuyama takes his thesis that history has worked towards its end from Alexandre Kojève, who also associated it with a gesture of sarcastic welcome towards Nietzsche's "last man". <a href= target=_blank>Kojéve</a> influenced a whole generation of French post-war intellectuals with his lectures on Hegel's <em>Phenomenology of Spirit</em>, in which he injected into the bloated Hegelian body some strong shots of Nietzsche and Heidegger, making the moribund organism writhe in interesting torment. </p> <p>The fact that he was a life-hating Russian at heart, a self-declared <a href= target=_blank>Stalinist</a>, and a civil servant who played a leading behind-the-scenes role in establishing both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the European Economic Community, should be borne in mind by all who wish to understand what Kojève was really up to in declaring the end of history. </p> <p>This man was, in my view, a dangerous psychopath, who brought with him from Russia the same kind of nihilistic fervour that had inspired the Bolsheviks, and who took an exhilarated joy in the thought that everything around him was doomed. He could not set eyes on any human achievement without relishing its future ruin. He lived in a <em>Götterdämmerung</em> of his own imagination, wishing meanwhile to create the kind of post-historical, universal and bureaucratic form of government that would extinguish all real human attachments and produce the only thing he really cared for: the last man, the loveless and lifeless <em>homunculus</em> which he knew in intimate detail since he knew it in himself. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><a href="">Roger Scruton</a> is a writer, philosopher, and farmer. His home page is <a href= target=_blank>here</a> and an internet bibliography of his work is <a href=>here</a> </b></p> <p><hr color=#3399cc size=1 width=50px /></p> <p>This article is part of an openDemocracy symposium on Francis Fukuyama's afterword in the second paperback edition of <em>The End of History and the Last Man</em> (<a href= target=_blank>Simon & Schuster, 2006</a>) </p> <p>For an overview of the debate click <a href="">here</a></p> <hr color=#3399cc size=1 width=50px /> <p>Also published:</p> <p>Francis Fukuyama, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3496">After the 'end of history'</a>"<br /> (2 May 2006)</p> <p>Danny Postel, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3493">The 'end of history' revisited: Francis Fukuyama and his critics</a>" <br />(2 May 2006)</p> <p>Saskia Sassen, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3500">A state of decay</a>" (3 May 2006)</p> <p>Talal Asad, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3507">A single history?</a>" (May 2006)</p> <p>Anthony Pagden, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3514">The end of history, or history all over again?</a>" <br />(May 2006)</p> <p>Saad Eddin Ibrahim, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3523">Politico-religious cults and the 'end of history'</a>" (10 May 2006)</p> <p>David Scott, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3532">Fukuyama's crossroads: the poetics of location</a>" (12 May 2006)</p> <p>Olivier Roy, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3546">The end of history and the long march of secularization</a>" <br />(16 May 2006)</p> <p>Charles S Maeir, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3560">The intoxications of history</a>" (18 May 2006)</p> <p>Stephen Holmes, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3573">The logic of a blocked history</a>" <br />(23 May 2006)</p> <p>Vinay Lal, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3585">The beginning of a history</a>" (25 May 2006)</p> <p>Gavin Kitching, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3597">The modernisation myth</a>" <br />(30 May 2006) </p></div><p><b>The Atlantic difference</b></p> <p>It was thanks largely to Kojève and <a href= target=_blank>Jean Monnet</a> that the European project took on its current form, of a rigid and unreformable bureaucracy, dedicated to extinguishing not only the national loyalties of the European people, but also the Christian culture and democratic institutions that had thrived in them. The European Union ought surely to show to everybody &#150; to those who endorse it as much as those who view it with alarm &#150; that the "end of history" is not a prediction but a project, and one which may very well go wrong. It is a project that is as <a href= target=_blank>disconnected</a> from democracy as that other "end of history" project in which Kojève was raised, the project of communist revolution in which "the government of men gives way to the administration of things". Friedrich Engels's prediction was the only Marxist prediction that ever came true: under communism the government of men really did give way to the administration of things, since men became things. </p> <p>Now it seems to me, reading between the lines of Fukuyama's <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3496">afterword</a>, that he has woken up to the fact that the European Union is not proceeding in a democratic direction, that its increasing tendency to prefer "group rights" over individual rights is setting it on a collision course with the Enlightenment (just the same collision course, in fact, that was taken by communism and fascism), and that the kind of bland but unaccountable bureaucracy which the EU seeks to install across the continent is the antithesis of the ideals enshrined in the United States constitution.</p> <p>Europe may very well be <a href= target=_blank>heading</a> towards the "end of history", since it involves a conscious repudiation of its own historical identity. But the country where Fukuyama lives, and on which he tested &#150; with a few first-hand observations &#150; the thesis that he inherited from Kojève, is moving in another direction, which is not a direction at all, but the day-to-day perambulation of a living organism, held together by national identity, historical allegiance and a Judaeo-Christian culture irritated by its symbiotic liberal parasites. </p> <p>Set Europe and America side by side, as Fukuyama now does, and you will surely see a striking difference, between a place that has consciously espoused the "end of history" and a place which has consciously espoused nothing except itself. And in both places history goes on as "just one damn thing after another".</p> <p><b>A problem for universalism</b></p> <p><a href= target=_blank>Fukuyama</a> likens the Islamist terrorists to those already seen in our midst: Bolsheviks, extreme nationalists, Baader-Meinhof nihilists. All are in reaction against the modern world, in search of a pure and unalienated society &#150; the society which, according to <a href= target=_blank>Sayyid Qutb</a>, grows only "in the shade of the Qur'an". My response to this is: yes and no. Fukuyama attributes to <a href= target=_blank>Samuel Huntington</a> the thesis that liberal democracy is downstream from Christianity, and that there is therefore no universal law of history according to which human societies everywhere tend, with growing economic mastery, in a liberal-democratic direction. </p> <p>Fukuyama's grounds for resisting that thesis are not entirely persuasive. Radical Islamism, according to Fukuyama, is a version of "modern identity politics". But that is not a sufficient explanation of its posture. English Toryism is also a version of "modern identity politics". But by and large it accepts the Enlightenment vision of the divide between public and private life; it is founded in a love of the secular law and free institutions, and it has never produced a terrorist &#150; I am the <a href= target=_blank>furthest</a> it goes in that direction. "Identity politics" explains nothing: it all depends on the identity. </p> <p>You can squeeze Islam into the process of <a href= target=_blank>universal history</a> only if you overlook such facts as these: that the <em>sharia</em> does not recognise secular law; that it punishes apostasy with death; that it accords only "treaty" rights to Christians and Jews and no rights at all to pagans. Moreover it contains no intrinsic principle of reform, since "the gate of <em>ijtihad</em> (creative jurisprudence) is closed". For these reasons, it seems to me, Islamism is not merely a vast and growing problem for western democracies; it is also an insuperable problem for the universalist view of human history.</p> <p>Fukuyama is wrong to believe that Hegel was the first historicist philosopher. He was preceded by <a href= target=_blank>Ibn Khaldun</a> (1332-1406) and <a href= target=_blank>Giambattista Vico</a> (1668-1744). Ibn Khaldun made the useful point that historical processes are not governed by culture and knowledge only, but also by the will to reproduce. This will, he believed, dwindles as people become habituated to luxury, and dynasties therefore rise and fall according to a quasi-biological logic. </p> <p>That, clearly, is far too simple an hypothesis. But it adds something that is missing from most historicist theses, and especially from those German theories that appeal to Kojève and Fukuyama, namely the permanent legacy of human biology. Much that we attribute to history we ought rather to attribute to biology &#150; including aggression, territorial expansion and maybe even scapegoating, racism and the all-pervading emotion that Nietzsche called <em>ressentiment</em>. </p> <p>Christ taught us to overcome those things, and paid the price for doing so. Maybe it is the long-term effect of his sacrifice that so much of European history looks like a process of steady emancipation from the grim realities of species life. But that only tends to confirm the thesis that Fukuyama attributes to Huntington: that the march of history towards liberal democracy is a local achievement of Christian culture. </p> </div></p> democracy & power francis fukuyama: the end of history revisited Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Wed, 31 May 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3605 at Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life <p>Jane Jacobs wrote little, held no academic position, and espoused views that were widely dismissed as reactionary and impractical. But to turn now to her <em> <a href= target=_blank>The Death and Life of Great American Cities</a></em>, published in 1961, is to encounter a store of wisdom and insight that the intervening years have only served to confirm. </p> <p>Jacobs, who <a href= target=_blank>died</a> in Toronto on 25 April 2006, was perhaps the first person to see clearly that cities can be successful only if they solve a huge problem of coordination, and that theories of the market which argued for the impossibility of solving such problems by a comprehensive plan, ought equally to apply to cities. Cities, she argued, should develop spontaneously and organically, so as to enshrine in their <a href= target=_blank>contours</a> the unintended results of the consensual transactions between their residents; only then will they facilitate the peaceful evolution of urban life. A true city is built by its residents, in that every aspect of it reflects something that results from what uncountably many residents have wanted, rather than something that a few experts have planned.</p> <p>Modernist housing projects, which stack people vertically instead of allowing them to live side-by-side in streets, cause estrangement and social disintegration. Zoning laws which banish industry to one part of town, offices to another part and shopping to yet another, leave the residential areas deserted in the daytime, and lacking the principal hubs of social communication. Building styles which appropriate whole blocks, or thrust jagged corners in the way of pedestrians, prevent the emergence of the principal public space: the street.</p> <p>Streets, with doors that open on to them from houses that smile at them, are the arteries and veins, the lungs and digestive tracts of the city &#150; the channels through which all communication <a href= target=_blank>flows</a>. Nothing is more important in protecting urban life than the defence of the street against expressways and throughways, against block development, and against comprehensive plans which assign whole areas of a town to a single and transient function, and which therefore guarantee that the town will decay when that function expires. A street in which people live renews itself as life renews itself; it has eyes to watch over it, and shared forms of life to fill it.</p> <p>Jacobs developed those ideas in prophetic pages that foretold the death of American cities, as the middle classes flee to the suburbs, as multi-storey car-parks colonise the centres, as the old genial terraces, deprived of the wealth that would maintain them, fall into decay and as crime, road-rage and addiction take up their allotted place in the centre of town. The situation against which she warned can be studied in downtown Detroit and Minneapolis, not to speak of the <em>bidonvilles</em> around Paris, which in the riots of October-November 2005 puked up an <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3051">alienation</a> fermenting for thirty years in their concrete stomachs. </p> <p>Her message has been taken up and refined in recent years by James Howard Kunstler who, in <em><a href= target=_blank>The Geography of Nowhere</a></em> (1994), describes the aesthetic and moral disaster of American urbanisation, as the zoning laws drive people constantly further from their places of work and recreation, leaving the abandoned wreckage of fleeting businesses in their wake. <a href= target=_blank>Kunstler</a> has gone on to argue (in <em><a href= target=_blank>The Long Emergency</a></em> [2005]) that suburbanisation &#150; which is the only consensual solution to the disaster &#150; is unsustainable, and that America is preparing a long-drawn-out emergency for itself when the oil runs out.</p> <p>Whatever the response to Kunstler's <a href= target=_blank>doom-scenario</a>, Jacobs's original argument ought surely to earn her an honourable place in all discussions of the urban future. Most of the official and semi-official institutions concerned with planning in Britain (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment [<a href= target=_blank>Cabe</a>], the Royal Institute for British Architects [<a href= target=_blank>Riba</a>], and <a href= target=_blank>English Heritage</a>, for example) express themselves as though her warnings had never been uttered. </p> <p>Yet the evidence of their wellfoundedness is everywhere on display. Take a look at Coventry, or Milton Keynes, or any of the standard results of the planning mentality in Britain, and you will encounter just the disaster that Jacobs foretold: empty centres, lonely suburbs, ugly high-rises, streets that have lost their eyes, their lungs and their souls, and the motor-car in charge. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also in openDemocracy's <a href="">debate</a> on urbanisation and planning, contributions by Leon Krier, Colin Ward, Ben Plowden, Jane Ridley, Sophie Jeffreys, and others</b></p></div><p><b>Spontaneity vs planning</b></p> <p>The question that Jacobs has <a href= target=_blank>bequeathed</a> to us remains unanswered, however. How do we get out of the mess? If the problem is planning, how can we plan to avoid it? And is there no distinction between a good plan and a bad plan? Wasn't Venice planned, after all, and Ephesus, and Bath, and a thousand other <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=447">triumphs</a> of urbanisation? Just to allow a free-for-all is to replace the city with a shantytown. </p> <p>Perhaps the wisest response to <a href= target=_blank>Jacobs's argument</a> therefore is to point to the distinction between positive plans and negative constraints. Although a free economy is needed if we are to solve the problem of economic coordination, freedom must be contained, and it is contained by law. Legal side-constraints ensure that cheats will not prosper. Likewise with the city: there must be planning; but it should be envisaged negatively, as a system of side-constraints, rather than positively, as a way of "taking charge" of what happens where. </p> <p>Thus Helsinki, which grew within the constraint that no building must rise above the height that would entirely fill the street with shadow, developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries into one of the most genial and people-friendly of places. Similar rules have preserved the urban character of Geneva and Washington, just as the law demanding the use of Roman pan-tiles has preserved the landscape and townscape of Provence. </p> <p>Constraints on materials, styles, heights, and sizes, rather than on functions; recognition of the street as the primary <a href= target=_blank>public space</a>, and of pedestrians as the primary users of it; preservation of façades and street frontages, while facilitating change of use behind them: all such remedies, which are slowly emerging (for example in the renewal of Baltimore and other damaged American cities) and which have been powerfully advocated and illustrated by <a href= target=_blank>Leon Krier</a> at <a href= target=_blank>Poundbury</a> and by the <a href= target=_blank>New Urbanists</a> in Italy and America &#150; all owe an incalculable debt to Jane Jacobs. </p> <p>But they also illustrate the way in which her own preference for "spontaneity" over "planning" cannot, in the end, be sustained. It is not planning that has destroyed the American city, but the wrong kind of planning directed towards the wrong kind of things.</p> </div></p> ecology & place people europe urbanisation & planning Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Mon, 01 May 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3492 at Power inquiry, public debate <p>The report of the Power inquiry into the workings of Britain's political system is the latest attempt to come to terms with the clash between a post-modern society and a pre-modern constitution. The British settlement is founded on long-standing conventions that are seldom examined and which are, indeed, protected from examination by being deeply buried in political practice. The <a href= / target=_blank>Power inquiry</a> &#150; whose commission, headed by Helena Kennedy and Ferdinand Mount, reported on 27 February 2006 &#150; was established to hold this settlement to the light, in the belief that the political process has drifted beyond the horizon of popular interest, and that in consequence government is losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the people. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>The Power inquiry, an independent investigation into the condition of democracy in Britain, was set up in 2004. The members of its commission (whose chair was <a href= target=_blank>Helena Kennedy</a> and vice-chair Ferdinand Mount) hosted meetings around Britain and heard submissions from a wide variety of interest groups, professionals, and concerned citizens. The commission published its <a href= target=_blank>report</a> on 27 February 2006: </b></p> <p>For details of further events and to find out how to get involved, click<a href= target=_blank> here</a> </p> <p>For debate and dialogue on the commission's proposals, go to mySociety's new site, <a href= target=_blank></a> </p> </div><p><b>The English question</b></p> <p>Constitutional reform has been a hallmark of the New Labour administration that has governed Britain since 1997. But the reform has been random, ill thought-out, and insensitive both to the history of the nation and to the aspirations of its living members. All in all, it seems to me, the New Labour reforms have increased the distance between government and people and thus done the opposite of what they proclaimed.</p> <p>Two examples suffice to make the point:</p> <ul><li>to abolish the hereditary House of Lords, only to replace it with a second chamber consisting entirely of appointed cronies, is <a href= target=_blank>no advance</a> when it comes to making up the democratic deficit. Indeed, New Labour's preference for a wholly appointed upper chamber makes the house a fiefdom of the political class; the hereditaries were the only class in the kingdom that were above the politicos &#150; now the politicos are on top. </li> <li>to install devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales (and in Northern Ireland, only to then suspend the assembly under pressure of the continuing political tensions there), while permitting those who vote for them also to send representatives to the House of Commons, is to do nothing to reassure the English that they are still governed by themselves.</li></ul> <p>The second example, even though it is evaded by the Power inquiry (as by many similar reform efforts), is central to the argument for democracy. New Labour has trampled on the central icon of British identity, which is <a href= target=_blank>England</a> &#150; considered not merely as a geographical location but as a moral idea. </p> <p>For a variety of reasons the Labour Party (in its "New" guise as in its "Old"), does not like that moral idea: </p> <ul><li>it does not resonate to the offices and dignities of the English crown</li> <li>it does not see (as foreigners like <a href= target=_blank>Friedrich von Hayek</a> have seen) that the English common law is a better answer to social conflict than the decrees of parliament</li> <li>it has no feel for the English countryside, which it would like to obliterate with concrete</li> <li>it does not want to retain England even as a cogent political geography, but prefers to balkanise the country through regional assemblies (so fulfilling the ambition of one of the European Union's chief architects, <a href= target=_blank>Jean Monnet</a>, and removing the very name of England from the map). </li></ul> <p>Add to this the tendency to legislate on every conceivable issue, to the point of inventing 100 criminal offences a year during nine years of government, and it is hardly surprising if "we, the English" are fairly alienated from our government. At the same time, the gerrymandering of devolution makes it very difficult for us to eject from office a government which sits in Westminster despite the fact that a majority of English voters voted for the Conservative Party in the May 2005 election. </p> <p>These, the reflections of a self-consciously English person, are only part of the story that people who seek a more democratic political settlement in Britain need to hear and discuss. For its own part, the Power inquiry is right to discern a wider sense of malaise in our society, and a broader alienation from the political process. It proposes as a remedy a series of "concordats", designed to limit the power of elites within parliament, within the nation and also (in the inscrutable bureaucracies of the European Union) outside the nation. </p> <p>In his <b>openDemocracy</b> article, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3316">John Jackson</a> rightly points out that a concordat is not likely to improve popular perception of the government's legitimacy if the people have no say in drafting it. As it is, the proposal seems to be from the same stable as New Labour's constitutional reforms &#150; ideas that issue from the political class, imposed by the political class, for the benefit of the political class. And it is the rise of this political class that is, it seems to me, the principal cause of electoral disaffection. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also in openDemocracy on the Power inquiry:</b></p> <p>Ferdinand Mount, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3310">The Power inquiry: making politics breathe</a>" (February 2006)</p> <p>John Jackson, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3316">A democracy in trouble</a>" (March 2006)</p> <p>If you find this material enjoyable or provoking please consider <a href="">commenting</a> in our forums &#150; and supporting <b>openDemocracy<b> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can continue our work for democratic dialogue</b></b></p> </div><p><b>Government by interest</b></p> <p>A close study of the careers of current members of parliament reveals a rough division into two categories. On the one hand, there are people who have worked their way up through NGOs, quangos, local government and think-tanks. These tend to be Labour members. On the other hand there are management consultants, professional sitters-on-boards and public-relations lobbyists. These tend to be Conservatives. The lawyers, meanwhile, are represented in all three major parties. Then there is a smattering of people who have done what my father would have called an honest job of work. But very few such people have the time or energy required to enter politics; far easier to enter politics through one of those professions which have politics as their focus and their goal. </p> <p>When these political professionals arrive in parliament it is with an agenda shaped by their previous careers. Labour members are responsive to NGO and activist groups; Conservatives are in the grip of corporate lobbyists and public-relations gurus. All of them see life and business in terms of the interests of very narrow and self-defined constituencies, which may have little or no relevance to the daily lives of ordinary people, or to those upon whom they impose their legislative decrees. </p> <p>Take the case of the badgers. We know that the Labour Party is closely linked to the NGOs that "speak for" dumb animals (and indeed that it received &pound;1 million from one of them, in return for a promise to ban fox-hunting). These NGOs have made the badger one of their sacred causes, and have used the Labour majority in parliament to prevent any attempt to <a href= target=_blank>cull</a> the massively expanding and fatally diseased badger population in Britain. The cost of this is borne in the form of <a href= target=_blank>bovine TB</a> by our farmers. </p> <p>But the farmers have no voice, since no Labour-friendly NGO is speaking for them. Hence they weep and tear their hair in vain. NGOs are in a unique position, superior from the accountability point of view to that of corporations. For they need account to no one; indeed, if they speak for the animals, they <em>can</em> account to no one, since their constituents lie outside the reach of accountability, and they don't have shareholders. </p> <p>This is an example &#150; and an important one &#150; of the way in which the political class places an impermeable screen between its activities and the people who must bear the cost of them. I won't discuss the <a href= target=_blank>Hunting Act</a> (2004, effective from February 2005) since it is now proving to be unworkable and unenforceable, and has the merit of having occupied 220 hours of parliamentary time that would otherwise have been devoted to criminalizing approximately (at New Labour speed) forty other innocent things. </p> <p>I don't imagine that things will be better under the Conservatives. The rise of the political class is an inevitable consequence of lobbying and pressure-group politics, and of the rewards available when parliament can assume the right to legislate in any matter that it should choose. </p> <p>One reason why written constitutions are welcomed in modern conditions is that they seem to set limits to legislation, to withhold from the constant meddling of the political class substantial areas of civil life, which the members of that class cannot use their office to plunder. However, in very few cases are written constitutions really effective &#150; even in the United States the rise of judicial activism has made the constitution indefinitely permeable to lobbyists. For written constitutions too depend upon unwritten conventions &#150; for example, the convention, in the US context, of accepting the words of the constitution in the meaning intended by those who first wrote them down. That convention has been trampled on; indeed, it has been dismissed (e.g. by <a href= target=_blank>Ronald Dworkin</a>) as incoherent &#150; so leaving the constitution hostage to whatever power-group can seize control of the Supreme Court. </p> <p>The answer, surely, is to raise public awareness of the need for limits to the political process. We must question the right of lobbyists to set the agenda of parliament, the right of parliament to legislate about anything that is put on the table, the right of the prime minister to conduct himself as though any convention, however venerable, can be instantly changed. (Remember how he woke up one morning with the thought that we don't need a lord chancellor, and immediately telephoned the press to announce this as a <em>fait accompli</em>?).</p> <p>Thus I welcome the Power inquiry as opening up a much-needed debate (indeed, it is in itself a significant and large culture shift that the commission refers to power, not authority). But the debate has to go on <em>in public</em>, with politicians being compelled to take part in it; and on the public's terms, which politicians must be obliged to respect and respond to. Moreover, it should be clear from the debate's outset that the question is not just about the accountability of politicians for what they do, but about the need to limit what they <em>can</em> do. Only in this way can we ensure that it is the interest of the nation, and not the agenda of the lobbyists, that prevails. </p> </div></p> Globalisation europe institutions & government Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Mon, 06 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3325 at A year of awakening <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 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. (<a href="">Part Two</a>) </div> </div> </div> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>In Britain, I&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">look forward</a>&nbsp;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.</em></p><p><em>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.</em></p><p><em>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.</em></p><p><em>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.</em></p><p><em>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.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p> Roger Scruton Thu, 22 Dec 2005 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 62276 at The fundamentals of democracy: a response to John Palmer <p>John Palmer&#146;s advocacy of European democracy in his <b>openDemocracy</b> reply to Gisela Stuart (&#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3086">The &#145;nation&#146;-state is not enough</a>&#148;) owes its appeal to an important observation: that many of the issues that most nearly affect the people of Europe are not easily resolved by national parliaments but require negotiations in which the whole continent is, or ought to be, involved. </p> <p>In such circumstances many are tempted to think that continental sovereignty is the answer, and hence that continent-wide democracy must be instituted, lest the European institutions lose all legitimacy. Palmer laments the abandonment of the <a href= target=_blank>European constitutional treaty</a>, and looks forward to a renewed attempt to inject democratic procedures into the European Commission and its subordinate institutions. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Roger Scruton is a writer, philosopher, and <a href="">frequent contributor</a> to openDemocracy. His website is <a href= target=_blank>here</a>. </b></p> <p>Roger Scruton is responding here to the article by John Palmer, &#147;The &#145;nation&#146;-state is not enough: a reply to Gisela Stuart&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3086">December 2005</a>). </p> <p>This forms part of a debate on &#147;<a href="">Opening democracy</a>&#148;, consisting so far of these articles:</p> <p>Anthony Barnett & Isabel Hilton, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2792">Democracy and openDemocracy</a>"</p> <p>Roger Scruton, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2921">Democracy or theocracy? A response to Barnett & Hilton</a>&#148;</p> <p>John Dunn, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2944">Getting democracy into focus</a>&#148; </p> <p>Anatol Lieven, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2968">Democratic failure: festering lilies smell worse than weeds</a>&#148;</p> <p>Mishal Al Sulami, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2990">Democracy in the Arab world: the Islamic foundation</a>&#148;</p> <p>Fred Dallmayr, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3000">Mobilising global democracy</a>&#148;</p> <p>Thomas Cushman, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3008">Democracy and its enemies: a response to Barnett & Hilton</a>&#148;</p> <p>Gisela Stuart, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3030">The body of democracy</a>&#148;</p> <p></p><p>If you find this material valuable please consider supporting <b>openDemocracy<b> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can continue our work</b></b></p> </div><p>What he fails to see, however, is that the European institutions have never had legitimacy, and that the constitutional treaty was <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2704">rejected</a> in France and the Netherlands not because of some misunderstanding but because the people of the European nation-states, offered for the first time the opportunity to say what they think of the European project, made clear that they reject it. Behind Palmer&#146;s argument I sense the <a href= target=_blank>old leftist fallacy</a> which tells us that since we on the left are the true democrats the people who don&#146;t vote for us have made a mistake. We are therefore entitled to rule in any case, since a mistaken vote is not a vote.</p> <p>This reasoning has animated the <a href= target=_blank>European project</a> from the beginning.</p> <p>If people reject it, <a href= target=_blank>Jean Monnet</a> and his followers thought, then that is only because they lack the education to see that it is in their interests. So let&#146;s not give them the opportunity to reject it. The result is the growth of a vast network of institutions, none of which has the slightest political legitimacy &#150; not even the European parliament, filled as it is by people for whom the mass of European citizens have not had the heart or the interest to vote.</p> <p><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3030">Gisela Stuart</a> is surely right to emphasize the importance of nationality in underpinning democratic procedures. Democracy depends upon one thing above all others, which is the ability of voters to accept being governed by those with whom they profoundly disagree.</p> <p>This extraordinary state of mind does not exist in many places in the world: but it does exist in Europe, largely because we have ways in which people can feel solidarity with their opponents, and forgive them for wielding power, just as I forgive Tony Blair and <a href= target=_blank>Gisela Stuart</a>, among others. And I extend my forgiveness to Gisela, as she might one day to people like me, because &#150; her German origins notwithstanding &#150; she shares my loyalty to the British inheritance, and recognises common cause with me in working for the survival and prosperity of our country. We can agree to differ, precisely because we have a fundamental loyalty in common.</p> <p>Ever since <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1749">Immanuel Kant&#146;s</a> advocacy of cosmopolitan politics, intellectuals have dreamed of another and, in their eyes, superior way of ordering the future of mankind, through global institutions that discount all the divisions and discords of history. Intellectuals easily think in <a href=,3604,1494427,00.html target=_blank>this way</a>, especially if they have been educated by the Enlightenment curriculum which tells them that no national or religious culture has a monopoly of the truth. </p> <p>But ordinary people are neither the beneficiaries of that kind of education nor able to offer their sparse supply of charity to all-comers. They feel solidarity with what is close to them, historically bound up with them, and trustworthy because self-evidently beside them on the sea of fate. That is the feeling from which national loyalty arose, and which made it possible to put nationality above religion in the <a href= target=_blank>allegiances of European people</a>. </p> <p>Religion, after all, is no foundation for democracy, and we should be thankful that European history has made nationality available to us, since that is what made democracy possible. And &#150; to return to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2792">Anthony Barnett & Isabel Hilton&#146;s</a> article which opened this <a href="">debate</a> &#150; it seems to me that they did not emphasise, as they should, the real threat to democracy that is now posed, by the steady capture of social territory by the Islamists, for whom national loyalty, which tells us to tolerate religious difference, is an offence against God. </p> </div></p> democracy & power europe opening democracy Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Mon, 12 Dec 2005 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 3112 at Democracy or theocracy? A response to Barnett & Hilton <p>In its silence about Islam and its hostility to the United States, Anthony Barnett &amp; Isabel Hilton’s definition of the threats to democracy fails to convince Roger Scruton.</p><p>Anthony Barnett &amp; Isabel Hilton point <a href="">in their <strong>openDemocracy</strong> article</a> to the difference between “the open politics of democracy and human rights” and “a majority rule which may lead to majority tyranny”. In this context they warn against “fundamentalism”, defining democracy as “a form of anti-fundamentalism”. At the same time they recognise that democracy is not self-sustaining, but requires “a community that experiences itself as such – still most commonly the nation-state”. </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><strong>Roger Scruton is a writer, philosopher, and <a href="/author/Roger_Scruton.jsp%20">frequent contributor</a> to openDemocracy. His website is <a href="" target="_blank">here</a></strong></p><strong> </strong><p><strong>Roger Scruton is responding to the article by Anthony Barnett &amp; Isabel Hilton, “<a href="/democracy-opening/barnett_hilton_2792.jsp">Democracy and openDemocracy</a>” </strong></p> </div><p><strong>Democracy and Islam</strong></p> <p>These thoughts identify what to my mind are the deep issues facing democrats in the world today. Getting clear about them is hard; and I suspect that the more we explore what is involved in the conflict between democracy and fundamentalism, the more difficult will it seem to achieve the kind of clear prescriptions for the world that Barnett and Hilton are looking for. </p> <p>By using the term “fundamentalism” the authors deftly avoid engaging with Islam. “Fundamentalism”, as <a href=";view=usa" target="_blank">Malise Ruthven</a> shows in his recent study of the topic, originally referred to the Protestant reaffirmation of the “fundamentals” of the Christian faith. But in the modern context the term invariably refers to the disposition to reject the idea of secular government, an idea which is also, on one interpretation, a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith (the doctrine of the “two swords” announced by <a href="" target="_blank">Pope Gelasius I</a> in 494 CE). Almost all Christians and Jews accept secular government; Muslims do not accept it so easily, since it seems difficult to reconcile secular government with the teachings of the Koran or with the <em>sharia</em>. </p> <p>It seems to me to be misleading to describe both terrorism and fundamentalism as threats to democracy, while failing to point out that the terrorism and the fundamentalism <a href="" target="_blank">in question</a> are both conducted in the name of Islam. We are not dealing with two threats to democracy here, but one. </p> <p>It is surely no accident that Islamic countries have found it so difficult to sustain democratic institutions. Barnett &amp; Hilton mention Indonesia’s 2004 <a href="" target="_blank">presidential elections</a>. But they do not mention the long-standing persecution of Christians and Buddhists in Indonesia, a persecution entirely legalised by the <em>sharia</em> law that prevails there. Nor do they point to the origins of the Islamist threat: in Saudi Arabia, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and an <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2794">Egypt</a> which both suppresses and nurtures the Muslim Brotherhood. </p> <p>Globalisation is, as they say, part of the problem: it has exported the grievances that arise under Islamic government to the places where people are free to express them – places, in other words, that are governed by a secular law in which faith is pushed into the background, as a more or less private concern. </p> <p>The danger that democracy will degenerate into a tyranny of the majority was clearly expressed by Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill. Both of them recognised, however, that democracy is not some kind of new departure which repudiates all that had gone before, but a system of government built upon a specific legal inheritance. Barnett &amp; Hilton rightly refer to the rule of law and individual rights as the first of their principles of democratic government. These were historical achievements of the European legal and judicial systems. They preceded democracy and have not been replicated everywhere. Until they are in place, the introduction of elections may merely let the majority loose upon whatever minority provokes its indignation. </p> <p>We see this problem clearly in the Islamic states of the middle east, where majorities either are kept in place by tyranny, like the Iraqi <em> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2335">Shi’a</a></em> under Saddam Hussein, or (when freed from tyranny) look around to assert themselves against their sectarian rivals, like the <em>Shi’a</em> in Iraq today. Democracy is all the things that Barnett &amp; Hilton say it is: but it is also something else – the ability to grant a share in government to people with whom you profoundly disagree, including people of another faith.</p> <p><strong>Land and law</strong></p> <p>The crucial point in all this is to recognise secular government as the <em>sine qua non</em> of democracy, and theocracy as its natural opponent. And secular government depends upon finding some other focus of communal identity and solidarity than religious faith. That is why Barnett &amp; Hilton’s reference to the nation-state is so important. The secular law in a country like the United Kingdom is made possible by territorial jurisdiction, and the territory in question is defined by permeable but historically vindicated national boundaries. Our political culture is a culture of the home and the homeland, rather than the faith and the faithful. We are brought up – or were brought up until recently – on a conception of national history and national <a href="" target="_blank">identity</a> which promoted mutual trust and solidarity between neighbours. Although religion had a part to play in our political education, it was that of the “Church of England”; an expression in which it was “England”, not “Church”, that was the operative term. </p> <p>That kind of territorial patriotism has suffered erosion, not only from globalisation, but also from the mass immigration of minorities that do not share it, who define their communities in terms of religion rather than territory, and who do not in their heart accept the authority of a merely secular law. It has suffered too from a culture of repudiation among intellectuals who, for a variety of reasons, not all of them bad, have tried to discard national loyalty and to replace it with the cosmopolitan ideals of the Enlightenment. </p> <p>The problem as I see it is that cosmopolitan ideals are the property of an elite and will never be shared by the mass of human kind. Moreover, when embodied in transnational institutions, they have an innate tendency to degenerate into the kind of corrupt and profoundly anti-democratic bureaucracies exemplified by the <a href="/globalization-UN/issue.jsp%20">United Nations</a> and the <a href="democracy-europe_constitution/issue.jsp">European Union</a> nation, suitably tempered and purged of its endogenous excesses, may be the best we can hope for, by way of a pre-political community that can accept the jurisdiction of a purely secular law. </p> <p><strong>World and idea</strong> </p> <p>Barnett &amp; Hilton are right in seeing globalisation as posing both opportunities and threats, in the context of an international order founded on the European nation-state. But I don’t see the matter quite as they do. By incorporating Islamic states into the communion of nations we have presented their people with a mirror, and they don’t like what they see in it. By promoting the global movement of populations, we have imported resentments that we can do nothing to cure, since the cure depends upon a shared national loyalty. And by entrusting the resolution of conflict to an ineffective system of international law, we have failed to take the pre-emptive measures necessary to safeguard our future. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><strong> Also in openDemocracy, a debate over the open society in the United States: </strong></p><strong> <p> Gara La Marche, “The crisis of democracy in America” (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2693">June 2005</a>) </p> <p> Roger Scruton, “The United States and the open society: a response to Gara La Marche” (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2666">July 2005</a>) </p> </strong><p><strong> Gara La Marche, “America’s closing society: a reply to Roger Scruton” (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2697">July 2005</a>) </strong> </p> </div><p>Reading between the lines of Barnett &amp; Hilton’s piece, I sense a profound hostility to the American approach to democratisation, which is to use force so as to remove the tyrants and put the people in charge. And of course there is an assumption behind the American approach that I too would reject: the assumption that democracy, rather than priest-haunted tyranny, is the default position of human societies. </p> <p>Still, any comparison of the United Nations with the United States, as a democracy-promoting force, would give a head-start to the second. The US followed its victory in the second world war by imposing democracy on Germany, Italy and Japan. It fought for the survival of democracy in Korea, deposed the Taliban in Afghanistan and has actively promoted democratic governments elsewhere. The invasion of Iraq may or may not have been wise. But it has led to elections there, to a mass movement to restore democracy in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2367">Lebanon</a>, to presidential elections in Egypt, and to a serious attempt to resolve the conflict in Palestine. </p> <p>As a democracy-creating force, it seems to me that the United States has no match apart from the British empire, from which it derives. The fact that there is serious worldwide opposition to American power is to be expected: but Osama bin Laden is asking us to take sides in the matter, and I know whose side I am on. </p> </div> opening democracy democracy & power europe Roger Scruton Original Copyright Wed, 12 Oct 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2921 at Maurice Cowling's achievement <p>Maurice Cowling, who died aged 78 on 24 August 2005, was one of the leading conservative intellectuals of his generation, a brilliant and erudite historian, and a notorious scourge of the liberal establishment. He was also a great teacher, who set aside his opinions in order to discuss ideas openly and fairly with his students. </p> <p>His influence was as apparent in the politician <a href= target=_blank>Michael Portillo</a>, whose conservatism he helped to crystallise, as in <a href= target=_blank>Peter Fuller</a>, who learned to be a Marxist art critic by debating the point with Maurice. It is thanks largely to Maurice Cowling that Peterhouse, the Cambridge University college where he was a fellow, became known as the centre of intelligent reaction in the 1970s and 1980s. </p> <p>All of us who were fellows of the college in that period felt the exhilaration of his intellectual presence, and some of us &#150; notably <a href= target=_blank>David Watkin</a>, Edward Norman, <a href= target=_blank>Edward Shils</a>, John Vincent and myself &#150; were encouraged by Maurice to be more forthright in declaring our dissent from the left-liberal orthodoxies of the day. </p> <p>Maurice had this effect even though he regarded conservative beliefs with considerable irony. His intellect was an immense negative force, which could undermine any conviction and pour scorn on any emotional attachment. He regarded conservative beliefs in the same light as he regarded all beliefs other than those of the Christian faith &#150; as self-serving expedients, whereby individuals sought the good opinion of their fellows and closed their minds to uncomfortable realities. He himself lived with uncomfortable realities on easygoing terms, demanding only intelligent pupils, the company of seedy journalists and a supply of whisky in order to continue impishly smiling at the unremitting spectacle of human folly. </p> <p>Maurice&#146;s iconoclastic approach to the world of ideas was in part inspired by his forays into the world of journalism. These culminated in 1971, when his life-long friend George Gale, being appointed editor of the weekly political magazine <a href= target=_blank><em>The Spectator</em></a>, invited Maurice to edit the book pages. Under the guidance of Gale and Cowling <em>The Spectator</em> became a serious vehicle of ideas, and an articulate voice of reaction. But like all Maurice&#146;s ventures into Grub Street, this one came to a premature end when <em>The Spectator</em> changed hands in 1974. </p> <p>Maurice returned to his rooms in Peterhouse, to continue work on his magnum opus, <a href= target=_blank><em>Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England</em></a>, the third and longest volume of which appeared in 2001. The purpose of this work was twofold: to show the commanding influence of ideas on the development of modern British society, and to point to the enduring relevance of religion in determining just what those ideas have been. </p> <p>Maurice&#146;s method was the very opposite of that advocated by the <em>Annales</em> school of historiography. Parish registers, hospital statistics, demographic trends and socio-economic surveys had little significance, in his writing, in comparison with pamphlets by obscure Anglican clergymen, exchanges of letters between members of the House of Lords, and the quarrels and crises of Oxbridge dons. </p> <p>The argument over Anglicanism that began with Keble and the <a href= target=_blank>Oxford movement</a> was carried over, in Maurice&#146;s view, into all the subsequent intellectual movements that affected the course of English history: the partisanship of culture against science in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin and FR Leavis; the debates over the constitution in John Stuart Mill, <a href= target=_blank>Lord Acton</a>, AV Dicey and <a href= target=_blank>FW Maitland</a>; the conflict between liberalism and conservatism in Parliament and out of it; the whole tendency of modern English culture as the chill winds of secularism swept across it and a sense of the fragility and uniqueness of England replaced the old religious certainty of the Book of Common Prayer. </p> <p>Maurice&#146;s critics regarded his choice of topics as eccentric and his historical method as unfounded. Others, however, have found inspiration and illumination in his meticulous <a href= target=_blank>attention</a> to the mental and spiritual makeup of public figures. </p> <p>If ideas are as important as he makes them out to be, then a <a href= target=_blank>life</a> spent like Maurice&#146;s, in examining, mocking and refuting them, has not been spent in vain. And the immense breadth of his learning meant that everything he wrote brings new information and a new perspective on its subject. He was a trenchant critic of liberalism, and his book on Mill was the first major attempt since that of <a href= target=_blank>Sir James Fitzjames Stephen</a> in 1873 to identify Mill&#146;s liberal outlook as a threat to ordinary human decencies. </p> <p>But, while Maurice inoculated several generations of undergraduates against liberal orthodoxy, his own <a href=,,60-1750381,00.html target=_blank>positive opinions</a> were hard to discern through the smokescreen of irony. He stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative candidate in 1958, and kept up relations with the Conservative Party establishment throughout his life. But he made it seem that he was playing Devil&#146;s advocate in his positive as much as in his negative opinions. </p> <p>At the same time his irony resembled that of Socrates &#150; the sign not of flippancy but of a profound moral seriousness that would not allow itself the luxury of illusions. It was because they could discern this seriousness behind the impish mask, indeed, that Maurice&#146;s pupils of all political persuasions remained so fervently attached to him and so grateful for his intellectual example. </p> <p>It is hard to say what Maurice Cowling&#146;s influence on <a href= target=_blank>historical studies</a> will be. I suspect that his work will be consulted for many years to come, both as a curiosity of scholarship and as a proof of the inward-looking nature of English conservatism in its years of decline. And there will surely be a resolute core of admirers, for whom the name of Cowling will stand beside those of Maitland, <a href= target=_blank>Herbert Butterfield</a> and HAL Fisher, as denoting a truly English historian, able to see his country as the unique, flawed but precious thing that it was. </p> people europe Roger Scruton Creative Commons normal Thu, 25 Aug 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2783 at The United States and the open society: a response to Gara LaMarche <p>In his <b>openDemocracy</b> essay &#147;The crisis of democracy in America&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2639">30 June 2005</a>) Gara LaMarche makes no secret of the fact that he is a passionate liberal (in the American sense), committed to a broad-left political agenda, and to values that he associates with the European Enlightenment. But he also recognises that, in a democracy, people who do not share his beliefs and values may very well from time to time obtain political office. In such circumstances it is always tempting to think that the procedures of open debate and free competition have been abused or are being confiscated, and LaMarche is quite convinced that this is happening. </p> <p>It may help to put his article in perspective if I try to say, from the standpoint of a conservative who is not at all convinced either by the broad-left agenda or by the <a href= target=_blank>Enlightenment values</a> to which LaMarche makes appeal, what I think ought to be meant by the &#147;open society&#148;. </p> <p>I am second to none in my admiration for what <a href= target=_blank>George Soros</a> intended and achieved under this rubric, in the dark days of the Soviet empire. Almost alone among the many who had escaped to the west and made a fortune, he <a href= target=_blank>remembered</a> those whom he had left behind and who needed his help. But this good man&#146;s sense that the open society is at risk in the United States has no more intrinsic authority than my belief that it is &#150; all things considered &#150; in fairly good shape. </p><p><a href= target=_blank>Gara LaMarche</a> is right that there have been abuses of the political process, of judicial appointments and of legal procedures. But the question is whether the abuses are so widespread and incorrigible as to amount to a breakdown of the open society. I don&#146;t think LaMarche has given us proof either that this is so, or that the abuses, when they occur, are the result exclusively or even primarily of right-wing machinations. </p> <p>In the case of the <a href= target=_blank>supreme court</a>, for example, it is undoubtedly true that the court has become politicised in recent decades, in a way that would have astounded the &#147;founding fathers&#148; of the US constitution. But it is also clear that the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2533">politically-motivated attempts</a> to block the appointment of judges &#150; which went as far as total character assassination in the cases of <a href= target=_blank>Robert Bork</a> and <a href= target=_blank>Clarence Thomas</a> &#150; have not always been carried out by the forces of the right.</p> <p>Nor is it clear that interferences in academic freedom have generally originated in right-wing conspiracies. On the contrary, it is extremely hard for someone known for expressing right-wing opinions to obtain an appointment in the average American humanities department. Those who openly question the orthodoxies of American feminism or gay liberation put their academic career at risk, and conservatives have begun to adopt a siege mentality, forming societies for their mutual protection such as the <a href= target=_blank>National Association of Scholars</a>, or gravitating to the dwindling number of departments and programs that are prepared to tolerate their presence. </p> <p>Nor should the case of <a href= target=_blank>Laurence Summers</a> be dismissed so lightly. After all, if you cannot express unorthodox ideas in a university without risking your career, what remains of open discussion? If <a href= target=_blank>LaMarche&#146;s complaints about America</a> have any force, it seems to me, it is precisely in relation to the universities, in which a belligerent orthodoxy concerning the important issues that confront western society is beginning to make open debate impossible. But this is not the doing of any rightwing or fundamentalist conspiracy: quite the contrary. </p> <p><b>The open society: procedure not substance</b></p> <p>So what, then, ought we to mean by the open society? <a href= target=_blank>Karl Popper</a> coined the phrase in very different political circumstances from those that prevail today. He was attempting, however, to give a new slant to an old idea &#150; the idea of toleration, as defended by John Locke and the founding fathers, and subsequently by <a href= target=_blank>John Stuart Mill</a>. </p> <p>An open society is one in which opinions can be freely expressed and debated, in which institutions that confer political power are open to competition from outside the established elites, in which economic activity is based in free exchange, and in which the rights and freedoms of the citizen are secured by an impartial rule of law. </p> <p>Popper had particular enemies in mind, and gave controversial accounts of Plato, Hegel and Marx. But he was strongly influenced by the <a href= target=_blank>Austrian economists</a> such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek, who saw the free exchange of goods and the free exchange of ideas as parts of a single social achievement, valuable not merely because freedom is intrinsically valuable, but because free exchange is the source of social knowledge. I am not at all sure that an open society, defined in that way, need conform to any particular idea of democracy: indeed, as Mill recognised, democracy can easily become a &#147;<a href= target=_blank>tyranny of the majority</a>&#148;, and therefore a threat to minorities such as yours or mine.</p> <p>It seems to me, therefore, that defenders of the open society should be clear that it is openness, not majority rule or ideological orthodoxy, that they wish to secure, and that openness is a procedural, rather than a substantive idea. It was Popper&#146;s contention that ideology, as opposed to genuine scientific thinking, would disappear under the influence of open debate, though it is arguable that he underestimated the human need for conformity of opinion. </p> <p>Even where there is some prevailing ideology an open society may still exist, provided people can freely express their own beliefs, devise their own budgets, and make their own choices in matters that concern them most deeply: such as religious faith and the education of their children. </p> <p>It is not a threat to the open society that a conservative pundit should call on fellow conservatives to cease funding universities, for example, or that parents should express their unwillingness to expose their children to material designed to normalise homosexual relationships. </p> <p>It is not a threat to the open society that rightwingers should express their views in the media or protest when public funds are devoted to financing institutions that systematically avoid open debate. </p> <p>It is not a threat to the open society when judges are appointed on the basis of their legal skills and without consulting their political beliefs.</p> <p>It is not a threat to the open society that people should speak out against progressive ideas or propose political programmes that involve reversing policies favoured in recent decades by the left. </p> <p>On the contrary, all those things are proof of openness. Whether American society is genuinely open in all those respects may certainly be questioned. But it is worth saying that the US is one of the few states in the modern world where you can safely take your children out of school if you disapprove of what they are being taught there &#150; a privilege secured through a <a href= target=_blank>constitutional battle</a> by the Amish, and proof that those old-fashioned religious fundamentalists are not all averse to the cause of liberty. </p> <p><b>How not to debate</b></p> <p>Gara LaMarche&#146;s article suffers from two defects that make me doubt his commitment to genuine openness of debate. </p> <p>First, it makes no comparative judgements, except in a brief aside comparing the American response to terrorism to that of various European states. The initial response to the attacks of 9/11 was of course angry and careless: but the process of rectification is already in place, and it is surely a proof of the openness of American society that the treatment of suspects is now <a href= target=_blank>openly debated</a> and a matter of legal appeal and political pressure. </p> <p>There are those who see <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2110">Guantànamo Bay</a> as the sign that the old principle of <em>habeas corpus</em>, the fundamental guarantee of our common-law freedoms, has finally been abandoned in the United States. There may be some truth in this; but the criticism is openly made in America, by Americans who go unpunished for saying it, and who indeed are actively pressuring the administration to change things. That is exactly what an open society requires. </p> <p>Moreover, there are other quite reasonable views of the matter: prisoners of war have never benefited from the writ of <em>habeas corpus</em>, and the war with terrorism might after all be a real war. How do we know what the European response would be, were something as horrendous as 9/11 to occur on our soil? In the wake of the <a href= target=_blank>London bombings on 7 July</a>, resistance to identity cards is noticeably weakening; and were the government now to propose interning those British subjects who had been through the al-Qaida training camps, protests would be real, but by no means unanimous. </p> <p>It is worth comparing the American response to 9/11 with the response to terrorist atrocities in Saudi Arabia, <a href= target=_blank>Russia</a> and India. And it is worth asking: where else than in the US could a foundation like the <a href= target=_blank>Open Society Institute</a> exist, devoting money which only the free economy of America makes so abundantly available to a refugee, to the cause of undermining the political establishment that currently holds power in that country? It would be reasonable to compare the situation of George Soros with that of <a href= target=_blank>Boris Berezovsky</a>.</p> <p>The second defect is that of name-calling. It is not a contribution to open debate to target the other side as &#147;neo-McCarthyism&#148;, and thereby to summon a knee-jerk reaction of distaste that effectively deprives the opponent of any place in the dialogue. </p> <p>Nor does it help to describe the new combination of conservative forces in the US as creating &#147;something resembling a theocracy&#148;. Is LaMarche really comparing Harvard with <a href= target=_blank>Al-Azhar</a>, and George Bush with <a href="/blogs/comments/Iran/Weblog/flashback_khomeini_s_speech_in">Ayatollah Khomeini</a>? In an open society, conservatives with strong religious beliefs are allowed not merely to exist, but to express their views and to contend openly for office. And they are entitled to criticise their opponents and to alert the public to what they think is wrong with them. None of this is anything like what Senator McCarthy was up to, nor is it what happens in a theocracy. </p> <p>My own view is that advocates of the open society ought to respect their opponents, and to be more prepared than Gara LaMarche shows himself to be, to acknowledge the possibility that it is their opponents, and not they themselves, who are right. For that is what open debate means.</p> <p> <table width=550 cellpadding=5 cellspacing=5 border=0 bgcolor=#99CCcc> <tr><td> <p> </p><p><strong>Further links:</strong></p> <p>Open Society Institute<br /> <a href=""></a> </p> <p>National Association of Scholars <br /> <a href=""></a></p> <p>McCarthyism <br /> <a href=""></a></p> </td></tr> </table> </p><p> </p> Globalisation The Americas institutions & government american power & the world Roger Scruton Original Copyright Mon, 11 Jul 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2666 at Lebanon before and after Syria <p>Some people see the current protests of the Lebanese people against Syrian occupation as the first sign that the middle east is turning in the direction that the Americans intended &#150; towards a widespread democratisation of the political process. If there is any truth in that observation it is this: that the American presence in Iraq has made it impossible for Syria to exercise force, even in Lebanon. </p> <p>The murder of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2347">Rafiq Hariri</a> would have been followed a year ago by widespread repression of popular protest and a phoney investigation designed to pin the crime on some indigenous group. Now it can be openly said that the Syrians did it, that enough is enough, and that Lebanon should be allowed to govern itself &#150; as it did for three decades, far more successfully than any other Arab country. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">Also in <b>openDemocracy</b>: <p>Karim Souaid, &#147;America&#146;s middle east lesson&#148; (November <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2200">2004</a>) </p> <p>Paul Rogers, &#147;Syria, the next target?&#148; (December <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2269">2004</a>) </p> <p>Hazem Saghieh, &#147;Rafiq Hariri&#146;s murder: why do Lebanese blame Syria?&#148; (February <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2347">2005</a>) </p> If you find this material valuable, please consider supporting <b>openDemocracy</b> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation </a></div><p>Indeed, <a href= target=_blank>Lebanon</a> was for a long time the only Arab country in which presidents, prime ministers and ministers succeeded one another without the aid of bullets, and in which ex-presidents and ex-prime ministers lived in peaceful retirement, honoured by successors who did not share their policies. The call for the democratisation of Lebanon is not a call for radical changes of the kind needed elsewhere in the Arab world. It is a call for a return to the <em>status quo ante</em> &#150; to Lebanon before Syria laid hands on it.</p> <p><b>The Syrian version</b></p> <p>Now that the call for Syrian withdrawal can be <a href= target=_blank>heard</a>, however, it is surely right to ask why and how the Syrian troops got there. The Syrian version of events is simple: public order in Lebanon broke down because of rivalry between the sects, leading to civil war, leading to destruction of the institutions of government and destabilisation of the region; Syrian troops were invited in by the Christian president, Suleiman Franjieh, in order to restore order and maintain peace, a noble aim frustrated at first by invasion from Israel, and then gradually achieved, following the Israeli withdrawal, despite obdurate resistance from the Christian militias. </p> <p>This story appeals to left-wing journalists, since it can be given an anti-western and anti-American spin. Moreover (during the dangerous years of President Hafiz al-Assad) no other story was safe to file, by any journalist who wished to travel in the region. During the 1980s <a href= target=_blank>Robert Fisk</a> made his name as a correspondent by repeating the story, scorning all Lebanese and western efforts at a solution to the civil war, and overtly calling on Hafiz al-Assad &#150; that &#147;taciturn, mild man&#148;, as he described him (in the London <em>Times</em>, 5 March 1987) &#150; to assert his authority over his unruly neighbour. </p> <p>Fisk&#146;s outrageously biased reporting in the <em>Times</em>, syndicated to the <em>Irish Times</em> and avidly read by all western diplomats, did much to influence other journalists who visited the region, and also to persuade the western powers that Lebanon had to be relinquished to the &#147;taciturn, mild man&#148; who had ordered the <a href= target=_blank>death</a> of its leading politicans and the massacre of its more inconvenient minorities. There were honourable journalists who drew attention to Syrian crimes and to Assad&#146;s intentions, such as Karl Fefer of <em>Der Stern</em> and Selim Laouzi of <em>Al-Hawadess</em> &#150; but most of them, like those two, are dead, following capture by the Syrians. </p> <p><b>Lebanon&#146;s story</b></p> <p>The version of events that you are likely to hear from the Lebanese themselves is very different. They might begin from the important observation that Syria has refused since 1919 to recognise Lebanese <a href= target=_blank>independence</a>, that even today the charts used to teach geography in Syrian schools show a &#147;<a href= target=_blank>Greater Syria</a>&#148; in which there is no part called Lebanon. They will probably also emphasise the role of the Palestinians, who fled their camps in Jordan in 1970, after shelling from the Jordanian army which killed thousands and drove the rest into Syria. Having armed the refugees, Assad then expelled them into Lebanon, which was obliged by the <a href= target=_blank>Cairo accords</a> of 1969 to offer them hospitality. </p> <p>As the only Arab democracy Lebanon (unlike Jordan or Syria) was in the habit of abiding by treaties, including this one, which conferred <em>droits de cité</em> on the Palestinian camps, so putting them outside Lebanese jurisdiction. Armed gangs of Palestinians could thereafter roam freely in the Lebanese countryside, expressing their anger against a country which in fact had treated them far better than their supposed champions in Syria and Jordan. </p> <p>In 1975, provoked beyond endurance, the Christian militias took bloody revenge by storming the Palestinian camps surrounding Beirut, a crime rightly condemned by the western media, which overlooked, however, the equally serious crimes that had provoked it. In response to the massacre in the camps a unit of the PLO, trained and stationed in Syria, was sent out to the northern town of <a href= target=_blank>Damour</a>, where it butchered 500 Christian civilians, women and children included. Following this and similar carefully staged atrocities Lebanon fell apart, with communities that had lived side by side for centuries dividing along confessional lines. </p> <p>When the Syrian army entered in 1976, Assad was able to claim not only that it was officially invited by President Franjieh, but that its purpose was to safeguard the indigenous population, to unite Christian and Muslim and to suppress the Palestinian brigands. As the Lebanese themselves knew, however, the Palestinians were there at Assad&#146;s instigation, and the fragmentation of the Lebanese communities had been Assad&#146;s purpose from the beginning. </p> <p>One by one the leaders of the communities who refused to accept Syrian occupation were murdered &#150; first <a href= target=_blank>Kamal Jumblatt</a>, inspired leader of the Druze in 1977, then the respected Maronite leader, Bashir Gemayel in 1982. Meanwhile the <em>Shi&#146;a</em> leader, the imam <a href= target=_blank>Musa al-Sadr</a> disappeared in 1978 while on a visit to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya &#150; on whose orders is still a matter of dispute. </p> <p>With the Druze, the <a href= target=_blank>Maronites</a> and the <em>Shi&#146;a</em> &#150; the three truly indigenous communities of the Lebanon &#150; all headless, the Syrians, acting through their <em>Sunni</em> proxies, could begin to impose their will. Moreover, the removal of al-Sadr permitted the imposition of a new and radicalised leadership on the <em>Shi&#146;a</em>: thus was born Hezbollah which, armed and led by Iranian fanatics, began the radicalisation and de-Christianisation of the south. Hezbollah has continued to operate as an <a href= target=_blank>agent</a> of foreign powers &#150; first of Iran and subsequently (following a rapprochement between Iran and Syria) of Syria. </p> <p>The story of the slow takeover of Lebanon by the Syrian army is long and <a href= target=_blank>complex</a>: for some time Iran (through the Hezbollah militia) disputed possession of the Beka&#146;a valley, while Israel occupied a &#147;security zone&#148; along its own northern border. The Christians, systematically massacred or driven from the countryside by radicalised Islamic groups, congregated around east Beirut, which held out for two decades against the Syrian army, before succumbing when the west finally withdrew its by then more or less nominal support. </p> <p>As always, the final surrender of the Christian sector led to the murder of any political figure capable of uniting the Lebanese against the occupiers &#150; including the brutal <a href= target=_blank>assassination</a> of Danny Chamoun together with his young family. This tactic, characteristic of the &#147;taciturn, mild man&#148; who was now in charge, led quickly to the intimidation of the remaining politicians, who would troop into Parliament to say &#147;yes&#148; to the latest decrees, but who would take no decision to restore the sovereignty of their country or to defy their Syrian minders. </p> <p>The death of Hafiz al-Assad and the ascent of his son Bashar to the throne did not change the situation in Lebanon. Syria is a <a href= target=_blank>one-party state</a>, ruled by the Ba&#146;ath party, which has become an instrument for protecting the privileges of the minority sect &#150; the Alawi &#150; to which the Assad family belongs. Without the support of its former principal ally, the Soviet Union, and its brother-in-torture Ba&#146;athist Iraq, Syria is bound to feel <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1152">insecure</a>. Nevertheless, like all totalitarian states, it is heir to an agenda that it cannot easily change, and that agenda involves the extinction of Lebanon as a sovereign entity. </p> <p>The explanation of this hostility to Lebanese independence is twofold. First, there is the general truth that a one-party <a href= target=_blank>dictatorship</a> cannot easily tolerate a democracy as its nearest neighbour, especially when that democracy is its only reliable channel to the wider world. Second, Lebanon is the only fragment of the former Ottoman empire that has made power-sharing between the sects into a political reality, so providing an uncomfortable lesson to a neighbour where a minority sect plays a dominant and exclusive political role. In the light of those two general observations, it seems to me, an impartial observer is more likely to endorse the view of recent events that I have attributed to the Lebanese than the one put about by the late Hafiz al-Assad and <a href= target=_blank>Robert Fisk</a>.</p> <p><b>The confessional state</b></p> <p>On the other hand, it doesn&#146;t matter too much which explanation you accept, provided you are prepared to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Lebanese people and to support them in their attempt to recover their sovereignty and their democratic institutions. Here is where the problems begin, and my only excuse for writing this article is to address a question that is vital, in my view, to the future of the middle east, in the new situation created by the war in Iraq. The question I have in mind is that of the nature and survival of the &#147;confessionalist state&#148;, of which Lebanon was the sole successful example in modern times. Ever since its creation, following the <a href= target=_blank>Sykes-Picot accords</a>, Lebanon has been governed by a constitution based on the principle (taken from French law) of <em>laïcité</em> &#150; according to which all confessions are equal before the law and the law makes no religious demands. Article 9 of the 1926 <a href= target=_blank>constitution</a> holds that: <blockquote>&#147;There shall be absolute freedom of conscience. The state in rendering homage to the Most High shall respect all religions and creeds (<em>madhdhahib</em>), and shall guarantee under its protection a free exercise of all religious rites, provided that public order is not disturbed. It shall also guarantee that the personal status and religious interests of the people, to whatever sect (<em>millah</em>) they belong, shall be respected.&#148; </blockquote></p> <p>So far as I know no other Arab country is governed by a constitution containing such a clause, and it is one whose import is rejected by Islamists and by the &#147;Islamo-progressist&#148; militias that arose in Lebanon during the civil war. It is a clause that reflects the all-important fact that Lebanon, at the time of its creation, had a Christian majority, with the largest of all the sects being the Maronites of Mount Lebanon who, together with their neighbours the <a href= target=_blank>Druze</a>, had already created a quasi-sovereign emirate in Lebanon in the 18th century. </p> <p>This Christian majority &#150; composed of Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Gregorians, Chaldaeans, Protestants and just about anyone else who has had to flee from Muslim persecution to the shelter of Mount Lebanon &#150; was largely responsible for the rebirth of Arabic literature at the end of the 19th century and for the emergence of modern Lebanon as a fully-fledged nation state, with a free press, free universities and a burgeoning intellectual life fed from the creative ties with France. </p> <p>It is worth reflecting on the high culture of modern Lebanon and its largely Christian roots, if only to learn that a large number of Arabs are Christians, that the Arabic revival is not a Muslim phenomenon, and that one of the most important political forces in post-war Arab politics &#150; the pan-Arabism of the original Ba&#146;ath (&#147;resurrection&#148;) movement, which degenerated into the Leninist Ba&#146;ath party &#150; was set in motion by a child of the Christian Enlightenment, <a href= target=_blank>Michel Aflaq</a>, who converted to Islam only at the end of his life, and only by way of reinforcing a commitment to Arabic language, history and identity that he had acquired as a Levantine Christian in Paris. </p> <p>It is thanks to its Christian inheritance that Lebanon was able to accept the principle of <em>laïcité</em>. For freedom of conscience is a Christian speciality, enjoined (according to one plausible interpretation of the Gospels) by Jesus himself. However, in the case of Lebanon, freedom of conscience was at first endorsed by all the sects as the price of remaining together, on terms that would protect them from domination by Syria, and which would safeguard their historical proximity to Europe. </p> <p>Many of the sects had come to Lebanon in search of protection from persecution &#150; the Greek Catholics (<a href= target=_blank>Melkites</a>) of the countryside, for example, and the <em>Shi&#146;a</em> of the Beka&#146;a. Only the <em>Sunni</em> and the Greek Orthodox &#150; dominant sects under the Ottoman empire &#150; were unhappy with the new arrangement. But they were prepared to accept it, recognising the value to them, in the new circumstances, of a long-standing link to Europe. As a result Lebanon developed after the second world war in a way that is not to be observed elsewhere in the Arab world, with a secular rule of law, a free press, free universities and a commitment to international standards in the professions. </p> <p>Syrian domination has more or less extinguished those things, and although the universities (including the famous <a href= target=_blank>American University of Beirut</a>) still function, degrees are more easily obtained by threat than by study &#150; something that is deeply distasteful to the Lebanese, who have been rightly proud of their high professional standards. </p> <p>The confessional state was not established by the 1926 constitution, which simply defines the offices of state and the fundamental law. Confessionalism stems from the &#147;<a href= target=_blank>national pact</a>&#148;, made in 1943, when independence was granted by the Free French. This pact affirmed the constitution, with a few amendments, but allocated the offices of the state according to confession. The pact served in fact as an unwritten constitution &#150; a set of conventions that have no legal authority but which are presupposed by the operation of the entire political process, like the British convention that no bill can become law without the Royal Assent. </p> <p>The pact was struck between the Christian and <em>Sunni</em> leaders of the coastal towns, whose economic dominance and political influence with the French gave them the power (if not the right) to speak for the silent majority in the countryside. The Christians undertook to abandon their exclusive western alliances while the Muslims promised to abandon their pan-Arabist aspirations: both were to turn instead to Lebanon, so as to make it their own. The Lebanese writer and diplomat <a href= target=_blank>Georges Naccache</a> summed up the result in a famous comment: <em>deux négations ne font pas une nation</em> (&#147;two negations do not make a nation&#148;). </p> <p>That comment notwithstanding, in 1943 the idea of a nation-state founded on renunciation seemed both feasible and right. By the convention established by the pact the office of <a href= target=_blank>president</a> is reserved for a Maronite, that of prime minister for a <em>Sunni</em>, that of speaker for a <em>Shi&#146;a</em> and that of vice-speaker for a Greek Orthodox. Each community was accorded a certain number of seats in the national assembly, the minorities (both Christian and Muslim) being represented collectively as a single sect, with a deputy for Beirut chosen from among their number. </p> <p>This strange arrangement was made for a good reason &#150; namely, to allow democratic representation to all the sects, while discouraging them from exerting their power outside parliament. In a region where religion was and remains the most important social fact, it would be folly to allow a sect with a large following to have only a small political influence: for that would provoke the sect into exerting its influence in other ways. This is why the Lebanese experiment is so interesting: it is based on a recognition that religion is an all-powerful force, one that both makes a society and also breaks it. And it derives from the attempt nevertheless to establish a purely secular state, with a universal franchise and offices fairly distributed along confessional lines. </p> <p><b>A new Lebanese compromise</b></p> <p>Pessimists will say that the civil war is proof that such a system will not work. Optimists will counter that the system worked well enough until malicious outside pressure was brought to bear on it from the PLO, Syria and Iran. One thing is certain: only when those pressures are entirely withdrawn will we know whether the Lebanese system can be properly revived. The withdrawal of the Syrian army will be only the first step: the expulsion of the Iranian clergy and their militias must follow, as well as the integration or resettlement of the Palestinians, who still dominate much of the countryside. </p> <p>But there is another factor to bear in mind. At the time when the national pact was struck it is likely that the Christians were in a majority in Lebanon, and that the Maronites were the largest of the indigenous sects. That is no longer true. The <em>Shi&#146;a</em>, with an average birthrate of eight per family, have expanded to become the largest of the sects, while the Maronites have declined through the effect of smaller families and large-scale emigration. Pressures exerted by the Syrians, with the intention of breaking the traditional Christian ascendancy, have effectively extinguished the allocation of seats in the assembly by confession. As a result Hezbollah is now the <a href= target=_blank>largest</a> party in the assembly, since it can count on the block support of the ever-growing <em>Shi&#146;a</em> community. </p> <p>This result has brought consternation to the Christians, who fear that <a href= target=_blank>Hezbollah</a> &#150; a child of Islamist fanaticism and Iranian intervention &#150; is committed to the creation of an Islamic state, and has no patience with the principle of <em>laïcité</em>, on which the Lebanese compromise rests. Nor is this consternation ill-founded. It is doubtful that the 1926 constitution really permits such a party as Hezbollah (&#147;The Party of Allah&#148;), which reveals in its very name that it is not in the business of compromise with the infidel, and is unable to accept the principle set out in article 9 above. Moreover Hezbollah is led by Iranian and Syrian proxies, has struck a deal with the Syrian army that gives it control over the south, and can be relied upon to advocate a continued Syrian presence in the country. Hence it is now dismissing the call for <a href= target=_blank>Syrian withdrawal</a> as merely another act of interference from America. </p> <p>Lebanon illustrates one of the major causes of instability in the middle east, which is demographic chaos, as rural populations expand beyond the resources that can provide for them, and crowd into cities that can provide for them even less, there to fall under the spell of Islamist clergy and terrorist ideologues. (Such, it seems to me, is the story of both <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1146">Egypt</a> and Saudi Arabia in modern times, and the reason for the ascendancy of the <a href= target=_blank>Muslim Brotherhood</a> in the first of those countries, and the <em>Wahhabi</em> clergy in the second.) </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Also by Roger Scruton on Lebanon, <em>A Land Held Hostage: Lebanon and the Wes</em>t (Claridge, <a href= target=_blank>1987</a>)</div><p>The first step following withdrawal of foreign forces would have to be an attempt to bring the sects together once again, so as to negotiate a new national pact that does justice to the demographic realities, and which imposes on the <em>Shi&#146;a</em> a duty to respect the idea of secular government in which Christians, Druze and <em>Sunni</em> have an equal role. Can this be done? And would the result be a model for other middle eastern countries &#150; Iraq in particular &#150; or merely confirmation of Lebanon&#146;s exceptional status? </p> <p>It would be heartening to discover a new breed of middle east correspondents able and willing to ask such questions and to guide us towards an answer: writers prepared to set aside their anti-western and anti-American prejudices, prepared to defy the dictators and the apparatchiks, prepared to recognise the legacy of history and the force of religious conviction, and &#150; who knows &#150; even familiar enough with the French and Arabic languages to understand what ordinary people (rather than the western-trained elites, typified by <a href= target=_blank>Bashar al-Assad</a>) wish to tell them. Such a one was Michel Seurat, who reported from Tripoli during the early days of the Syrian occupation. Seurat was abducted in 1985, tortured in order to discover his sources, and finally murdered a year later, by way of illustrating the general principles to be followed by western correspondents in Syrian-occupied Lebanon.</p> </div></p> Conflict Ideas conflicts faith & ideas middle east the middle east europe & islam Roger Scruton Original Copyright Wed, 09 Mar 2005 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2367 at The power of resentment: a response to Karin von Hippel <p> If the <em>International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security</em> in Madrid to be held on <a href= target=_blank>8-11 March 2005</a> is to make any headway in addressing perhaps the most serious security issue in the world today then it should not, in my view, start from the premises assumed by Karin von Hippel in her <b>openDemocracy</b> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2299">article</a> &#147;Five steps for defeating terrorism&#148;. </p><p> <table align="right" width="220" bgcolor="#99CCCD" cellpadding="10"> <tr><td> <p> In advance of the Madrid summit from 8-11 March 2005, <b>openDemocracy</b> writers <a href="/debates/debate-2-103.jsp">illuminate</a> the relationship between terrorism and democracy: </p><p> <ul> <li> Fred Halliday, &#147;Terrorism in historical perspective&#148; (April <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1865">2004</a>)</li> <li> Chloe Davies, &#147;Democracy and terrorism, a major new debate&#148; (December <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2290">2004</a>) </li> <li> Mary Kaldor, &#147;Safe democracy&#148; (December <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2294">2004</a> </li> <li> Karin von Hippel, &#147;Five steps for defeating terrorism&#148; (January <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2299">2005</a>) </li> </ul> </p><p> To find out more about the Madrid summit visit <a href= target=_blank></a> or <br />register to receive information at <a href= target=_blank><br /></a> </p><p> </p></td></tr> </table> </p><p> </p><p> Karin von Hippel looks for the causes of terrorism in the condition of those who perpetrate it, and lights on such factors as poverty, deprivation, and injustice: &#147;It is hardly surprising that many (ordinary Saudis or Algerians or Egyptians) direct their anger at the United States which often supports their authoritarian and non-representative leaders&#133;If Europe and North America can do more to make good on commitments <em>already made</em> to eliminate poverty, to end civil conflicts, and to promote social inclusion and democratisation where this is required the popularity of terrorists&#133;could begin to wane significantly.&#148; Although the intention is not exactly to blame the United States for the terrorist attacks on it, the implication is that the US is, nevertheless, part of the cause, and that a radical change of US policy towards the &#147;third world&#148; &#150; particularly the middle east &#150; will be part of the solution. </p><p> If you look at the actual condition of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1865">terrorists</a> down the ages, however, you will not easily find the common factor that Karin von Hippel is looking for. Some terrorists have been poor and attempting to find a way out of poverty; some have suffered deprivation of one form or another, or been victims of injustice. But by no means all, and by no means the worst. </p><p> The <a href= target=_blank>Jacobins</a> were for the most part privileged members of the rising élite, impatient for power but also eager to punish. The Russian anarchists of the 19th century were not badly off from the point of view of material and social privileges, and their grievances were more the work of the imagination than the result of either observation of, or sympathy towards, the ordinary people of Russia. This point is brought home not merely by Dostoevsky, Turgenev and others, but also by Anna Geifmann in her detailed <a href= target=_blank>study</a> of the origins of Russian terrorism, <em>Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia, 1894-1917</em> (1995). </p><p> The point holds for many modern terrorists. Even the Irish Republican Army (<a href= target=_blank>IRA</a>), which purports to represent the &#147;oppressed&#148; Catholics of Northern Ireland, is very far from recruiting from those whose oppressed condition it loudly advertises. Membership is a privilege, and the IRA is now one of the most profitable <a href= target=_blank>businesses</a> in the province. There is no evidence that Osama bin Laden&#146;s entourage is any different, and the suggestion that his kind of terrorism arises as a protest against poverty or injustice is laughable. </p><p> <b>The impulse to hate</b> </p><p> It seems to me that we will be nearer to understanding terrorism if, instead of looking at what is common to the condition of the terrorists, we look at what is common to the condition of their victims. The targets of terrorism are groups, nations or races. And they are distinguished by their worldly success &#150; either material or social. The original terror was directed against the French aristocracy &#150; soon supplemented by all kinds of real and imaginary groups supposed to be aiding them. The Russian anarchists targeted people with wealth, office or power. The <a href= target=_blank>great terror</a> of Stalin, initiated by Lenin, was directed against groups alleged to be profiting from the system that impoverished the rest &#150; the <em>kulaks</em>, the bourgeoisie, the agents of capitalist encirclement. </p><p> The Nazi terror picked on the <a href= target=_blank>Jews</a>, because of their undoubted material success, and the ease with which they could be assembled as a group. Even the nationalist terrorists of the IRA and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1791">ETA</a> variety are targeting nations thought to enjoy wealth, power and privilege, at the expense of others equally entitled. And if you want to know why the US has become a prime target for modern terrorists, you only have to look at its lifestyle. Here is the very epitome of material success, that it &#147;had it <a href= target=_blank>coming</a>&#148; or was just &#147;asking for it&#148;, as many of the left say, if only to each other. </p><p> Success breeds resentment in those who envy it, and resentment breeds hate. This simple observation was made into the root of his political psychology by Nietzsche, who <a href= target=_blank>identified</a> <em>ressentiment</em>, as he called it, as the distinguishing social emotion of modern societies: an emotion once ordered and managed by Christianity, now let loose across the world. </p><p> I don&#146;t say that Nietzsche&#146;s impetuous analysis of our condition is correct. But surely he was right to identify this peculiar motive in human beings, right to emphasise its overwhelming importance, and right to point out that it lies deeper than the springs of rational discussion. In dealing with terrorism you are confronting hatred, bred of resentment. This resentment is not concerned to improve the lot of anyone, but only to destroy the thing that it hates. That is what appeals in terrorism, since hatred is a much easier and less demanding emotion to live by than love, and is much more effective in recruiting a following. </p><p> We can all join together in hating someone, far more easily than we can join together in loving him. And when the object of hatred is a group, a race, a class or a nation, we can furnish from our hatred a comprehensive stance towards the world. That way hatred brings order out of chaos, and decision out of uncertainty. Surely that is a better explanation of the process whereby terrorists are recruited than those offered either by Karin von Hippel or <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2294">Mary Kaldor</a>. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p> For insight and understanding into the &#147;war on terror&#148;, don&#146;t miss the weekly <a href="/columns/view-2.jsp">column</a> of Paul Rogers on <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> If you find his analysis insightful and valuable please consider <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">subscribing</a> to <b>openDemocracy</b> for just &pound;25 / $40 / €40. You&#146;ll gain access to easy-to-read PDFs of all our material. </p><p> </p></div><p> This doesn&#146;t mean that the targets of terrorist attacks are always innocent, or that there are no legitimate grounds for resenting them; nor does it mean that there are no changes of policy that might diminish the strength of the hatred or turn it away from the terrorist path. It means only that we should never lose sight of the principal factor, which is that <a href= target=_blank>terrorism</a> is a deliberate act, caused by a human motive. </p><p> The tendency to hate lies in all of us, and can be overcome only by a religious or quasi-religious discipline. And I suspect that one of the most important issues to consider at the Madrid <a href= target=_blank>conference</a> (which therefore will not consider it) is that of the relative effects of the various religions, in diverting resentment away from its natural course or, on the contrary, amplifying it to the point of implacable hatred. This would mean that the conference would have to break the chains of political correctness that hamper Karin von Hippel. It would have to allow itself at least to <em>entertain</em>, if not finally to endorse, the idea that Islam, in the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=69">form</a> invoked by Osama bin Laden and his followers, fails dismally to teach us, as Christianity teaches us, that hatred is a sin. </p><p> </p></div></p> Conflict conflicts europe democracy & terror Roger Scruton Original Copyright Mon, 17 Jan 2005 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2308 at Time to calm down <p> It is clear from Todd Gitlin&#146;s <a href= target=_blank>reporting</a> and Anthony Barnett&#146;s editorial <a href= target=_blank>comment</a> that, in so far as there is an <strong>openDemocracy</strong> &#147;establishment&#148;, it would have voted for the Democratic candidate in the United States election of November 2004. There is absolutely no reason why a publication devoted to exploring and promoting the democratic process should not take sides, and one of the strengths of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> is that, even when it does take sides, it welcomes contributions that disagree with it. </p><p> It is perhaps worth saying, therefore, that in the coverage of this US election the left&#150;wing press has not always behaved in an open and democratic spirit when it comes to describing the opponent. In particular there has been an attempt to summarise the new recruits to the Republican cause in a slogan designed to mobilise hostility and to marginalise the target. I refer to the &#147;Christian fundamentalist right&#148; that is regarded by the left&#150;wing press as such a threat to the freedom and democratic traditions of America, and whose vote is supposed both to have secured the presidency for George W Bush and also is used to condemn that result as, in some way, <a href= target=_blank>illegitimate</a>. </p><p> Slogans are sometimes necessary in politics. However, this particular slogan reminds me of the &#147;Jewish plutocrat bolshevists&#148; against whom Germans were <a href= target=_blank>invited</a> to mobilise their democratic passions in 1933. The purpose is to stir up group antipathies, to replace thought with emotion, and to divide the legitimate nation from the &#147;enemy within&#148;. I don&#146;t doubt that there are people who could be described as Christians, fundamentalists and right&#150;wing &#150; just as there were people around in 1933 who could be described as Jewish plutocrat bolshevists (<a href= target=_blank>György Lukács</a>, for instance). But there are Christians who are not fundamentalists, fundamentalists who are left&#150;wing, right&#150;wingers who are not Christians and so on. The important point which this sloganising has endeavoured to obscure is that America has been and remains a largely Christian country, that many of those who do not live in the east coast cities <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2224">live</a> their lives by the Bible, that many of these in their turn are American patriots with a firm belief in self&#150;determination, private property and old&#150;fashioned marriage, as the right way to pass on your inheritance to your heirs. </p><p> Those positions are all controversial; but they are also all respectable, and have been the foundation of American society since the beginning. American democracy arose out of the Christian inheritance and critics of this inheritance ought to ask themselves why there are so few democracies that do not share it. </p><p> The important point to make, surely, is that the democratic spirit obliges us to respect our fellow human beings, not to the point of agreeing with everything they say or withholding criticism, since criticism too is a form of respect, but to the extent of acknowledging that they too have identities, they too have values and <a href= target=_blank>beliefs</a>, they too have a legitimate say in elections, and they too have a right to prevail. I don&#146;t see much evidence in the left&#150;wing media that this democratic spirit really thrives there, and I would suggest that the true remedy is precisely a dose of what some people would call Christian fundamentalism, which is to stop stereotyping and to learn to love your (right&#150;wing) neighbour as yourself.</p><p> </p> democracy & power The Americas election 2004 Roger Scruton Original Copyright Fri, 19 Nov 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2235 at The hunting debate: a question of democracy <p> Even before the British government of Tony Blair first proposed to ban hunting with dogs in England and Wales <a href="" target="_blank">two years ago</a>, thus provoking massive protest demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people, <strong>openDemocracy</strong> realised that this polarising issue required discussion and dialogue between voices on different sides of the argument. The result was our debate of <a href="" target="_blank">June–December 2002</a>, “Hunting culture – is there a place for hunting in the modern world?” </p> <p> As external editor of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>’s <a href="" target="_blank">Ecology &amp; Place</a> theme, as well as an opponent of the government’s proposal, I was aware that these public differences were reflected inside the <strong>openDemocracy</strong> team. All of us realised and welcomed the fact that this was an asset, not a problem. </p> <p> The extraordinary sight of 400,000 people, many previously unpolitical, converging on London had awoken us to the fact that something of immense significance to our understanding of democracy was occurring on our doorstep. We hoped that as a result of our debate, readers would take a renewed interest in discussions of the democratic process, as this is developing under the impact of <a href="" target="_blank">global markets</a>, multinational corporations and stateless powers. </p> <p> We also felt that the issue required a different kind of engagement from that which the winner–takes–all British political system encourages: one that drew on evidence from history, anthropology, and literature; that looked at questions of democratic principle as well as party–political advantage; and that tried to understand how the passionate feelings on both sides of the conflict reflected the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=687">hunger</a> among people for an honest relationship with those who govern them. </p> <p> In brief, for <strong>openDemocracy</strong> hunting in England was and is an issue of the future as well as the past. </p> <p> We wished, therefore, less to measure the rights and wrongs of a hunting ban than to assess the place of hunting in a modern community, and to visit in a new way the wider themes of “hunting culture” – including man’s relationship to nature, animals, and landscape, the division between city and countryside, and the variations in forms of hunting between cultures and over time. </p> <p> The contributors to the debate included the distinguished anthropologist <a href="" target="_blank">Hugh Brody</a>, the campaigner for hunter–gatherer communities <a href="" target="_blank">Rupert Isaacson</a>, the literary scholar <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=741">Donna Landry</a>, the rural activist and agronomist, <a href="" target="_blank">Graham Harvey</a>, and representatives of the constitutional reform movement <a href="" target="_blank">Charter 88</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">Countryside Alliance</a> in Britain. Discussions of the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=928">Bushmen/San</a> in the Kalahari and the Inuit in <a href="" target="_blank">Nunavut</a> (northern Canada) reflected our perception that the issue had to be understood in a context broader than that of the English countryside. Yet if the issue also seems to be peculiarly English, that is because those who wield power in this country have yet to understand that openness means agreed rules, commanding the allegiance of everyone – including those who make the laws. </p> <p> Indeed, one of the effects of the repeated irruption of the hunting issue onto English streets and front pages is a revived concern that the democratic process should be fair, free, founded in consensus, and limited by a constitution guaranteeing minority rights. People will now be asking themselves whether our unwritten constitution really meets those criteria. They will be wanting to visit the debates initiated by Charter 88, and being continued by many <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2007">others</a> today. Maybe we need something better by way of a constitution than a collective memory of customs too vague to be defined, and too venerable to be tampered with. </p> <p> The controversy over hunting, then, is a signal of the need for a new English political settlement. To understand what its components might be, a 19th century discussion of democratic principle is highly relevant. Four years before his election as MP for Westminster (1865), <a href="" target="_blank">John Stuart Mill</a> warned against the “tyranny of the majority”. If we think of democracy as majority rule, he argued, then “the ruling power may be under the dominion of sectional or class interests, pointing to conduct different from that which would be dictated by impartial regard for the interest of all” (<em>Considerations on Representative Government</em>, <a href="" target="_blank">1861</a>). </p> <p> If Mill had seen the House of Commons in <a href="" target="_blank">2004</a>, he would not have found any need to change that judgment. </p> <p> Mill distinguished between a conception of democracy according to which it is the “government of the whole people by the whole people equally represented” and another conception: “government of the whole people by a mere majority exclusively represented.” Mill looked for an electoral system in which everyone would be represented by someone whom they had voted for. In Britain, no scheme of that sort has ever been implemented, nor has any other been devised against the abuse Mill complained of. </p> <p> However, there have been two safeguards against the tyranny of the <a href="" target="_blank">majority</a>: first, a quasi–constitutional but almost forgotten convention discouraging legislative attack by one section of the citizen body against the non–criminal customs and ways of being of another; second, the constitutional functions of the second chamber, one of which Mill himself saw as being to counter “the evil effect produced upon the mind of any holder of power, whether an individual or an assembly, by the consciousness of having only themselves to consult... A majority in a single assembly..., when composed of the same persons always assured of victory in their own House, easily becomes despotic and overwhelming, if released from the necessity of considering whether its acts will be concurred in by another constituted authority...” </p> <p> These remarks are extremely pertinent to the British government’s decision to ban hunting with dogs. It seems now to be recognised that the official inquiry under <a href="" target="_blank">Lord Burns</a> showed in its 2000 report that there are no grounds for banning hunting that would not apply to most other legal forms of wildlife management and pest–control. Arguments have been presented, both in the expert press and in the popular media, to cast serious doubt on the once popular image of hunting as a “cruel sport” – and the strength of these arguments was recorded in the dramatic shift in public opinion towards the view that hunting should be regulated, but not banned. The government’s own initial legislative proposals recognised this, and were designed to lay the foundations for a system of regulation that would give the best possible deal to the quarry. </p> <p> But the proposals were half–hearted and quickly abandoned. The government has now made use of its majority in the commons both to impose a ban and to bypass the second chamber. In order to do this it has threatened to invoke an obscure piece of legislation – the 1949 <a href="" target="_blank">Parliament Act</a> – which is not only of dubious validity but also expressly designed for national emergencies and matters of such supreme constitutional or political importance as to brook neither amendment nor delay. </p> <p> When a piece of transparently vindictive legislation can be passed without the consent of a second chamber, we have reached the situation which John Stuart Mill warned against. </p> <p> This is the immediate context of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>’s hunting debate – one that reveals it to be an argument not just about England, or Britain, but about democracy itself. We are quite proud of this debate, which brought some new light to issues that are of <a href="" target="_blank">concern</a> to all, and which strove to replace hot vituperation with cool but compassionate concern. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> ecology & place europe hunting culture Roger Scruton Original Copyright Thu, 16 Sep 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 2098 at Delusions of internationalism: David Held's flawed perspective <p>There is much food for thought in <a href=>David Held&#146;s</a> appeal for a new &#147;global covenant&#148;, and readers of <b>openDemocracy</b> will surely be helped by his contribution. We all need to think openly and patiently about the new situation of our world, and about the ways in which we might act together to avert the often discussed, but seldom understood, catastrophes. So I am grateful to Held and <b>openDemocracy</b> for making this new approach so widely available. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">For the <b>openDemocracy</b> debate on David Held&#146;s argument for a new global covenant, go to <a href=<i>Globalisation &#150; Visions and Reflections</a></div><p>If I express some reservations &#150; ones that derive that from a very different standpoint than <a href=>Meghnad Desai&#146;s</a> &#150; this is not because I endorse what David Held calls the <a href= target=_blank>&#147;Washington consensus&#148;</a>; nor is it because I believe that the world can dispense with the kind of global thinking that he has embarked on. It is rather because I believe that there is a hidden premise in his argument that needs to be brought to the surface and examined for its credentials. This is the premise of social democracy itself. </p><p>In the days when the labels &#147;left&#148; and &#147;right&#148; were accepted moves in political debate, it was common for &#147;left-wing&#148; writers to confront their &#147;right-wing&#148; critics with a kind of interrogation: where are you coming from? The result was to dismiss the critics without listening to their arguments. This meant that debates on the left had a tendency to become internal to the leftist camp, so that fundamental items of doctrine &#150; equality, social justice, internationalism and so on &#150; were never properly examined. </p><p>I don&#146;t for a moment suggest that David Held is following in that, by now surely discredited, &#147;left&#148; tradition. Nevertheless, while defining himself in opposition to a supposed &#147;Washington consensus&#148;, he is assuming a consensus of his own. This assumption is one that I question. </p><p><b>A problem of focus</b> </p><p>David Held says that the process of political internationalism (in its current stage of development) began in the immediate aftermath of &#147;formidable threats to humankind &#150; above all Nazism, fascism and the holocaust&#148;. Nowhere in his account is there mention of that other formidable threat to humankind, the Communist International, even though its criminal record is a lot longer than those of Nazism or fascism and extends into <a href= target=_blank>our own time</a>. Nor is there much awareness of the fact that our new situation is precisely the one brought about by the final collapse of the Soviet Communist Party and of the vast machine of oppression it established and controlled. </p><p>Our world is not the post-1945 world that produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the post-1989 world that left the United States the sole remaining superpower, and the country to which all eyes then turned in search of the future. </p><p>Held&#146;s eyes are also turned in that direction &#150; in my view obsessively so &#150; with the result that the entire global situation is mapped out in terms of an alleged &#147;Washington consensus&#148;. All criticism in his argument seems to be fired in that direction, as though the world would set itself to rights, were it not for those self-interested factions at the helm of American government, who are determined to bend the world&#146;s economy to their own profit. </p><p>The version that Held gives of this idea is a sophisticated one, and not everything he says against America is wrong: far from it. But I cannot help thinking that there is a false emphasis here and that the emphasis stems from Held&#146;s desire to cling to the <a href= target=_blank>social-democratic vision</a>, without examining it for what it is worth. </p><p>I entirely endorse the criticisms that he and others have made of the <a href=>World Trade Organisation (WTO)</a> and the near-criminal regime of &#147;intellectual property rights&#148; which has borne so heavily on third-world <a href=>rural economies</a>. But to imply, as he does, that the impoverishment of the third-world countries is a result of the Washington consensus is to come uncomfortably close to an old and surely discredited leftist instinct. Blame Washington, since Washington &#150; alone among the power-centres of the world &#150; is <i>responsive</i> to blame. </p><p>I am reminded of the way in which so many branches of the &#147;peace movement&#148;, during the years of the cold war, would direct their fire exclusively at the western alliance, not necessarily because of a leftist sympathy for the Soviet project, but because of an understandable sense that it is futile to blame governments that permit neither free discussion nor the assumption of blame. </p><p>In just this way Held seems to end up blaming Washington for the dire condition of poor countries today &#150; as though Washington were responsible for the Rwandan genocide, for the massacres in the Congo or <a href=>Sudan</a>, or for the state-propelled environmental disasters in North Korea and <a href= target=_blank>China</a>. Are we really to believe that Zimbabwe&#146;s transition from a food-exporting to a food-importing country is the result of American trade and foreign policy, and has nothing to do with the fact that Zimbabwe <a href=,,15410-1136554,00.html target=_blank>is in the hands</a> of a racist maniac? </p><p>If blame is to be allocated, then to direct it all at America, while exonerating the people, policies and leaders of the poorer parts of the world, is to follow a dangerous path. It entails refusing to view people outside the enclaves of western capitalism as subject to judgment: in other words, refusing to recognise their full humanity. </p><p><b>Three evasions</b> </p><p>It seems to me that David Held&#146;s argument would look very different if it is seen in the light of three issues that social democrats tend to avoid. </p><p>The first is the issue of the free market. Held is right to point out that advocates of free trade and the market economy often lend support to unfair terms of trade. He is right that these unfair terms help to impoverish the countries that are <a href=>most in need of help</a>. The fault, however, is surely not the market economy, but the subsidies that distort it. Most of these subsidies are hidden: infrastructure, technology, education &#150; all offered at public expense to the citizens of the western countries, and none available except through immense private efforts in what used to be called the third world. </p><p>But how can such impoverishment be rectified? The <a href= target=_blank>British empire</a> made an attempt &#150; by building railways and establishing schools, introducing the common law, legal education and access to the highest court of appeal. The expense entailed was calculated (according to &#147;leftist&#148; orthodoxy) to facilitate the exploitation of the imperial territories, but only (according to the &#147;rightist&#148; <a href= target=_blank>response</a>) in the way that such things are always calculated to facilitate the exploitation of the territories where they are instituted, Britain&#146;s own territory included. </p><p>The Washington consensus may be considered a modern equivalent &#150; but the American attempt to introduce economic, legal and political infrastructure into Iraq is immensely controversial in Washington, even among those who have been identified as &#147;conservatives&#148;: witness Francis Fukuyama&#146;s article in the <I>National Interest</i> (<a href= target=_blank>Summer 2004</a>). </p><p>The attempt is also repudiated by David Held, who yet notes the inadequate provision of essential &#147;public goods&#148; (including transport systems and education) in the poorer parts of the world. He differs from advocates of the Washington consensus only in expressing the hope that international institutions, rather than the United States and the economic processes it champions, should take the initiative in providing them. </p><p>But this raises a second question: what grounds does Held have for thinking that international institutions would have the slightest interest in doing so? There are powerful arguments, presented by <a href= target=_blank>Rosemary Righter</a> and many others, for the view that the United Nations acts not as a judge but as a legitimiser of criminal regimes. It has consistently impeded the essential reform without which its ostentatious parading of human rights and international law is little more than a mask: namely, the introduction of local and territorial rules of law &#150; yes, even in places like Iraq and Syria where such things have not been seen since the tyrants and the secret police took over. </p><p>Moreover, in any real emergency, such as the one precipitated by <a href= target=_blank>Saddam Hussein&#146;s</a> invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the UN depends upon the powerful nations to take action, which they will do only if it is in their national interest. In the daily work of global governance the UN acts simply as an unaccountable legislative <a href=>machine</a>, nurturing a corrupt and overpaid bureaucracy. David Held is understandably reluctant to accept the UN in its present form. But what prescription does he have in mind, whereby to reform or replace an <a href=>institution</a> that is regarded with increasing scepticism by the power on which it principally relies to enforce its edicts? </p><p>A third point follows. Held is commendably aware that much of what goes wrong in the world does so because legal order has broken down. What he fails to mention is that international law is without effect in countries which have no rule of law, and treaties of <a href=>human rights</a> are mere chaff where there are no courts to which the citizen can apply for their enforcement. </p><p>The Washington consensus, he suggests, is in the business of imposing American rules and justice. But American &#147;rules&#148; are largely the old rules of common law (itself founded on natural justice), and Americans are aware that international jurisdiction will be meaningless without the internal transformations that enable the people themselves to apply it. Their attempt to introduce legal procedures into the legal vacuum created by the Middle Eastern tyrants is surely commendable in itself, whether or not you think that <a href=>war</a> was the right way to begin it. And you can be against the war in Iraq while recognising that there is no other way to reintroduce the rule of law. </p><p><b>The problem of equality</b> </p><p>Among the many other social-democratic assumptions that demand examination is that of social justice itself. Throughout Held&#146;s argument there seems to be an implied belief that inequality and injustice are the same idea. If John is rich and Mary is poor, then this is an injustice. But what if John has worked hard while Mary has idled? What if John was born in a fertile place, Mary in a desert? What if John has enjoyed the benefits of a long-standing rule of law, while Mary lives among brigands and nomads? </p><p>The root assumption of the social-democratic position seems to be that we should work for equality, since without it there can be no justice. But you can make everybody equal &#150; as <a href= target=_blank>Stalin </a> did in the Ukraine, or Kim Jong-Il does to North Korea &#150; by taking everything away from all of them. You can enforce equality by confiscating the profits of successful enterprises, however honestly and honourably they have pursued their trade. This conception of equality threatens to lead to a state where the people have nothing and the ruling clique takes what meagre profits there are. </p><p>It is undeniable that markets lead to <a href=>inequality</a>. It is undeniable, too, that there are large-scale imbalances and market-failures which ensure that current &#147;free-trade&#148; policies are really no such thing, besides having serious adverse effects on fragile and developing economies. The more naive pronouncements of free-market ideologues &#150; many of whom fail to see that the free market is an ideal type with no actual instances &#150; could lend support to Held&#146;s conclusion that exclusive reliance on the theory of the market is to jeopardise all the fragile compromises on which humanity has hitherto depended for its periods of equilibrium. </p><p>Nevertheless, it must be recognised that a market is not a zero-sum game, in which every benefit achieved by one person imposes a cost on another. Even when constrained by unfair terms of trade, a market, properly conducted, will benefit all participants. Some participants will be rich and others poor, but both rich and poor will be richer than they otherwise might have been. Moreover, there is no injustice in the fact that industrious people have an advantage in the marketplace &#150; just as there is no injustice in the fact that handsome people have an advantage in love or intelligent people in science. </p><p>Still, the argument about global governance and the future of humanity is not really about justice, and it seems to me that matters are greatly confused by importing the old question of third-world poverty into the <a href=>new concerns</a> about political order and international security. </p><p>It is not poverty but wealth that produced Osama bin Laden, and it is the combination of fossil fuels and fossilised religion that has made Saudi Arabia into the crucible of such implacable <a href=>embitterment</a>. Underlying Held&#146;s vision is the image of America as a country made dangerous by its wealth. However the wealth of America is a result of its democratic politics and common-law inheritance. Unlike the wealth of Saudi Arabia, it is the outward sign of an inner freedom. </p><p>The Washington consensus, as described by Held, stems from a belief that the goal of international relations is not social justice, conceived in social-democratic terms as a kind of equality, but social and economic <em>freedom</em>, in which people can obtain a proper reward for their efforts and get the <a href= target=_blank>state</a> and the bureaucrats off their back. </p><p>Those obsessed with equality will often dismiss the pursuit of freedom as irrelevant or counterproductive, believing, with <a href= target=_blank>L.T. Hobhouse</a>, that &#147;liberty without equality is a name of noble sound and squalid meaning&#148;. That is emphatically not the view of Americans &#150; not even of those Americans (who may well be the majority) who reject Held&#146;s &#147;Washington consensus&#148;. </p><p>American-style freedom, true, is not widely available. But that is because its fundamental precondition (and the precondition of a true market economy) is the rule of law &#150; and because the rule of law has been extinguished all over the world, through no fault of Washington, but on the contrary, despite the best efforts of Washington to insist on it. </p></div><table align="right" width="200" bgcolor="#99CCCD" cellpadding="10"> <tr><td> A few highlights from Roger Scruton&#146;s many essays on <b>openDemocracy</b>:<p><ul> <li> Terror and globalisation: Islam outside the state (<a href=>September 2001</a>)</li><p> <li> Immanuel Kant and the Iraq war (<a href=>February 2004</a>)</li></p><p> <li> Tony Blair and the wrong America: a response to Godfrey Hodgson (<a href=>April 2004</a>)</li> <br /></p></ul></p></td></tr> </table> </p><p>I have no solution to the problems that David Held puts before us, yet believe that it is indeed very important to cast one&#146;s thought as widely as he does, in order to see the connections that exist between the many problems that beset us. I offer these criticisms, therefore, in a spirit of respectful dialogue. </p><p>Nevertheless I am certain that the social-democratic consensus assumed by Held is not shared by everyone and is, moreover, largely rejected in the United States &#150; the one country on which, welcome or not as the reality is, everyone depends for positive action. Hence I believe that there can be no new global covenant which is based on assuming such a consensus. </p><p>Personally I am more disposed to trust the old global covenant, enshrined in treaties between <a href= target=_blank>nation-states</a>. After all, in modern times only nation-states have ever achieved what is most needed, which is a stable and territorial rule of law. </p><p> </p> Globalisation europe visions & reflections Roger Scruton Original Copyright Wed, 07 Jul 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 1995 at Tony Blair and the wrong America: a response to Godfrey Hodgson <p> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1832">Godfrey Hodgson</a> is right that the British prime minister Tony Blair and his immediate circle have sought to reshape the constitution of the United Kingdom according to an American paradigm, and right to imply that the paradigm is not merely inappropriate but profoundly incompatible with the day-to-day workings of the country&#146;s parliament. In doing so, however, he misses a crucial point that needs to be emphasised if we are to understand what is really happening. </p><p> The American constitution was developed over a long period of public debate, in which some of the best American minds devoted themselves, in a spirit of public service and patriotic zeal, to understanding their past, with the earnest intention of improving their future. They had pondered the English constitution, whose law and procedures they had <a href= target=_blank>inherited</a>, not in order to discard it, but in order to understand how it worked, and how it might be made to work better. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">Roger Scruton is responding to Godfrey Hodgson's <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1832">article</a>, "A comedy of errors: Tony Blair and America" (April 2004)</div><p> When they advocated the &#147;separation of powers&#148; it was not because they had suddenly captured this notion from the air, but because they had read what John Locke and Montesquieu &#150; themselves patient observers of the English political process &#150; had written on the subject, and come to see how admirable and how difficult an achievement is this one, which had been discovered by the English (like everything else in their constitution) in <a href= target=_blank>&#147;a fit of absence of mind&#148;</a>. The debates around the American constitution contained in <a href= target=_blank><em>The Federalist Papers</em></a> are among the precious achievements of modern political thought, worthy to stand beside Aristotle&#146;s <em>Politics</em> and Montesquieu&#146;s <a href= target=_blank><em>Esprit des Lois</em></a> as profound explorations of what is at stake in politics. </p><p> Anyone contrasting this with the random constitutional thoughts and proposals that emerge from <a href= target=_blank>10 Downing Street</a> today will be astonished at the sheer effrontery of the prime minister and Charles (Lord) Falconer, the head of his department of constitutional affairs. Indeed, the very conjuring of this office in June <a href= target=_blank>2003</a> out of thin air and without consultation is a symptom of what I am referring to. One morning Tony Blair wakes up with the thought that we don&#146;t need a Lord Chancellor. He tells the press that the office of <a href= target=_blank>Lord Chancellor</a> is to be abolished. And that is that. </p><p> The prime minister does not bother to inform the Queen who, like it or not, is head of state. He neglects to mention it to parliament, which after all has no real political standing, now that all business is conducted behind closed doors by the cabinet. As for the public debate that such a gesture would seem to demand &#150; forget it. Nobody is worth debating with, since nobody (apart from the prime minister and his clique) has any power. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Is Tony Blair the dynamic moderniser of Britain&#146;s system of government, or agent of its decay? <strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1709">David Marquand</a>, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1712">John Lloyd</a>, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1723">Tom Bentley</a>, and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1704">Anthony Barnett</a> explore this question in the context of Iraq, the Hutton report, and conflict with the BBC</div><p> I don&#146;t say that the office of Lord Chancellor should at all costs be retained. Maybe the decision is a good one. But maybe it isn&#146;t. The point is that this is the very opposite of the American way of making and reforming a constitution. After all, the office of Lord Chancellor is the oldest in the land, apart from that of the sovereign herself. It is responsible for what <a href= target=_blank>F.W. Maitland</a> regarded, rightly in my view, as the greatest legal achievement of the English: the doctrine of equity and the concept of the trust. This has proved an effective mediator between executive and judicial powers, retaining the barrier between them while allowing sufficient communication across it to prevent overt clashes. All of this &#150; and much more &#150; could and should be said in the course of any proposal for reform. But it wasn&#146;t. </p><p> The same happened recently with the House of Lords &#150; the object of a series of botched and last-minute <a href= target=_blank>reforms</a> that are proposed not at the end of discussion but at the beginning, the discussion being by way of an astonished cry from those who ought to have been, but never were, consulted. We read in the newspaper that Blair and <a href= target=_blank>Lord Falconer</a> are to introduce a new Parliament Act, designed to curtail the delaying powers of the Lords. Who argued for this? When was parliament informed of this? Did the Queen receive any notification? What theory of bicameral government is implied by it? Ask these and all the other questions that will spontaneously occur to a politically minded person and the answer is that there is no answer. </p><p> <strong>What is a constitution for?</strong> </p><p> Some, like the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1704">editor</a> of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> and others involved in Charter 88, will argue that it is the absence of a written constitution in the United Kingdom that permits arbitrary acts of vandalism and endless botched <a href=,9061,825217,00.html target=_blank>reforms</a>. And it is certainly true that, when you have a written constitution, you have to accept the ruling principle that reforms will have to be discussed, justified and made persuasive &#150; usually to a two-thirds majority of those entitled to vote on the matter. </p><p> But the UK&#146;s constitution has been a matter of <a href= target=_blank>convention</a> &#150; of things put <em>beyond discussion</em>, by the slow evolving politics of a nation governed not by decrees but by common law (i.e. law that arises from the judicial resolution of conflicts). This means that a constitutional vandal can change things overnight, without discussing the change with anyone save his immediate cronies, and maybe not even with them (though cronies form a useful mirror, which never reflects the haggard appearance of the one who looks in it). The extraordinary position in which we find ourselves is that it has become far easier to change our constitution than to pass a law! </p><p> This is directly contradictory to the spirit of the American constitution, as this was shaped by the <a href= target=_blank>founding fathers</a>. The whole point of a constitution is that it is difficult to change it, since it is the frame that gives sense to the law. Go on changing it in response to every whim of the ruling clique and you undermine not merely the political process, but the law itself. Every time the cronies change the constitution in order to achieve some coveted legislative result, they erode some part of the citizen&#146;s loyalty, and some part of the law&#146;s ability to govern our conflicts and also to heal them. </p><p> Lord Falconer, speaking in the debate recorded in this month&#146;s <a href= target=_blank><em>Prospect</em></a> magazine, claims that the purpose of the New Labour reforms is to introduce certainty into a constitution that has been culpably vague. In fact the purpose is to remove constitutional obstacles. The Blair-Falconer approach to constitutional reform is to make legislation easier, so that whims can become laws with the minimum of fuss. But the true purpose of a constitution is to make legislation more difficult, so that whims do not become law. The constitution serves as a wall around the law, protecting it from invasion by the interests outside. A proposal for change should be compelled to stand outside the wall for as long as it takes for reasonable people to be persuaded of the need for it. </p><p> When Blair proposes reform, however, it is invariably in order to weaken that wall, so that he and his favoured interests can force a passage through. Hence the prospect of an elected House of Lords, which will have an authority <a href= target=_blank>equal</a> to that of the American Senate, horrifies him. His reforms of the Lords are intended only to remove powers, not to create or endorse them. </p><p> It seems to me, therefore, that while there is truth in the suggestion that Tony Blair and his clique would like to Americanise our constitution, it is also true that they have only the most superficial regard for what the founding fathers were trying to do, and no respect whatsoever for the underlying principles of constitutional reform. If we are to &#147;bring home the revolution&#148;, as Jonathan Freedland has <a href= target=_blank>argued</a>, then let us begin by discussing it at least! </p><p> </p></div></p> Globalisation europe The Americas institutions & government Roger Scruton Original Copyright Wed, 28 Apr 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 1877 at Immanuel Kant and the Iraq war <p> The bicentenary of Immanuel Kant&#146;s death occurred on 12 February 2004. The British media ignored the event, assuming that dead philosophers are of no significance compared with living celebrities. Even the Germans, who are naturally proud of their greatest philosopher, decided that <a href= target=_blank>Kant</a> needs to be made relevant to contemporary issues if he is to be discussed. And the issue chosen was the war in Iraq: would Kant have approved of it? </p><p> The answer given by a range of commentators, from <a href=,,50702,00.htm target=_blank>Antje Vollmer</a>, vice-president of the Green party in the <i>Bundestag</i> (lower house of parliament), to Heiner Geissler, former secretary-general of the Christian Democrat Union, was &#145;no&#146;. <a href= target=_blank>Herfried Münkler</a>, professor at Berlin&#146;s Humboldt University and author of the influential book <i>The New Wars</i>, cited Kant&#146;s idea of an &#147;Order of Eternal Peace&#148; to argue that he would have opposed intervention in the affairs of any other state. </p><p> Kant indeed believed that war can be legitimately embarked on only as a defensive measure, and that pre-emptive attack is not defence. However, circumstances have changed, and I can see good Kantian reasons for the view that the civilised world, faced with the dangers that now confront it, should take pre-emptive measures when dealing with rogue states like Saddam&#146;s Iraq. </p><p> <table width="200" bgcolor="#99CCCD" cellpadding="5" align="right"> <tr><td> <p> How are Kant&#146;s ideas present in the modern world? Read in <b>openDemocracy</b>: <ul> <li>David Held, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=144">&#147;Violence and justice in a global age&#148;</a> (September 2001) <p> <li>David Held & Paul Hirst, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=637">&#147;Globalisation: the argument of our time&#148;</a> (January 2002) <p> <li>Roger Scruton, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=426">&#147;Robert Nozick, anarcho-capitalist&#148;</a> (May 2002) <p> <li>Frank Vibert, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1069">&#147;The new cosmopolitanism&#148;</a> (March 2003) <p> <li>Matthew d&#146;Ancona, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1078">&#147;Life gets serious&#148;</a> (March 2003) </li></p></li></p></li></p></li></p></li></ul> </p><p> </p></td></tr> </table> </p><p> Kant&#146;s political philosophy was developed comparatively late in his life, when his intellectual powers were failing. It is therefore not often studied in depth. But if you start life with powers like Kant&#146;s you can afford to lose a few of them. It is therefore regrettable that commentators focus on <i>Perpetual Peace: a Philosophical Sketch</i> (<a href= target=_blank>1795</a>) &#150; the most lucid of Kant&#146;s political writings &#150; to the exclusion of the detailed account of republican government contained in <i>The Metaphysics of Morals</i> (<a href= target=_blank>1797</a>) and elsewhere. </p><p> A superficial reading of <i>Perpetual Peace</i> suggests that international law, administered by a &#147;League of Nations&#148;, would replace the need for belligerence, and endow each nation with a common interest in settling disputes by negotiation. Wars occur because nations exist in a state of nature vis-à-vis each other; by entering into a League, however, they advance towards a &#145;world republic&#146;, in which national interests are submerged in the common pursuit of legal order. </p><p> This interpretation, when taken together with Kant&#146;s <a href= target=_blank>Enlightenment</a> vision of a humanity guided by reason towards a universal secular morality, might impute two views to Kant. First, that Kant would never endorse war when there is still the possibility of negotiation; second, that he would always assign precedence to international law over national interest whenever the two conflict. </p><p> <b>The contours of reason</b> </p><p> There is always a danger, when reading Kant, of overlooking his profound critique of reason and its <a href= target=_blank>aims</a>. Although he believed that reason is the distinguishing mark of the human condition, and although he upheld the Enlightenment view of our nature &#150; as free beings guided by rational choice &#150; Kant also believed that reason is prone to overreach itself. An example of this is when reason interprets a merely &#145;regulative&#146; idea as a constitutive principle. </p><p> The idea of a world republic is just such a regulative idea. For Kant, it does not indicate a condition that can actually be achieved, but an &#145;Ideal of Reason&#146; &#150; an idea that we must bear in mind, by way of understanding the many ways in which mortal creatures inevitably fall short of it. The principal way in which we fall short is by failing to establish <i>any</i> kind of republic, even at the local level. And Kant is clear that a <a href= target=_blank>League of Nations</a> can establish a genuine rule of law only if its members are also republics. Unless that condition is fulfilled, nations remain in the rivalrous state of nature. </p><p> In a republic, the people themselves are the authors of the laws that govern them, and no official can claim exemption. The members of a republic are not subjects but citizens, bound by reciprocal rights and duties and governed by representative institutions. Although Kant was suspicious of democracy and tolerant of constitutional monarchy, he nevertheless believed that free beings demand accountable government, and that nothing less could enable them to realise their potential. </p><p> Furthermore, we are commanded by reason to treat each rational being as an end and not as a <a href= target=_blank>means only</a>. States in which this command is not obeyed by the rulers, or made impossible to be obeyed by anyone else, are states that violate the moral law. They also fail to conform to the version of the social contract that Kant derived from his vision of morality. Such states are intrinsically illegitimate, which means that their disappearance is good in itself, and the aim and desire of all rational beings. </p><p> This does not mean that the violent overthrow of despotism is justified, since violence has moral costs that may not easily be accepted. Although Kant was a passionate defender of the American and French Revolutions, and even inclined to turn a blind eye to the crimes of the Jacobins, news of the Terror and of the judicial murder of <a href= target=_blank>King Louis XVI</a> horrified him as it horrified his contemporaries. </p><p> Nevertheless, the recourse to international law, he believed, presupposes that members of the League of Nations are republics. If they are not republics, but regard themselves as in a state of nature vis-à-vis other states, then it may be necessary to confront them with violence, in order to prevent them from imposing their will. Of course, the violence must be proportional to the threat, and its aim must be to bring about a lasting peace. But war conducted for the sake of peace was, for Kant as for his predecessors in the &#145;just war&#146; tradition, a paradigm of legitimate belligerence. </p><p> <b>Republic and despotism</b> </p><p> Suppose, then, the following case. We are confronted with a state that is manifestly despotic, which is neither a republic nor a law-abiding member of the League of Nations, in which people are denied elementary rights and in which crimes are regularly committed by the ruling power. It is a manifest threat to peace, has invaded neighbouring states without cause, has committed genocide against its own minorities, and seems determined to advance its own interests, whatever the costs to others. The state nevertheless claims a voice in the League, endeavouring to influence policy and international law in order to perpetuate and enhance its power. </p><p> Suppose also that there is a larger power, which is a republic anxious to spread republican government around the world, motivated perhaps by some version of the Ideal of Reason that Kant puts before us in <i>Perpetual Peace</i>. </p><p> Suppose that this larger power is confident that it can destroy the despotic state with only minimum harm to its people &#150; less harm than they would suffer were the despotism to remain in place. </p><p> Suppose that, by doing this, there is hope of planting the seeds of republican government in an area of the globe where until now only despotism or empire have held sway. </p><p> Suppose that the republic goes to war intending not to possess the territory or resources of the despotic state, but with the intention of creating the conditions in which its people can decide for themselves on their form of government. </p><p> Suppose that its intention in doing so is to create the conditions of lasting peace in a region of the world where peace is constantly being jeopardised by tyrants and fanatics. </p><p> Suppose all this, then ask Immanuel Kant the question: would it be right for my hypothetical republic to go to war against my hypothetical despotism? He would be compelled by his own principles to say &#145;yes&#146;. </p><p> There is no question of having to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction, or anything else beyond the known facts about the despotism&#146;s past behaviour. The only question is the extent to which my hypothetical examples correspond to the actuality of Saddam&#146;s Iraq and the actuality of the United States. I think the parallel is sufficiently close. The US is of course not a fully achieved republic in Kant&#146;s sense &#150; but as Kant would have been the first to admit, nothing created from the crooked timber of humanity is a fully achieved anything, still less an instance of what is, after all, an Ideal of Reason. </p><p> ------------------ </p><p> Have you clicked through from <a href= target=_blank><i>Arts & Letters Daily</i></a>? Welcome! Why not look at what the rest of <b>openDemocracy</b> has to offer? Click <a href= target=_blank>here</a> </p><p> </p> Conflict Ideas conflicts faith & ideas europe The Americas iraq: philosophy in war Roger Scruton Original Copyright Thu, 19 Feb 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 1749 at Eating the world: the philosophy of food <p> What single factor connects the following features of the contemporary world? <ul> <li>the clearance of the rain forests </li><li>the desertification of the grasslands </li><li>soil erosion caused by <a href= target=_blank>deforestation</a> </li><li>the loss of boundaries and intensification of agriculture </li><li>the accumulation of <a href= target=_blank>landfill sites</a> </li><li>the pollution of the landscape by non-biodegradable waste </li><li>the destruction of the high street and the town centre by the out-of-town supermarket </li><li>the escalation in food miles, to the point where food may consume its own weight in fossil fuels before arriving on the supermarket shelf </li><li>the spread of fast food and the culture of <a href= target=_blank>fast food</a> </li><li>the disappearance of the family meal </li><li>the pauperisation of the small farmer </li><li>the growth of genetically-modified organisms (<a href= target=_blank>GMOs</a>) and patented crops </li><li>the use of World Trade Organisation (<a href= target=_blank>WTO</a>) rules on &#145;trade-related intellectual property rights&#146; to obliterate local food economies </li><li>the increasing obesity of populations in wealthy countries, to the point where obesity is in some places the leading cause of premature death </li><li>the aesthetic pollution of our historic townscapes by the logos and facades of the fast-food chains </li><li>the disappearance of the <a href= target=_blank>village shop</a> and the <a href=!OpenDocument target=_blank>local market</a>. </li></ul> </p><p> <b>The coils of species-memory </b> </p><p> Behind all those widely mourned developments lies one four-letter word: food. The place of food in the moral, political and monetary economy has changed radically in the last fifty years. The result has been a vast and potentially catastrophic loss of equilibrium. </p><p> Global food producers &#150; who can move from country to country, acquiring land, importing agricultural machinery and fertiliser, and selling their products in the global market &#150; pose a threat to the environment of an unprecedented kind. </p><p> Global food distributors &#150; who can descend like <a href= target=_blank>WalMart</a> on the periphery of any town anywhere in the world, with a tempting array of cheap food wrapped in plastic &#150; pose a threat to local economies and lifestyles comparable to that posed by a tribe of belligerent invaders. </p><p> Those vast disequilibriating forces did not come about because someone planned them. They arose by &#145;an invisible hand&#146; out of developments in international trade, agricultural technology and food processing that have occurred since the end of the second world war. </p><p> Nevertheless, there has been little or no effort from the political elites of the western world to come to terms with, still less to moderate, their adverse effects. Moreover, the perceived indifference of these governments to forces which are not merely changing every aspect of the life of people in the west but also impacting on lives and environments all over the globe, is one reason for the growing movements of protest against the global economy. </p><p> The least that can be said is that we need to re-examine food, in all its aspects &#150; economic, social, moral, spiritual &#150; if we are to understand either this global economy or the environmental problems that are now afflicting it. As <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1162">Ian Christie</a> has indicated, the Ecology & Place strand will be examining &#147;the tensions at work in modern political life concerning the production and consumption of food, the connections between food and the environment, and the cultures of food that illuminate differences in values and outlooks around the world.&#148; </p><p> Paradoxically, at the very moment when food ought to be at the top of the political agenda, it is slipping rapidly to the bottom of the ordinary budget in western democracies. Until the later decades of the 20th century, food was the leading item of family expenditure in western countries, occupying over 50% of the budget. Now, a sign that a country is still a &#145;developing&#146; country is that its people have to devote the major part of their budgets to furnishing food for the family table. </p><p> Of course, the use of the word &#145;developing&#146; now has an antiquated air, for precisely the reason that we are beginning to see the enormous social and environmental costs of what was once known as &#145;development&#146;, and are reluctant to wish the rest of the world to &#145;catch up&#146; with a condition that, in some frames of mind, looks less like plenty than excess. </p><p> Still, there is a seeming inevitability in the changes that we have witnessed. We need to examine just what else has changed, now that food is available at so little cost, with minimum exertion, and with scant attention to the time, place or ceremony with which it was once consumed. </p><p> That the change is a momentous one should not be doubted. The hunter-gatherers whose genetic make-up we inherit devoted all their energies to getting food. Labour, danger, stress and companionship attended their provisioning. Having secured their meal through their shared hardship, it is hardly surprising if our ancestors consumed it in a common ceremony, with rejoicing, affection, and gifts to the gods. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">The change from hard-won to take-away diet (from game to play) has changed the spiritual as well as the social complexion of humanity.</div><p> That experience of food lies buried within us, and the species-memory of it will influence our conduct however much we wish to grow out of our genes. Hence the change from hard-won to take-away diet (from game to play) has changed the spiritual as well as the social complexion of humanity. </p><p> <b>Animals feed, people eat</b> </p><p> Those thoughts remind us that eating, for us, is not what it is for the other animals. A person&#146;s encounter with food may be an occasion of festivity and celebration; it may also be deeply unsettling, compromising and humiliating. It can even be (for the Christian) a petition for divine forgiveness and an avenue to redemption. Eating has in every traditional society been regarded as a social, often religious, act, embellished by ritual and enjoyed as a primary celebration of membership. Food has therefore become part of the self-consciousness of humanity, and differences in diet often reflect far-ranging differences in the rhythm, ethos and expectations of competing lifestyles. </p><p> Indeed, the difference between humans and other animals is never more vividly to be witnessed, than in their contrasting attitudes to food. Animals feed, while people eat. This distinction (between <i>fressen</i> and <i>essen</i>) is one on which Leon Kass has meditated at length in his eloquent book, <a href= target=_blank><i>The Hungry Soul</i></a>. </p><p> Kass concludes that rational beings defy their own nature if they regard food purely as fuel for the body and not also as a moral and spiritual challenge. Rational beings are nourished on conversation, taste, manners and hospitality, and to divorce food from these practices is to deprive it of its true social significance. </p><p> The special relation of people to their food finds emblematic expression in the <a href= target=_blank>face</a>. Human beings have neither claws nor fangs. They do not eat by pressing their mouth to their food, but by raising their food to their mouth, which is the organ of speech and therefore of reason. The mouth is the centre of the face, and it is in the face that the human person is most immediately encountered, in the form of looks and glances, smiles, grimaces and words. </p><p> People therefore place their food into their mouths with special care, usually by means of instruments that create a distance between the food and the face, so that the glance, the smile and the self remain visible while eating. The instruments of choice in African society are the fingers, and we will be carrying an interesting account of the way in which this practice shapes not just the meal that is eaten, but the social outlook of those who eat it. </p><p> People rejoice less in filling themselves than in the sight of food, table and guests dressed for a ceremonial offering. Their meals are also sacrifices, and anthropologists have occasionally argued that the origin of our carnivorous ways lies in the burnt offerings of ancient ritual. Only rational beings make gifts, and it is the giving of food, usually as the central episode in a ceremony, that is the core of hospitality, and therefore of those actions through which we lay claim to our home and at the same time mutely apologise for owning it. </p><p> (Cat lovers may dispute that sentence, believing that their favourites bring gifts of mouse, frog and lizard into the house. But those would be gifts only if the cat, in surrendering them, simultaneously affirms and relinquishes a right of ownership. That is not something that can be accomplished, by a creature that lacks the concept of a right.) </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Our eating is motivated occasionally by need, but also by a love of superfluity that causes us to rearrange our world and to engage in ceaseless experiment. </div><p> We are unique among the animals, or nearly so, in our omnivorousness. Our eating is motivated occasionally by need, but also by a love of superfluity that causes us to rearrange our world and to engage in ceaseless experiment. At the same time we bind ourselves in laws &#150; such as the dietary laws of <a href= target=_blank>Leviticus</a> &#150; which reinforce the idea of food as a spiritual commodity. </p><p> Vegetarianism can be seen as an attempt to recuperate this idea, by reintroducing a conception of dietary sin. We will debate this idea with the publication of an important article by <a href= target=_blank>Steve Sapontzis</a>. Omnivorousness, in the human species, is the result of reason; so too is the refusal to be omnivorous. </p><p> <b>The staple and the exotic</b> </p><p> All these facts underline the depth and complexity of our relation to the things we eat. The global economy has made available food from other places, other cultures &#150; even other times. In experimenting with these foods we may at first regard them as &#145;exotic&#146; &#150; orientalising them, as <a href= target=_blank>Edward Said</a> might put it, in order to keep them at a distance from our sacred ways. </p><p> As Ben Rogers points out, in his intriguing book on the British cult of the Beefeater &#150; <a href= target=_blank><i>Beef and Liberty</i></a> &#150; the repudiation of foppish foreign foods, and in particular the &#145;kickshaws&#146; (French <i>quelquechoses</i>) with which the aristocracy defaced their tables &#150; was a fundamental part of the building of British identity in the 18th century. But it needed a determined effort of patriotic propaganda to hold the superior cuisine of France at bay, and at the very moment when beef was being promoted as the cause and effect of our yeoman virtues, the English were becoming increasingly dependent on coffee, sugar and tea. </p><p> Indeed, if there is, now, a national dish that unites the Scots, the Welsh and the English under a common British identity, it is the <a href= target=_blank>&#145;nice cup of tea&#146;</a> that saw us through the days of bombs and rationing and which testifies to nothing so much as to the fact that our diet has depended for two centuries or more on imports from India. The Roast Beef of Old England may have been a rallying cry in Fielding&#146;s London. However, as Dan Zinder remarked in his article <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1163">Hard Tack</a> the Tandoori restaurants will be remembered with greater affection by the troops in Iraq. </p><p> Indeed, no food is more replete with the moral dilemmas of our time than rice. Once &#150; and in some parts of the world, still &#150; a staple diet, it illustrates the rôle of staples in shaping the rhythms, postures and culture of the people who consume them. <a href= target=_blank>Rice</a> became a symbol of fertility, a religious icon and also an abundant source of imagery and metaphor in the art and literature of China. It also shaped the landscape in a way that can be compared with the effect of cattle-farming on the landscape of England. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Rice changes its perceived character, in accordance with global pressures and demands, ceasing to be a gift of God and becoming instead a patented human artefact. </div><p> But, like every staple, rice both feeds those who depend on it and also endangers them. The Irish know this to their cost, the <a href= target=_blank>potato famine</a> being perhaps the single most important and identity-forming event in modern Irish history. In the case of rice, however, it is not merely the possibility of crop failure that threatens: there is the new threat of patents and GMOs which, between them, could make local communities depend less on the crop that they grow than on the monopoly owner of its genes. The preliminary skirmish over <i>basmati</i> rice, as French anthropologist <a href= target=_blank>Denis Vidal</a> will explain for us, heralds greater conflicts to come, as rice changes its perceived character, in accordance with global pressures and demands, ceasing to be a gift of God and becoming instead a patented human artefact. </p><p> Although food is a necessity, it is seldom if ever treated as such by the culture that grows around it. In all societies, food is represented and re-presented as a luxury, an ornament, an invitation to excess. This is particularly so in those societies, like ours, which enjoy a superabundance of dietary alternatives. But it is true also of societies that exist on the verge of want and which for that very reason may need to compensate for the monotony of some staple energy-giving food with the sauces and savours that relieve its uniform taste. African, Arabian, Persian and Indian foods have all seized the imagination on account of this need. </p><p> And the art of embellishing and presenting food reveals again the distinction between human and animal appetite. Our food is an assemblage not of nourishment only but of meanings. The gourmet is simply the extreme example of the normal human, who desires not just to consume food but to understand it, to rescue its significance before it is carried away. We savour taste; but we also savour the locality, the community and the sense of human possibilities with which a taste may resonate. </p><p> <b>Mrs Beeton versus Elizabeth David</b> </p><p> This explains one of the most remarkable phenomena that we hope to consider in our series: the cookery book. There are ancient examples, such as the Roman manual of <a href= target=_blank>Apicius</a>. And there are records of feasts in the Alexandrian Athenaeus and the Roman Petronius which indicate the levels of finesse, of grossness and of sheer effrontery to which ancient cooks aspired. </p><p> However, the old manuals were designed for professional use and written by those who were to devote their lives to the kitchens. The modern cookbook is written with the ordinary person in mind and is the product of enormous social changes which made the low-budget household central to the scheme of things. These social changes caused and were also partly caused by <a href= target=_blank>Mrs Beeton</a> (whose book was published when she was but 24 years old &#150; she died in child-bed a few years later). </p><p> Things have moved on since Mrs Beeton&#146;s day, as the ordinary low-budget household has become more wayward, more individual and more nomadic &#150; has ceased, in other words, to be a household in the traditional sense of the term. <a href= target=_blank>Elizabeth David</a> set a new fashion. She was the wandering romantic cook, in rebellion against the classical stay-at-home, introducing the food of other places along with the associated history and culture. </p><p> Mrs Beeton&#146;s book is called <i>Household Management</i> and accompanies every recipe with a price tag. David&#146;s books are called <i>French Country Cooking</i> and the like, and form part of the intellectual tourist trade. Mrs Beeton still treats food as the primary instrument of survival; Elizabeth David sees it as a sphere of choice and experiment &#150; a leisure concern. She is in conscious rebellion against the Roast Beef of Old England, wandering in search of a sophistication that she does not find at home and which she seeks to wave at us like a flag of defiance. And in doing so she treats food as a door into the locality that produces it, the key to the spiritual and emotional impact of a place, a community and a form of social life. </p><p> The same attitude, set against the clash between Parisian luxury and dour puritan manners, animates Izak Dinesen&#146;s famous story of <a href= target=_blank><i>Babette&#146;s Feast</i></a>, now one of many films (<a href= target=_blank><i>La Grande Bouffe</i></a> being the extreme example) in which eating is the central action, and in which the face is studied under the magnetic impact of food. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Food is the place where the needs of the body and the needs of the soul converge, to offer nourishment and meaning in equal measure.</div><p> All such developments serve once again to emphasise the fact that food is the place where the needs of the body and the needs of the soul converge, to offer nourishment and meaning in equal measure. If there is to be criticism of the fast-food culture it surely lies here: that it denies our need for meaning, not merely by addressing appetite alone, not merely by its bland uniformity of presentation, content and aesthetic, but by its conscious detachment from place, community and ceremony. </p><p> In the fast-food culture food is not given but taken, which is one reason why, in such a culture, nobody is either properly &#145;at home&#146; in the manner of Mrs Beeton, or properly abroad in the manner of Elizabeth David. The solitary stuffing of burgers, pizzas and &#145;TV dinners&#146;; the disappearance of family meals and domestic cooking; the loss of table manners &#150; all these tend to obscure the distinction between eating and feeding. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">It is food devoted to the production of a new human type, for whom place, time and community are losing their significance. </div><p> Fast food has broken free from spiritual life, to become a negation of those identity-forming traditions which make national foods and local foods so important to those who have lived with them. It is food devoted to the production of a new human type, for whom place, time and community are losing their significance. There can be no more vivid symbol than this of the global food economy and what it does, not just to people&#146;s budgets but to their sense of themselves. </p><p> <b>The taste of ideas</b> </p><p> <i>Man ist was man isst</i> &#150; you are what you eat. <a href= target=_blank>Feuerbach&#146;s</a> famous saying, which for obvious reasons sounds better in German than in any other language, is in fact the root idea in the philosophy of food. In his amusing and highly selective survey &#150; <i>Le ventre des philosophes</i>, facetiously subtitled <i>critique de la raison diététique</i> &#150; <a href= target=_blank>Michel Onfray</a> has shown that food has occupied a central place in philosophical thinking since classical times. <a href= target=_blank>Diogenes&#146;</a> gesture of defiance towards the artifice of human wisdom culminated in a diet of raw flesh and creepy-crawlies; <a href= target=_blank>Rousseau&#146;s</a> search for a human soul (and therefore a human body) uncorrupted by artifice and the snares of society resulted in a namby-pamby advocacy of dairy produce; Fourier&#146;s ideal human community from which conflict and envy will finally be banished required an élite of &#145;gastrosophes&#146;, devoted to rearranging the digestive tracts of the new human type. </p><p> Each philosopher who has thought about food at all, has tried to establish a diet that will transmit the essentials of his thinking by means of the stomach, so re-shaping our thoughts from below, so to speak, without the trouble of rational debate. You may not understand the arguments, but just try the diet. </p><p> <b>Of wine and waistlines</b> </p><p> We should therefore praise <a href= target=_blank>Plato</a> for the beautiful <a href= target=_blank><i>Symposium</i></a>, in which the old proverb &#145;wine and truth&#146; (<i>oinos kai aletheia</i>; <i>in vino veritas</i>) is vividly dramatised, and the two uses of the mouth &#150; to ingest the physical and to express the mental &#150; are brought into momentary harmony, as in an erotic kiss (which is the true subject-matter of the dialogue). </p><p> And full marks to <a href= target=_blank>Kant</a> for a lifelong love-affair with wine, which affected his thought as much as his social life, and which was the only respect in which he departed from the iron rails of pietistic virtue. His weakness for Médoc, which is not a weakness at all but a strength, endears Kant to your editorial team, all descended from long lines of dipsomaniacs. </p><p> It also gives us the cue to another of our themes: the ingestion of intoxicants; the concepts of permissible and impermissible drugs, of addiction and dependency; and &#150; arising out of these things &#150; the new attempt by governments and regulators to police our diet, not in order to punish us, but in order to prevent us from punishing ourselves. &#145;There is no respectable reason for wishing not to be fat,&#146; wrote <a href= target=_blank>Evelyn Waugh</a>, in an advertorial written for the now defunct wine-merchant Saccone and Speed. </p><p> Almost nobody now would agree with Waugh: and yet there is an important truth lurking in his words. There are people who dedicate their lives to dieting. But we do not admire them for it: on the contrary, we regard them as medical cases, candidates for help. Of course you should avoid excess. But temperance (as it was traditionally known) is not the same as dieting. <a href= target=_blank>Temperance</a> is a way of keeping the body at a distance; dieting is a way of living with the body on intimate and obsessional terms. It is a kind of negative greed. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">To those who reply that fat people die younger, Waugh would have replied, &#145;well done them&#146;. </div><p> Likewise there are people who dedicate their lives to exercise &#150; the fitness buffs who spend their evenings jogging and their mornings in the gym. But is there not something narcissistic about their obsession, just as there is about anorexia &#150; a sense that all this trouble is aimed at one thing only, namely me? Waugh&#146;s protest on behalf of normal middle-aged spread was really an injunction to live on easy terms with the body, so as to be able to forget about it. To those who reply that fat people die younger, Waugh would have replied, &#145;well done them&#146;. </p><p> All this reminds us that the cult of dieting occupies religious territory and is competing for attention with older traditions based on the acceptance of decay and death. At the heart of the contest between creature comforts and the health police, therefore, is a deeper dispute about the nature and the destiny of our species. </p><p> We hope that some of our contributors will engage with this deeper dispute, and give comfort to <a href= target=_blank>your editors</a> as they drink themselves into a tolerant stupor. </p><p> </p></div></p> ecology & place Globalisation food without frontiers Roger Scruton Original Copyright Wed, 14 May 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 1224 at American intention, to liberate not to enslave <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It is 12 January 2003 and US president Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first war of the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with. </div> </div> </div> <p>When assessing US foreign policy it is important to remember that America has often intervened around the globe, and is unique in seeking instantly to withdraw thereafter.</p><p>It withdrew from Europe after the two world wars, and from Korea, Japan, and (wrongly) Kuwait and Iraq last time round. The Americans tried to withdraw from Vietnam, having established what they believed to be a friendly regime in the South. Of course, the Americans do not withdraw, as a rule, until securing a settlement in their own favour. But such a settlement, they believe, will be one in which the people of the countries involved have acquired the right to elect their own governments. It is very difficult to object to a policy of intervention, when the intention is not to enslave a foreign people, but to liberate them.</p><p>Of course, Americans are bluff optimists, often insensitive to history, to local culture, to traditional allegiances and to the balance of power. This may mean that things are less stable after an American intervention than before - as was Europe after Woodrow Wilson’s input into the Treaty of Versailles.</p><p>But compare the Soviets in Ethiopia and North Yemen, in Eastern Europe or the Baltics; compare the Chinese in Tibet or the Syrians in Lebanon.</p><p>The vices of the USA are always before us; but the virtues are not sufficiently remembered.</p><p>America attracts blame because it responds to blame. Criticism of the Soviet Union was always met with a blank wall of indifference, and in any case could not be publicly voiced within the Soviet Empire itself. Hence, during the Cold War, the US was continually singled out as the source of conflict - notably by people on the Left, who often turned a blind, or at any rate myopic, eye, as did Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm to name but two, to the incredible and still unatoned-for crimes of the Soviet Communist Party.</p><p>With tyrannical regimes there is no point in criticism from outside, and death or imprisonment is the reward of criticism from inside. That is why intellectuals brought up under tyrannies end up in the USA. It is the one place where they can criticize freely, not just the countries they have fled from, but the country which has offered them refuge. In the face of virtues like these, the Chomskian and Pilgerish criticisms of US foreign policy begin to look, to say the least, one-sided.</p><p>US foreign policy isn’t always right. But it emerges from a rational process - one in which criticism is permitted, and accountability assumed. The foreign policies of North Korea and Iraq issue from no such rational process: which is one reason for using force in order to prevent them from issuing at all.</p><p>Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003<strong>&nbsp;</strong><a href="">Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1</a>.</p><p>See also <a href="">Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 2</a>.</p> Writers, artists and civic leaders on the Iraq war iraq: war or not? conflicts Middle East Conflict Roger Scruton Sun, 12 Jan 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 61856 at Fox-hunting, homosexuality, and protest: a rejoinder to Adam Lent <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=509">Adam Lent</a> has impressively clarified, and also developed, his position. I see that <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=502">I was wrong</a> to think of his reference to those youthful protest movements of thirty years ago in terms of my own recollection of 1968. <p> I think we agree on the crucial difference between movements of ideologically-motivated &#145;protest&#146;, and movements that represent the perceived interests of people who are trying to protect themselves and who are not in the habit of protesting (since protesting is, for them, a real financial, social and moral cost). If I failed to mention the anti-communist movements in Eastern and Central Europe, it was perhaps because they represented my own excursion into the realm of ideological &#145;protest&#146;. </p><p> Nevertheless, my point stands, that movements among ordinary people in defence of their interests are much rarer, and much more serious, than those promoted by the protesting classes. And the protesting classes often hold back from supporting them &#150; as in the two cases I mentioned, of the proposed nationalisation of the church schools in France, and the proposed criminalisation of fox-hunting in Britain. </p><p> As to the question of gay rights and the rights of fox-hunters, it is surely reasonable to point out that gay sex was <i>removed</i> from the register of criminal offences in 1967 &#150; a decision that I entirely applaud. The question is whether fox-hunting should be <i>added</i> to the register of criminal offences. If anybody proposed to make homosexual activity once again into a criminal offence then yes, I would campaign vigorously against this. And my voice would be all the more important, in that I have serious and increasingly unfashionable moral reservations about homosexuality. </p><p> By speaking of the &#145;right&#146; of foxes not to suffer, as though the issue about hunting were one of a conflict of rights, rather than one of civil rights versus moral disapproval, Adam obscures the parallel. To me, it is as outrageous to propose the criminalisation of hunting as it would be to propose the (re-)criminalisation of gay sex. I say this not because I take a different line from Adam over &#145;animal rights&#146; (though I do), but because I believe that hunting and homosexuality are both fundamental to the lives of the people who engage in them &#150; even if incommensurable in so many other ways. </p> ecology & place Globalisation politics of protest hunting culture Roger Scruton Original Copyright Tue, 15 Oct 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 687 at When is a 'popular protest' popular? &#145;Thirty years ago,&#146; writes <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=506">Adam Lent</a>, &#145;the industrialised world was swept by a wave of youthful movement activity that encompassed women&#146;s liberation, gay and lesbian rights, anti&#150;racism, radical social reform and revolution. Today a worldwide movement demands all these things once again in the new context of globalisation.&#146; <p> I studied those sentences for some time before grasping what they really mean. In Lent&#146;s view of the world, today&#146;s favoured left&#150;wing causes animated the street revolutions of the 1960s, and these same causes have now been translated into a worldwide protest movement against global capitalism, as promoted by the <a href= target=_blank>World Trade Organization</a> (WTO). And I sense here the same wishful thinking that I witnessed in May 1968 in the streets of Paris. The <i>soixante&#150;huitards</i> believed that, because they were united against the &#145;bourgeoisie&#146;, they were united in their goals. And because they were united in their goals, their goals formed a unity. They were wrong on both counts. </p><p> First, the enemy was a fiction. The &#145;bourgeoisie&#146; was invented precisely for the purpose of unifying the sources of social discontent. Without this literary fiction, to which almost every French intellectual from Molière to Foucault has contributed some decorative touch, the revolution of 1968 would have appeared for what it was, as a carnival of transgressions. </p><p> To be united against a fiction is not to possess any real unity of political purpose. On the contrary, it is to lose sight of the fact that <i>political</i> unity comes through negotiation, compromise and law. It comes about when people &#145;agree to differ&#146;. This agreement to differ is the essence of constitutional government, and the real source of political unity in Western societies. </p><p> The bourgeoisie was re&#150;imagined in 1968, precisely in order to replace negotiation and compromise with a shared anger. And shared anger, being nourished in imagination, does not survive the moment of reality. This fact has been proven again and again by the revolutionary movements of the 20th century, each of which, on achieving power, has been destroyed by internal conflict, leaving the worst in charge. </p><p> Secondly, the goals were neither unified nor internally consistent. The situationists embraced this happily, in a spirit of Rimbaudian <i>je m&#146;enfoutisme</i>. But theirs was an opt&#150;out philosophy, both <i>paresseux</i> and <i>parasite</i>. The official causes &#150; not those causes that Lent, with hindsight or blindsight, imports back to a period which I suspect he did not live through, but those causes which were most fervently proclaimed &#150; were blatantly contradictory. Freedom of the individual, but also destruction of the judiciary; liberation from the &#145;structures&#146;, but also state control of economic life; no more private property, but nevertheless each person with his private and protected space. </p><p> The contradictory nature of those demands has been so clearly demonstrated by recent history that it is perhaps not necessary to find the proof of it in the writings of the Austrian economists and the English and American Burkeans. But that is incidental to the main point that I want to make. </p><p> The fact is that 1968 was not a movement of the masses. It was a movement of the &#145;protesting classes&#146;: intellectuals, state functionaries, students, trade union leaders, and others for whom the language of protest harmonised with their preferred form of life and who really, when all is said and done, ran little risk in giving voice to it. The few workers who joined in were quickly disgusted by the violence and the absurdism, as well as by the contempt for law and property. (I vividly remember the appalled response of a striking worker from the Renault car factory, on seeing a gang of students set light to a car &#150; that car might have been his!) </p><p> It is in the nature of the protesting classes that they are moved more by ideas than by real and threatened interests. That, I believe, is why they count as &#145;pro&#150;active&#146; in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=505">Tim Jordan&#145;s</a> sense. Their activity is directed towards the future, but a future hazily and carelessly described, like Marx&#146;s &#145;full communism&#146;. After all, to describe it carefully would lead to hesitation. And what is left of revolution when you hesitate? </p><p> <b>A want of principle</b> </p><p> <i>The precious moment of doubt</i> &#150; that is what is missing from so many protest movements. Lent is right to see the new global protests as the successors of the sixties. For the element of doubt is missing from both of them. Environmental protection for the undeveloped world &#150; great! Development for the undeveloped world &#150; great! But how do you protect the environment and also develop it? Nobody really knows. And the protests themselves are so clearly directed at a fictional enemy that one can almost see the WTO dummy swaying in the sky before those balaclava&#150;ed faces. </p><p> Let&#146;s face it, if we are really to consider global protest movements in their entirety, we should include those, such as al&#150;Qaida, which regard the protesting classes with the same contempt as they regard other by&#150;products of the Western political process. But, al&#150;Qaida&#146;s list of grievances won&#146;t include women&#146;s liberation, gay rights or anti&#150;racism. </p><p> Not that the protestors at Seattle and elsewhere don&#146;t have a point. But it is precisely their future&#150;directed, intellectualised posture that detaches them from the people whom they claim to represent. Normal people don&#146;t know about the future; but they do know about their present interests, about their customs and habits, and their legitimate expectations. And when they protest, it is not in the spirit of the protesting classes, who want to re&#150;arrange the world, but in order to protect a perceived interest, a way of life, a pattern of hope, love and decency that is theirs and which shapes their identity. </p><p> That is what the indigenous peoples mentioned by Jordan are seeking: restoration of what they have lost. Jordan calls this posture &#145;pro&#150;active&#146;, by way of surreptitiously praising it. But the protests of the indigenous are directed to the past (that is what the word &#145;indigenous&#146; implies). And, come to think of it, why were those people who marched through London on 22 September not the indigenous British, also laying claim to about&#150;to&#150;be&#150;stolen rights? Just because their cause was not one of which Jordan approves? </p><p> Mass protests by ordinary people, which do not originate in the grievances of the protesting classes, are rare. I have witnessed only two in my lifetime: that of the French people protesting against Mitterrand&#146;s proposals to nationalise the Church schools, which brought half a million peaceful demonstrators on to the streets of Paris, and that recently catalysed by the Countryside Alliance, which did the same to the streets of London. </p><p> Although such protests are comparatively rare, they include more people than can be mustered on behalf of the &#145;left&#150;wing&#146; causes mentioned by Lent. Unlike Jordan, I believe the terms &#145;left&#150;wing&#146; and &#145;right&#150;wing&#146; to be useful, and see no real improvement in his division of causes into the &#145;pro&#150;active&#146; and the &#145;re&#150;active&#146;. Equally useful is the distinction between the &#145;progressive&#146; and the &#145;conservative&#146; mentality. Such labels are useful because they identify contrasting &#150; and equally necessary &#150; human types. </p><p> The movement represented by the Countryside Alliance is a movement of people most of whom vote Conservative. But they vote Conservative for a perfectly respectable reason, namely, that they are conservative. They are attached to things as they are, and suspicious of change; they value inherited freedoms, and are prepared to fight when those freedoms are taken away. The small farmers of the Indian subcontinent, the African Bushmen, the people of the Amazon, the nomads of the sub&#150;Sahara and the persecuted Christians of Somalia are the same. And those indigenous people have far more in common with the indigenous English, Welsh and Scots who marched through London on 22 September than they have with the protestors at Seattle. </p><p> But this is where I suspect an evasiveness, even a lack of scruple, in the vision of protest movements put before us by Jordan and Lent. The three movements which Lent mentions (women&#146;s liberation, gay and lesbian rights, anti&#150;racism) have all benefited from the support of civil liberties organisations, who have argued vigorously and effectively that moral disapproval is never a sufficient ground for outlawing something, without proof of harm to other citizens. </p><p> Lent and Jordan endorse those movements. But is that only because they approve of them? In that case, they are not really endorsing the principle behind campaigns for civil liberties, but on the contrary rejecting it, by extending liberty no further than the edge of moral approval. I cannot help remarking on the silence with which civil liberties organisations have greeted the heartfelt plea that we fox&#150;hunters have made for their support. It tends to confirm what we always suspected, that they were advocates of liberty, but only for the things of which people on the left approve. Which means that they are not really advocates of liberty. </p><p> People on the left disapprove of fox&#150;hunting, for reasons that we don&#146;t need to examine. So here is the test case for people such as Lent and Jordan: will you fight as vehemently for our right to hunt foxes as you are prepared to fight for gay rights? If not, why not?</p> ecology & place Globalisation europe politics of protest membership & movements Roger Scruton Original Copyright Tue, 01 Oct 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 502 at The trouble with summits, or - what is Johannesburg for? <p>International summit conferences, such as the forthcoming <a href="" target="_blank">World Summit on Sustainable Development</a> in Johannesburg, are a fixed part of the landscape of global governance. But while the texts or declarations agreed at summits are endlessly pored over, the value of such events themselves is far less often discussed. Does the world actually benefit from the endless cycle of international summits? Are social goals, such as an end to poverty, advanced by a process that creates laws and conventions that bind national governments; or would they be better tackled by a consistent focus on local initiatives in which smaller democratic units retain greater autonomy? </p><p> These questions, both practical and philosophical, are here discussed by Maria Adebowale, who is the director of <a href="" target="_blank">Capacity Global</a>, the coordinating body of the UK Environmental Justice Network, and a member of the <a href="" target="_blank">UK Government&#146;s Commission on Sustainable Development</a>, and by Roger Scruton, philosopher and co-editor of the City &amp; Country strand of <b>openDemocracy</b>. Their dialogue was moderated by Caspar Henderson, Globalisation editor of <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; Thirty years on from the first World Summit on Environment and Development in Stockholm in 1972, ten years after the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, we are now close to the 2002 World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) at Johannesburg. What for you is the point of this massive world meeting and what can really be achieved? </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;The most important thing about Johannesburg is to have a proper discussion about world poverty, in the context of sustainable development. How do we not simply reduce but eliminate poverty in the world?&#148; </div><b>MA</b> &#150; For me, the most important thing about Johannesburg is to have a proper discussion about world poverty, in the context of sustainable development. How do we not simply <i>reduce</i> but <i>eliminate</i> poverty in the world? <p> For that discussion to succeed, we must first look at what has happened in the last ten years since Rio &#150; achievements and disappointments &#150; and to understand the reasons for both. There was a high degree of political will at that time. What I would like to see now is a review of the various conventions and commitments made then, which makes clear where and why they haven&#146;t been fulfilled. </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; I have two main areas of concern about international summitry. The first concerns the attempt to achieve results through transnational legislation, and thus through the hands of governments who are often detached from the real sources of change, the activities and everyday lives of people on the ground. </p><p> My second concern is more conceptual. A great many things are run together in the agenda of meetings, such as that at Johannesburg, that do not harmonise. For example, eliminating world poverty is obviously a highly necessary and commendable objective, but pursuing it tends to pull people in a different direction from the goal of sustainable development. Maria said that she hopes for the elimination of poverty in the context of sustainable development, but what if this very context is one that is not amenable to that goal? </p><p> <b>Equality, poverty, summitry</b> </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; Maria, do you agree that the aims of elimination of poverty and sustainable development pull in different directions?</p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;Governments are often detached from the real sources of change, the activities and everyday lives of people on the ground... A great many things are run together in the agenda of meetings, such as that at Johannesburg, that do not harmonise.&#148; </div><b>MA</b> &#150; No, I think the two are compatible. The concept of sustainable development is essentially about issues of quality and equity, and the reduction or elimination of poverty is very much part of the discussion of these principles. From the 1960s and the period of the <a href=";ArticleID=1503" target="_blank">Stockholm declaration</a>, poverty reduction has been central to the discussion of sustainable development. The problems have been ones of implementation and these have been influenced both by east/west and north/south divisions &#150; but these are part of the complexities of sustainable development, not fatal to the idea. <p> <b>RS</b> &#150; We need conceptual clarity on these matters. For example, the goals of equality and poverty reduction are different. People such as <a href="" target="_blank">Friedrich Hayek</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Milton Friedman</a> have argued that the free market allows people to escape from poverty &#150; but only by producing unequal distributions. The experience of the Soviet Union shows that equality can easily be achieved, by removing everything from everybody; but such equality does not help the cause of overcoming poverty at all. </p><p> I feel that one has to be very careful about what one is exactly pursuing. This is especially true in the context of Africa. For example, Zimbabwe was until recently self-sufficient in food, and agriculturally quite successful, but of course it also had a very unequal distribution of wealth. Is the sacrifice of sustainable agriculture a price worth paying for the greater <i>equality</i> enforced on society by Mugabe and his henchmen? </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; The details of the Zimbabwe case are arguable, though I agree that there does need to be conceptual clarity. My problem with the latter is that arguments over language can be used as an excuse to avoid implementing, or not building on, what we&#146;ve already got. </p><p> Sometimes, the concepts will come out of the actual work. This means that the idea of sustainable development needs to be assessed against the practical results. In these terms, I&#146;m not sure if we&#146;re going to make progress towards clarity at the World Summit. The <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=265">failure at the Fourth Prep Com in Bali</a> was predictable, because far more people were engaged in the process than at Rio, and they all came with different political hats. To move beyond the Bali impasse, we will need to follow through on full implementation of decisions and treaties already made in 1992. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"> &#147;Treaties that are part of both national and international law have been incredibly important [for community groups fighting for environmental justice].&#148; </div>You questioned earlier the value of international treaties. As a lawyer, I agree that sometimes treaties can be just words on paper. But I have worked with community groups in the UK and the rest of Europe, and treaties that are part of both national and international law have been incredibly important for them &#150; they can use these laws within a democratic system to secure advances that in a previous era were impossible. <p> For example, the Aarhus Convention on <a href="" target="_blank">Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters</a> has already become vitally important in eastern Europe, where people can use it to pressure their governments to be more open. Equally, in the UK there are a lot of community groups and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are actively looking to use the convention to say to governments: &#147;you have signed up to these environmental justice obligations, to supplying environmental information to us, so you now have a responsibility to make it happen&#148;. This appeal is only possible on the basis of law. </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; But for that very reason, you have to be very careful about what goes in to international treaties, because the latter by their nature are a threat to national sovereignty and therefore a limitation on the democratic decision-making process. This causes resentment, and a desire among those affected to withdraw from the process altogether, rather than subject themselves to any further diminution of sovereignty. </p><p> An example of this is the US government&#146;s repudiation of the <a href="" target="_blank">Kyoto treaty on climate change</a>. This happened because the Americans felt the Treaty wasn&#146;t framed in such a way as to elicit the consent of their electorate and their democratic process. Of course, agreements can be a great lever in the hands of ordinary people against their governments, but for that very reason they will provoke national governments into responding to the consequences of a treaty. </p><p> The agenda at these meetings should feature much more prominently the need to encourage, for example, producer co-operative ventures, private enterprise and local initiatives. These would take on the responsibility of changing things on the ground <i>before</i> we get governments to tie their hands with bits of paper. </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; One of the things that people will be talking about in Johannesburg is &#145;type two&#146; partnerships, which are intended to address many of these concerns. Whereas &#145;type one&#146; partnerships require agreement between governments, &#145;type two&#146; partnerships are voluntary, expressing a willingness by the various agencies involved to act together, lending their expertise and resources to tackling everything from alternative energy systems to disease eradication &#150; regardless of the commitments national governments make to each other. Do you think they offer a way forward? </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; One has to be very careful here. From the outside, all these summits look like extremely well-paid jamborees for redundant politicians, who are only going to sign bits of paper and thereby bind the hands of the people they claim to represent. This doesn&#146;t actually give the process much credibility in the public eye. The problems with summits such as Bali are revealed by the fact that the chairmanship belonged to the environment minister of Indonesia, a country which has the worst possible record in all these matters. </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; I agree with the second point, but as a whole I think that Roger is unduly pessimistic. Most of the politicians at Bali were democratically elected. They have a role and purpose, but they also may be out of a job next year &#150; yet in signing a treaty they are committing their state to a particular legal remit with many social consequences. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;Global decision-making will displace the real challenge, which is reanimating the local economy. And there is a paradox in trying to do that from a global perspective.&#148;</div>It&#146;s true that treaties aren&#146;t the only way forward and that law isn&#146;t always the best process &#150; especially for poorer or excluded groups. At the same time, I feel wary of the way &#145;type two&#146; partnerships have been pushed so much. They might be useful for some sustainable development initiatives, but they cannot be applied indiscriminately. <p> <b>RS</b> &#150; Environmental justice initiatives are all very well, but real change more often comes from people doing things themselves, such as changing their form of agriculture. Aid agencies used to support such local initiatives, with the involvement and endorsement of the local people, and I don&#146;t think that the language of &#145;environmental rights&#146; actually helps much here. The concept of environmental rights is quite nebulous, whereas hard work and commitment are straightforward &#150; and these are what we want to encourage. </p><p> My fundamental worry is that global decision-making will displace the real challenge, which is reanimating the local economy. And there is a paradox in attempting to do that from a global perspective. After all, things can only be sustained at the local level because that&#146;s where people interact with the earth. </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; To some extent I agree with you. Most of the community groups I work with in the UK have got no idea that Johannesburg is happening, even though some of their work around regeneration, poverty and the environment is very much connected to the global picture as well. The summit process has become a bit of a &#145;government round table&#146;, as opposed to a more locally-oriented, bottom-up approach, which sustainable development should be about. </p><p> <b>International law for transnational powers?</b> </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; But for that to be possible, isn&#146;t it necessary that very powerful transnational institutions, both states and corporations, need to have their roles regulated and circumscribed in ways that currently they are not? </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; Absolutely. One of the best reasons for having international law and treaties at all is that globalisation is a reality. How do we make sure that we are able to improve the lives of the most vulnerable? There has to be a force to tackle transnational corporations and other big organisations. This is equally true for people at a very local level, or those who want to keep it local, because they too need a measure of control over what happens in big businesses, which have a massive impact on everybody&#146;s way of living. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="drawing of factory" border="0" /></div><b>RS</b> &#150; I agree. Transnational corporations are inevitably going to be involved in this process, so you&#146;ve got to have some kind of transnational regime to control them. But I feel that we shouldn&#146;t be welcoming this as people seem to. I regard the transnational corporation as a moral error &#150; a mistake that humanity has made, just like building empires. The mistake has occurred, but one should try to minimise the effects of it. What I would like to see is both national and local economies growing. An ideal would be to limit capital of any company worldwide to $1 million. <p> <b>open</b> &#150; Wouldn&#146;t such a law have unfortunate consequences? You might end up with a series of entities run by tight cabals of people who would strive to keep out progressive influences and forces for change?</p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">"If any one wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air - and such air! - he can breathe, how little of civilisation he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel hither [to Manchester, UK]. Everything which here arouses horror and indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch." <b>Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844</i></b> </div><b>RS</b> &#150; Once, Britain had its own businesses and was not subject to the regime of transnational corporations. It was a country with a great deal of local pride in its industry and a great deal of local commitment to building proper towns and looking after the countryside in what we would now call a sustainable way. That&#146;s how truly democratic institutions develop. But now we see our legislative regime expropriated from us by Europe and by the legislative demands of multinational companies. I don&#146;t think that this is a benefit for our environment, for our national pride, or for our democracy. So I think it&#146;s legitimate to protest. A reactionary view, I know! <p> <b>MA</b> &#150; I think that you are slightly romantic about big companies and what they were once like. They might not have been global, or have had a global impact, but nonetheless they had a local impact, which was by no means always positive. </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; They didn&#146;t have international treaties to control them. They were controlled by the existing territorial law that had existed through centuries. Surely that was a good thing? </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; Why does localising a company, or making it smaller and local make it a better organisation with ethical sustainable development policies within its local area? </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; There is a very good answer to that. Loyalties are all local and all served in a particular single place where employers feel part of that place. The manager, director or owner lives in that place, and is under a huge moral constraint to act honourably towards the staff. A multinational company can employ a whole town and suddenly drop that town into abject poverty by moving elsewhere in search of cheaper labour. This recently happened in India and is also now happening in my own town of Malmesbury, with the removal of <a href=",3604,645659,00.html" target="_blank">Dyson&#146;s assembly operation</a> to Malaysia. </p><p> <b>Treaties &#150; what are they good for?</b> </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; I&#146;d like to bring us back to thinking about Johannesburg. Do you both agree that there is some role for global treaties on certain topics &#150; for example, on shared resources such as the atmosphere &#150; in order to ensure protection of the global commons? And do you both agree that there should be transfers of resources from rich countries to poor countries? The size and nature of those transfers are likely to be hotly debated at Johannesburg, if discussions at the recent meeting of the G8 are anything to go by. There, we saw a contrast between the size of the sums pledged and the much greater sums that <a href="" target="_blank">many people feel are needed</a>. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="house and premises" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>ISEC (International Society for Ecology and Culture)</i></span> </div><b>RS</b> &#150; I endorse the transfer of resources from people in wealthier countries to people who are impoverished on two conditions: one, it goes to the people and not to the kleptocracy that is pretending to rule them; and, two, it can be shown that the transfer will not just be pouring money down the drain but will lead to a revitalisation of the local economy. If you simply make the local economy dependent on handouts then it hardly encourages sustainable development &#150; it encourages the opposite. You&#146;ve got to be absolutely clear about your economic theory, which will tell when and how these transfers will benefit people. You&#146;ve also got to make sure that you&#146;re not just subsidising criminals. <p> <b>MA</b> &#150; This argument has already been won. For some time now there have been agreements to transfer resources to the global South, the poorer countries. If you look back to some of the 1992 treaties, they all have articles saying that there should be transfers of technology and aid. These commitments legally bind the countries which ratified them &#150; including, of course, many in the North. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">ISEC is a small international organisation seeking to promote sustainability and community regeneration in both North and South. Their Ladakh project works to support a sustainable local economy. <a href="" target="_blank">Click for further information</a></div>But the most frustrating thing for people from India or Africa is &#150; well, why hasn&#146;t that happened? Why have yet another discussion about something already agreed to? So the issue now is setting up effective processes that allow for that transfer to occur. If you&#146;re talking about aid, as distinct from the transfer of appropriate technology, I would agree that you have to help the people most in need. But the first thing to be done before transfer of resources is simply ending the debt burdening many of the poorest countries. Of course, there must be conditions on how the gains made by not attempting to repay debts will be used. <p> <b>RS</b> &#150; You are right about this debt problem, though I recognise that it is very complex technically. Part of it is that aid in those countries via the World Bank and IMF comes in the form of dollars, which themselves come in the form of little ciphers in a bank account. These can, in turn, be cashed out only by spending in the dollar market, so that a kind of indebtedness to the West and the industrial nations is almost programmed into the deal. Those who set up the IMF and the World Bank never thought this through. There is no reason why one shouldn&#146;t say: &#147;Look, you made a mistake here. But it is your fault, so we&#146;ll have to cancel the debt&#148;. The West, the World Bank, and so on, will bear the burden. </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; All this implies a profound change in the global financial system. Is that achievable, and if so what are the near-term steps? </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; I think that there is an alternative. Were the IMF to transfer 500 very well-educated people to a particular place and provide them with the goods and services needed to capitalise industry or agricultural development, then it would be a genuine transfer of capital &#150; in this case &#147;human capital&#148;. But just putting a few zeros on a bank account in that place and inviting the local residents to spend it in the West is doing the opposite. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;The first thing to be done before transfer of resources is simply ending the debt burdening many of the poorest countries.&#148; </div><b>MA</b> &#150; You don&#146;t need to transfer 500 extremely able people. They&#146;re already there! <p> <b>RS</b> &#150; All right, but I will just go back to my original point &#150; that it is committed people doing things on the ground that change an economy. </p><p> <b>MA</b> &#150; I think the problem is that, in countries such as Britain, we don&#146;t hear enough about committed people in other countries such as those in Africa and South Asia. The reason why there is not total anarchy in many countries is because there already are thousands of people who are extremely active, able citizens. NGOs and some governments are trying to make a difference. We need to support them. Many of them are very clear that they want to decide where any incoming money goes. If you give us 500 people, they say, you&#146;ve already determined the agenda for us. </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; The South African government has circulated what is known as a &#145;non paper&#146;, which outlines some of the things they hope could be achieved at the Johannesburg summit. There are many specific recommendations &#150; programmes for education, provision for centres for technology transfer and so on &#150; and in the &#145;non paper&#146; they estimate the costs of each. We could look at these in detail if we choose to. </p><p> I also wonder about a larger point. There seems to be a recurring problem in international efforts of this sort. What seem to be excellent plans are outlined, say at Rio, or more recently by the <a href="" target="_blank">New Partnership for African Development</a> (NEPAD) and now <a href=";a=show&amp;doc_id=718&amp;parent_id=718" target="_blank">in the run-up to Johannesburg</a>. The proposers say we need money from donor nations to implement these. In each case, the rich Western countries agree in principle, but in practice have real concerns about governance and doubt that this money will be effectively spent. They then discover other priorities which are more urgent. As a result, the sums that rich nations eventually commit are usually a small fraction of what is needed in the honest best estimate of respectable and thoughtful analysts who made these proposals. This pattern seems to recur again and again. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;I would like to see real positive initiatives on the ground from which genuine consensus emerges, which can then be used to create the international politics necessary to solve the issues&#148;. </div><b>RS</b> &#150; Yes, this goes back to my original point. The attempts to solve problems through treaties produce in the end a vast amount of hot air and very little action. <p> <b>MAd</b> &#150; I think that treaties can create a lot of political cohesion; they are no different to any other kind of option that could come out of the World Summit. With regard to hot air, I think that &#145;type two&#146; initiatives also have that potential as well! </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; Can you give us some concluding thought about what you would like to see <i>instead</i> of Johannesburg? </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; I haven&#146;t ever thought about what the alternative to all this really is, I confess. I suppose I would like to see the development of these &#145;type two&#146; initiatives and perhaps the establishment of an agency which is not essentially governed by a treaty but which encourages us to want to work locally. This would be the equivalent of what was done in the old missionary days &#150; links across communities to encourage people from more wealthy countries to play their part in local initiatives, to help them along and to draw into those initiatives the kinds of expertise that are needed, especially in environmental matters. </p><p> At present, you have what are called stakeholders who are supposed to put down their mark on decisions. But nobody ever elected them to their position. Usually they are like <a href="" target="_blank">Greenpeace</a> or some other self-appointed policeman trying to govern the rest of us, control us, perhaps with good intentions, who knows? But we are all stakeholders! I would like to see real positive initiatives on the ground from which genuine consensus emerges, which can then be used to create the international politics necessary to solve the issues. </p><p> <b>open</b> &#150; So enhanced <a href="" target="_blank">VSO</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Peace Corps</a>) and organisations of that kind? Is that the sort of thing you are talking about? </p><p> <b>RS</b> &#150; Nobody at all likes the fact that all these matters are discussed by grey, very self-centred old men, lounging on the beaches of Bali. Everybody would like to see real initiatives coming from the people concerned and real attempts to help them from people prepared to make personal sacrifices in doing so. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article">&#147;A lot of young people don&#146;t get to see another side of life. If they worked within local initiatives with people from different communities than their own, that would open up a wider world of possibility.&#148; </div><b>MA</b> &#150; I agree with the idea of local initiatives. But another thing I would like to see is people taking a year off within their education between the ages of 9 and 16 or 18. Having to take a year out and working with local initiatives would be really useful. A lot of young people don&#146;t get to see another side of life. If they worked within local initiatives with people from different communities than their own, that would open up a wider world of possibility. It would be a way of making some of the ideas about sustainable development and poverty much more real than just a dry discussion on the <a href="" target="_blank">Channel Four News</a>! <p> At Johannesburg I&#146;d like to see a commitment to scrap the remaining debt of the most impoverished countries &#150; obviously with conditions that would be used for the right agendas. I&#146;d also like to see some commitment from the various UN agencies, which have these &#145;silo&#146; remits to work together. For instance, you have the <a href="" target="_blank">UNHCHR</a> working on human rights, but it doesn&#146;t look at issues such as environmental concerns or environmental justice since it links to human rights. And then you have the <a href="" target="_blank">UN Environment Programme</a> (UNEP), a lot of whose work on toxic waste links into the area of human rights. But these agencies don&#146;t work together. I would like to see joined-up policies and integrated institutions because I think they would be much more effective than at present. </p></div> Globalisation summits of the world Caspar Henderson Maria Adebowale Roger Scruton Original Copyright Tue, 16 Jul 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Caspar Henderson, Maria Adebowale and Roger Scruton 266 at Landscape: the view of the hunters and the farmers <div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="picture collage of landscapes" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>Click for bigger image</i></span> </div>In her evocative description of the Saxon district of Romania, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=405">Jessica Douglas Home</a> shows how habits of farming have shaped and been shaped by a landscape, and how they have endowed that landscape with a certain moral character. She remarks that &#147;all of us remain attached, in some part of our being, to a real or imaginary Eden, and, as Hugh Brody points out, Edens are not merely man-made but made by farming.&#148; <p> In <i>The Other Side of Eden</i>, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=412">Hugh Brody</a> also points out that farming is a recent innovation of the human race. From Hesiod to Hardy, the farm has provided the most popular image of peaceful settlement; but it has also brought about massive disruption and ecological imbalance. And the landscape of the hunter&#150;gatherer, according to Brody, is just as much settled, just as much a home, as the landscape of the farmer. </p><p> We in Britain, heirs to a pattern of land ownership and a tradition of painting that divide the countryside between country estate and family farm, have acquired a pastoral view of landscape. But, scratch the surface of our countryside, whether in its real or its represented form, and the vision of the hunter quickly shines through. The interaction that we witness in England between farming and hunting has also occurred, though in a different form, in France. And those woods that crown the hills above Jessica Douglas Home&#146;s enchanted valleys were once maintained on <i>the other side of Eden</i>, probably (to be fair to Romania&#146;s Minister of Tourism) by Count Dracula. </p><p> There is hardly a landscape in Europe that does not bear witness, in some form or other, to the interaction of hunting and farming, and it is partly because this interaction remains such a vital part of the English rural economy that hunting is the focus here of a political battle &#150; one that has recently absorbed more of the nation&#146;s energies than any domestic quarrel since the suffragettes. </p><p> <b>Hunting and farming: a peculiarly English marriage</b> </p><p> The English aristocracy has always settled in the countryside rather than the town, and has usually preferred hunting to farming. But hunting with hounds requires the cooperation of neighbours; and in the countryside neighbours (at least, neighbours with influence) tend to be farmers. Hunting with hounds played its part in shaping the <i>Tory view of landscape</i> described, in his book of that title, by Nigel Everett &#150; the view of the landscape as a common settlement, in which boundaries result from custom and negotiation, and the classes coexist in harmony. </p><p> Disciples of Raymond Williams will, of course, see this <i>harmony</i> as a myth &#150; part of the ideology of class domination. But, as Everett shows, this orthodox leftist view does not square with the facts of history. Moreover, hunting had a large part to play in breaking down barriers of class in the English countryside. It was partly the need to negotiate hunting privileges with the farmer that humbled the English country squire. Farmers, smallholders, tenants, vicars and even labourers would be invited to join in an activity that crucially depended on their consent. Hence, hunting encouraged squire, tenant and farmer to settle the locality as a common domain. In England, the old contest for territory between hunter and farmer gave way to another and more modern conflict, in which farmer and hunter stand together against the intruder from the town. </p><p> Of course, the history of this peculiar institution is more complex than I have suggested in the previous paragraph. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that hunting has been as deeply woven into the rural fabric of England and Wales as farming, and the attempt to remove it will lead to the unravelling not merely of old habits of association, but also of a long tradition of landscape maintenance. Moreover, the English marriage of hunting and farming is highly unusual. I doubt that the Saxon farmers in Jessica Douglas Home&#146;s Eden kept hounds, or that they meekly doffed their caps as Count Dracula and his mounted followers stormed from the forests in pursuit of stag or boar. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="hunt with dogs in winter time" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>Picardie Valois, France &copy;Jim Meads</i></span> </div>In France, hunting with hounds is largely confined to the royal forests, granted to the people, along with the right to hunt, at the Revolution. As a result, the French landscape divides in two: the part that is farmed, and the part that is hunted. In the part of France that is hunted with hounds &#150; in other words, in a way that dissolves the boundaries required by cultivation &#150; little or no farming occurs. <p> Of course, there is something <i>called</i> hunting that occurs over farmed land &#150; but it is really organized shooting, <i>la chasse</i> rather than <i>la chasse &agrave; courre</i>. This organised shooting is governed by the &#145;Loi Verdeille&#146; of 1964, which virtually obliges landowners to take part in the shoot, since the local hunting association &#150; the <i>association communale de chasse agr&eacute;&eacute;e</i> &#150; is the semi-official game-warden and vermin controller of the commune, with a right of entry by law. </p><p> In England, in contrast, we witness the coexistence, as in a puzzle painting, of two visions of the landscape: that of the farmer, fiercely protecting his bounded patch, and that of the hunter, led from place to place by a quarry that recognises neither boundaries nor laws but only the ubiquitous distinction between safety and danger. On hunting days, parcelled-out farmland is suddenly transformed into the common land of the hunter&#150;gatherer, and as suddenly lapses into its husbanded state as the hue and cry recedes. </p><p> In the poetry of John Clare, in the novels of Fielding and Trollope, and in the paintings of Cotman and Crome, we find striking representations of a countryside that is, as it were, doubled up, folded into two rival maps, and bearing the indelible marks of each. Nor is this doubling of the landscape witnessed only in the serious art and literature of rural England. It is equally evident in popular art and decoration. On biscuit boxes, crockery, table mats and wall prints, the images of the chase are endlessly reproduced, usually dwelling on those aspects &#150; the meet, the goodnight, the homeward-wending horsemen &#150; that evoke the collective settlement of a common territory. The country pub establishes its credentials as a <i>wayside inn</i> by decorating its walls with hunting prints. And the most popular song ever composed in England, <i>D&#146;ye ken John Peel</i>? &#150; in which the culture of hunting is lovingly surveyed and endorsed &#150; is still sung today, long after the repertoire of folk song has vanished from the rural consciousness. </p><p> <b>Knowing a territory, in order to maintain it</b> </p><p> Many of the peculiarities of English hunting are replicated in Ireland and parts of America. But nowhere outside Great Britain have they had such an effect on the landscape. Every square inch of rural England and Wales, apart from impassable or over-industrialised pockets, is situated within the boundaries of a hunt. There are varieties of hunts, each specialising in a particular quarry &#150; deer, fox, hare or mink (the last being a recent addition, in response to the devastation caused to rivers and wildlife by the release of mink from fur farms). Although their boundaries have been settled by negotiation, sometimes over centuries, hunts are a more accurate reflection of topographical, agricultural and social divisions than the county boundaries, and more eloquent by far, as a record of the landscape, its history and its meaning, than the grids, district councils and Euro-regions of the bureaucrats. </p><p> Foxhounds and deerhounds hunt by scent, and this means that they will follow lines that have no relation to human visual navigation. The huntsman is there to keep them in order, but he must also follow where they lead. Following the huntsman in turn is the assembled <i>field</i> of riders, themselves pursued by a gaggle on foot. Others string along on the country lanes, by bicycle or car. All are returning in some measure to a pre-agrarian condition. </p><p> The hunter&#150;gatherer band tracks its quarry through a landscape that belongs to both of them, since it belongs in law to neither, the chains of ownership being as yet unforged. This experience unites people in a way that is easier to observe than describe &#150; though Hugh Brody has conveyed its force and urgency in his description of an Inuit hunting foray. And it is to this experience that we should refer for an explanation of the fervour that English hunting inspires in its followers. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="hedge laying" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>Geoff Key laying a hedge in Leicestershire &copy;Jim Meads</i></span> </div>The masters of hounds and their huntsmen know every field and covert in the territory over which they hunt, and are responsible for maintaining that territory in a huntable condition. Although hunting is a sport, it has also become, in England as in France, a form of wildlife management, the purpose of which is equilibrium rather than extermination. In pursuit of this function, the hunts secure fences and boundaries for livestock, and punctuate these boundaries with jumps and gates. They maintain coverts for sanctuary, and ensure if possible that the wider habitat both supports the hunted species, and also allows its dispersal and cull. <p> This work of stewardship is voluntary in England, paid for by the subscriptions of those who follow the hunts. And like all voluntary work, it generates social feelings and common commitments, so endorsing the hunter&#150;gatherer sentiment that the countryside is <i>ours</i>. It is the absence of this voluntary stewardship in France which necessitated the Loi Verdeille &#150; a law, incidentally, which has been ruled contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights by the Court in Strasbourg (Chassagnou <i>et al</i> v. France [1999] 29 EHRR 615). </p><p> English hunting has often been celebrated as an expression of liberality. A farmer or landowner invites the hounds and followers to meet on his land. Private owners are asked if the hunt can enter, and those that agree are consciously offering hospitality. However, the event also involves a collective renunciation of the usual laws of property, and a willed departure from the priorities of farming. In a sense, the countryside is being <i>thrown open</i> to its pre-historical use and, although the freedom taken by the hunt is at the same time a freedom offered by those with the power to forbid it, both parties to the deal are recapturing freedom of another and more deeply implanted kind. </p><p> This venatical freedom, as English hunters experience it, again contrasts strikingly with the provisions of the Loi Verdeille. The French law is really an attempt to compensate for the fact that the hunting culture has been extinguished by farming; a process resulting from the Napoleonic inheritance law, which breaks down farms into ever smaller units. The Loi Verdeille is phrased in the language of property rights. It holds that landowners must allow the local hunting associations to enter, both for the purpose of shooting game, and for the associated aim of conservation and vermin control. Neither of these activities, it maintains, runs counter to the right of property. Hence both can be compelled. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="A Moorland hunt" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>Staffordshire Moorland hunt crossing grassland and preserved natural boundaries &copy;Jim Meads</i></span> </div>In England, the hunt and its followers cross the country not by a legal right that overrides the right of property, but as though the claims of ownership have been relinquished. The hunt is repossessing the country as a common habitat. It is reawakening the collective sense of territory &#150; an experience once vital to human survival, and still in some way welcomed by our genes. <p> Plato wrote, in <i>The Laws</i>, that &#147;there can be no more important kind of information than the exact knowledge of your own country; and for this as well as for more general reasons of pleasure and advantage, hunting with hounds... should be pursued by the young.&#148; Plato&#146;s sentiments are still alive in England, and are expressed through the Pony Club, an institution established by the Hunts after the First World War, when it was feared that, following the loss of so many horses at the front, the equestrian culture of the English countryside might not be renewed. The purpose of the Pony Club is to initiate the young into an old sense of the landscape, as a habitat that we share with the animals. And it does this by putting the child on a pony, and awakening the hunting instinct in both of them. </p><p> It is in this context, I believe, that we should understand the peculiar excitements of hunting. The thrill of jumping is not &#150; as many people imagine &#150; merely an equestrian experience. It is the thrill that comes from the dissolution of a boundary, and the annihilation of all the artificial claims of title that go with it. You do this in intimate conjunction with an animal, in full and blood-warming empathy with a pack of hounds. For a brief moment, you are laying aside the demands of farming, and the man-centred individualism that farming engenders, and roaming across a landscape that has not yet been <i>taken into possession</i>. </p><p> Hunting farmers maintain the sacred boundaries, precisely so as to enjoy the experience of transgressing them. Hunting is therefore one reason why England and Ireland contain the last remaining countryside in Europe with continuous walls, hedgerows and wildlife corridors between the woods and spinneys. These boundaries are very much in evidence where I live, thanks in part to the Vale of White Horse (VWH) pack of foxhounds, whose masters manage the terrain. </p><p> <b>Owning a territory, in order to share it</b> </p><p> Looking from my window on this summer day, I see the fields which it is my duty to maintain as an agricultural resource. I see ryegrass planted for silage, hedges laid to contain cattle and to keep out my neighbour&#146;s sheep, and a fenced-off corner for pigs. I worry about the docks and the thistles; I am troubled by the muck heap and wonder whether we shall be able to spread it before the autumn. I see a gap in the hedge where the sheep could get through, and a broken culvert in the ditch, which could block up in the winter rains. These thoughts are the premises of husbandry, and they depend on distinguishing my rights and duties from the rights and duties of my neighbour. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="" alt="painting of hunt on horseback" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><i>Ideal English Hunting landscape, Leicestershire, painted by Lionel Edwards in 1922 (Sotheby's)</i></span> </div>But I also see a covert planted as habitat, a tiger-trap across a ditch, a hunt jump in the hedgerow and a headland set aside for horses to pass. I worry that the tiger-trap is rotten, that the hedge is now too tall to jump, that the fields are inadequately drained and will become impassable. These thoughts are no longer part of husbandry, and depend on no division between <i>mine</i> and <i>thine</i>. I am thinking of the land as <i>ours</i>, the scene of a constantly renewable contest between our community of farmers and the fox with whom we come to terms by hunting him. <p> This sense of common ownership and common destiny is part of what turns the land into a landscape. The fields that I see from my window do not end at my boundary but stretch beyond it, to the place where the hounds of the VWH must be called off from the territory of the Old Berkshire, where <i>ours</i> becomes <i>theirs</i>, and the riot of followers must turn at last for home. </p><p> This feeling of <i>ours</i> is expressed in many social events besides hunting: in fun rides, farmers&#146; breakfasts, hunt balls and point-to-points. These events form part of an intricate web of social relations through which we join in the collective possession of our whole locality, and override our separate private claims. The <i>we</i> feeling of the hunt is the prime reason why our boundaries are so meticulously maintained, and also so elaborately punctured. It is the cause of coverts and copses and ponds, and also the reason why many originally urban people such as myself are prepared to invest their money in a landscape that the farmers themselves can no longer maintain. </p><p> The re-emergence of the hunter&#150;gatherer sense of belonging without owning is not something recent, as our extensive and often brilliant hunting literature reveals. But such is the heat of political passion that hunting inspires in those who have never engaged in it that the feeling is rarely understood for what it is &#150; a root cause of the English landscape. </p></div> ecology & place europe hunting culture Roger Scruton Original Copyright Tue, 25 Jun 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Roger Scruton 415 at Landscape and identity in a globalised world <p>The attachment to landscape is part of the identity of every individual and every culture. The familiar streets, squares, parks, canals, fields and hills of childhood are an integral part of people&#146;s psychological make-up and sense of rootedness in the world. When these things are lost &#150; whether through exile, development or wilful destruction &#150; their character often becomes even more important to people&#146;s inner life. Think, for example, about how so much wonderful music and literature has been written in exile, in the form of home thoughts from abroad. </p><p> In a similar fashion, most cultures and nation states evoke loyalty and membership through the evocation of the <i>national landscape</i>: chalk cliffs, rolling downland, heather-strewn moors, song-filled valleys, roaring cataracts, proud mountains, silver lakes and scented forests. Whatever you have, it is always worth fighting for and is a good subject for epic ballads and childhood memoirs. </p><p> Loyalty to place has often given rise to powerful feelings about the relationship of landscape to culture. Pagan tribes worshipped the gods of the trees, waters and mountains. Christians have seen the natural world as a gift from God, as evident at a recent Tate Modern exhibition in London, <i>American Sublime</i>, in which the majority of the painters felt that they were recording and celebrating God&#146;s great purpose in re-creating these majestic valleys, mountains, rivers and plains. The very scale of the landscape seemed to be yet another piece of evidence that God existed. </p><p> In Britain from the 16th century onwards, there was an equally religious view of landscape as a manifestation of God&#146;s beneficence. Not only this, but the patterns of the natural world and landscape &#150; traditional continuity, organic growth and decline, natural hierarchies of scale, size and pecking order &#150; were also seen as a model for human society. This was the subject of Nigel Everett&#146;s important book, <i>The Tory View of Landscape</i>. </p><p> <b>Bringing work, and people, back in</b> </p><p> In this period, significantly, ideas about the creation of ideal landscapes were completely intertwined with the aesthetic ideals behind the painting of landscape, notably in the work of Claude and Poussin. The landscape and the artistic representation of the landscape became one and the same thing. The problem was that, in this view of landscape, work disappeared along with the basic human activities of making, growing and feeding and the development of collective social relations, institutions and cultures, which underwrote the shape and rhythms of the landscape itself. </p><p> It was in this sense that Raymond Williams once famously wrote that &#147;a working country is hardly ever a landscape&#148; (<i>The Country and the City</i>, 1975). In the developing world, the landscape of a subsistence economy is radically different from that of a cash crop economy. Landscape formation and human endeavour (as well as human misrule) go hand in hand. </p><p> In recent times, it has been the environmental movement that has raised the greatest challenge to the modern making and breaking of landscape, seeking a return (or a leap of faith forward) to more sustainable, less harmful ways of managing and living in the natural world, and using its resources in ways which are not terminally destructive. At such moments, landscape and economy come into sharp conflict again: agribusiness and genetically modified crops (urged on by the &#145;cheap food&#146; ethos of the supermarkets who control the markets) versus more humane and labour-intensive modes of food production that reattach the rural landscape with a way of life. </p><p> Landscapes (including townscapes) change constantly, as a result of human activity: farming, timber-felling, canal and road building, imperial conquest, urban agglomeration, park-making, hunting, outdoor pursuits, estate management, tourism, natural catastrophes, and even war. One never steps into the same landscape or street scene twice. </p><p> If you look closely at the photograph below of <a href="" target="_blank">Dungeness</a>, you see a landscape that is simultaneously the second largest shingle beach in the world, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) for its unique ecology, the location of a nuclear power station, and a living community of tiny wooden huts and dwellings. Here, one inhabitant, the artist <a href="" target="_blank">Derek Jarman</a>, has created a garden that has challenged the current aesthetics of international landscape design, and has brought a new sensitivity and distinctive imagination to bear on garden and landscape culture. All these completely different worlds apparently manage to coexist in a kind of hybrid landscape. </p><div class="full_image"><p><img src="" alt="dry shingle beach" width="555" border="0" /><br /><span class="image_caption"><i>Dungeness, Kent, a dry shingle beach in England's far south-east. &copy;Larraine Worpole</i></span></p></div><b>Places to lose yourself</b> <p> In so many places today, however, landscape and place are being challenged as never before, by global economic powers and development interests, leading to the worldwide appearance of what one anthropologist, Marc Aug&eacute;, has termed <a href="" target="_blank">non-places</a>. These are the bland, contractual landscapes of the shopping mall, the themed waterfront development, the gated residential community and the motorway service station, where human relations become customer relations, and the aesthetics of place come from corporate pattern books (or CAD software) developed by security companies. </p><p> While it is understandable that so many people today want the best of both worlds &#150; economic development and the retention of familiar and loved settings &#150; it is now clear that there are vital trade-offs to be made. The understanding and clarification of the nature of these trade-offs form the major theme of this new City&amp;Country debate. </p><p> We are delighted that a number of serious and original writers have already agreed to contribute to this discussion about landscape, identity and the impact of global economic forces for change. In the coming months, we intend to publish a number of vividly illustrated contributions on this important topic. These include contributions from Sue Clifford of Common Ground on the need for local distinctiveness, from Nina Lubbren on the public impact of artists&#146; colonies in rural areas of Europe, and from Jonathan Meades with a criticism of the <i>picturesque</i> ideal. We start, however, with Jessica Douglas-Home&#146;s lyrical evocation of the Saxon village settlements of Romania, and their vulnerability in the face of social change and ambitions for mass tourism. </p><p> We welcome responses and suggestions for small essays on this fascinating and many-sided set of themes. </p> ecology & place landscape & identity Ken Worpole Roger Scruton Original Copyright Tue, 04 Jun 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Ken Worpole and Roger Scruton 414 at