Thursday, 16 June 2016

Scruton's Knighthood & Subaltern Shitehood

A lawyer from my ancestral Chennai, has celebrated, in quite delirious terms, Roger Scruton's recent knighthood, in the pages of Swarajya magazine.
The besotted pettifogging maiden- or she-male- in question makes some extraordinary claims on behalf of her pin-up- viz.
1) That Scruton, 'almost single handedly', gained 'legitimacy for Conservatism as a mainstream philosophy.'
2) Most of his ideas can be used to defend any type of traditional Conservatism.

Needless to say, this is nonsense. Scruton singlehandedly proved he was a wanker but not such a wanker as might so copiously jizz in his own eye as to wink at Mainstream Philosophy escaping its Pornhub-type prison to repurpose its bull whip, or Black Rod, and fishnet stockings, or Horse hair Wig, as the appurtenances proper to legitimising that immemorial, unfading and multiply realisable Conservatism whose imperishable icon remains a red-hot poker shoved up meta-legitimacy's Piers Gaveston bum. 

My own comment, pearls before Swarajya swine, better hits the mark so I benevolently copy and paste it below-
' I was a friend and colleague of Scruton's Greek and Latin tutor at the time, in the mid Eighties, when I first came across his books. 
'Initially, I was charmed- it seemed, Scruton had set out with the specific aim of helping people like me- a Schoenbergian conductor of a modishly Japanese gagaku ensemble consisting of us dissonant wogs & unharmonizable, for no longer Unionised Proles & the apologetic coughing and spluttering of the progeny of blue rinsed matrons residing in dormitory suburbs, all of whom were equally seeking to reinvent ourselves as cosmopolitan Thatcherite 'yuppies'- and the fact that he himself was a 'Grammar School oik' and taught at Birkbeck made it all the more admirable that he had hired a pukka Old Etonian (a contemporary of Pico Iyer) to repair any deficiencies in his Classical scholarship.

'My disillusionment was rapid. First there was my chancing on Scruton's derivative 'Fortnight's Anger', distilling all that was most meretricious in Iris Murdoch; then there was the still boyish looking Scruton's abysmal performance on a Televised Oxford Union debate. He played the pleb card to make out he was a Thatcherite striver and that fell flat coz everyone could suss that he was from High Wycombe not the Gorbals or Teesside.

'Had Scruton stuck to serving Birkbeck's natural constituency- declasse but decent folk seeking Professional Qualifications or promotion to Management- i.e. that alterity served by Art's ipseity-  he might have ended up writing something worthwhile. Instead, after a brief incarnation as Tom Wolfe's 'Trans-Atlantic Man', he returned as a Fox Hunting oenophile- Surtees' Jorrocks selling some fustian soixante huitard repellent and looming large only in his own farcical twilight.

'Is there a lesson in all this? Yes. Don't despise your readership. Quit gassing on about Schoenberg and find out the facts about the Pet Shop Boys. Don't hire an ex-Oppidian Classics Tutor. At best, you will end up as worthless a blathershite as Pico or, indeed, Raghavan Iyer. At worst, you become the Jorrocks of the Quorn.

'Scruton, unlike Oakeshott, was highly productive but only because, unlike Oakeshott, his initial Lecture notes were and remained shite. He lived and continues to live, unlike Collingwood, which is why nothing he writes can last whereas 'distinctions without a difference' we will have with us forever.'

Have I been too harsh?
What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Scruton made his name in Aesthetics- a subject I never got into. Was there any connection between that and his political ideas?

windwheel said...

Following David Lewis, we think of aesthetics as about co-ordination and dis-coordination games, Conventions and breaking Conventions with a 'costly signal' serving as the basis for a separating eqbilibrium.
Scruton, by contrast, was stuck in a Leftist ghetto and found solace in Burke. He comes across as an auto-didact because that was probably how he came by most of the ideas he'd later use. This was a good thing because he was teaching part-time mature students looking to rise a little in the world. Also he was prolific because he needed the money- but the whole thing was shallow because he'd missed the boat on the genuine developments in his field.
I can't see that he has any genuine political ideas- just attitudes. The frightening thing is if Brexit goes through, he will look like a weather vane and thus gain salience.