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Theseus in the Moral Maze

Roger Scruton has had a long and paradoxical career as a kind of intellectual outlaw—a sage of the badlands that hem in the p.c. pale.  Aesthete, philosopher, author, journalist, lecturer, broadcaster, farmer, fox hunter, even musician—he has been all of these things, an often solitary small-c conservative voice in milieux dominated by the forces of institutionalized ignorance.  When all others are nodding in ovine agreement over some postmodern cliché, Scruton’s quietly insistent voice can often be heard in the deafening silence—a Theseus at large in the Moral Maze.

Scruton writes in his Preface, “My life has enabled me to find comfort in uncomfortable truths.”  It is these unwelcome messages, rather than any personal or intellectual shortcomings, that have for so long caused him simultaneously to be marginalized and grudgingly respected.  He has long had a “sense of being an outsider, obscurely redeemed by the crime that condemned me.”  In his maturity (he is 62), he has finally emerged as an insider’s outsider—the house “fascist” or “Tory” whom the politically correct love to hate but cannot ignore, the unspeakable articulator of what they would prefer to have left unsaid—an enemy they nevertheless need, not least so that they can define themselves.

In this largely autobiographical...

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