In Memoriam

Sir Roger Scruton: Britain's Culture Warrior

Feb. 27, 1944–Jan. 12, 2020

I first heard Roger Scruton speak at the 1993 regional Philadelphia Society meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, organized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Scruton spoke on the topic of “The Conservative Mind Abroad” in a soft but authoritative voice that gently drew and kept the listener’s attention. However, his professorial demeanor never got in the way of making a forceful point. This was demonstrated in 1997 at a debate in London sponsored by the Edmund Burke Society. I was invited to attend the bicentennial celebration of Burke’s death and the festivities included a debate over his continued relevance.

As a dutiful managing editor, I cornered Scruton at the reception afterwards to invite him to write for Modern Age, knowing full well that by that point in his career he had plenty of venues in which to publish his writing. Scruton finally appeared in Modern Age 10 years later—in the 50th anniversary issue no less—with an exceptional essay I commissioned on a subject few conservatives had the intellectual wherewithal to pull off: “Conservatism Means Conservation.”

Scruton’s death on Jan. 12 of cancer at the age of 75 was a great loss for our civilization. He was a prolific, trailblazing man of letters—particularly in the United Kingdom, where philosophical conservatism had long been ridiculed...

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