Roger Scruton

Diary – 25 August 2016

Also in Roger Scruton’s diary: the blessings of a broken femur, and a defence of aristocratic titles

To Edinburgh for the book festival, where I am to explain Fools, Frauds and Firebrands to respectable middle-class Scots, who have an endearing way of suggesting to me that I, like them, am a thing of the past. They queue to buy the book, which is nice of them; however, the publisher has failed to deliver any copies, so the need to part with a few quid for politeness’ sake slips painlessly over the horizon. Only the students in the queue awaken me from my complacency. Where do we turn for comfort, they ask, when our reading lists are gibberish about which we can understand only that it is all left-wing? Is there no network, no secret society, no alternative reading list to get us through the next three years? Is there, in a modern university, no ‘safe space’ for conservatives?

I know of only one solution to leftist takeovers, and that is to start again. The decent parliamentarians in the Labour party should take note of this. When we set up the underground university in Prague, we composed a curriculum entirely of classics on a budget of £50,000 a year. We the teachers, and they the students, were volunteers; our shared concern was knowledge, not ideology; conversation, not conscription. Once the state takes over, however, and its vast resources are made available to people otherwise incapable of earning a penny, the fakes and the frauds muscle in. Chanting gobbledegook from Deleuze confers an air of erudition on even the most second-rate intellect, and since in most humanities departments teaching is no longer required and the only tests are political, there is no answer to those desperate students except to start something new. That is what we are doing at the University of Buckingham.

Back home to a punishing hour of physiotherapy.

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