Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sir Roger Scruton on the cancerous "shadow community of parasites" which pretends to govern us

My brain isn't functioning today - or, at least, it's functioning even more inefficiently than usual. This is the "payback" which often hits CFS/ME folk the day after the day after they've overdone it. Writing about Zulu on Friday took it out of me, because I hate the thought of not doing justice to the films or books I care about - I knew it would, but it's a price well worth paying. My mental haze worsened as I leafed through the Sunday Telegraph this morning in a vain search for anything vaguely resembling heartening news. It seems Mrs. May's government is failing on just about every front - no more money for the military, the new universal credit system about to be watered down/postponed/abandoned/whatever. The only whiff of uplift was the suggestion that the EU's negotiating stance is softening because of the groundswell of support here for a "No Deal" Brexit, which would, of course, leave Britain's fanatically dirigiste neighbours...

...with an even larger financial hole to fill. (Good!)

Like most normal people, I'm bored to tears with Brexit - not the thing itself, which I long for. It's the news coverage of the negotiations that's driving me crazy. It feels like I'm actually at the negotiating table, but not allowed to speak. That's very frustrating, because I really didn't want to be there in the first place. The EU's unelected bureaucrats and some European leaders appear to have decided to conduct the negotiations in public, aided by the UK's Remain-supporting media and sundry traitors from all our main political parties. The UK's negotiating team appears to be playing by the rules - because they're British - by keeping as quiet as possible, only providing the hysterical, yelping ninnies of the news media with the occasional anodyne snippet designed to calm the markets. As the news media then gleefully interpret these snippets in such a way that everyone runs around screaming "We're all doomed!", I'd recommend saying nothing whatsoever.

The British people were asked if they wished to remain in the EU. A majority decided they didn't. That's it. They weren't asked if they wanted to leave, but stay in the Single Market; or whether they wanted to follow the Norway model; or if they wanted to abandon negotiations and trade with EU countries according to WTO rules; or whether... well, or anything else. A red-hot, psycho-nutter team of elected politicians and civil servants was appointed to conduct the negotiations on Britain's behalf. They are now conducting those no doubt extremely difficult negotiations. I suspect that the vast majority of Britons would be more than satisfied with an occasional brief update on progress (if any), followed, eventually,  by an announcement that a deal had been reached - or, if agreement has proved impossible, an announcement of how we're going to exit without a deal.

Theresa May tried to involve the electorate in the EU negotiations before the last election - she said we had to vote for her in order to strengthen her hand. But that's not our job. We pay approximately 40% of what we earn to maintain a vast state apparatus to carry out this sort of work on our behalf - and if we end up having to do it ourselves, what the fuck are we paying them for? Whatever happens with the negotiations, roughly half of the country will be outraged by the very fact that we're leaving, while most of the rest will be outraged by the deal that has been struck, or by the fact that no deal has been struck. Trying to involve us - to implicate us - in every part of the process won't make a blind bit of difference. Leave us alone - and JFDI.

Phew! That little tirade formed in my head after watching a Sir Roger Scruton Hoover Institution interview about his excellent book, How To Be a Conservative (available here), conducted by Peter Davidson in February.  It's full of good stuff, naturally, but I particularly enjoyed the bit right at the end where Sir Roger eloquently addresses the key issue of the appropriation of the functions of civil society by the fantastically expensive and ever-expanding parasitic state:
The expansion of the state to absorb more and more of civil society has happened everywhere… All that free association which made the English-speaking countries what they are still exists. It’s just that there’s a tax on it of roughly half of what you earn which goes to maintain a sort of a shadow community of parasites whose only justification is that they pretend to be governing us…we belong in an organism which is accompanied by a cancerous version of itself. That’s the way it is. All you can do is every now and then diminish it - to cut off this or that bit of it, but it will always be there. 
I wonder how many current MPs - from whichever party - would agree with those sentiments. A handful, at best. Here's the whole interview:


  1. To paraphrase Scruton himself: "old geezers like you become increasingly less relevant. That is your purpose."

    Personally I'd never have imagined I could derive comfort from anything Scruton said. But that particular couple of sentences really do reassure me.

    Btw - I am Sarah.

  2. Suddenly, another women stood up and roared "Btw - I am Sarah!" Followed by another...and another, until every one of them was on their feet, shouting "Btw - I am Sara!"

    Given that I'm a comfortingly irrelevant old geezer, "Btw - I am Sarah", why did you bother leaving a comment? Or was the thrill of being pointlessly mean to someone feeling unwell simply impossible to resist? As you're evidently a compassionate left-winger, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm feeling much better today.

  3. 'Pointlessly mean'? But pointlessness would preclude any outcome that was in the slightest bit meaningful to me. I derived a grim satisfaction from quoting your idol's serendipitous words - so 'pointless' doesn't accurately capture my intention.

    You can comfort yourself that Scruton's words increasingly apply just as well to me as to you (though I am a generation younger than you). But that is the nature of ageing is it not? It is the process of 'acquiring obsolescence'...

    As regards your health - I am grateful to you for flagging a potential malign intent on my part. Having reflected upon the issue (whether I would wish to cause 'harm' to you or to anyone) I am aware that there is a sliding scale of odiousness - and that 'harm' would be dependant upon degree of odiousness.
    Mugabe; Aung San Suu Kyi; Trump; Putin; Kim Jong-un etc - all examples of those I wouldn't be sad to see 'harm' visited upon. The principle for me would be utilitarian in its simplicity - harming them (removing them from power) would be for the greater good. Whereas you - your 'conservative' views are (mostly) repugnant to me - but the potential you have to cause great harm to others is very limited. Consequently the only 'harm' I wish to do comes in the form of provoking thought or response.

    I do want to thank you.
    I believe it is always good to have your worldview challenged.
    Your posts challenge my views - and shake me from my cosy political and philosophical complacency.
    As a result I am now more thoroughly 'leftist' (I borrow your lazy catch-all) than I was before I found your blog. :-)

  4. I have just listened to the Sir Roger Scruton interview in your post which was quite excellent so thank you again. "Truth has been made unsayable by liberal censorship". That about sums up our current predicament.

  5. Delighted to hear you are feeling better, Scott.

    1. Is there an element of the Oozlum Bird in one of your subscribers' replies?

  6. Very funny quip, Helen. And hopefully deadly like a curare-tipped dart?