It is not unusual to be a conservative. But it is unusual to be an intellectual conservative. In both Britain and America some 70 per cent of academics identify themselves as ‘on the left’, while the surrounding culture is increasingly hostile to traditional values, or to any claim that might be made for the high achievements of Western civilization.
Ordinary conservatives –and many, possibly most, people fall into this category –are constantly told that their ideas and sentiments are reactionary, prejudiced, sexist or racist. Just by being the thing they are they offend against the new norms of inclusiveness and non-discrimination. Their honest attempts to live by their lights, raising families, enjoying communities, worshipping their gods, and adopting a settled and affirmative culture –these attempts are scorned and ridiculed by the Guardian class.
In intellectual circles conservatives therefore move quietly and discreetly, catching each other’s eyes across the room like the homosexuals in Proust, whom that great writer compared to Homer’s gods, known only to each other as they move in disguise around the world of mortals.
We, the supposed excluders, are therefore under pressure to hide what we are, for fear of being excluded. I have resisted that pressure, and as a result my life has been far more interesting than I ever intended it to be.
‘How to be A Conservative ‘ by Roger Scruton , Bloomsbury , 2014, 208 pages