The Meaning of Conservatism

roger-scruton-the-meaning-of-conservatismSt. Augustine's Press (1980, 1984, 3rd ed. 2000)

This is a major contribution to political thought from conservatism's greatest contemporary proponent.

Originally published in Britain in 1980 and revised in 1984, this edition – the first ever in the United States – is a major rewriting of the work.

Scruton's idea of conservatism – what in America we tend to call "paleo-conservatism" – might well shock the sensibilities of those American conservatives" who view it as little more than the workings of the free market. Conservatism, says Scruton, is neither automatic hostility toward the state nor the desire to limit the state's obligations toward the citizen.

Rather, conservatism regards the individual not as the premise but the conclusion of politics, a politics that is fundamentally opposed to the ethic of social justice, to equality of station, income, and achievement, or to the attempt to bring major institutions of society (such as schools and universities) under government control.

The conservative outlook, says Scruton, is neither outmoded nor irrational. On the contrary, it is the most reasonable of political alternatives. The evils of socialism, he maintains, lie precisely where its supporters find its strengths, and the conditions for the credibility of socialism have long since disappeared. Neither socialism nor liberalism can come to terms with the real complexity of human society, and both appear plausible only because they direct attention away from what is actual, toward what is merely ideal.

From earlier editions of The Meaning of Conservatism:

"The book provides exactly that swift kick on the intellectual bottom which every undergraduate student of political science needs, most of them more urgently than ever before." – T. E. Utley, (London) Daily Telegraph

220 pages, ISBN: 978-1-890318-40-6

Buy from Amazon

Latest Articles

Press Statement 12th January 2020

Announcement 12th January 2020 It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL. Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy...

A Christmas message

We mark the conclusion of a most interesting year by expressing sincere gratitude to all the many people who have sent messages of support and appreciation to Sir Roger, in...

Roger Scruton: A year in which much was lost – but more gained. The Spectator- 21 Dec 19

Despite everything, I have so much to be grateful for JanuaryMy 2018 ended with a hate storm, in response to my appointment as chair of the government’s Building Better, Building...

Sir Roger presented with the Star of the Order of Merit of Hungary

On Tuesday 3rd December, the Hungarian Ambassador Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky welcomed friends and guests to announce that the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of Hungary would...

Recent Books

Notes from Underground

Beaufort Books  (2nd Edition October 2019) Set in the twilight years of the Czechoslovak communist regime, this novel describes a doomed love affair between two young people trapped by the...

Souls in the Twilight

Beaufort Books  (October 2018) As the lights that have guided us go out, people begin to wander in the twilight, seeking their place of belonging. In these stories, set in...

Music as an Art

Bloomsbury  (August 2018) Music as an Art begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science and German...

2019 Events

Wed 31st Jul - Fri 9th Aug - 2019 Scrutopia Summer School

Thur 29th Aug - Sun 1st Sept - Scrutopia Alumni Meeting 

Thurs 10th Oct - University of Buckingham London Programmes - Masters in Philosophy

Scrutopia Summer School Wed 29 July - Fri 7 August 2020