The Burdens of Belonging: Roger Scruton’s Nation-State

Richard M. Reinsch II

American Affairs | 2017

From his position as the dean of English conservatism, Roger Scruton explains the ideas, habits, and traditions that made the West a civilization not only of immense learning and wealth, but also one of love and mercy. A philosopher, musician, environmentalist, novelist, aesthete, and former literary smuggler in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, Scruton’s depth of learning enables him to speak with unique authority on how the West’s achievements opened it to democracy, the rule of law, and profound loyalty to the nation-state. It is this last topic, the nation-state, that has attracted Scruton’s attention in recent years precisely because of its precarious standing on the world stage. Scruton’s defense of the nation-state engages its many critics on their own ground. To their insistence that the nation-state is the wellspring of insularity and rapacious nationalism, Scruton underscores that the nation-state is the pivotal seat of tolerance, prosperity, and democratic accountability.

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