First Things RSS Feed - Roger Scruton
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60Living with a Mindhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/12/living-with-a-mind
Tue, 01 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0500I was brought up in a culture that made no special place for the “intellectual” as a distinct human type, and which regarded learning in the same way as any other hobby: harmless and excusable, so long as you kept quiet about it. The person who studied the classics at home, who wrote poetry in the early hours, or who listened in private to Beethoven quartets was, in my little patch of suburban England, no more to be despised than the expert in tarot cards, the amateur acrobat, or the breeder of exotic chickens. But if he should begin to display his hobby in ordinary social gatherings, or to imagine that his knowing the works of Emily Dickinson entitled him to some measure of respect not accorded to those who had gotten no further than page three of
, then it was time to put him in his place as a social outcast.
The End of the Universityhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/04/the-end-of-the-university
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400Universities exist to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and culture that will prepare them for life, while enhancing the intellectual capital upon which we all depend. Evidently the two purposes are distinct. One concerns the growth of the individual, the other our shared need for knowledge. But they are also intertwined, so that damage to the one purpose is damage to the other. That is what we are now seeing, as our universities increasingly turn against the culture that created them, withholding it from the young.
]]>Is Sex Necessary?https://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/12/is-sex-necessary
Mon, 01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500E. B. White and James Thurber’s prescient satire of the sexual revolution in America,
Is Sex Necessary?
, was published in 1929, just before things really got going. It reminds us that sex was already understood as an arena of contest between the individual and society. Social order meant channeling and concealing our sexual emotions, and adhering to the unspoken agreement not to talk about them, at least not directly and in explicit terms. People might do unconventional things in private; but going public was taboo. Of course, Freud and the Freudians had upset things, but they discussed the matter in medical language that neutralized the appeal of the things they described. Apart from a few rude novelists like Henry Miller, Americans believed that decency forbade us from making a show of our inclinations and that the norms of middle-
class society should continue undisturbed.
]]>The Good of Governmenthttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/06/the-good-of-government
Sun, 01 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400In his first inaugural address, President Reagan announced that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” and his remark struck a chord in the hearts of his conservative supporters. American conservatives, called upon to define their position, reiterate the message that there is “too much government.” The seemingly unstoppable expansion of regulations; the increasing control over what happens in the workplace, in the public square, and even in the family; the constant manufacturing of new crimes and misdemeanors, aimed at controlling how we associate and with whom; the attempts to limit First and Second Amendment rightsthese developments are viewed by many conservatives with alarm. They seem to be taking America in a new direction, away from the free association of self-governing individuals envisaged by the founders, toward a society of obedient dependents, who exchange their freedom and their responsibilities for a perpetual lien on the public purse. And you only have to look at Europe to see the result.
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400uring the Cold War the United States government made
important attempts to manage America’s image in the world. Besides the radio
stationsVoice of America and Radio Free Europeand the U.S. Advisory
Commission on Public Diplomacy, there was the U.S. Information Agency, whose
aim was to ensure that an upbeat and truthful image of America would prevail
against the adverse propaganda of the Soviet Union. The USIA was closed down in
1999, and the scope of the radio networks has been curtailed.