Roger Scruton has an essay on the Online Library of Law and Liberty discussing the pillars of political community: tradition, culture, and citizenship. These three related notions, according to Scruton, are necessary for maintaining the fragile balance of order and freedom in society.
Tradition, Culture, and Citizenship
Editor’s note: This essay is adapted from a lecture delivered by Sir Roger Scruton at the second meeting of St. John’s University’s Center for Law and Religion’s Tradition Project that took place in New York on November 2-4, 2017.
The concepts of tradition, culture, and citizenship have this in common – they are summoned to protect our political inheritance against the disintegrative forces to which it is now exposed. They are tenuous, fragile, subject to many interpretations, and bend or break when we place too much weight on them. But they are among the important assets we have, when it comes to opposing the view of society as simply a power struggle between groups, who have no other end than to gain the ascendancy over their rivals. That view of society, as a power struggle, whose aim is domination or the escape from it, has been an intellectual commonplace from Marx to Foucault and beyond. Its falsehood is best displayed by examining the three concepts that form the topic of this article.
Sir Roger Scruton is a Senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall Oxford and visiting Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. Some of his titles include Soul of the World, The Face of God, Sexual Desire, The West and the Rest, England: An Elegy, News from Somewhere, Gentle Regrets, and I Drink Therefore I Am.
Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.