Sunday, 26 February 2017

Loving the place you live - the essence of conservatism

From Roger Scruton:
This is why the true environmentalist is also a conservative. For the desire to protect the environment arises spontaneously in people, just as soon as they recognise their accountability to others for what they are and do, and just as soon as they identify some place as “ours”. Oikophilia is deep in all of us, and it is illustrated by the two-century-old campaign in my country to preserve the countryside, and by the similar campaign in the United States to protect the unspoiled wilderness. If we are to have a cogent environmental policy it must appeal to the oikophilia of the electorate, and that means that it must respect their sentiments of national identity. It must stand firm in the face of globalism, including the globalist rhetoric that would accuse all patriotic people of “racism and xenophobia” just because they are not prepared to let their home be swallowed in the global entropy.
It all does rather remind me of Kipling's paean to his home county of Sussex:

Love of place - country, county, town or village is central to the idea of conservatism but is often overlooked in our discourse. Whenever I'm with my fellow Conservative councillors - as I was for a couple of days this week - the feeling that comes across most is of of really being bothered about protecting where they live, their commmunity, their neighbours.

This idea:
Love of place is great equalizer and mobilizer. In all my years of doing community practice, I’ve never seen a more powerful model for moving communities forward and enabling places to optimize who they are instead of trying to be someplace else. It is this message that frees people to love their place, and hearing that their love of place is a powerful resource is not something many residents (or their leaders) have properly recognized and leveraged. That’s why I think I often see tearful reactions in my audiences and hear heartfelt stories of personal relationship with a place after my talks. The message of attachment—that the softer sides of place matter—resonates deeply.
You cannot, though, embrace the ideas of neighbour, community and place while simultaneously rejecting the idea of nation or worse still try to cast those who speak with emotion about nation as 'narrow-minded', xenophobic or racist. And this sense of place - belonging - underlies why Theresa May was right to say claiming to be a citizen of the world makes you a citizen of nowhere.



asquith said...

Roger Scruton raises several interesting issues, such as in his book Green Philosophy. However, apart from the fact that he overstates the impact of immigration, it needs to be stressed that Soviet-style white elephant projects don't just come from the "left" but also from the "right" in capitalist societies.

One thinks of HS2, the third runway and other projects that you may oppose in your capacity as an individual but which are pioneered by people who can't be put into some amorphous, left-wing blob as Scruton would like to.

There are several ways in which traditional conservatives have been marginalised and Scruton needs to lay emphasis on the fact that not just the Cameroon but also the UKIP and Mayhemite subdivisions of the "right" have little time for his ideas.

Conservatives have a lot of contributions to make to this debate and it doesn't make sense for all environmentalists to be on the "left", but at the moment it's the "right" who are in the ascendancy and who have, in the most, disregarded environmental issues.

James Higham said...

Can only echo this.