Roger Scruton was not only a kind and dear friend to me, but his intellectual work solidified my understanding of the great value of Western civilization and the promise it holds for individuals of all backgrounds. Roger was one of Western civilization’s fiercest defenders. For this he paid a price: he was not part of the academic “in” crowd the way some of his intellectual inferiors were.
Roger articulated better than anyone that the birth of the nation-state was one of the greatest achievements of Western civilization. It allowed for sovereignty, secularism in the civil sphere and the protection of individual rights. Roger described it thus:
“My case is not that the nation state is the only answer to the problems of modern government, but that it is the only answer that has proved itself. We may feel tempted to experiment with other forms of political order. But experiments on this scale are dangerous, since nobody knows how to predict or to reverse the results of them.”
Contemporary debates on the nation-state revolve around three key themes: globalization, free movement of people, and the appropriate response to the challenge of political Islam.
I wish Roger were still here to help us but he left us with some powerful insights. To Roger, globalization was the ceding of powers that properly belonged to the nation-state to supra-national entities such as the European Union, the World Trade Organization and other such institutions. These supra-national organizations threatened the viability of the nation-state and the legitimacy of national identity. Roger argued that unrestricted immigration had the same effects.
I would like to focus, however, on the third challenge, the difficulty of integrating Muslim immigrant populations, particularly when their norms in the field of gender relations differ from those prevalent in the West. One key example pertains to dress in the public sphere.
Read more here.