Scruton Honored by Polish Government


English philosopher Roger Scruton was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Polish President Andrzej Duda earlier today.

According to the Associated Press (reprinted in various publications), “Duda said Scruton was recognized for supporting the democratic transformation in Poland.”

Scruton’s previous state honors include a Knighthood of the United Kingdom in 2016 and a Medal of Merit (First Class) of the Czech Republic in 1988.


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Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

I wouldn’t take much pride in being given an award for “the democratic transformation in Poland” by the current PiS right-wing, nationalist, regime that has been dismantling the democracy we fought so hard for in the70s and 80s and which was working quite well until the Kaczynski Klan came into power. Much like our nefariously elected president, they were aided and abetted by the two powers that would most benefit from a right-leaning regime, Russia and the Church. If anyone can unbraid all that, they should get a Nobel.Report

Kroll
Kroll
2 years ago

Fantastic, the government reversing all the democratic changes gives awards for helping to bring about democratic changes. Surreal.Report

Merilyn
Merilyn
Reply to  JL
2 years ago

Oh well, there ya go. Oczywiscie, they would honor this POS.Report

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Merilyn
2 years ago

Scruton may well be a “POS”, but I’d encourage you to base your view of him on what he has actually said rather than on a social media-driven fracas. The journalist’s conduct throughout that episode was (in my view) deplorable, revealing himself to be a twitter user first and a journalist a distant second.

For anyone interested, this article from (the New Statesman itself) offers a good overview.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/05/scruton-affair

“The NS should consider one further point. What is the aim of an Encounter with a public figure? Is it to explore the subject’s thinking and give readers some insight into opinions with which they may expect to disagree? Or is it to elicit “outrageous” comments that will create controversy?

The headline on Eaton’s article, written by Eaton himself, was a direct quote from Scruton: “Cameron renounced leadership when it was most needed.” Underneath, the standfirst (as journalists call it) read: “Roger Scruton reflects on the true meaning of conservatism.” This unsensationalist presentation suggests the first aim. The tweets suggest the second. Yet thousands of readers now form their first impressions of an article from a tweet, not, as they once did, from a headline. Curiously, newspapers and magazines continue to give careful attention to headlines and standfirsts – which will be seen by several colleagues – but often allow journalists to tweet their own pieces without consultation.”Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Paul
2 years ago

If anyone wishes to base their view of Scruton on what he actually said, the whole interview is here:
https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/04/roger-scruton-interview-full-transcript

The comments about Chinese people as replicas may be more ambiguous in context. The comments about Islamophobia and George Soros, in my view, are no better in context than out of it (and Scruton has previous form on Soros: https://www.roger-scruton.com/articles/276-the-need-for-nations). His remarks on “preaching homosexuality as a lifestyle in schools” and about “transgender” are also awful, in my view.Report

JEB
JEB
Reply to  JL
2 years ago

The inferences made about Scruton’s views in the infamous article in the New Statesman have been thoroughly debunked and refuted by a much more reputable journalist,Douglas Murray.You should always fact check your sources nowadays for the underlying agenda.As a highly regarded Conservative philosopher,Scruton is the Left’s favourite sitting duck.You should note his honour from the Czechs,awarded for his assistance to the country through out the repression of Communist era.Report

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  JEB
2 years ago

I have no wish to get into a debate, but neither the claim that Douglas Murray is a more reputable journalist nor the claim that these “inferences” have been debunked are anything like uncontroversial. I would say they’re both completely false but I’m not going to argue for that. I only want to indicate that they’re highly contestable and contested.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  JEB
2 years ago

The full transcript of the New Statesman interview is available here:
https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/04/roger-scruton-interview-full-transcript.

It is unambiguous here that Scruton is attacking the very idea of Islamophobia–he doubles, triples, quadruples down on it. His comment that “the Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East” was quite bigoted against Muslims.
His comment about Hungarian Jews “join[ing] up with Soros’s transnational campaign against Orbán,” though less explicit than his anti-Muslim comments, are still disgusting and bigoted–particularly when he casts them as support of Orban’s attacks on Soros. The Orbán government’s conspiracy theory was that Soros was trying to flood Europe with immigrants (see for instance the comments of the Hungarian State Secretary reported in https://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-anti-semitism-problem-hungary-jews/, with more examples of Orban’s antisemitism problem). This was the same conspiracy theory that helped inspire white supremacists to murder Jews at my childhood synagogue and at another synagogue. The kindest thing I can say about Scruton here is that perhaps he’s willfully blind to his ally’s promotion of antisemitism.

It is also disturbing for a prominent academic to be buddying up to Orbán when Orbán’s government literally outlawed the country’s leading university.

JEB mentions Scruton’s honor from the Czechs and Scruton does appear to have been heroic in aiding the resistance to Communism in the eighties. (Life imitating Tom Stoppard’s Professional Foul?) But his award from Duda’s government looks quite different, at least in light of who’s giving it. Duda’s government, besides dismantling democratic institutions in various ways, attempted to make it a crime to discuss Polish complicity in the Holocaust. The government also seems to be not exactly discouraging antisemitic demonstrations over the idea of Holocaust restitution: https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/05/12/polish-far-right-supporters-protest-restitution-of-jewish-property/.

Nobody should be accepting honors from this Polish government. It is especially disturbing for Scruton to do so, shortly after showing himself so utterly insensitive to antisemitism in Hungary. This seems like a disturbing pattern of allying himself with right-wing Central European governments that promote antisemitism (and Islamophobia too, though as mentioned above Scruton more explicitly promotes Islamophobia himself).Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Matt Weiner
2 years ago

To add, I can find no evidence that the word “islamophobia” was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood, as Scruton claims. That seems to be a conspiracy theory. There is discussion of the origin of the term on p. 3 of http://www.insted.co.uk/anti-muslim-racism.pdfReport

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Matt Weiner
2 years ago

“It is especially disturbing for Scruton to do so, shortly after showing himself so utterly insensitive to antisemitism in Hungary.”

OK. Since we agree that one should base their views on Scruton’s own words, this is a direct quote from George Eaton’s interview:

“I said there’s a legacy of anti-Semitism in Hungary which you can’t deny. You have to recognise that if you’re going to form any kind of coherent idea of what Hungary is as a nation. It has a large Jewish population who’ve got to be included and this was one of the great strengths of the Austro-Hungarian empire, that it gave to the Jews a sense of national identity as well as their ethnic and religious identity, and that’s what’s in danger of being lost because of the Nazi takeover and then the Communist takeover, which was also all part of that. So you should never ignore the possibility of anti-Semitism and the situation of the Jew in Hungary if you want to have a nation state.”Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Paul
2 years ago

The other thing he said in that lecture is “Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire.” Which, along with the antisemitism he mentions, he lists as among the factors that hinders Hungarian nationalism. And what he’s saying in the passage you quote, that national identity of Jews is in danger of being lost, amounts to saying Hungarian Jews used to be loyal to Hungary as a nation but aren’t anymore. Which, even if his ideal solution is to bring Jews back to nationalism rather than anything else, isn’t exactly comforting for us.

And the very next thing he says after that passage is to praise Orban for how good he is to the Jews, which is decidedly not the case, before going after Soros for his “transnational campaign against Orban”; transnational campaigns led by Jews are an antisemitic trope.

Even if Scruton’s comments about antisemitism established that he wasn’t using antisemitic tropes (which they don’t), going on to talk about how non-antisemitic Orban is would evince utter insensitivity to antisemitism, because Orban is very antisemitic indeed. See https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/13/hungary-tells-uk-jewish-group-to-mind-its-own-business-over-antisemitism for some more examples (“speculates with money,” “organises illegal immigration”).

So I stand by my comment that Scruton showed himself utterly insensitive to antisemitism, and that this is part of a disturbing pattern.Report

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
Reply to  Matt Weiner
2 years ago

“His comment that “the Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East” was quite bigoted against Muslims.”

What do you disagree with, precisely? You can argue that Hungarians shouldn’t be alarmed, but this statement seems to me to be fairly factual.

Do you just disagree with use of the word “tribe”? Because I’d use “tribe” more or less synonymously with “ethnic group”, and I’d have no problem using it to describe, say, Hungarians as much as any Muslim group.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Hector_St_Clare
2 years ago

A “sudden invasion” is a military attack. Describing refugees immigrating to a country as a “sudden invasion of huge tribes” is a bigoted statement. In light of your praise of the bigoted and Holocaust-denying Polish government, you seem to be a bigot, so I’m not surprised that you’re fine with that.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Matt Weiner
2 years ago

I mean, here’s someone using the same pseudonym professing not to understand why “Jews are inherently greedy” might be considered hate speech, so it’s not surprising to see someone with that pseudonym professing to understand why “sudden invasion of huge tribes” is bigoted.Report

Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

If Duda and Kaczynski could get away with this they would. Makes it all the more egregious that Scruton would accept an award from such scum. I, and thousands of others around the world, including American unions, gave many years of our lives to support Solidarnosc, the Underground Press, the Flying Universities, the imprisoned acadmics, miners, 400 pegnant women in Fordun Prison through the first winter months after Martial Law on Dec 13, 1981and the Velvet Revolution only to help them be free to be as stupid as they want to be. For the shutting down of a university alone, Scruton should have distanced himself from all these right-wing regimes. I will ask my friend, philosopher, Martin Beck Matustik, whose book Out of Silence details his escape from then Czechoslovakia. I daresay he would not be on the side of Scruton.
https://blog.apaonline.org/2019/01/03/a-university-goes-into-exile/Report

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
Reply to  Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

“I, and thousands of others around the world, including American unions, gave many years of our lives to support Solidarnosc, the Underground Press, the Flying Universities, the imprisoned acadmics, miners, 400 pegnant women in Fordun Prison through the first winter months after Martial Law on Dec 13, 1981and the Velvet Revolution only to help them be free to be as stupid as they want to be. ”

Wow, you sound strinkingly similar to some of the neocons around the time of the Iraq War. Eastern Europeans, for the most part, didn’t and don’t care about liberal democracy any more than Middle Easterners do: in so far as the events of 1989 were about anything, they were about national self determination, not about liberalism, capitalism or democracy.

For what it’s worth, a significant chunk of people in much of eastern Europe, including a majority in Hungary last I checked, think that their countries were better off under communism, so I’d suggest that your activism is something you should maybe have second thoughts about.Report

Maja Sidzinska
Maja Sidzinska
Reply to  Hector_St_Clare
2 years ago

@ Hector: I won’t comment on the main points of this DN post, but as an Eastern European, I will just say that I think you are wrong about the following: “a significant chunk of people in much of eastern Europe, including a majority in Hungary last I checked, think that their countries were better off under communism.”Report

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
Reply to  Maja Sidzinska
2 years ago

Maja Sidzinksa:

with due respect, I’d encourage you to consult the surveys here:

https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2010/04/07/hungary-dissatisfied-with-democracy-but-not-its-ideals/

in response to the question “do you think most people were better off under communism”, about 72% of Hungarians, 62% of Ukrainians and Bulgarians, 48% of Lithuanians and Slovaks said yes.

That was ten years ago, granted, but I don’t know of any studies since then that address the question one way or another.Report

jj
jj
Reply to  Hector_St_Clare
2 years ago

As a fellow Eastern European – I think the question they asked is really stupid. Only people who have little idea of “communism” in Eastern Europe can ask it in the way it was asked. For most us, communism is not some “one thing” in the past – there are HUGE differences, say in Czechoslovakia among (roughly) 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Both in the extent and severity of state control, in freedom of movement, in economic prosperity, and so on. Almost nobody wants 50’s back, many want 60’s, again almost nobody 70’s and many have fond memories of 80’s because it was so much better than 70’s and/or they were children or teenagers. This is just one aspect of the issue. There are many more…Report

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
Reply to  jj
2 years ago

That’s very correct, and you’re right o point out the limitations of the question. Still, the very fact that, as you point out, that there were big differences between countries and between decades, underscores that most normal people don’t remember communism as this undifferentiated, monolithic, Bad Thing. Which would probably surprise most people, and in particular most anticommunist intellectuals, in America.Report

Daniel Butt
Daniel Butt
2 years ago

I see that nobody has yet mentioned Roger Scruton’s despicable shilling on behalf of the tobacco industry. So let me draw your attention to Roger Scruton’s despicable shilling on behalf of the tobacco industry.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2002/jan/24/advertising.tobaccoadvertising

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2002/feb/05/tobaccoadvertising.internationaleducationnewsReport

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
2 years ago

Good for Scruton. The Polish government these days seems to be a lot more reasonable (at least on cultural issues) than governments in most western countries, and if I were him I’d be honoured to get an award from them.Report

Unreasonable
Unreasonable
Reply to  Hector_St_Clare
2 years ago

Lest anyone thought the modern obsession with “cultural” issues (i.e., ethnicity, gender, and Islam) was restricted to the left, here we have a perfect example of its right-wing incarnation: being reasonable is entirely a matter of being reasonable on these hot-button issues. It goes without saying outside of parentheses that reasonableness is just wanting fewer Muslims in one’s country.

A free press? Rule of law? Pshhh. Those won’t get you any thumbs-ups or re-tweets.

Good for Scruton for getting an award from a party that says what I like on the topics that come up in my Twitter feed.Report

Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

Your comments sound like what a Polish Catholic anti-Semite or Russian troll might say under your pseudonym. Are you with the Polish American Congress? They did NOT support Solidarnosc (except very nominally to save face with world opinion) because they suspected us all of being Marxists or Jews. They were half right. We had to fight them tooth and nail to keep General Jaruzelski from being honored at West Point, the Pentagon etc. on his visit to the U.N in Sept 1985. The PAC’s heroes — James Michener, Ed Piscek — had actually proposed to escort him and obtain military honors for him. Likewise, we had to put pressure on Reagan to keep up the sanctions on the regime until it collapsed. We cared most about getting people, like ya know, human beings yearning to be free, out of prisons or at least to make their plight as public as possible so as to keep them as safe as possible until they could be freed. And we did. I couldn’t be prouder of the years I gave to this cause and the fine human beings I met and worked with all over the world. The current government is a dreadful disappointment, but they’ll soon be dead and gone and younger, more intelligent people will rule again.Report

Hector_St_Clare
Hector_St_Clare
Reply to  Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

Merilyn Jackson: contrary to your hopes, young people are more likely to favour Law and Justice (and to some extent, the smaller parties even more nationalist than Law and Justice) than older ones. This is common in eastern Europe, for what it’s worth, youth are more likely to support nationalist parties than older generations are. Look at any of the public opinion surveys that break things down by generation. Here is a decent breakdown (although already a couple years ago, recent election trends confirm it):

https://www.politico.eu/article/why-central-europes-youth-roll-right-voting-politics-visegard/

For what it’s worth, I’m not Catholic nor am I “on the right”:, nor do I support everything that Law and Justice or any neighboring government does (the “polish holocaust law” was pretty ill-advised, at best). I’m economically hard-left and culturally strongly conservative. That being said, I’m opposed to liberals trying to undermine communist governments in the 1980s and I’m equally opposed to them trying to undermine ethnic-tribalist governments today. If you believe in liberal ideas, please confine them to your own country, and stop trying to export them.Report

Merilyn Jackson
2 years ago

Dear “Hector”
What a great pseudonym for someone who comes to the party late only to upset the punchbowl and make the ladies clutch their pearls. Have you ever been to Poland? I go every few years and am always astounded by the rapid changes. For one, people under 40 don;t know much about what their parents suffered the hands of the communist regime, not much of their heroic fight for freedom. For another, less use of coal in the 90s on which brought out the beauty of all the Stare Miastos in cities like Krakow, Lodz and Warszawa, the renovations boom was mindblowing! As a “neocon” i ought to be supporting the current PiS gov’s position on mining more coal, oughtn’t I?
“WOW! you “opposed to liberals trying to undermine communist governments in the 1980s and I’m equally opposed to them trying to undermine ethnic-tribalist governments today. If you believe in liberal ideas, please confine them to your own country, and stop trying to export them.”
So I can infer that you were in favor of martial law, the internment of thousands of Poles (4655 in the first days alone,) and all the hardships the Poles went through. We “liberals” did not and do not “export” our “liberal ideas” but we do SUPPORT Poles who strive for human rights and freedoms like choice, the press, justice, separation of church and state, etc. How could you possibly find fault with that? Come out from behind your alias and meet me face to face, coward.Report