Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Rivers of Blood" versus the "Noble Lie"

Roger Scruton, writing in the New Criterion on Enoch Powell's (in)famous "Rivers of Blood speech, lays into liberalism and its "noble lie", by which, he argues, the dangers of large-scale immigration were masked. Powell's extravagant quotation from Virgil, he believes, made it easy for liberals to dismiss Powell's stance as "racist" and so avoid the need to debate his arguments. But the arguments, Scruton says, were far from being racist.

"Nor is it racist" (he writes) "to argue that indigenous people must take precedence over newcomers, who have to earn their right of residence and cannot be allowed to appropriate the savings of their hosts. But it is easier for me to write about these matters in an American intellectual journal than in an English newspaper, and if I tried to write about these things in a Belgian newspaper, I could be in serious trouble with the courts. The iron curtain of censorship that came down in the wake of Powell’s speech has not lifted everywhere; on the contrary, if the EU has its way, it will be enshrined in the criminal code, with “racism and xenophobia”—defined as vaguely as is required to silence unwanted opinion—made into an extraditable offense throughout the Union."

One suspects Scruton of over-egging the cake a little with some of this - his contention that the EU is aiming to make discussion of immigration illegal, his view that "an iron curtain of censorship" exists in these matters. Neo-Nazi parties, after all, thrive in Belgium, Germany, France and Italy. But this element of slightly camp posing has always been part of Scruton's appeal.

Link to Scruton's article:
The New Criterion — Should he have spoken?

Scruton on J.S. Mill the prototype leftist.

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