chapter  Six
20 Pages

Scruton and the New Left

WithDavid Coates

This chapter discusses the Roger Scruton critique of Marxism, describes in dialogue with it, and draws on from it lessons. Scruton assured the readers of The Salisbury Review that the quality of New Left scholarship and personnel was poor. Scruton also welcomed Edward Thompson’s treatment of class. He particularly liked his rejection of class as a collective agent, praising him for his attack on anthropomorphism in the ‘Peculiarities of the English’ essay. The main focus of Scruton’s attack on the dishonesty of Marxist historiography is to be found in his chapter on Perry Anderson. Anderson was criticised by Scruton on other grounds – for recognising the threat to the integrity of the Marxist theoretical and political project constituted by the Thompson emphasis on class-consciousness as defining of class. Anderson gave causal weight to law, to religion, and to politics, whilst insisting that this demonstrated, rather than falsified, a Marxist approach.