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A philosopher of the English countryside

In an interview and in his new book,

Roger Scruton explains that his environmentalism is based on localism and reform, not alarmism and radical upheaval. He notes that the first modern environmentalists were English Tories who resisted industrialization and the imposition of the railways on the countryside.

. . .Long-term political order, he says, depends on responsible stewardship. Here Mr. Scruton calls upon Burke's concept of trusteeship, which broadens Rousseau's social contract to encompass not only current members of society, but the dead and unborn too. Our responsibility to them offers us a natural incentive to conserve our habitats—one that strong, centralized states usually crowd out, as the environmental devastation in Russia and China suggests.

The temptation for transnational solutions to environmental ruin is equally apparent. "But of course they never work," Mr. Scruton says, "unless the people who subscribe to them have a motive for obeying the result. It's finding that motive that is the real problem."

. . .He continues: "I think this whole environmental movement has arisen because people recognize that we do need that spiritual discipline, and they're looking for it, partly in the wrong place by trying to get the government to do that discipline for us."

Mr. Scruton is hopeful that environmental degradation will be reversed from the bottom up, as countless other problems have: through civic associations, community groups and local organizations. . . ."What is to be done," he says, "is essentially a work of education, opening the space for volunteering, reminding people in one way or another that the responsibility is theirs, and not confiscating the space in which they can act."

None of that can happen without the love and transcendent bonds that sustain any society. . .

Picking up litter along a footpath or not dropping it in the first place might be a loving place to start.

Scruton says, "The love of the English people for the place that is theirs, for the landscape, the way of life and the institutions that have hallowed it, has been the greatest single cause of environmental stewardship."

I think he's right.

I'd add, if a conservative--someone who wants to preserve and conserve the best--doesn't want to conserve and preserve the countryside, he might think about calling himself something else. Barbarian comes to mind.

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