“The Good of Government” – Roger Scruton

“This does not mean that conservatives are wedded to some libertarian conception of the minimal state. The growth of modern societies has created social needs that the old patterns of free association are no longer able to satisfy. But the correct response is not to forbid the state from intruding into the areas of welfare, health care, education, and the rest, but to limit its contribution to the point where citizens’ initiatives can once again take the lead.” – Roger Scruton


Roger Scruton

Here is an excellent piece by Roger Scruton, who is coming to my university – Ave Maria University – this coming year. I’m not quite sure I agree that the basis of government is solely the spontaneous bond of affection and friendship – perhaps there is something deeper, or less emotive?

But the piece on the whole is excellent, and a good indication of where conservatism needs to go in order to become a positive vision. As per the usual conservative piece, Scruton’s least clarified part is his idea of what the welfare state should be. ‘Less than it is, not non-existent.’ But what does that mean in the concrete?

2 thoughts on ““The Good of Government” – Roger Scruton

  1. I

    Great quote, except I think the point where citizens taking the lead can start is without any government involvement at all. Welfare is a terrific example. Government involvement in many cases precludes individual and NGO involvement, as the government check is guaranteed why bother?

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I don’t think it need be so exclusive. For instance, in hurricane relief: the Red Cross and Salvation Army, along with Catholic Relief Services, all work to help the citizens along with government aid. You may be right where extravagant welfare removes incentives to work. But need government involvement necessarily preclude private work?

      In my opinion, the government’s main job should be providing the structure for private initiative, encouraging those initiatives to take place. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the government takes no role. There is not a pressing herd of charitable organizations just waiting for the government to step back (that I’m aware of, anyways). With legislation and capital, the government can and should encourage private involvement.

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