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Adrian Wooldridge

The Prophet of 21st Century National Identity

Three years after his death, the conservative English thinker Roger Scruton is exercising extraordinary global influence.

Roger Scruton in 2016

Roger Scruton in 2016

Photographer: Awakening/Getty Images Europe

Roger Scruton was a very English philosopher. He lived on a farm in Wiltshire surrounded by animals, including six horses and a black Labrador. His favorite pastime was fox hunting — dressed in traditional hunting pink. He revered institutions such as the monarchy and the (unreformed) House of Lords. His 50-odd books include On HuntingPhilosopher on Dover Beach and England, an Elegy.

Yet today this self-described “last Englishman” is more influential outside England than inside it. Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, regularly refers to him in her speeches. Mattias Karlsson, the leading intellectual of the Sweden Democrats, who are now part of the ruling coalition, has created a think tank called “Oikos” that claims the Englishman as an inspiration. (Oikos is a Scruton coinage from the Greek word for “home”). Viktor Orban, Hungary’s long-time prime minister, attended his funeral in Malmesbury Abbey, visibly moved, and frequently quotes from his friend’s writings.