Roger Scruton on Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Need to Defend the Nation State

Roger Scruton

Yesterday evening Roger Scruton delivered a speech in Antwerp. He spoke at the invitation of the Vlaams Belang (VB), which is Antwerp’s, Flanders’ and Belgium’s largest party. The VB strives for the independence of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium. It is also the only Eurosceptic party in Belgium, a country that prides itself on being the model of a pan-European state.

I am not a member of the VB, though my wife is a member of parliament for it. However, since Roger and I are longstanding friends, they asked me to inquire whether he would be willing to hold a lecture for the VB leadership, its local councillors and interested members, sympathizers and, in general, for anyone in Flanders interested in Roger Scruton. The VB wants to become more acquainted with conservative and libertarian thought. Last year they invited Hans-Hermann Hoppe, this year they were interested in hearing Roger.

When I passed the request on to Roger he accepted at once. As soon as the VB invitations for the evening went out, however, Roger began receiving e-mails from Belgium, warning him not to go because, the e-mails said, speaking to the VB would damage his reputation, expose him as a “racist” and a “fascist.” However, the more pressure they put on Roger, the more he was determined to come to Antwerp. When the Belgian magazine Humo questioned him about this he said that if the Parti Socialiste, the largest party in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, invited him he would go too. Below is the speech Roger gave:

Speech by Roger Scruton, Antwerp, 23 June 2006


When I was invited to give this talk by my old friend Paul Belien, my first reaction was one of pleasure that a political party in Belgium should be interested in my ideas. I have never been asked to address a political party in Western Europe, and I long ago concluded that a voice like mine is irrelevant to the practice of European politics, and must be regarded merely as a vague murmur in the stratosphere of thinking, with no clear application in the realm of political facts. I had heard of the Vlaams Belang, and its predecessor, the Vlaams Blok, as a controversial party, with widespread support among the Flemish population of Belgium. I knew that the party had been targeted by the liberal establishment, had been accused of ‘racism and xenophobia’, and had been disbanded, in its previous incarnation, by a Belgian court. On the other hand, there were plenty of explanations of the accusations apart from their truth, and it seemed likely to me that the true offence of the Vlaams Belang had been to threaten the vested interests of the European Union.

That suspicion was to a certain measure confirmed when e-mails began to arrive from concerned ‘colleagues’ in Belgium – people who had never before shown any interest in my views, but who were now beseeching me to cancel this engagement, asking me not to give credibility to a dangerous right-wing party, and warning me of the damage to my reputation, should I be associated with a party of extremists. It became immediately clear that the controversy surrounding the Vlaams Belang is one that goes to the heart of Belgian politics, and that the opponents of the Vlaams Belang do not wish merely to defeat it in fair and free elections, but to destroy it as a political force. And because they cannot destroy it by democratic means, since it has the habit of receiving the largest number of votes in Parliamentary elections, they wish instead to destroy it through the courts, and to silence and intimidate those who might otherwise confer legitimacy on its efforts. The very suggestion that, by addressing the Vlaams Belang – whether in tones of agreement or tones of rebuke – I have somehow associated myself with it, indicates the intention of the Party’s opponents, which is to put it beyond the pale of  dialogue.

Now my instinct, when it comes to intimidation, is to side with the victim. If people tell me that I must not associate with Jim because all decent people are boycotting him, then my instinct is to associate with Jim. I may discover that there are very good reasons for boycotting Jim. But if I have not made the effort to know him and to bring him back into the fold of human society, then I have failed in my duty as a Christian. And what goes for individuals goes for political parties too. I don’t deny that there are parties that should be outlawed – as the Nazi Party was outlawed, many millions of deaths too late, as the Communist Party ought to be outlawed, and as certain Islamist parties are being outlawed in Europe today. Parties, in my view, are like people: they must conform to the categorical imperative. They must not practise or justify murder, and must not incite hatred towards any minority or towards any recognizable sub-community within the state. And if they do those things, the state has the right and the duty to disband them. And of course, that is what I shall begin by saying to you today, confident in the conviction that it does not need saying.

It should be pointed out, however, that socialist parties have not always obeyed the ground-rule against incitement. For many years our own Labour Party existed on a diet of class hatred not entirely dissimilar to the hatred that had been a cornerstone of communist ideology between the wars. The most striking feature of the left-wing movements of the sixties – movements to which many of today’s political élite belonged – was the fervour of hatred that they expressed towards the ‘bourgeoisie’, meaning anyone who owned property. Incitement is never far from the surface in politics, and we must all of us continually examine our conscience to make sure that this crime, of which it is so easy to accuse our opponents, is not one of which we too are guilty. It is only in a condition of calm deliberation, after all, that we can begin the urgent task facing Europeans today, which is that of achieving a new negotiated settlement that will embrace all the citizens, old and new, of states that have been irreversibly changed through immigration.

That is why the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’, which has been levelled at your Party, is such a serious one. For it is designed to suggest that the Vlaams Belang cannot form part of any such negotiated settlement; that it offends not only against the ground-rules of democratic politics, but also against the primary goal of the New Europe, which is to incorporate large immigrant populations into a form of citizenship that transcends race, religion, culture and creed. If we do not establish this form of citizenship, then we can look forward to a future of conflict and disaffection, in which inter-communal strife is the norm. And if ‘racism and xenophobia’ stand in the way of this new form of citizenship, there are very good reasons for thinking them to be unacceptable features of any party that expresses them.

However, reading some of the attacks on the Vlaams Belang I cannot help recalling the time, twenty years ago, when I too was accused of ‘racism and xenophobia’ by the left-liberal media in Britain, and was forced to run the gauntlet of disgrace by my university colleagues. My offence was to have argued, through the Salisbury Review which I edited, and through my weekly column in the London Times, that the official policy of ‘multiculturalism’ was a mistake, and that the future of Britain depends not on encouraging immigrants to live apart in cultural ghettoes, but on integrating them into a common culture of nationhood. The very same liberal establishment that reacted then with outrage to my arguments, has since quietly accepted them, and the received view today is that we need a culture of Britishness, in which all our citizens can share. Having been the object of this charge that I know in my own case to be false, I am bound to be sceptical towards those who make it, and who seem to make it so costlesssly and with such self-righteous contentment that it is the Other, and not the Self, who is guilty. Rather than examine your case, therefore, I propose to talk more generally about the meaning of the charge of racism and xenophobia, and about the circumstances that have led to its supreme rhetorical importance, so that it has become the equivalent of a charge of heresy in medieval Europe, of witchcraft in colonial Massachusettes, or of ‘deviationism’ in the Stalinist state.

Someone who is in a state of denial regarding his mortal illness, his wife’s infidelity or his child’s delinquency will turn angrily on the one who refers to the forbidden truth. Likewise, a political culture that is in denial about a serious social problem will condemn those who seek to discuss it, and try its best to silence them. For a long time now the European political class has been in denial about the problems posed by the large-scale immigration of people who do not enter into our European way of life. It has turned angrily on those who have warned against the disruption that might follow, or who have affirmed the right of indigenous communities to refuse admission to people who cannot or will not assimilate. And one of the weapons that the élite has used, in order to ensure that it is never troubled by the truths that it denies, is to accuse those who wish to discuss the problem of ‘racism and xenophobia’. People of my generation have been brought up in fear of this charge, just as the people of Salem were brought up in the fear of being denounced as witches. We saw what happened to Enoch Powell, as a result of a public speech that warned against the dangers. I don’t say that Powell’s speech, in which he referred to ‘the river Tiber foaming with much blood’, was wise or helpful. On the contrary, it was all too easy to accuse him of scaremongering, and his quotation from the Cumean Sybil in Aeneid Bk VI – which of course nobody recognized – was instantly re-written as ‘rivers of blood’, and he himself dismissed as a dangerous madman. That was virtually the last time that a British politician dared to warn against the effect of large-scale immigration. Since then an uneasy silence has prevailed at the political level, while discussion at every other level has been hampered by the periodic show-trials of those judged to be guilty of ‘racism’ – for example, because they have argued that immigrant communities must integrate, and that separatism is intrinsically dangerous: the position adopted by The Salisbury Review under my editorship, and which was the cause of my own castigation.

By denying a problem you prevent its discussion, until discussion is too late. Throughout the thirties the European political élite lived in denial over German re-armament. By the time the truth could no longer be hidden, it was impossible to deter Hitler’s seizure of Czechoslovakia. Reflecting on such examples it is surely reasonable to conclude that we have a duty now to brave the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’, and to discuss every aspect of immigration. We owe this not just to the indigenous people of Europe, but to the immigrants themselves, who have just as great an interest in peaceful coexistence as the rest of us. Here is how I see the matter:

Every society depends on an experience of membership: a sense of who ‘we’ are, why we belong together, and what we share. This experience is pre-political: it precedes all political institutions, and provides our reason for accepting them. It unites left and right, blue-collar and white-collar, man and woman, parent and child. To threaten this ‘first-person plural’ is to open the way to atomisation, as people cease to recognize any general duty to their neighbours, and set out to pillage the accumulated resources while they can. Without membership we risk a new ‘tragedy of the commons’, as our inherited social assets are seized for present use.

Membership is defined in different ways at different times and places. For many societies, religion is an important part of it, so that the infidel is cast out or marginalized, as in traditional Islamic society. Although religion has been an important part of European identity, it was gradually, under the influence of the Enlightenment, pushed into the background by nationality, and subsequently by the rise of the nation state. And it is thanks to the nation state that we enjoy the freedoms and secular jurisdictions that are so attractive to immigrants – and especially to those immigrants who define their pre-political membership in religious, rather than national, terms. For national loyalty is a form of neighbourliness: it is loyalty to a shared home and to the people who have built it. It makes no specific demands of a religious or ideological nature, and is content with a common obedience to a secular rule of law, and a common sense of belonging to the land, its customs and its habits of peaceful coexistence. Communities founded on a national rather than a religious conception of membership are inherently open to newcomers, in the way that religious communities are not. An immigrant to a religious community must be prepared to convert; an immigrant to a national community need only obey the law.

The European nation states have tried to encapsulate the pre-political idea of national loyalty in legal criteria of citizenship. The relation of the citizen to the state is conceived in terms of reciprocal rights and duties. To claim the status of the citizen is to bring the power of the state to one’s aid against malefactors and also to promise one’s aid when the state is in danger. It is to enjoy state-protected rights that make one, legally speaking, the equal of all other citizens in any conflict, and as bound by the duty of obedience as they are.

Hence we, as citizens of nation states, are bound by reciprocal obligations to all those who can claim our nationality, regardless of family, and regardless of faith. Freedom of worship, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and opinion offer no threat, we believe, to our common loyalty. Our law applies to a definite territory, and our legislators are chosen by those whose home it is. The law therefore confirms our common destiny and attracts our common obedience. Law-abidingness becomes part of the scheme of things, part of the way in which the land is settled. Our people can quickly unite in the face of threat, since they are uniting in defence of the thing that is necessary to all of them – their territory. The symbols of national loyalty are neither militant nor ideological, but consist in peaceful images of the homeland, of the place where we belong. National loyalties therefore aid reconciliation between classes, interests and faiths, and form the background to a political process based in consensus rather than in force. In particular, national loyalties enable people to respect the sovereignty and the rights of the individual.

For those and similar reasons, national loyalty does not merely issue in democratic government, but is profoundly assumed by it. People bound by a national ‘we’ have no difficulty in accepting a government whose opinions and decisions they disagree with; they have no difficulty in accepting the legitimacy of opposition, or the free expression of outrageous-seeming views. In short, they are able to live with democracy, and to express their political aspirations through the ballot box. None of those good things are to be found in states that are founded on the ‘we’ of tribal identity or the ‘we’ of faith. And in modern conditions all such states are in a constant state of conflict and civil war, with neither a genuine rule of law nor durable democracy.

It does not need me to tell you that the account of national loyalty that I have just offered does not fit easily to the case of Belgium. For modern Belgium is a state in which two nations are being held together, largely against the will of one of them. Belgian citizenship is not rooted in a shared national loyalty, and has become a purely legal privilege, which can be bought or sold with the passport. This buying and selling of citizenship, often to people who think of it purely as a right and never as a duty, is common throughout Europe. The political élite sees nothing wrong in people collecting passports as they might collect memberships of clubs. But it seems that the trafficking in Belgian passports is especially popular, perhaps because there is no pre-political loyalty which the passport represents.

For the same reason no efforts are made to ensure that immigrants to Belgium acquire loyalty to the secular state, or respect for the customs that have shaped it: Belgian citizenship is what immigrants are seeking, and Belgian citizenship has been treated by the political class as a commodity, to be bought and sold like any other.

Finally, the Belgian political class has fixed its sights on Europe, as the collective enterprise that will extinguish all those old national loyalties, and put a cosmopolitan indifference in their place. The European Union has meant a lot to the Belgian élite. It places them at the heart of the continent, transforms Brussels from a provincial town in Flanders to the capital of Europe, and provides a project that will distract attention from the growing disintegration of the country, and from the problems which they are determined in any case to deny. No wonder they are angry, when a popular party calls for the separation of Flanders, and for its re-constitution as a self-governing nation state. Even if there is no ground for the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’ you can be sure that the plan is to make it stick. Just imagine what would happen to the EU, were Flanders to become a nation state! What a step backwards this would be – a step towards loyalty, accountability, democracy and all the other superannuated things that the EU seeks to extinguish.

Now I do not doubt that there is such a thing as racism, that it has been immensely destructive and that our governments are right to look for methods to prevent its expression. Racially motivated crime carries an added penalty in English law, and incitement to racial violence is regarded as a serious offence. However, the adoption of such provisions should not blind us to the many double standards that haunt discussion of this issue.

First, the double standard over ‘racism’: a charge constantly levelled against innocent members of the indigenous majority, and almost never levelled against guilty members of immigrant minorities. This is not a European phenomenon only. On the contrary, there is a kind of collective guilt-feeling that imbues all discussions of racial difference in the West today. I recently had cause to study an academic article in the journal of the American Psychological Association, setting forth its official policy regarding multiculturalism and the treatment of minorities. And I was stunned to come across the following sentence: ‘All whites are racist, whether or not knowingly’. There you have it, endorsed by a prestigious academic and professional body: all whites are racist, whether or not knowingly.That, to my mind, is a racist remark of the lowest kind, one that attributes to people of a certain skin-colour an enormous moral fault, and one which they can do nothing to overcome, since they possess it unknowingly. And the sentence is indicative of a widespread approach to racial and cultural relations in the modern world. Racism is defined as a disease of the indigenous majority, from which incoming minorities are genetically immune, even when they bring with them the visceral anti-semitism that prevails in much of the Arab world, or the Malaysian hatred of the ethnic Chinese. Why is our political élite so keen to charge their own people with racism, and to turn a blind eye to the racism of immigrants? The answer is to be found in another double standard, encapsulated in the charge so frequently associated with that of racism – the charge of xenophobia.

I do not doubt that there is such a thing as xenophobia, though it is a very different thing from racism. Etymologically the term means fear of (and therefore aversion towards) the foreigner. Its very use implies a distinction between the one who belongs and the one who doesn’t, and in inviting us to jettison our xenophobia politicians are inviting us to extend a welcome to people other than ourselves – a welcome predicated on a recognition of their otherness.  Now it is easy for an educated member of the liberal élite to discard his xenophobia: for the most part his contacts with foreigners help him to amplify his power, extend his knowledge and polish his social expertise. But it is not so easy for an uneducated worker to share this attitude, when the incoming foreigner takes away his job, brings strange customs and an army of dependents into the neighbourhood, and finally surrounds him with the excluding sights and sounds of a ghetto.

Again, however, there is a double standard that affects the description. Members of our liberal élite may be immune to xenophobia, but there is an equal fault which they exhibit in abundance, which is the repudiation of, and aversion to, home. Each country exhibits this vice in its own domestic version. Nobody brought up in post-war England can fail to be aware of the educated derision that has been directed at our national loyalty by those whose freedom to criticize would have been extinguished years ago, had the English not been prepared to die for their country. The  loyalty that people need in their daily lives, and which they affirm in their unconsidered and spontaneous social actions, is now habitually ridiculed or even demonized by the dominant media and the education system. National history is taught as a tale of shame and degradation. The art, literature and religion of our nation have been more or less excised from the curriculum, and folkways, local traditions and national ceremonies are routinely rubbished.

This repudiation of the national idea is the result of a peculiar frame of mind that has arisen throughout the Western world since the Second World War, and which is particularly prevalent among the intellectual and political elites. No adequate word exists for this attitude, though its symptoms are instantly recognized: namely, the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours’. I call the attitude oikophobia – the aversion to home – by way of emphasizing its deep relation to xenophobia, of which it is the mirror image. Oikophobia is a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes. But it is a stage in which intellectuals tend to become arrested. As George Orwell pointed out, intellectuals on the Left are especially prone to it, and this has often made them willing agents of foreign powers. The Cambridge spies – educated people who penetrated our foreign service during the war and betrayed our Eastern European allies to Stalin – offer a telling illustration of what oikophobia has meant for my country and for the Western alliance. And it is interesting to note that a recent BBC ‘docudrama’ constructed around the Cambridge spies neither examined the realities of their treason nor addressed the suffering of the millions of their East European victims, but merely endorsed the oikophobia that had caused them to act as they did.

Nor is oikophobia a specifically English, still less specifically British tendency. When Sartre and Foucault draw their picture of the ‘bourgeois’ mentality, the mentality of the Other in his Otherness, they are describing the ordinary decent Frenchman, and expressing their contempt for his national culture. A chronic form of oikophobia has spread through the American universities, in the guise of political correctness, and loudly surfaced in the aftermath of September 11th, to pour scorn on the culture that allegedly provoked the attacks, and to side by implication with the terrorists. And oikophobia can be everywhere read in the attacks levelled against the Vlaams Belang.

The domination of our national Parliaments and the EU machinery by oikophobes is partly responsible for the acceptance of subsidised immigration, and for the attacks on customs and institutions associated with traditional and native forms of life. The oikophobe repudiates national loyalties and defines his goals and ideals against the nation, promoting transnational institutions over national governments, accepting and endorsing laws that are imposed from on high by the EU or the UN, and defining his political vision in terms of cosmopolitan values that have been purified of all reference to the particular attachments of a real historical community. The oikophobe is, in his own eyes, a defender of enlightened universalism against local chauvinism. And it is the rise of oikophobia that has led to the growing crisis of legitimacy in the nation states of Europe. For we are seeing a massive expansion of the legislative burden on the people of Europe, and a relentless assault on the only loyalties that would enable them voluntarily to bear it. The explosive effect of this has already been felt in Holland and France, and of course it is now being felt in Belgium too.

But there is a third double standard that can be perceived in the official policies of the EU when it comes to nationality. Where national sentiments pose a threat to the centralisation of power, the European machine is determined to extinguish them. Such is the case when it comes to Flemish nationalism, which threatens the very heart of the machine. Where, however, national sentiments serve to break down rival centres of power, the European machine gladly endorses them. It has dealt with my country as though Britain were a wholly artificial creation like Belgium, has encouraged Scottish and Welsh nationalism, and imposed on us an official map in which Scotland and Wales exists, but England is not mentioned, being merely the arbitrary sum of four independent ‘regions’ by which it is to be eventually replaced. Britain won the war, and established thereby its immovable place in our affections, a place that it cannot yield to a power-hungry bureaucracy situated in a once occupied country. The only way to destroy Britain, therefore, is to emphasize the rival loyalties that will blow it apart and at the same time destroy its center which is England.

It is in the light of these double standards that the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’ should be assessed. It is a charge almost invariably levelled at members of the indigenous communities of Europe, and in particular against those at the bottom of the social scale, for whom mass immigration is a cost that they have not been schooled (and through no fault of their own) to bear. It is levelled too at political parties that attempt to represent those people, and who promise them some relief from a problem that no other party seems willing to address. Those who level the charge are almost invariably in the grip of oikophobia. Their sense of belonging is fragile or non-existent. They look on the old forms of European community, and in particular on the old national identities that shaped our continent, with barely concealed distaste. And by focussing on their cosmopolitan visions of politics, they are able to turn a blind eye to the fact that European states contain a growing number of people who have neither national loyalty nor the Enlightenment ideals that have stemmed from it. It is in this way, therefore, that we should explain the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’: it issues from the bad conscience of a liberal élite living in denial.

Well, you might respond, why shouldn’t they live in denial if it makes them more comfortable? In conclusion, let me say what I think is wrong with this kind of existential dishonesty. The ordinary people of Europe are now deeply anxious about their future: they are looking for someone who will represent their anxieties, and take measures to reduce them. The recent Islamist atrocities, and the general state of alert against terrorism, have done nothing to reassure them. And when people are in a state of anxiety they pose a threat, both to themselves and to those whom they fear. It is vital that the European states achieve an effective integration of their immigrant communities; but if the liberal élite will not discuss the matter, and continue to put all blame for the growing anxiety on the xenophobia of the indigenous population while ignoring the oikophobia which is an equal contributory cause, then the likely long-term effect will be a popular explosion, and one from which no-one will benefit, least of all the immigrant communities.

And this returns me to my initial remarks. I came here to talk about something that is of vital interest to you, and also to me. But it seems that there are many people in this country who believe that I should not talk to you at all, and that by doing so I become tainted with the very charge that has been levelled at you: the charge of racism and xenophobia. By talking about this charge, I hope to deflect it. I am neither racist nor xenophobic; I am in the habit of assuming that the same is true of others, until they have shown evidence to the contrary; and I am glad that a Party exists that is willing to brave this charge, in order to discuss the problem that is in the minds of all ordinary Europeans today. To those who wrote to me, saying that I must boycott the Vlaams Belang, I replied: why don’t you invite me? Why don’t you initiate the discussion that we all of us so much need, if you cannot entrust it to them? And of course not one of them has responded.

multi-etnicity or multicultural?

Excellent speech. Unfortunately it will not be heard by those who should!

Some thoughts that came to my mind. We should definitely ban the multicultural hype in Europe.
I, as an anti-racist, have nothing against multi-etnicity but I have a very big problem with multiculturality.
People from different etnical origin is not a problem in sé. Where it becomes a problem is when we get the multicultural speech through our troat. We live here with one set of laws, norms and culture and the new etnic groups coming to our country should behave according to these. So it is in other regions of the world: adapt to the reigning culture or get out as the "aborigens" want to stick to their laws, nroms and culture. This does not mean that we shouldn't eat shushi, kebab, spagehetti nor couscous or go to a international music festival; it means that our society should evolve in a natural way and the change not being imposed upon us by outsiders or the "politically correct" for pure voting purposes. We have never given any carte blanche to our politicians to change our norms nor our society by the influence of outsiders. Why can't we hold the same speech as in Islamic countries wereby they claim that the Islam can only be changed from the inside and not by external influences?

A 20 years ago Belgians complained about the "estompement de la norme/normvervaging" when Charles-Ferdind Nothomb refused to resign as responsible minister after the Heyzel-drama whereby a 40 italian soccerfans were killed. What the Belgian population, and others in the West, did not notice at that moment is that the "estompement de la norme" was already more than 10 years on its was in an organised manner by the Eurabian politics of our "representives". A good book is Eurabia from Bat Ye'or, though you better don't read it just before sleeping.


So in fact Oikophobia means something like Home-ophobia?




'Collecting liberals'

@ spraynasal

Believe me, I sympathise with your "practical problems", and I know fully well that it is very easy to write "I am not concerned with practicalities, but rather with principles". 

However, we are not discussing individual problems, but rather principles that SHOULD guide the law.  I know fully well that, in the real world, the law is often riddled with 'discriminations', precisely because it is often not guided by broad-based principles but rather by political realities.   The proper answer to existing 'discriminations' is NOT to create additional discriminations-in-law, but rather legal simplification and a return to basic principles. 

If you "happen" to live in a country "where citizenship is required to lead a business", then I would like to make two observations.   First, I doubt that you just "happen" to live there.  Rather, I suspect that you 'chose' to live there, perhaps with full knowledge of that legal 'fact'.  Second, if that is where the "problem" lies, then the proper response would be for that country to remove such absurd (certainly unwise) 'discrimination' from its laws.  The proper response lies not in "international conventions" that indirectly create new 'discriminations' and that devalue or undermine 'citizenship'.   In my opinion, any country that 'allows' its citizens to swear allegiance to another state while retaining their (earlier) citizenship, such a country does not take its citizenship seriously and such a country should not be surprised that the allegiance of its citizens will be a 'fickle' one.        


@ spraynasal

Of course it is "liberalism" (in the american sense of the word) to want 'something for nothing'.  You think it's OK for people to 'collect' nationalities without having to 'give up' anything for it.   I can understand "pragmatism" from a selfisch individualistic point of view, but I cannot condone multiple nationalities per person as a policy principle for society.  It devalues what "citizenship" is all about. 

Your second paragraph contains some 'strange' sentences.   You seem to think that being "on american soil" is sufficient to have US nationality, which is of course untrue.  I don't know whether the US "takes away" any passports, but I do know that the US requires a moral undertaking from any prospective citizen to renounce prior 'loyalties' to other states.   I am not concerned here with 'practicalities', but rather with the principle of undivided loyalties.

It is also strange that you associate greater "conditionality" with a "weaker" nationality.   That is a perverse view of things.   It is the opposite, the greater the conditionality, the stronger the nationality.   And a nationality which is totally 'free', in the sense that it doesn't require anything from the recipient, such a nationality can be considered virtually 'worthless'.   It should be easy to understand that a society which requires very little of its members will have no 'staying power'. 

I don't think of collecting


It's very easy to write "I am not concerned with practicalities".

There is indeed a moral undertaking to renounce prior loyalties to other states, and I agree with you on this point. But this has no consequences on the laws of other states, so in fact your new citizens have a dual citizenship. You like it or not, but it's a fact of life.

It happens that I live in a country where citizenship is required to lead a business. .If I am forbidden by my country of origin to fulfill this condition, this weakens my rights in regards to citizens from countries which never take away the nationality of their citizen.

I don't want "something for nothing". I just want that Belgium starts doing like the USA or like France or Britain or its neighbours. Like the recent international convention on nationality prescribes. Belgium has signed it, but not ratified it.

Rejoice: this IS a time of great Thinkers ... of the Right!

Guido Blomme … agreed; oikophobia (++ corresponding dogmas & theories) are rooted in a thoroughly adolescent understanding of the human condition. For excellent overview of problem, read Melanie Phillips’ article: “The baby boomers scorched inheritance” (1 April 06). Refer to her website archives. Google if needed.

Marcfrans … your first para is surely correct. I believe we should be more cognitive of America’s culture war. Too much of what we consider “America” is nothing more than those two hotbeds of Left-Liberal cant: California (Hollywood) and New York (publishing industry). About 40 of America’s states are essentially and innately Republican in sentiment. If the world knew America only through those 40 states, it would likely be loved & respected; not held in contempt. Brace yourself for the closet communist Hillary Clinton’s 2nd Presidency (from 2008). Of course, she was the US President during 90’s, not hen-pecked Bill.

John Sobieski … true picture is far from depressing one you paint. I feel privileged to be living in this time of great thinkers. Potential energy being generated is growing at tremendous rate and soon will have to flow; its conversion to kinetic energy will be inevitable. Most are in USA right now, although Canada’s Mark Steyn is worth more than 10 Left-Liberal pansies alone. Plse visit David Horowitz’s excellent Click on menu link at top (Columnists) to see a list of FPM’s many contributory writers (most have their own websites.

Let us not forget Bat Ye’or and Oriana Fallaci. Elsewhere in the USA? Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton operate truly excellent Private Papers website (

Read Britain’s Theordore Dalrymple (a pseudonym) at; also Peter Hitchens at Mail on Sunday (see his blog). Read his amazing book: “The Abolition of Britain” (see

Belgian citizenship: a commodity???

Mr Scruton writes: "Belgian citizenship has been treated by the political class as a commodity, to be bought and sold like any other."

I would like to inform Mr Scruton and the editing staff that expatriates Belgians like me are denied by Belgian law access to the nationality of their country of residence, which is not the case for British, French, German or US Citizens. The official organization "Vlamingen in de wereld" ( has denounced this, as well as the francophone UFDE. To no avail so far. Belgium has yet to ratify a 1996 Treaty to stop withdrawing the nationality to expatriate who willingly apply for a second nationality.

At the same time, Belgian authorities don't prevent ( and cannot prevent) African, Arabs or Asian migrants resident in Belgium from keeping their nationality of origin when they obtain the belgian nationality.

This shocking unbalance has been regularly denounced, but not remedied to, so far...

But I don't want a "remedy" forcing immigrants to forgo their roots, but a remedy allowing Belgian citizen to keep their roots, if they want to merge with their adoptive country.


@ spraynasal

I disagree with your rather 'liberal' view on citizenship. No one is "forced to forego their roots" when taking another citizenship. Rather they are choosing a new 'loyalty'. One cannot sumultaneously serve two (or more) 'masters' or 'polities', without the likelyhood of serious conflicts of interest. Life requires making choices, and linking rights with duties. And no one is served by pretending otherwise.

Two 'wrongs' do not make a 'wright'. If the Belgian authorities are foolish enough to grant citizenship to certain immigrants without simultaneously requiring renunciation of their prior citizenships, that is certainly not a valid argument for the accumulation of 'additional citizenships' by Belgian expats. This has nothing to do with "foregoing one's roots". One can only hope that these "roots" provided a solid enough basis for anyone who is voluntarilty taking on the obligations of his or her chosen (new) citizenship.

In any case, anyone who wants to obtain US citizenship (through naturalization) must formally declare, ON OATH, to "entirely renounce and abjure ALL ALLEGIANCE and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, STATE, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen". That is how it is in 'serious' countries, and that is how it should be!

You may ask any oath...

You may ask any oath you want, but this oath has no effect in the legal system of the country of origin of the interessed.

When you are on US soil, you are american and nothing else, but if you have another nationality from another country, the US will not take away your US passport. Nor France, for its citizen. Nor the UK, nor Germany...None, except Belgium. There is a bigotry here. Why should I have a nationality "weaker" and more conditional than a Mexican in the US or a Moroccan in Belgium??? This is not liberalism, this is pragmatism.


Scruton has done an invaluable service by giving a name (oikophobia) to the loathing felt by liberals for the societies that spawned them. Actually oikophobia is at root an expression of a kind of snobbery. "I am better than you because I am tolerant and cosmopolitan (I can also deal with my own impermissible racial feelings by projecting them onto you)." And surely snobism, despising another because of his manners or accent or lower income or lower social status, is every bit as reprehensible as racism.

At the same time, Scruton has blown the cover on the liberal scam of silencing, confusing and intimidating those who disagree with the liberal agenda by naming them racists or xenophobes. The post-war order in Europe - which liberals have so successfully subverted for their own purposes - was built on the sacrifice of those who died or were maimed on the beaches of Normandy, for example. Inconveniently for liberals, jihadists, gay rights activists and pro-choice feminist harpies were unaccountably underrepresented on D-Day, etc. But perhaps this is merely further evidence of the chronic discrimination endemic in Western civilisation?

Charles Simmonds

Scruton misunderstood, #2

@ Snorri Godhi

I find the clarification from 'cogito' useful and also a better formulation than the earlier one.  Nevertheless, I still think it not appropriate to link European anti-americanism with "patriotism".   It is much better linked with some kind of 'woolly (utopean) internationalism' which is now widely adhered to in Europe. 

Besides the quote from Scruton that I already cited, his other core idea in my opinion is the idea (which conforms with empirical historical observation) that the basic human rights we take for granted today have only been realised in "the nation state".  At least in some nation states of western civilization.   Lofty empty rethoric in international UN-like (and even EU-like) fora cannot, and does not, EFFECTIVELY guarantee such rights for 'citizens'.  

And, if one considers massive human rights violations in parts of the nonwestern world over the last half century, neither the UN nor the EU have ever been able to stop such 'genocides'.  Dharfur is just the latest example of 'internationalist' impotence.   Only a few strong (democratic) "nation states" (primarily USA, Britain, France, and Australia) have ON OCCASION been able to take CONCRETE action to stop it.  Needless to say they have only been able to do this occasionaly (e.g. Bosnia, Sierra Leone, East Timor, etc...), both for reasons of domestic politics or because of international impediments.




@Snorri Godhi

The anti-americanism that is to be feared by americans and all others is the anti-americanism originating from communism-derived philosophies. patriotism-inspired anti-americanism is much more an often healthy competitive attitude motivated by the wish to beat you rather than destroy.

Scruton misunderstood

@ Snorri Godhi

I fear that you may have misunderstood Scruton to some extent.  He stressed the importance of "citizenship", of RECIPRICAL obligations etc...

"...national loyalties enable people to respect the sovereignty and the rights of the individual..."


His main point is that such concepts as patriotism and nationalism are under attack and ridicule in many parts of western Europe, and have been replaced by some "cosmopolitan indifference" which undermines civic loyalty.  While anti-americanism is widespread in Europe today, it is certainly NOT linked to "patriotism" on the part of Europeans.  Indeed, it is the (correct) perception by Europeans of Americans as being "patriotic" which feeds anti-americanism to some extent.  Many Europeans have a need to feel anti-american because they have been 'indoctrinated' (by their 'elites' and media) to be anti-nationalist and anti-patriotic.   They can sense that it is americans' patriotism  which, to some extent, explains why appeasement tendencies are less strong in the US than in Europe.  European anti-americanism rests in part on a need by Europeans to justify their own lack of  "national loyalties" and unwillingness to 'defend' them.



A Spark of Sanity


There are so few scholars to respect today. Melanie Philips, a few in the US, one or two there and Mr. Scruton.  The rest of the elites, the academia, the 'experts', all are dead set on destroying the indigenous majority. I think I am going to start calling them monkeys.


"That's right, I said it"


This speech will make people think, and what better praise can one give? Yet there is one question that bothers me. In continental Europe, patriotism is very often associated with anti-americanism. (Especially, but by no means only, in France.) Is Roger Scruton worried that, by encouraging patriotism, he could also encourage anti-americanism?

Perhaps his perspective is different because, in Britain, it is (almost only) the oikophobes who are anti-american.

Medicine for my wounded heart

Dear Paul Belien,

I have never visited Belgium, but from my heart, thank you for your ongoing, noble, and brave efforts.

What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful speech by Roger Scruton. I never cease to enjoy reading his analyses, but the text of his VB speech has been particularly uplifting for me, a fellow Englishman.

Substitute Britain (or Holland, or Sweden, et al) for ‘Belgium’ in many of the above paragraphs and you find a consistent pattern of Left-Liberal vandalism.

More than happy to see that, at last, we have a terminology on which to focus: oikophobia.

For those who are puzzled by the etymology of this word, then allow me to help out. The word ‘oik’ is a disparaging British-English term for “someone regarded as inferior.”

In common with so many others, my anger towards Left-Liberals and Left-Liberalism (postmodernism, cultural relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, and radical feminism) continues to grow. If the democratic process fails to deny the advancement of this dogma soon, and if democracy proves too impotent to quickly reverse the immigration and social policies that derive from such “trendy wine-bar” theories, then that anger is surely going to turn to rage, or worse. I am quite certain many others are beginning to see the high stakes that now confront us.

I have truly become sick and tired of my culture and my home being undermined by such bums as Javier Solanas (the Dhimmi Foreign Minister), elitist snobs such as Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and wrecks like Margaret Beckett (drab in appearance and of intellect).

The speech by Roger Scruton

The speech by Roger Scruton was indeeed wonderful.And the comment by Mission Impossible was interesting. Just one detail: I do'nt agree with the etymology of oikofobia given bij M. I. Oikos means in Greek: house, home. Oikofobia is often a transitory adolescent behaviour. But it can become an ideology. The half intellectual, never growing up, feels superior because he dispise his home, the traditional values.