Resentment, according to Scruton, has been a great destroyer. “The 20th century was the century of resentment,” he says. “That’s what produced communism, fascism and Nazism, and it ran out of control. Ideological determination fed on the resentment.”
He talks of how concepts of human rights, originally a defence against the state, have become co-opted by governments and used as tools of resentment.Discussing the current debate over amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act, Scruton warns human rights have become a “hunting ground” for the Left.
“Now you have a human rights machine that is essentially in the business of boosting the powers of government to intimidate those it dislikes on behalf of those that are its client,” he says. “We conservatives have always acted on the assumption civil society will be able to generate its own sanctions,” he says, warning against legal sanctions that he fears may ultimately lead to greater disruption.
“You can penalise people for making racist remarks but the more you penalise them for making those racist remarks the more the racist thoughts will grow beneath them and you’ll build up huge tensions between groups that will burst out in some other way,” he says.
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