The thinkers who have been most influential on the attitudes of the New Left are examined in this study by one of the leading critics of leftist orientations in modern Western civilization. Scruton begins with a ruthless analysis of New Leftism and concludes with a critique of the key strands in its thinking. He conducts a reappraisal of such major left-wing thinkers as: E. P. Thompson , Ronald Dworkin, Jurgen Habermas, Gyorgy Lukacs, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Zizek, Ralph Milliband, Edward Said, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze and Eric Hobsbawm. In addition to assessments of these thinkers' philosophical and political contributions, the book contains a biographical and bibliographical section summarizing their careers and most important writings.
In Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Roger Scruton asks, what does the Left look like today and as it has evolved since 1989?
He charts the transfer of grievances from the working class to women, gays and immigrants, asks what can we put in the place of radical egalitarianism, and what explains the continued dominance of antinomian attitudes in the intellectual world?
Scrupulously delving into the work of these left-wing writers, the author aims to prove how the twin liberal orders of “liberation” and “social justice” are empty slogans and collapsible newspeak.
Where writers like Michel Foucault rail against “structures of domination,” Scruton sees only “instruments of civil order,” such as common law, property, custom, hierarchy, family, even manners.
Marxist intellectuals have had to readjust their Utopian visions since the collapse of the Soviet Union—and well before that: since the fall of Stalin and Mao—yet continue to see the world in terms of power and struggle.
They demonstrate resentment of those who dominate and a determination to repudiate what “we, the inheritors of Western civilization, have received as our historical bequest.”
Scruton’s exploration of these important issues is written with skill, perception and at all times with pellucid clarity. The result is a devastating critique of modern left-wing thinking.