Western Civilisation

A Plague of Optimists

The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope, by Roger Scruton; Atlantic Books, 2010, 232 pages, £15. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. —Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” Roger Scruton’s optimists and pessimists are not what one might expect. He is not talking about the optimist who looks at a problem and says, “We can fix this!” or the pessimist who moans and gives up. He is talking about false hope, “detached from faith and untempered by the evidence of history”, hope that is “a dangerous asset, and one that threatens not only those…

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