Sir Roger Scruton, one of the most recognisable modern conservative philosophers and supporter of anti-communist oppositionists in Central-Eastern Europe countries, passed away on Sunday at the age of 75.
A statement published on the philosopher’s website explained that he had been struggling with cancer for the past six months.
“Roger Scruton passed… A great friend of Poles and free, sovereign Poland,” Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted. Last June, Mr Scruton received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland from the Polish President.
During communist rule, Mr Scruton supported democratic opposition in Central-Eastern Europe, particularly through his assistance with an underground education network.
The Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook on Monday that the late British philosopher “was a bastion of free European thinking.” He also underlined that Mr Scruton was an interdisciplinary intellectual, a defender of tradition and a great friend of the Polish people.
Historian Timothy Garton Ash said that the late philosopher was “a man of extraordinary intellect, learning and humour, a great supporter of central European dissidents, and the kind of provocative - sometimes outrageous - conservative thinker that a truly liberal society should be glad to have challenged it.”
Contemporary European society has experienced a broad dilution of conservatism, particularly in the west, where culture has increasingly focused less on the genuine preservation of beauty and higher values. Sir Roger Scruton - knighted in 2016 "services to philosophy, teaching and public education" - dedicated his life to enlightening the public to the significance of traditional aesthetics and identity.
He recognised that communism in central-eastern Europe particularly threatened these invaluable principles and aided Poland and the Czech Republic - at risk to himself - in keeping them alive.
He maintained an interest and desire to assist the region as it moved into democracy. In July 2019 he was officially honored by the Polish state and awarded the Order of Merit by President Duda: “Recognising outstanding merits in the activity for the support of democratic transformation in Poland as well as for developing Polish and British scientific and academic cooperation: the grand cordon of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland has been bestowed on the citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Sir Roger Scruton.”
Ever the diligent academic, he made his acceptance speech in both English and Polish.