Scruton argues that the tragedies and disasters of the history of the European continent have been the consequences of a false optimism and the fallacies that derive from it. In place of these fallacies, Scruton mounts a passionate defence of both civil society and freedom. He shows that the true legacy of European civilisation is not the false idealisms that have almost destroyed it - in the shapes of Nazism, fascism and communism - but the culture of forgiveness and irony which we must now protect from those whom it offends. The Uses of Pessimism is a passionate plea for reason and responsibility, written at a time of profound change. 
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