[W]e glimpse an interesting book that Scruton might yet write where the problems of globalization, consumerism über alles, and ecological decay are examined from the perspective of 19th- and 20th-century conservative thinkers: that damned and discredited lot cast like so many fallen angels from out the Elysian campuses of the modern academy. But for now we must make do with what we have, which is a serious, eccentric, and humorous work that will surprise and disappoint readers who have come to it expecting to have their ideological prejudices confirmed.
Imagine a doctrinaire leftist writing a book on a group of conservative luminaries, then reverse the ideological polarity and that’s what we have here: a one-sided polemic against the New Left masquerading as a serious reckoning...If you’re a Sean Hannity fan who likes to put on airs at a Tea Party rally, Scruton’s book will tell you everything you need to know about the thinkers it so confidently dismisses. But those who seek genuine illumination about the characteristic insights and follies of the New Left will need to look elsewhere...
The book is a masterpiece, its rather too clever title notwithstanding. In crisp, sometimes brilliant prose, Mr. Scruton considers scores of works in three languages, giving the reader an understanding of each thinker’s overarching aim and his place within the multifaceted movement known as the New Left. He neither ridicules nor abuses the writers he considers; he patiently deconstructs them, first explaining their work in terms they themselves would recognize and then laying bare their warped assumptions and empty pretensions.
Just like his communist-minded opponents, then, Scruton seems to think exclusively in terms of an embattled 'us' versus a homogenous 'them.' The overall effect is quite gloomy. Sadly not countenanced within these pages is the possibility that a person might not care for Lacan or Deleuze but still admire Sartre, Jacques Derrida and Žižek — and, for that matter, Scruton.