Red Torry

Some of you may recall John Medaille’s fine post of several months ago, “The Red Tories and the Civic State.”  In that post, John reported on the efforts of the British thinker Phillip Blond to fashion a new (old) way of thinking beyond the current Left/Right continuum in ways that echo the thought of, among others, Benjamin Disreali and G.K. Chesterton.  That post was among the most commented upon of any article on FPR, and attracted a comment of encouragement and appreciation by Phillip Blond himself. As a result of that comment and subsequent correspondence, Blond will arrive in the U.S. to lecture at Georgetown University next Thursday, March 18, followed by several panels discussing his work and ideas on the following  day. Thereafter, Blond will travel to Philadelphia where he will visit with other FPR stalwarts, Mssrs. Wilson and Shiffman, and where he will lecture at Villanova University. Information about the two lectures can be found below. Any and all readers are welcome and encouraged to attend. For those more far-flung, or locals who may have conflicts, a recording of his Thursday lecture at Georgetown will be available online a few days after the event on the Tocqueville Forum website.

(Allow me to take this opportunity to shamelessly plug this program which I direct – The Tocqueville Forum – and to encourage any Hoya readers among you to consider supporting through your alumni donations the good work of the Tocqueville Forum.  We are among the only FPR outposts in the nation’s capital – a contradiction in terms, perhaps, but an important presence nonetheless).

For those who would like to become more familiar with Blond’s views (very sympatico with FPR sentiments), see his essay “The Rise of the Red Tories.”

THURSDAY, MARCH 18 LECTURE
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Red Toryism and the Associative State: A Radical, New Political Settlement

Thursday, March 18 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: ICC Auditorium
Reception to follow

Featuring Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica, a public policy think tank

Is there an alternative to the monopolization of society and the private sphere by the state and the market? Phillip Blond will outline his vision of an Associative State: strengthening local communities and economies, ending dispossession, redistributing the tax burden and restoring the nuclear family.

Phillip Blond is the Director of ResPublica, launched by David Cameron MP in November 2009. Phillip was born and raised in Liverpool, and was trained as philosopher and theologian at the Universities of Hull, Warwick, and Cambridge. He was until recently a Senior University Lecturer in Christian Theology and Philosophy but left academia for politics and public policy. He first made an impact on British politics with a series of articles in The Independent and The Guardian and Prospect arguing for a new brand of radical conservatism – in which he allied social and relational conservatism with a transformative, Tory political economy, on which he will elaborate at his lecture.

Roundtable Response to Mr. Blond

Friday, March 19 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Location: Copley Formal Lounge

12:00 – 12:30 PM Lunch

12:30 – 2:00 PM Panel 1
Ross Douthat, Op-ed Columnist for the New York Times
Rod Dreher, Director of Publications, Templeton Foundation
Daniel McCarthy, Associate Editor of The American Conservative

2:15-4:00 PM Panel 2
Andrew Abela, Associate Professor of Marketing and Chair of Business and Economics, Catholic University of America
Charles Mathewes, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia
John Milbank, Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham

Respondent: Phillip Blond, ResPublica
Moderator: Patrick Deneen, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair Associate Professor of Government, Director, Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, Georgetown University

RSVP for both events or either event
to Tara Jackson at [email protected]

(RSVP required for lunch on Friday.)

And thereafter:

MONDAY, MARCH 22 LECTURE
VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY
PHILADELPHIA

After the Market State

A lecture by Phillip Blond on the Future of a Free Society

Blond will outline the vision that has increasingly captured the attention of Britain’s Tory Party in his lecture, “Red Toryism: What it means and why it is a genuinely radical alternative to the Market State.”

March 22 @ 7:30 PM in Driscoll Hall Auditorium

Location Information:
Villanova University Main Campus – Driscoll Hall
800 E. Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: (610) 519-6000
Room: Auditorium – Room 132
Contact Information:
Name: Marie Kelly
Phone: 610-519-6165
Email: [email protected]

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Bruce Smith March 12, 2010 at 8:01 am

Patrick. Would you be willing to take questions for Phillip Blond from FPR contributors who cannot make the events?

avatar Patrick J. Deneen March 12, 2010 at 8:15 am

Bruce,
A fine idea – I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to pose any or all, but please do send any along. We’ll have several informal meetings as well, and perhaps I can pose some of your questions on those occasions, and report back here.

avatar Nathan March 12, 2010 at 9:28 am

I wish I could be back at the ICC for this one.

avatar Russell Arben Fox March 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

I am green with envy. (Er, that is, red.)

avatar John Médaille March 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

Wow! What a great line-up. Wish I could be there, but I imagine that you will give us a full report. That’s your homework assignment.

avatar D.W. Sabin March 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm

His essay you cite should be read by all here. I would be interested in hearing more about the mechanics of the Local Trusts he proposes and how they might avoid becoming defacto oligarchy. This is the kind of constructive “Pox on Both houses” we need to hear more of.

I wish he was coming closer to my neck of the woods.

avatar Bruce Smith March 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thanks Patrick. Here are the questions I’d like to hear Phillip’s views on.

“Phillip as we all know reform of the Market State depends not just on changes in political democracy but also in economic democracy. Here are some questions for you that I believe need addressing for effective change in the latter. The questions also help clarify the role you believe the state should play in helping achieve economic democracy:-

Do you believe the power of credit creation and its broad brush direction should be transferred back to government from privately owned central banks like the Federal Reserve and if not why not?

If you do believe the transfer should happen do you believe the final choice for credit allocation is still best undertaken by commercial banks and if not why not?

If you believe the final choice for credit allocation should still be undertaken by commercial banks how would you propose stopping them negating government anti-monopoly intent with lending policies which encourage further concentration of corporate wealth including their own?”

DW. Here’s Phillip Blond’s think tank web site address where you can download his “Ownership State” publication which deals with his initial ideas on Local Trusts:-

http://www.respublica.org.uk/articles-and-publications

avatar Steve Knepper March 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Dear Mr. Deneen,

Will the forum on March 19th be recorded, as well? I’m going to try and drive up from Charlottesville, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. I’d especially like to hear Milbank. His recent essay, “The Moral Market is a Freer Market,” is quite good and should be of some interest to Front Porchers:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/content/1/c6/01/92/46/JohnMibankTalk.FreeMarketsMoralEconomies.pdf

Best,

Steve Knepper

avatar John Médaille March 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Great talk by Milbank. One question y’all might pose to Phillip is whether party politics in general, and the Tory party in particular, is a proper vehicle for reform. Phillip is very tied to the party and to Cameron, and I would like to hear him speak on that.

avatar N. P. West March 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Patrick, you should work with the Kirk Family to try and get Dr. Blond to Piety Hill. Also, contact Claes Ryn at Catholic U and NHI to see if he would be willing to come and hear Blond. Don’t forget to contact the folks at ISI in Wilmington as I’m sure they would be interested too.

avatar Cecelia March 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm

This is great news and I am going to try to get to Villanova for this event. Thank you Prof Deneen and other FPR’s for your efforts to organize this.

I look forward to the discussion on this site afterwards.

avatar Bruce Smith March 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

One of the purposes of John Milbank’s article is to remind us how a belief in God acts as a moral tool for human beings to achieve greater social cohesion. The message from this must surely be that if human beings find a need to believe in God to deal with the problems of their existence then it makes sense to also look for other tools based on mental constructs that can help us achieve social cohesion and to overcome the dysfunctional aspects of capitalism. To pretend that there are no problems with capitalism or the political system it meshes with seems to deny reality and also our incredible capability to make use of moral and rational tools. For example, the 2,200 page court ordered report by Anton Valukas on the Lehman Brothers released yesterday is a further blow to the moral credibility of the entire banking industry. It is especially worrying for us because advanced capitalist societies rely heavily on the operation of their financial institutions. A central conclusion can be drawn that the lessons that should have been learnt from Enron meant nothing and the use of deceit is still regarded as legitimate in business. For political parties of either conservative or social-democrat persuasion to sweep the consequent trust issue raised by this report under the table will reveal not just political corruption but mental paralysis, an inability to make use of our moral and mental construct capabilities. It does not augur well that we will not witness this denial of our capabilities pushing us further along the path to concluding that a clean sweep is needed of many of our organizations, institutions and belief systems.

avatar Chris Floyd March 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm

That Milbank speech was fantastic. Thanks for sharing it.

I’m sure David Cameron’s not all he’s cracked up to be, but it seems well past time that some of these ideas get tried. If it can’t be here in the US, then let it be Britain. Good luck to the Tories!

avatar N. P. West March 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

In my continued quest to update the “traditionalist conservatism” entry on Wikipedia I have included the following under the “Traditionalist Conferences” section for 2010:

“Phillip Blond’s Visit to America

British Red Tory philosopher and Res Publica think tank director Phillip Blond is set to come to the United States in March 2010 at the invitation of the American traditionalist blog, Front Porch Republic. Blond is set to first lecture and attend a round table discussion at Georgetown University’s Tocqueville Forum, where he will be introduced by the Forum’s Dr. Patrick Deneen, a Front Porch Republic contributor. The round table discussion will include comments from traditionalist journalists Ross Douthat of the New York Times and Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, as well as the Templeton Foundation’s Rod Dreher, and others. Deneen will moderate the round table.[36]

From the Georgetown event Blond is set to attend another event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This will be the first formal event in the United States between Blond, a British traditionalist who is an advisor to British MP David Cameron, and the leading public figures of the growing American “neo-traditionalist” movement.”

I would encourage all readers of FPR to read the entire entry and edit further additions to the piece.

avatar N. P. West March 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

My only worry with Blond, however, is that his think tank’s blog, “Disraeli’s Room” writes glowingly of “civil partnerships” for homosexuals and that David Cameron, whom Blond influences, is in favor of. Might not a trad con who believes in the natural family find it difficult to reconcile the Red Tory idea if it includes this as a policy prescription?

avatar Bruce Smith March 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

Individuals will read different things into Phillip Blond’s ideas. So for example I would read that he is both tradionalist and progressive in the sense that his core ideas can be summarized as follows:-

“Freedom is both supported and undermined by wealth but only associative democracy can maintain the balance.”

avatar N. P. West March 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm

That may be true but “associative democracy” has absolutely nothing to do with sexual liberation, which is the impetus for “civil partnerships” and other such nonsense. One can be progressive without being radical.

avatar Bruce Smith March 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm

How would you suggest the issue of whether to legally recognize same sex civil partnerships be resolved?

avatar N. P. West March 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm

It doesn’t need to be. Homosexuals have the right to marry, just not to each other. If one doesn’t recognize such behavior as acceptable you can’t normalize it. It used to be that society had the decency to frown on such things and it was kept to back alleys. We need to preserve the natural family not undermine it.

avatar Bruce Smith March 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm

That’s merely one opinion. Clearly others think differently. You paraphrase Edmund Burke in your Traditional Conservatism Wikipedia article to the effect that “the individual is foolish, but the species is wise.” but how can the species show its wisdom except by the exercise of democracy. It cannot use osmosis.

avatar D.W. Sabin March 15, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I read through Blonds report cited and while employee ownership of his proposed Civic Companies is front and center and so a good thing, there is no comprehensive discussion of scalability from local to state to national government nor is there any discussion of what is likely the most important issue at hand: Appetite For Services…or is that Gluttony For Services.

Britain does not have our heritage of States rights and autonomous local government so perhaps this is an unfair question or perhaps the diagrams at the end of the report deal with the various scales of public interaction. Or, perhaps National Dominance is a fait accompli. However, with a British percentage of public expenditures @ upwards of 55% of GDP and our own @ 44% of GDP (not including debt!) we must deal with the appetite issue sooner rather than later. Playing catch-up ball with already spent “future” savings is particularly open to Kafkaesque flights of fancy.

Are we to simply transfer the operation of public services…in their current form and general distribution from inefficient public sectors to the proposed “Civic companies”, thus realizing a productivity increase, quality improvement and perhaps savings and a more self-possessed public or are we to begin the discussion of our yearnings for utopian levels of care that fling us wholly into the realm of totalitarian solutions, regardless of whether they are privately or publicly owned and operated?

Conservatism, in my mind, must speak clearly about wants and appetites and set limits to the ability of a polity to satisfy excessive wants. I suppose I should be happy that public expenditures are only half of GDP (without debt) but I don’t care if the organization providing the services is publicly or privately owned, that seems an inordinate amount of money spent on government and with Civic companies ,quite possibly only a masking of the more serious issue: Excessive Appetite For Services. We aint an obese nation for lack of want.

That said, intriguing…. and I look forward to the fruits of his interaction on this side of the pond

avatar Wessexman March 17, 2010 at 12:27 am

Phillip Blond is truly a revelation. Reading his article in Prospect magazine I was reminded of the late, great Robert Nisbet. Both are must reads for our kind of conservatives and fellow travellers.

Cameron however is a different story. Peter Hitchens has written pretty accurately on him when he claims he is pretty much a Blue Labour candidate and his victory means a solidification of many of the New Labour ideals. He seems intent on continuing the current destruction of British sovereignty with the unwanted, on the part of the British public path of EU integration. He pretended to want a referendum on the farcical Lisbon treaty but he knew it would be already passed by the time he won and seems to have no plans to even stall further integration let alone reverse the current amount.

avatar Mike Sacasas March 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

The Immanent Frame today posted an interview with John Milbank which should be of interest. Here’s the address:

http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2010/03/17/orthodox-paradox-an-interview-with-john-milbank/

Blond and Red Toryies are taken up near the end of the interview.

avatar Russell Arben Fox March 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

Milbank’s next-to-last paragraph expresses most of my dearest beliefs about as cogently as I have ever heard anyone express them:

“[I support an] associationist communitarianism, which combines left egalitarianism with conservatism about cultural and ethical values. It is pro-high culture and pro-excellence in education, but wants these things to be democratically available. Ethically, it is pro-family but by no means wishes to reverse the gains of female equality and the tolerance of homosexuality—the point is rather that stable marriage is the best way for most people. It is also critical of the technologization of medicine and the increasingly calculative approach to the lives of the old; it takes for granted that all decent people are opposed to voluntary euthanasia….[Also, d]emocracy can only be sustained when there is a parallel, non-democratic concern with paideia–the formation of good character—which links talent to virtue and both to positions of appropriate social influence. Without the extra-democratic inculcation of character, democracy cannot enter into the debate about the good, which is the only legitimate and non-corrupt debate that can be held.”

Sign me up as a Milbankian.

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