The Return of the Red Tory

by Patrick J. Deneen on October 5, 2011 · 13 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

Our friend Phillip Blond returns to the U.S., landing first in Washington, D.C., where he will join me tomorrow evening, Thursday October 6 for a “conversation” about his recent work, his take on the current political and economic situation, his efforts to establish an American branch of his think-tank ResPublica, and anything else we and the audience decide to talk about. If you’re in the area, join us in Copley Formal Lounge on the Georgetown campus at 8 p.m. More information can be found on the Tocqueville Forum website. We were Phillip’s host for his first visit to the U.S., and he arrived with aplomb, greeted by an admiring column by David Brooks and a marvelous turnout at his several appearances.

On next Tuesday, October 11th, Phillip will continue his conversation on the campus of The Catholic University of America, where he will be joined by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and the political theorist William Galston. Information about his appearance at CUA is available here.

On October 14th, Phillip will speak at New York University at the Kimmel Center from 4-5:30. Information here.

And, in what I believe will be his first midwest appearance, Blond will speak on the campus of Michigan State University on October 17th. The title of his talk will be “The Broken Society vs. The Big Society.” Information here.

In all these talks, Blond will continue to develop some of his key insights that he powerfully articulated in his 2009 article “The Rise of the Red Tories,” where he wrote:

Look at the society we have become: we are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry. The intermediary structures of a civilised life have been eliminated, and with them the Burkean ideal of a civic, religious, political or social middle, as the state and the market accrue power at the expense of ordinary people. But if both 20th-century socialism and conservatism have converged on the market state, they have done so by obeying the insistent dictates of modernity itself. And modernity is nothing if not liberal….

Conservatives who believe in value, culture and truth should therefore think twice before calling themselves liberal. Liberalism can only be a virtue when linked to a politics of the common good, a problem which the best liberals—Mill, Adam Smith and Gladstone—recognised but could never resolve. A vision of the good life cannot come from liberal principles. Unlimited liberalism produces atomised relativism and state absolutism. Insofar as both the Tories and Labour have been contaminated by liberalism, the true left-right legacy of the postwar period is, unsurprisingly, a centralised authoritarian state and a fragmented and disassociative society.

A recording of my conversation with Blond will be available in a number of days at the website of the Tocqueville Forum. But, for those in the vicinity of any of these talks, I hope you’ll consider coming out to what I am quite certain will be a riveting and energizing set of conversations and lectures.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Brandon October 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I just found out that Blond has a new book coming out in February 2012 called Radical Republic: How Left and Right have Broken the System and How We Can Fix It, which applies his Red Tory philosophy to America. This is great news.

avatar Rob G October 6, 2011 at 7:23 am

Has Roger Scruton ever commented on Red Toryism? It would be interesting to hear his take on it, being a fellow Brit and Burkean conservative.

avatar Drew Bowling October 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

Roger Scruton is a Fellow of Phillip Blond’s think tank ResPublica: http://www.respublica.org.uk/author/Professor-Roger-Scruton

Scruton has supported the effort to found ResPublica America.

avatar Barry October 6, 2011 at 10:36 am

Roger Scruton is a fellow of ResPublica, so I imagine he’s supportive!

(The reaction to his appointment was a bit mixed though, if I remember correctly).

avatar Rob G October 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Good to know about Scruton — thanks, gents.

avatar Dwight Lindley October 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Woohoo! Thanks to PB for resisting the urge to visit the Northeast only. I’ll be going to hear him in Michigan…

avatar Dwight Lindley October 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

P.S. Any chance the Tocqueville Forum will make the video public?

avatar Nagle October 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I live in a suburb of Detroit and will be driving out to Michigan State with a couple friends for the discussion. It should be interesting to see how the Red Tory sensibility translates to the American context. Hopefully it doesn’t pull any punches and is more anti-federalist than Amitai Etzioni top down communitarian. Anyone know Blond’s foreign policy views? Also, how do you think Ross Douthat and David Brooks will respond if Blond comes out in radical support of states rights?

avatar Elias Crim October 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

Dwight:

I understand the Center for the Study of Christianity and Culture, one of Blond’s sponsors at Michigan State, will video the event and then make that available online.

avatar Malcolm Magee October 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Dwight, Elias is correct, we are planning to video this event.
If you come to Michigan introduce yourself to me. You may also contact me of site at the email address associated with this post.
Malcolm Magee
Director, ISCC

avatar Dwight Lindley October 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Elias and Malcolm,

Thanks for clarifying. I will be there in Lansing next Monday, and will introduce myself to you if possible.

best,
–Dwight Lindley

avatar Paul R. Potts October 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Before the formal talk, Blond held an informal “press conference” with some of the organizers. The audio can be found here:

http://generalpurposepodcast.blogspot.com/2011/10/gpp-072-phillip-blonds-radical.html

I’ll get part two up tomorrow. I have an audio recording of his formal talk as well, although it suffers without video, since he used a number of charts and graphs via PowerPoint.

avatar purple policy October 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

You may want to read this before you swallow all his piffle!
Blond, the man who helped think up the big society, is accused of using cash from a think tank to fund a jet-set lifestyle

Marie Woolf
http://www­.thesunday­times.co.u­k/sto/news­/Politics/­article804­580.ece#ne­xt

Documents seen by the Sunday Times and sources close to the think tank reveal:

• Staff were angered that while the think tank fought for its survival Blond was spending thousands of pounds meeting women around the world. He asked an academic to pass £300 in cash to a woman in the Ukraine, now his girlfriend­, whom he was chasing.

• Despite receiving a family values award from the Mormon church, Blond was vying with a fellow academic for the affections of another girl. He compared notes on a “hot Spanish journalist­” from a Catholic newspaper. Blond told another academic, who referred to him as Lord Blond, “Suggest she urgently needs to interview me.”

• Blond spent more than £40,000 from the ResPublica bank account on his own personal expenses. Sources say he frequently used the think tank’s Lloyds TSB debit card to withdraw money from cashpoints for personal spending.

• On one occasion, when staff were not being paid, a Regency-st­yle chair arrived at the office upholstere­d with half-naked women astride motorbikes­.

• Poorly paid staff had to wait for several weeks to be paid, while Blond withdrew £160,000 from the company in one year.

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