The Return of the Red Tory

By Patrick J. Deneen for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC

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.

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