[OPE] The search for a new bourgeois narrative: Philip Blond's "red Tory rising" in Britain

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Sun Feb 08 2009 - 10:21:18 EST

Thankfully, conservatism is a rich and varied tradition, and re-examinating
its history can provide the answers Cameron needs. These ideas are grounded
in a conservatism with deeper roots than 1979, and whose branches extend
into the tradition of communitarian civic conservatism-or red Toryism. This
is more radical than anything emerging from today's left and should be the
way forward for the right. The opportunity to restore a radical, and
progressive, Toryism must not be lost to the economic downturn.

To date, neither political party has offered a plausible analysis of the
origins of the meltdown. Brown denies all responsibility while George
Osborne and Cameron hold him wholly and uniquely culpable. Given that no
reasonable person can think either position is tenable, both parties have
surrendered the intellectual high ground. But the financial crash does
provide an opportunity to think through a renewed "one nation" conservatism.

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. (...)

In respect of liberalism, the left has twice sinned. It has produced a
managerial state that has destroyed the old mutualism of the working class.
And it has destroyed both middle and working class morality; in the name of
permissiveness, it commodified sex and the body, creating the licentious
empty pleasure-seeking drones of the late 1960s. This left-libertarianism
repudiated all ties of kith and kin and, though it was utopian in
aspiration, its true legacy has been the dystopia of divided families,
unparented children and the lazy moral relativism of the liberal
professional elite. In this sense, the left was rightwing years before the
right, and it created the conditions for universal self-interest under
Thatcher. The current political consensus is left-liberal in culture and
right-liberal in economics. And this is precisely the wrong place to be.

Taken together, such policies will help conservatives create a
transformative red Tory manifesto. They would build a new economic and
capital base that decentralises power and extends wealth and also makes a
final break with the logic of monopoly and debt-financed capitalism. In
doing so, Cameron can finally bring together the Tory tradition of
Disraeli's reform of capitalism with his own entirely justified desire to be
a "social radical." It would render the left superfluous and redefine Marx
as just another dispossessor of the poor. Moreover it would recover the
insights of 19th-century conservatives like Cobbett, Ruskin and Carlyle,
ally them with Tawney and the distributism of Chesterton, Belloc and
Skelton-all of who knew that, without something to trade, one cannot enter a
market. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10608

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Received on Sun Feb 8 22:42:08 2009

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