Saturday, October 16, 2010

Philip Blond's Red Toryism: A Canadian Tradition Revived and Revised

Editorial Note: Red Toryism is a Canadian political tradition that has been revived (with some alterations) in the UK by the Radical Orthodox scion, Philip Blond. To get a sense of the similarities and differences between the Canadian Red Tory Tradition and its recent British counterpart, compare Ron Dart's article on the [Canadian] Red Tory tradition with the following variety of attempts to define Blond's current revised vision:

ThatcherThe Red Tory sounds like Margaret Thatcher in a Che Guevara beret, just as the distributist sounds, to someone unfamiliar with the term, like a redistributionist, or a communitarian might be confused with a collectivist. (It would not hurt the third-way Chesterbellocians to update their nomenclature.)

Zach Dundas describes Red Tories this way:

The Red Tories argue that modern free-market capitalism poses as potent a threat to individual liberty and communities as Big Government. Red Tories lump big-box stores, industrial agriculture, and high-finance shenanigans together with heavy-handed bureaucracy and high taxes: all, in their view, undermine the rock-ribbed Conservative values of local autonomy, strong community, diverse traditions, and decentralized power. The Red Tories view themselves as defenders of grassroots community against both the free market and the State.

The Red Tory Tradition by Ron Dart

The language of Red Toryism became popular in the mid-1960s when Gad Howoritz suggested that George Grant was a Red Tory. The publication and immediate success of Grant’s, Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism (1965), made it abundantly clear that there were historic forms of conservatism in Canada that could not be equated with American republicanism. Horowitz, in his classic article, ‘Tories, Socialists and the Demise of Canada’(1965), argued that there was a ‘Tory touch’ in the Canadian political tradition that leaned more towards the commonweal and socialism than did the free enterprise system of Blue Toryism. It was this ‘Tory touch’ that was more ‘Red’ than ‘Blue’ in orientation that distinguished the Canadian from the American notions of conservatism.

Political Ressourcement: Anabaptist Inaccuracies, Radical Orthodoxy, Red Toryism, and George Grant by Ron Dart

"George Grant was Canada’s most significant public philosopher."

Graeme Nicholson, Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant’s Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (p. 323)


The Constantinian Fall Myth

There is a rather inaccurate and shallow read of Christian history that unfolds in this manner. Once upon a time there was the pure New Testament church that was faithful and true to the radical commitment to Jesus Christ. This period of time was short, and the fire did not burn bright and with much light for long. The 1st century soon gave way to the post-apostolic era, and in the 2nd-3rd centuries, the intensity and spirit of the martyrs gave way to assimilation, many compromises and a thinning out of the faith journey.

The most serious distortion and compromise of the church took place when Constantine came to power in the early decades of the 4th century, and Eusebius’ oration and adoring speech to Constantine made it clear that the church had now become a lapdog and dancing bear of imperial politics. The age of true prophets and genuine martyrs was over. It was just a matter of time before Theodosius and Charlemagne took control of the church and reduced it to a vassal of political power.