The Doctrine of Red Toryism

In writing a piece on the Red Tories (with some able co-authorship) called ‘Thin Economics; Thick Moralising: Red Toryism and the Politics of Nostalgia’, I happened upon a key but hitherto unknown document. Here are a few choice quotations:

On localism, versus liberalism and socialism:

In the Red Tory conception of history, man is man only by virtue of the spiritual process to which he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation, and in the function of history to which all nations bring their contribution. Hence the great value of tradition in records, in language, in customs, in the rules of social life … Red Toryism is therefore opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on eighteenth century materialism; and it is opposed to all Jacobinistic utopias and innovations…

Red Toryism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Red Toryism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon … Red Toryism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State.

On morality:

This positive conception of life is obviously an ethical one. It invests the whole field of reality as well as the human activities which master it. No action is exempt from moral judgment; no activity can be despoiled of the value which a moral purpose confers on all things. Therefore life, as conceived of by the Red Tory, is serious, austere, and religious; all its manifestations are poised in a world sustained by moral forces and subject to spiritual responsibilities.

On religion:

The Red Tory conception of life is a religious one, in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the in­dividual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society.

You’ll find this key document here.

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6 thoughts on “The Doctrine of Red Toryism

    1. It’s due out in the Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion- short version. Long version, with a discussion of subsidiarity as perniciously hierarchical and distributism as a defanged Christian communism, will come out in another place.

  1. Thanks. Again, looking forward to it.

    “Defanged Christian communism” in the sense that Christian communism is “but the holy water with which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat,” or because in siding with the conservative wing they’ve sundered any hope for a thoroughgoing transformation? That is, is this merely a critique that they’ll never really get things moving? Or do you see RT as pushing forth an agenda to reinstate a peasant class? Or is there even a difference?

    I’m curious because I’m sympathetic to what Blond/Milbank are attempting (though I am American) and to Distributist thought as a whole (sorry…), but also excited about your work.

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