Seeing Red (Toryism)


Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Reading your posts makes me wish I’d taken more philosophy in University Chris. I particularly like the latter half.

    “Market economics and liberalism are both the greatest political and economic achievement in human history to date and simultaneously the very thing that is preventing the further evolution of human social and political relations. And worse is taking us careening towards some very dark and potentially catastrophic futures.”

    I wonder, is it something inherent in market economics and liberalism that is sending us down this dark path or is it that market economics and liberalism enable us, the individuals, to choose our collective paths far more than any system in the past and our trajectory is a reflection of the sum of our individual choices. Is the darkness in the heart of the system or is it in the heart of man? I guess what I’m groping around at is that it would be easy for a bad political system to make us collectively worse than we are, easy as pie. But a good system can only reduce the systemic evil bottoming out at a floor that is our own collective propensities? Progress therefore lies ideally in fine tuning the system while also encouraging the best in all of us. Maybe this is a role for religion? (I cover my ears against the hysterical laughter of my more conservative religious friends at the spectacle of me of all people musing on the need for religious influence.)

    Or maybe it’s time for lunch. I suspect I’m waxing incoherent.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to North says:

      I think there are flaws in our legal regime relative to capitalism. As for example, corporations are bound by law to value the interests of shareholders above all else. They are not bound to increase the health of employees for example. Or to positively add to the community’s well being.

      In other words, capitalism’s key metrics (e.g. Gross National Product) and the legal regime bind capitalism to a form of offloading negative “externalities” onto society. Namely maldistribution of wealth, environmental destruction, gentrification, and/or volatility of abstracted financial monies that can be taken away in a heartbeat.Report

  2. Avatar Lee says:

    This is a good post. I agree that Milbank and Blond are onto something: it required the creation, to a certain degree, of a strong, centralized state to secure human rights, which were (and are) often suffocated under non-state institutions (family, local, community, church, etc.). Blond and Milbank (though, to a lesser extent, as you point out) see this as a Bad Thing, whereas modern liberals and (some) libertarians see it as an emancipation. I think a more accurate view is somewhere in the middle–liberalism, Enlightenment, modernity, etc. all bring certain blessings, but at a certain cost, such as the decline of “thick” communities, received traditions, and the kind of social and economic stability that go along with them. Yet, neither modern atomism nor traditional communitarianism is, in any straightforward way, a “cure” for the other.

    One might well argue that modern liberalism (the welfare state, the mixed/social-market economy, etc.) is an attempt to replicate, on modern terms, the stability and security that were lost due to the corrosive influences of capitalism/liberalism, but without sacrificing the personal freedoms they also brought. This worked for a while, but due to a bunch of factors, was undermined by the rise of neoliberalism/free-market conservatism. What we need now, it seems to me, is a new system for restoring stability and community, but one attuned to the very different challenges we face (preeminently but not exclusively ecological ones). But I’m not sure how helpful Red Toryism is here, with its rather Manichean view of liberalism and “tradition” or “community” or whatever the proferred antidote is supposed to be.Report