As if channelling telepathic suggestions from my most recent post, David Brooks—he’s brilliant, you know, except when he’s not—sings the praises of chief “Red Tory” philosopher Phillip Blond. One might almost say that the Red Tory tradition is on the verge of breaking out of absolute obscurity into the comparatively blinding light of near-obscurity. (Hopefully, this Red Tory boomlet on the brainiac soft right will also mean a wider audience for Blond’s most diverting coiffure, visible at the left here.)
Brooks tends to get off on some pretty esoteric tangents when he gets into a funk about mainstream politics. (His column about Peyton Place, notably written at the crazy nadir of the Bush era, still holds the power to completely baffle me.) You know something strange is going on in his soul when the self-appointed Bard of Exurbia writes:
This would mean passing zoning legislation to give small shopkeepers a shot against the retail giants, reducing barriers to entry for new businesses, revitalizing local banks, encouraging employee share ownership, setting up local capital funds so community associations could invest in local enterprises, rewarding savings, cutting regulations that socialize risk and privatize profit, and reducing the subsidies that flow from big government and big business.
I’m way too much of a Big Government nerd to go all the way with Red Toryism, or any kind of Toryism at all—I’m in the middle of two books, one about Teddy Roosevelt’s brilliant national-forests land grab, one about the Great Society, and between them, I’m geeking out so hard on the benevolent state that I might end up with pin-ups of Gifford Pinchot and Lyndon Johnson in my locker. And, anyway, until my theoretical Middle Earth Liberation Front arises, there’s no electoral outlet for the radical decentralism that Blond articulates.
On the other hand, I like a nice cup of tea or a pint of real ale, and can’t help but feel some sympathy for a tradition which, in a broader manifestation, produced “If Pooh Were President.” I think it would be awesome if the American right would drop the crazy act and go after Wal-Mart or something Red Tory-ish. Get down with your bad selves, boys. (Q: Have there been any Tory females since Thatcher? Reply confidentially.)