Monday, February 12, 2007

What is a red tory?

A red tory is a compassionate conservative, driven by a concern for community over individualism, the collective well-being over personal self-interest, Burke over Mill, social responsibility over token rights, societal responsibility over state responsibility, fiscal responsibility over socialism, and responsible government over mob rule. In particular, four (4) interrelated principles underlie "red toryism" as an ideology:

1. Tradition & Incrementalism: The tory philosophy is one in which society evolves gradually, remains stable but not static, and relies on tradition as a guide for the future.

2. Organicism & the Social Fabric: Core to the red tory ideology is the belief that society is more than a sum of its parts. It was Burke who invoked the term "social fabric" as a metaphor to describe society as a collection of individuals who, when woven together like threads, produce a much stronger and grander entity.

3. Ascription & Imperfection: The very essence of toryism is rooted in the Protestant belief in human imperfection, and the existence of a ‘natural hierarchy’ in society such that only the most capable should assume positions of authority. For red tories, while the social ladder exists, it is still accessible to those with lower social status, who may climb it gradually through their lifetimes and initiative, or over the course of several generations.

4. Paternalism & Noblesse Oblige: In essence, then, toryism is a belief system that combines paternalism and collectivism through the concept of ‘noblesse oblige’. In the tory view of community, one discovers a sense of mutual obligation – of duties and privileges, rights and responsibilities – such that those in positions of privilege owe concern to those of lower social and political status, while the latter owe a certain degree of deference to elites. Labeled "tory democracy", this set of values may help to explain the ebbing of red toryism in an age of declining social and political deference.

Overall, red toryism implies an easy acceptance of, but a low tolerance for, economic and social inequality, and displays a communitarian concern for the care of the less-fortunate in society.

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