As promised, today Catherine Fieschi, former director of Demos, hits back at Phillip Blond’s call for “progressive conservatism.” It’s an ideological con, she says; one which creates an illusion of contradiction while in fact “smuggling in a notion of progress that would sit very well with 18th century industrialists.” With the financial crisis and oncoming recession, we are experiencing a time of fear and doubt. But this does not mean we should buy into a distorted fiction—the type of which Rousseau would certainly have disapproved of.
As many Prospect readers will be aware, Phillip Blond’s cover story has provoked argument from all quarters: yesterday, Rupert Darwall accused him of failing to understand how markets operate; on Monday Kieron O’Hara accused him of misreading Adam Smith. Tomorrow, Civitas director David Green will argue that Blond is “grossly mistaken” in some of the characteristics he attributes to liberalism.
So is Red Toryism, as Fieschi suggests, nothing more than “vote-seeking fancy dress”? Or are his critics missing the point? Weigh in here.