A royal welcome to ResPublica

By Simon Barrow
August 2, 2009

The theologian and 'red Tory', Phillip Blond has just announced the emergence of his new think-tank, ResPublica, on his Facebook page.

Ekklesia is happy to break the news further. The new baby (in chronological, not intellectual terms) can be found here (http://www.respublica.org.uk/), along with a link to its creator's musings on 'The Civic State'.

Phillip is always interesting, whether you agree or disagree with him (and I do both). Earlier on I reported, following The Guardian, the impending news - see 'Blond ambition' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/9786).

The Latin term Res publica means "public issue" or "public matter", and is connected to the word "republic"... which, of course, has a whole variety of resonances. One that does not apply here is the usage for those of us who disbelieve in monarchy, since Phillip upholds this particular piece of eugenic privilege with characteristic robustness (if the conversation I partly overheard in the 'green room' at the Convention on Modern Liberty in February '09 is anything to go by).

But the 'Jesus dynamic' of radical Christianity is, it seems to me, inherently anti-imperial and non-monarchical (see the articles on Ekklesia by Chris Rowland and Tom Hurcombe). Which is one reason I am in a different place on this question, and a number of others, from Philip.

Anyway, I am genuinely looking forward to seeing what comes out of this new initiative. Thinking productively and creatively in the public arena is about mutually beneficial discourse.

Meanwhile, ResPublica is also, as it happens, "a community of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance, civic virtue and deliberative democracy", an interdisciplinary Journal of Legal, Moral and Social Philosophy, a blog, a consultancy, a Montreal-based holding and management company... and international directory of anti-monarchy websites sorted by country! (http://makepeace.ca/respublica/en/)

Plenty to get your teeth into there, Phillip...

As for 'Red Toryism', I doubt that it will flourish after an election victory for David Cameron and his buddies, which will see the revival of old, cuts-based meanness and inequality with a thin veneer of post-modern niceness. In the meantime, RT's transgressive ideas have some value (making us re-think tradition, the strange attachment of social conservatives to neoliberalism, etc.), but also attract slightly deranged rants like this on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=124316200430

A curious concoction indeed.

* ResPublica think-tank: http://www.respublica.org.uk/

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