"Posterity may know we have not loosely through silence permitted to pass away as in a dream." RICHARD HOOKER, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, 1593.
When living in a political climate where silence, and indeed a certain banal idiocy, threatens to nullify Hooker's sincerest hope, sometimes the stark voice of lament delivers a wake-up call and a nation's demise is deferred for another generation. So it was with the publication of George P. Grant's Lament for a Nation in Canada in 1965. Canada's unique vision was waning into vassal state status in the shadow of US imperial policy and liberal culture. Grant's jeremiad served as smelling salts and, against heavy odds, Canadians 'came to,' at least in part and for a time.
Through Ron Dart, Grant's Lament was my introduction to the High Tory tradition. Ron and I hiked the trails of the North Cascades over the course of years, through a series of parapatetic lessons on political philosophy and practical theology. The miles covered took us from Plato to Christ, Luther to Leacock, Hooker to Hegel to Heidegger ... and ultimately to my PhD dissertation on George Grant and Simone Weil. Mounting these peaks broadened my own horizons and offered me fresh mental, emotional and theological health. I'm indebted to Ron for that experience. In the end, we co-published a text entitled, "George P. Grant: Canada's Lone Wolf - Essays in Political Philosophy."
Now, Ron Dart, though already profound and prolific in this field, has released his magnum opus on The North American High Tory Tradition (American Anglican Press, 2016). This weighty work of politics, philosophy, literature and theology surely cements Ron's place as the leading High Tory scholar in Canada, if not the world. He has a unique ability to see to the heart of the matter and to transcend the poverty of the left-right spectrum. His critique of American modern liberal thought would be devastating, but Dart nevertheless disappoints extremists (as did Grant before him) by nuancing nearly any debate beyond crass reactivism.
Perhaps Ron's greatest critical faculty is expressed when he compares various thinkers and movements. In this collection of essays, he contrasts Canadian toryism with American conservatism; Noam Chomsky with Robin Mathews; Ginsberg with Grant; Creighton with Forsey; Leacock with Eliot; and even Anglicanism with Orthodoxy. This sort of flint-on-stone approach produces sparks of insight that I've not seen elsewhere. I would regard Dart's work as a richer blend than, for example, Phillip Blond's popular Red Tory analysis on the UK front. This achievement is magnified by Dart's embodied stewardship of the George Grant legacy. It marks this particular work as the decisive text on The North American High Tory Tradition.
Bradley Jersak is the author of From the Cave to the Cross: George Grant and Simone Weil's Theology of the Cross, originally Jersak's PhD thesis completed under Ron Dart's co-supervision.