The North American High Tory Tradition – American Anglican Press
The American Anglican Press has published what looks to be a very interesting book, entitled The North American High Tory Tradition, by Ron Dart: Professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia (Canada). I may have to obtain a copy of this book! Unfortunately, the AAP's review is short on specifics. A fuller account of its contents is found here, including this synopsis of what the "North American High Tory Tradition" actually is:
Prof. Dart’s new book offers an excellent introduction to the venerable conservative principles of the North American High Tory tradition. As the book starts out, Prof. Dart identifies ten characteristics that can be seen to define this High Tory tradition.
First, there is an emphasis on the wisdom of tradition as an antidote to the danger of “chronological snobbery.” The current generation may always consider itself to be the wisest of all, but High Tory politics strives to avoid the perennial folly of this prejudice.
[I am reminded, here, of G.K. Chesterton's assertion that "Tradition is the democracy of the dead. It refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about!"]
Second, the High Tory maintains a resolute focus on the common good, instead of on inflexible ideological programs. Political prudence keeps in mind the difficulty of politics, steering a middle course between the extremes of unprincipled pragmatism, on the one hand, and the geometric certainties of ideological action plans, on the other.
Third, ethics is considered more important than economics. A politics that reduces everything to jobs and economic concerns must be rejected. Politics has a higher calling, to address the full human person.
Fourth, the environment cannot be sacrificed to economics. This is a corollary to the previous point, which aims to avoid economic reductionism, because “economic nationalism” is simply too reductive a notion for a nation ever to base itself upon. Moreover, any nation shares the same planet with other nations.
Fifth, state and society must work together, which is unlike the approach of either the usual conservative politics (which distrusts the state and exalts a society of individuals) or the usual liberal politics (which uses state power to reengineer society).
Sixth, public spaces and commons can serve the commonweal, in ways that complement private property. Private property is not the only way that citizens can attain the good life. Communal spaces are also essential to nourish the human spirit in ways conducive to its full flourishing.
Seventh, education needs to focus on the classics. This may also be seen as a corollary to the first point above, which seeks always to keep the wisdom of the ancients in mind.
Eighth, too much power should not be concentrated in one place. This is because of the fallibility of human nature. Unfortunately, the “authoritarians of the right” seem destined to learn this lesson the hard way in America’s near future. The ancient Greek appellation of “tyrant”, for the strongman who promises a quick fix, soon became a historically pejorative term, because human experience always shows that such a ruler will end up doing more harm than good, at least in the long run.
Ninth, religious traditions spanning the centuries are what will bring true vitality to political life. Religious diversity is thus a net benefit to political life, because it affords the wisdom of the ages many opportunities to find its way into public life, as people of all traditions bring their respective gifts to bear upon the most difficult problems of political life.
Tenth, we must admit there are things beyond politics, higher things to which we all must aspire. The High Tory tradition recognizes that, if we don’t admit this, then politics ends up endorsing relativism, which disastrously lowers our sights. In short, the High Tory is best known by his or her affirmation of their tradition’s judiciously high aspirations.
With most of this, I agree. Now, I have not read the book, so I am not sure whether "religious diversity is thus a net benefit to political life" is a feature of the book itself, or the opinion of its reviewer; nor am I sure of the boundaries of "religious diversity" in this context. But that is the only point among the above that raises a caution flag for me. I am very much in agreement that "religious traditions spanning the centuries are what will bring true vitality to political life." But they have to be the right "religious traditions spanning the centuries."
As those familiar with my thoughts as expressed on this blog will know, I believe the core religious tradition essential for the survival of the West consists of the Judeo-Christian tradition, as informed and infused by its Classical (Greco-Roman) and Celtic-Norse-Germanic predecessors on the European continent. Christianity and European culture have grown up together, evolved together, and mutually influenced one another for the better part of two thousand years; if Christianity "baptized" northwestern European paganism, it was also deeply influenced by it.
Western civilization as we have it is inconceivable apart from its Christian inheritance – some of the greatest works of art, architecture, music, and philosophy stem directly from the "Age of Faith" – but Western Christendom is also inconceivable apart from its Celto-Germanic inheritance. Foreign spiritual influences – be they basically peaceful ones such as Buddhism or frequently volatile, even violent, ones like Islam – should be tolerated with considerable caution, if at all.
That caveat aside, I am in very substantial agreement with this platform, both in principle and (for the most part) in its specifics. Definitely a book I should add to my reading list. Maybe a lot of us should!