“The next wave of American “conservatism” is not likely to base its appeal on such unsuccessful slogans as the Constitution and free enterprise. Its leader will not be a gentleman who truly cares about his country’s past. It will concentrate directly on such questions as “order in the streets” which are likely to become crucial in the years ahead. The battle will be between democratic tyrants and the authoritarians of the right. If the past is a teacher to the present, it surely says that democratic Caesarism is likely to be successful. In the fight between Sulla and Marius, it was the descendants of the latter who established the Julian line of emperors.”1
These prescient words were written by the leading Canadian intellectual George Grant over fifty years ago in his classic study Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism. In reading, Grant’s “lament” I was continually struck by his incisive insights into the precariousness of the Canadian project and the prophetic character of his assessment of the impossibility of conservatism on the continent. Grant may well be a figure worth returning to in our present moment.
- George Grant, Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, 40th anniversary edition (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), 66n.23. ↩