Skip to comments.Russell Kirk and The Making of The Conservative Mind
Posted on 05/27/2014 7:14:34 PM PDT by TBP
The critic of his time must accept the risk of being accused of negativism, but he can console himself with the knowledge that serious criticism has its source in a definite position with its own standards, values and objectives. By the 1950′s, with the work of such men as Albert J. Nock, T. S. Eliot, Richard Weaver and Eliseo Vivas, among many others, the criticism of liberalism had grown into a substantial literature; what was lacking was a point of view, or attitude, movement together and give it coherence and identity. It was the great achievement, one can say historic achievement, of Russell Kirks The Conservative Mind, which was published in 1953, to provide such a unifying concept. Kirk not only offered convincing evidence that conservatism was an honorable and intellectually respectable position, but that it was an integral part of the American tradition. It would be too much to say that the postwar conservative movement began with the publication of Russell Kirks The Conservative Mind, but it was this book that gave it its name, and more importantly, coherence.
(Excerpt) Read more at theimaginativeconservative.org ...
Kirk then lists six canons of conservative thought, which, in somewhat condensed form, are as follows:
Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links great and obscure, living and dead
.Politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which is above nature.
Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarianism and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at levelling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation. Society longs for leadership, and if a people destroy natural distinctions among men, presently Buonaparte fills the vacuum.
Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress. Separate property from private possession, and liberty is erased.
Faith in prescription and distrust of sophisters and calculators. Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon mans anarchic impulse.
Recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch of progress. Society must alter, for slow change is the means of its conservation, like the human bodys perpetual renewal; but Providence is the proper instrument for change, and the test of a statesman is his cognizance of the real tendency of Providential social forces.[
I had the great privilege of knowing Russell Kirk during my time at Hillsdale.
Remember, it’s always polite to ping the subject of interest...!
A.J. Nock, Irving Babbitt, Richard Weaver, F.A. Hayek . . . name someone of this caliber alive today.
Lots to say in answer, if anyone has the spirit to say it.
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Back in 2010, and again in 2012, my posts suggested that during this Administration's reign might be a good time for those who consider themselves "conservatives" to rediscover Burke in order to gain insight for the current battle of ideas, as follows:
Now would be a good time for conservatives to read Dr. Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind, which can be read online, by the way.
In Kirk's last chapter he reviews the works of poets and writers, quoting lines which now seem to bear a strikinig resemblance to the players on the stage in American politics today.
For instance, in Robert Frost's "A Case for Jefferson," Frost writes of the character Harrison:
"Harrison loves my country too
But wants it all made over new.
. . . .
He dotes on Saturday pork and beans.
But his mind is hardly out of his teens.
With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it made over new."
The pseudointellectuals who occupy the White House, the media, and much of Congress fancy themselves "intellectuals."
By their words and actions, however, they display a provinciality reminiscent of that Dr. Kirk recalls from an essay by T.S. Eliot on Virgil:
"In our time, when men seem more than ever to confuse wisdom with knowledge and knowledge with information and to try to solve the problems of life in terms of engineering, there is coming into existence a new kind of provincialism which perhaps deserves a new name. It is a provincialism not of space but of time--one for which history is merely a chronicle of human devices which have served their turn and have been scrapped, one for which the world is the property solely of the living, a property in which the dead hold no share."(Bold added for emphasis)
In today's case, the "provinciality" seems to be limited to the "progressives'" dabbling in and discussing the ideas of Mao, Marx, and other theoreticians and believing they can impose those ideas on a free people.
America's written Constitution deserves protectors whose minds are out of "their teens" in terms of their understanding of civilization's long struggle for liberty.
It certainly deserves protectors who do not consider it a "flawed" document because it does not permit the government it structures to run rough shod over the rights of its "KEEPERS, the People" (Justice Story).
Blasting it "all to smithereens" seems to be the goal of the current Administration and so-called "progressives" who control the Executive and one-half of the Legislative branch of government.
The Founders' Constitution's strict limits on coercive power by elected representatives are being ignored and disavowed; the free enterprise system which allowed individual citizens to achieve and excel in their chosen pursuits is being co-opted by elected and unelected bureaucrats; and the rights of conscience, speech, and religion are being trampled as we post here.
"The People" should be debating great ideas such as how to preserve liberty, or, in economic matters, the wisdom of the great moral philosopher, Adam Smith's "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." Instead, they are being hoodwinked by a president who believes they are ignorant or foolish enough to believe that deficit spending, debt, and government control will lead to prosperity.
When, in 1776, our ancestors felt the heavy hand of the British government "taking" their earnings, regulating their lives, interfering with their beliefs, and asserting coercive control over their actions, they did not waste their time on such trivia.
They wrote great treatises such as "Thoughts on Government" and "Common Sense." They educated their young on the merits of liberty, as opposed to slavery to government, and they did the groundwork which allowed for a written Constitution for self-government to be ratified in the states only eleven years later.
America is about to be bankrupt, both financially and philosophically, and those who have benefited from the Founders' ideas, who call themselves "conservators" (conservatives) of those ideas, should come together to place those ideas before millions of young people who must participate in voting in November on whether they desire liberty or slavery. Women, youth, men, so-called "seniors"--all need to have the choice presented clearly that this election pits the ideas of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and America's other Founders against the ideas of Marx, Lenin, and Keynes.
There are always "useful idiots." That's what every oppressive regime has relied upon. A "useful idiot" with a big megaphone is more dangerous to liberty than millions of ordinary ones, because of the ability to lull more people into a sense of complacency.
America, awaken! This decades-long battle for your liberty has been engaged. But, for decades, you have allowed the ideas of your liberty to be censored from your nation's textbooks and public discourse.
Our best weapon is contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which leaves all the power in "the People's" hands. Read them, amplify upon their principles and ideas by accessing the Founders' writings and speeches.
For a quick review of those principles and the nation's first 50 years under its Constitution, consult John Quincy Adams' "Jubilee" Address here, or a recent reprint of a 1987 Bicentennial collection of the Founders' principles, here.
James Madison stated: "Although all men are born free, slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorantthey have been cheated; asleepthey have been surprised; dividedthe yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? ... the people ought to be enligh
From Daniel Pipes, today: “My seeing ‘a small ray of hope’ does not mean Western states should go haring after Islamist movements, hoping they will moderate. No, this is indeed the ideology of our enemies that needs to be defeated and marginalized, as were fascism and Communism in earlier eras. “
He and I shared a love of Eliot.
Thanks for the ping. Going back about fifteen years it was you, I and a very small group that posted a lot of Kirk along with others of his stature. We had some great times on those threads illuminating dark mental corridors of the internet.
Sowell remains but that whole group is now twenty years gone.
The same goes for:
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