Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk

In the below quote Dr. Russell Kirk lays out the essentials for those of us seeking to preserve and restore Western civilization. He makes clear that true conservatives do not limit themselves to questions of politics and economics. In previous essays Brad, Bruce, John and Barbara have ranged from the politics and principles involved in the question of conservative/libertarian alliances, to local community and the issue of commercial development, and the conservatism of the cartoonist Walt Kelly. My hope is that this is just the beginning for The Imaginative Conservative community. If you are so moved we invite you to join in.

“Cant and equivocation dismissed, it seems to me that there are three great bodies of principle and conviction that tie together what is called modern civilization.

The first of these is the Christian faith: the theological and moral doctrines which inform us, either side of the Atlantic, of the nature of God and man, the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, human dignity, the rights and duties of human person, the nature of charity, and the meaning of hope and resignation.

The second of these is the corpus of imaginative literature, humane letters, which is the essence of our high culture: humanism, which with the Christian faith, teaches us our powers and our limitations–the work of Plato, Virgil, Cicero, Dante, Shakespeare, and so many others.

The third is a complex of social and political institutions which we may call the reign of law, or ordered liberty: prescription, precedent, impartial justice, private rights, private property, the character of genuine community, the claims of the family and of voluntary association.

However much these three bodies of conviction have been injured by internecine disputes, nihilism, Benthamism, the cult of Rationalism, Marxism, and other modern afflictions, they remain the rocks upon which our civilization is built.”

The above quote is taken from the jacket cover of The Intemperate Professor, 1965.

Books on or by Dr. Kirk may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Essays on or by Dr. Kirk may be found hereThe Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

All comments are moderated and must be civil, concise, and constructive to the conversation. Comments that are critical of an essay may be approved, but comments containing ad hominem criticism of the author will not be published. Also, comments containing web links or block quotations are unlikely to be approved. Keep in mind that essays represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Imaginative Conservative or its editor or publisher.

Leave a Comment
Print Friendly, PDF & Email