The following 1950 quote from Russell Kirk [“How Dead is Edmund Burke?,” Queen’s Quarterly 57 (1950): 162] made me think of our recent conversation on the power of Ayn Rand to attract strong, young minds, eager for Truth.
Men of conservative impulse are numerous in every society; they are among us today, but most of them are perplexed for guidance, the popular prophets of this century being advocates of change. Many of them are looking for a conservative’s decalogue—groping in this twilight hour. If ever they find it, it may be in the pages of Burke. Spend some hours in a bookshop frequented by young men, and you will observe that some of them are after The Book—the book which holds the clue to life with principle, particularly social principle. Many have ceased to search, having found Freud or Marx or some other mighty name. But some go on browsing, turning over Spengler or Berdyaev, Ortega and Belloc, dissatisfied. Prejudice, interest, conscience have told this remnant that their Idea resides elsewhere. But where? Not many come upon Burke.
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We have a great appreciation for the thought of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Irving Babbitt, and Christopher Dawson, among other imaginative conservatives. However, some of us look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.”