Russell Kirk

About Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was the author of some thirty-two books, hundreds of periodical essays, and many short stories. Both Time and Newsweek have described him as one of America’s leading thinkers, and The New York Times acknowledged the scale of his influence when in 1998 it wrote that Dr. Kirk’s 1953 book The Conservative Mind “gave American conservatives an identity and a genealogy and catalyzed the postwar movement.” Dr. Kirk's other books include The Roots of American Order, Prospects for Conservatives, Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered, The Sword of Imagination, and Enemies of the Permanent Things.

A Conscript in the Desert

By |2019-03-05T14:53:07-06:00March 18th, 2018|Categories: History, RAK, Russell Kirk, War|Tags: |

For years after his honorable discharge in 1946, Russell Kirk suffered a recurrent nightmare, to the effect that his discharge had been a clerical error; that he was summoned back to Dugway Valley; and there, beside his grim safe, stuffed with deadly secret documents, he would labor until he shuffled off this mortal coil… [...]

Will American Caesars Arise?

By |2020-06-19T14:42:25-05:00March 11th, 2018|Categories: Featured, History, Politics, Presidency, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

The Framers had no intention of making their chief executive officer a Caesar, on the model of Augustus. Nor does any eminent politician or publicist nowadays advocate openly such concentration of power in the executive… May a time arise when the American government sinks to the condition of a plebiscitary democracy, that is, a [...]

Russell Kirk on the Moral Imagination

By |2019-12-10T15:53:53-06:00January 28th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, Civil Society, Civilization, Conservatism, Culture, Edmund Burke, Film, Moral Imagination, RAK, Russell Kirk|

The principal difficulty of mankind today is the decay of the moral imagination in our civilization… In the spring of 1989, videographer Ken Martinek and I made the trip to Piety Hill to interview Russell about the moral imagination (as first conceived by Edmund Burke and expanded by Dr. Kirk). This concept had held [...]

Liberal Learning, Moral Worth, and Defecated Rationality

By |2019-10-10T14:56:46-05:00January 7th, 2018|Categories: Culture, Education, Featured, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, Moral Imagination, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

At best, what the typical college has offered its students, in recent decades, has been defecated rationality. By that term I mean a narrow rationalism or logicalism, purged of theology, moral philosophy, symbol and allegory, tradition, reverence, and the wisdom of our ancestors. This defecated rationality is the exalting of private judgment and hedonism [...]

The University & Revolution: An Insane Conjunction

By |2019-04-02T16:00:11-05:00October 9th, 2017|Categories: Education, Liberal Learning, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

The university is not a center for the display of adolescent tempers, nor yet a fulcrum for turning society upside down. It is simply this: a place for the cultivation of right reason and moral imagination… Already the reaction is upon us. Political leaders, college presidents, and syndicated columnists join in condemnation of violence [...]

Returning Humanity to History: The Example of John Lukacs

By |2018-10-16T20:24:07-05:00September 18th, 2017|Categories: History, John Lukacs, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

A reformed history must be imaginative and humane; like poetry, like the great novel, it must be personal rather than abstract, ethical rather than ideological. Like the poet, the historian must understand that devotion to truth is not identical with the cult of facts… The middle decades of our twentieth century have been marked [...]

Edmund Burke and the Principle of Order

By |2019-06-24T16:15:10-05:00September 8th, 2017|Categories: Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Featured, Ordered Liberty, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Edmund Burke’s principle of order is an anticipatory refutation of utilitarianism, positivism, and pragmatism, an affirmation of that reverential view of society which may be traced through Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, the Roman jurisconsults, the Schoolmen, Richard Hooker, and lesser thinkers. It is this; but it is more… What Matthew Arnold called “an epoch of [...]

Letters from Grub Street

By |2018-10-16T20:24:10-05:00May 26th, 2017|Categories: Books, Featured, Literature, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

George Gissing found himself more intensely conservative than the Tory politicians of his time, a lover of old ways and old towns, a champion of the countryside, a man who distrusted innovation and spoke for the permanent things… The Collected Letters of George Gissing, Volume Three, 1886-1888, edited by Paul Mattheisen, Arthur C. Young, and [...]

The Revitalized College: A Model

By |2019-09-05T13:36:31-05:00May 20th, 2017|Categories: Education, Liberal Arts, Philosophy, RAK, Russell Kirk, Virtue|

The peculiar conditions of our time and our society demand now, more than ever before, a reinvigoration of truly liberal learning. This hour is favorable to the restoration or establishment of a college with principle… A few years ago, a graduate of New York University brought suit against that institution. He had been induced to [...]

Prudence vs. Fanaticism: On the American & French Revolutions

By |2019-09-17T14:10:14-05:00March 3rd, 2017|Categories: American Founding, RAK, Revolution, Russell Kirk|

The American and French Revolutions provide a contrast between principle and ideology; between prudence and fanaticism; between prescriptive rights and extravagant ambitions; between historical wisdom and utopianism; between free government and democratic despotism… A little book forgotten for a century and a half, Friedrich Gentz’s Origin and Principles of the American Revolution, compared with the Origin [...]

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