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.

Abraham Lincoln and the Dignity of the Presidency

By |2020-05-18T15:43:25-05:00February 19th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Founding, Presidency, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Abraham Lincoln was a conservative statesman on the intellectual model of Cicero. In his dignity there was no hubris; much, he knew, must be left to Providence. The Roman Republic was at the back of the minds of the framers of the American Constitution; it was their hope that the chief magistrate of these [...]

Edmund Burke, Providence, & Archaism

By |2018-10-16T20:24:12-05:00January 11th, 2017|Categories: Books, Edmund Burke, Moral Imagination, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Practical politics, Edmund Burke knew, is the art of the possible. We cannot alter singlehandedly the climate of opinion, or the institutions of our day, by a haughty adherence to inflexible and abstract doctrines… The Political Reason of Edmund Burke, by Francis Canavan (S.J. Duke University Press, 1960) Edmund Burke and Ireland, by Thomas [...]

The Humane Businessman

By |2019-04-11T12:07:27-05:00September 27th, 2016|Categories: Education, Featured, Liberal Learning, RAK, Russell Kirk, Technology|

American businessmen are inhumane. I do not mean that they are inhuman; they are all too human. I do not mean that they are insufficiently humanitarian. I mean that American businessmen, like most other Americans, are deficient in the disciplines that nurture the spirit. They are largely ignorant of the humanities, which, in a [...]

What Constitutes the Common Heritage of America & Europe?

By |2019-08-07T00:18:01-05:00August 20th, 2016|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Education, Featured, Great Books, History, Politics, RAK, Russell Kirk, Tradition|

“Western civilization,” “North Atlantic community,” “the unity of the free world”—such phrases are employed nowadays by our publicists and our politicians so frequently and loosely that, to a good many of us in America, the words have ceased to signify much. Yet the United States of America is engaged in a tremendous defense of [...]

Edmund Burke on Healthy & Unhealthy Constitutions

By |2018-11-24T13:18:50-06:00July 8th, 2016|Categories: Conservatism, Constitution, Edmund Burke, Featured, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

“We are at the beginning of great troubles.” Once upon a time, it was the assumption of most of the people in the world that the fundamental constitutions of their society would endure to the end of time; or at least for a very great while; or certainly for the lifetime of those who [...]

A Revolution Not Made But Prevented

By |2020-07-08T16:20:05-05:00July 3rd, 2016|Categories: American Founding, Declaration of Independence, Edmund Burke, Featured, RAK, Revolution, Russell Kirk, The Imaginative Conservative, Timeless Essays|

Was the American War of Independence a revolution? It was certainly not the sort of political and social overturn that “revolution” has come to signify. Was the American War of Independence a revolution? In the view of Edmund Burke and of the Whigs generally, it was not the sort of political and social overturn [...]

The Promises and Perils of Christian Politics

By |2019-05-07T09:24:29-05:00May 10th, 2016|Categories: Christendom, Featured, Politics, RAK, Religion, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

Is there such a thing as a Christian polity? T.S. Eliot raised the right questions about such matters, on the eve of the Second World War, and offered some answers; but, as Eliot put it at another time, there are no lost causes because there are no gained causes.[1] Every generation fights the same [...]

The Real End of Economic Production

By |2018-10-16T20:24:23-05:00May 4th, 2016|Categories: Economics, Prospects for Conservatives, Quotation, RAK|

For the conservative, the real end of economic production is to raise man above the savage level, to make possible the leisure which sustains civilization, and to free man from the condition of a simple drudge. When efficiency or production becomes an end in itself, then truly technology has triumphed over humanity. —Prospects for [...]

The Best Form of Government

By |2019-09-05T12:54:40-05:00April 28th, 2016|Categories: Featured, Government, History, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Politics being the art of the possible, I venture to suggest here the general lineaments of the kind of government which seems reasonably consonant with true human happiness. I think that in this problem we need to refer to two principles. The first principle is that a good government allows the better and more [...]

Why Does the True Conservative Defend Private Enterprise?

By |2018-10-16T20:24:24-05:00March 23rd, 2016|Categories: Conservatism, Featured, Prospects for Conservatives, Quotation, RAK, Russell Kirk|

The true conservative does defend private enterprise stoutly; and one of the reasons why he cherishes it is that private enterprise is the only really practicable system, in the modern world, for satisfying our economic wants; but even more than this, he defends private enterprise as a means to an end. That end is a society just and [...]

T.S. Eliot on Literary Decadence & Cultural Ruin

By |2018-10-16T20:24:25-05:00January 26th, 2016|Categories: Imagination, Literature, Morality, RAK, Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot|

T.S. Eliot’s slim book about moral and immoral fiction may surprise anyone who first comes upon a copy. After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy consists of three lectures delivered at the University of Virginia in 1933. These present an uncompromising denunciation of liberalism—both the liberalism of the nineteenth century and that of the [...]

Conservatism: A Social Concept

By |2018-10-16T20:24:26-05:00January 13th, 2016|Categories: Conservatism, Featured, Prospects for Conservatives, Quotation, RAK|

Conservatism, then, is not simply the concern of the people who have a great deal of property and influence: it is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom and all the lovable old ways of humanity. —Russell Kirk, Prospects for Conservatives: A Compass for Rediscovering the Permanent Things [...]

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