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 Kirk’s 1953 book The Conservative Mind “gave American conservatives an identity and a genealogy and catalyzed the postwar movement.”

Did Edmund Burke Support the American Revolution?

By |2020-03-17T17:36:43-05:00March 17th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Declaration of Independence, Edmund Burke, History, Independence Day, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Many conservatives have assumed that Edmund Burke was opposed to the American Revolution. It is, to my mind, an erroneous assumption. “Burke broke his agentship and went publicly silent on the American cause once war broke out,” Robert Nisbet claimed in his most definitive analysis of Edmund Burke, written and published in 1985. His [...]

The Haunting of America: Russell Kirk’s Ghostly Fiction

By |2020-03-16T09:18:18-05:00March 16th, 2020|Categories: Ancestral Shadows, Fiction, Imagination, Literature, Mystery, Russell Kirk|

The ghost story was the perfect vehicle for Russell Kirk to extend his own sense of awe-filled wonder to a wider audience. He was keenly aware of the need for romance and mystery in everyday life—and how hard it was to achieve it in America. He created for his readers one of those places [...]

The Three Conservative Burkes: Hayek, Strauss, and Kirk

By |2020-03-05T10:18:27-06:00March 5th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Politics, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

Edmund Burke was the nexus among the classical, medieval, and modern worlds, and the best answer to contemporary ideology. It is worth considering the Burke of Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss, and Russell Kirk in order to fully understand his importance to the rise of conservatism in academia after World War II. The somewhat radical (relatively [...]

Russell Kirk’s Beauty and Civilization

By |2020-01-31T22:18:17-06:00January 31st, 2020|Categories: Beauty, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Modernity, Religion, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

In the late 1950s, as Russell Kirk considered what needed to be conserved in the Western tradition as well as what needed to be discarded, he lamented that much of what the West did was “uglify.”  It had forgotten not only the necessity of beauty, but it had forgotten how to define beauty. It [...]

The Permanence of Russell Kirk

By |2019-10-14T12:29:01-05:00October 7th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, The Conservative Mind, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

With the phenomenal success of The Conservative Mind—selling over a million copies during the three decades after its initial release—Kirk worried that “conservatism” might prove to be a hollow answer for the post-war world. Afterall, he reasoned, conservatism must, by necessity, be highly subjective, centered around a specific time and place, even while embracing [...]

Russell Kirk Reconsidered

By |2019-10-12T14:19:30-05:00October 4th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, The Conservative Mind, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

Russell Kirk gave voice to a myriad of persons, personalities, and ideas circulating in the decade after the Second World War, just as the West was trying to understand what it stood for, rather than what it stood against. The latter was easy. Communism and fascism were evil. But, what exactly did the West stand [...]

Russell Kirk’s Unfinished Justice

By |2019-09-22T21:27:09-05:00September 22nd, 2019|Categories: Aristotle, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, History, Plato, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, Timeless Essays|

Russell Kirk thought that because justice is rooted in nature and because in its perfection transcends all time and space, one can innately observe virtue in the actions of wise men. Such observation of those we admire might be the best teacher in our current day, serving as a reminder of what has always [...]

The Imaginative Conservative at 9

By |2019-07-10T09:30:47-05:00July 9th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative, TIC|

Inspired by the writings of Russell Kirk, The Imaginative Conservative’s distinctiveness lies in recognizing that being “conservative” must represent something beyond mere political cravings. If one is to be conservative, one must conserve what deserves to be conserved—all that is best in experience, all that is best in metaphysical desires, and all that is [...]

“Vital Remnants” at 20

By |2019-07-10T16:53:38-05:00July 8th, 2019|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Gary Gregg proposed in “Vital Remnants” that we see the Founding as the Founders saw it, not as we wish them to have seen it. In this, Dr. Gregg went directly against the reigning historiography of the 1990s and its fetishist obsession with social justice, class, and gender. Twenty years ago the Intercollegiate Studies Institute [...]

Russell Kirk’s Forgotten “Intelligent Citizen’s Guide to Conservatism”

By |2019-12-10T09:27:32-06:00June 9th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Within a few months of its release in early May 1953, Russell Kirk’s dissertation-turned-massive-best-selling book, “The Conservative Mind,” became an international media sensation. But few know of his later work, “An Intelligent Citizen’s Guide to Conservatism.” It is a deeply profound book, exploring the very depths and widths of the human person. Editor’s Note: This [...]

Ten Conservative Principles

By |2019-06-06T18:45:02-05:00May 20th, 2019|Categories: Conservatism, Essential, Featured, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed [...]

Measuring the Influence of Russell Kirk and Other Conservative Authors

By |2019-10-08T17:40:40-05:00May 12th, 2019|Categories: Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Eric Voegelin, Irving Babbitt, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

By using Google’s Ngram Viewer, we find that Russell Kirk’s reputation hit its highpoint in 1964, and then began a painful decline that remained unabated until his death in 1994. What does Ngram tell us about other conservative authors, like Robert Nisbet, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Christopher Dawson? While I would never consider [...]

The Radicalism of Russell Kirk

By |2019-04-28T15:53:42-05:00April 28th, 2019|Categories: Conservatism, Libertarianism, Politics, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|

The West has been undone by consumerism, the Sexual Revolution, outsourcing, urbanization, and centralization—all defended by modern conservatives as “the price we must pay” to live in a free and prosperous country. They’re wrong. As Russell Kirk argued, the principal function of government is not to ensure the material security and comfort of its [...]