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Quoting the Sage of Mecosta that a conservative ought “to preserve a particular people, living in a particular place during a particular time,” Pat Buchanan writes in a recent column that Russell Kirk, “the traditionalist, though not so famous as some of his contemporaries at National Review, is now emerging as perhaps the greatest of that first generation of post-World War II conservatives–in the endurance of his thought.”

It may be true, especially now as virtually every surviving ideology, from Neo-Con imperialists to Keynesian socialists, hits the windshield at 100 mp right before our eyes.

Yet Mr. Buchanan wonders what in America is left to conserve, noting that, ”In order to love one’s country, said Edmund Burke, one’s country ought to be lovely. Is it still? Reid Buckley, brother of Bill, replies, ‘I am obliged to make a public declaration that I cannot love my country. … We are Vile.’”

From the Great Society socialism, to 1960s race-riots, Vietnam and the Permissive Society we are not what we were, Mr. Buchanan says, wondering what is worth conserving.

With our editors’ permission, may we solicit some essays on what still really exists in America that is worth conserving and what may be, quite frankly, lost to all but memory? (Miss Robison, get out your pencil).

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8 replies to this post
  1. What still exists is a remnant that still reads Kirk, starts classical schools, argues graciously for virtue and manly justice, and attends to the soil. Nobody is more hopeless than I, but we can't not see what remains or there will be no little coals to blow into a flame.

    All is not lost yet.

    2012, maybe.

  2. ""What still exists is a remnant that still reads Kirk, starts classical schools, argues graciously for virtue and manly justice, and attends to the soil. Nobody is more hopeless than I, but we can't not see what remains or there will be no little coals to blow into a flame.

    All is not lost yet. " Yes, you are right. We may be down but we are not out yet by a long shot.

    There are things that are vile about modern American culture and we are more divided than the period 1917-1965 which was an apogee of American Union and patriotism in modern times.
    But I would rather be America than Britain, France, Italy, Spain or Germany. We still have a healthy birthrate a fairly young population and lots of pluses economically. We also have as you said a vital remnant in the heartland which is hardworking, God-fearing and patriotic.
    Kirk remains because Kirk was about virtues and about culture. Kirk believed in an American paideia and enduring values and virtues. Kirk will remain interesting, like Cicero, even if the American Commonwealth were to break up or fall. Perhaps that is our destiny as it has been the destiny of many Republics and Empires of old but though the old boy is sagging and has taken a couple of blows he is not down and not out. I still would place my bets on the Colossus of Liberty.

  3. Mr Kern, surely there remains more fertile soil than just what you describe? Where and what might it be? At worst we can hunker down and preserve our inheritance through coming Dark Ages, like the monks in "A Canticle for Leibowitz," have not we more to work with and on a broader canvas?

  4. And I would like to may a comment on Pat Buchanan. He is a beltway Washingtonian. He has no children. He has lived in a bubble most of his life. He doesn't understand immigrants or working people or even the 60's or secular America. He has some deep knowledge about some narrow topics and I think he is a patriot but he doesn't even understand (I think) Russell Kirk (entirely).

  5. Go live in Zimbabwe for a little while if you think there is nothing to conserve here.

    The "we are vile" comment came from someone who lives in Manhattan. May I suggest a season in almost any American city under 300,000 people, which includes most cities ans most Americans?

    Get a grip, folks.

  6. Good Mr Munro: is it supposedly telling that Mr Buchanan has no children? Maybe as the Catholic Church teaches as possible, God gave him no such vocation. Or if he is married, maybe his lady-wife is barren. Maybe he has one fewer testicle than Hitler in the wartime song. Maybe he had several children but he is so absent-minded that he left them on the bus.

    I am no great fan of his either, but it matters when a conservative columnist pulls back out of politics to recognise a thinker. Especially Saint Russell. Good-oh, what?

  7. Mr. Masty, how did you know I like to physically write out pieces before typing them up?! Great minds, I suppose. I should have read down before commenting on the first piece. What a wonderful prompt! Excellent idea, sharpening now…

    And Mr. Kern? If I may, there is goodness within your own postage stamp of soil. One does not need to travel too far to see that. It's the eyes that often deceive, not the place. A classical education is a start, but even the under-educated have something to teach us.

    Miss Robison

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