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

Historical context, for members of the Straussian school, is "historicism," a form of moral relativism that believes that there are no fixed truths, only ideas appropriate for their historical moment... Patriotism Is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments That Redefined...

The liberal conservative must be discerning. For he believes in freedom as well as in order. He believes in individualism as well as in community. He believes in the equality of all men as well as in hierarchy, natural aristocracy, and excellence...
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We need to develop a fully American variant of conservatism; to advance our understand­ing of the conservative nature of the political traditions we have inherited; and to do so with a dignity that will permit us to stand before God, the American public, and our conservative forebears...

If anything identifies a conservative, it is his realistic appraisal of human nature—his appreciation of what is good and admirable, and his recognition of what is base... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Thomas Woods as he explores what...
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For their own sake, as well as the sake of the civilization which they love, conservatives can and should deny the state’s legitimacy, on the grounds that it is destructive of the true, the good, and the beautiful...

A scrutiny of John Quincy Adams’ words and deeds across his broad public life shows him to be a successful conservative, both as a thinker and as a leader... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Sean Mattie as he...
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Leave It to Beaver was very much a medieval morality play, in which the character of the Beaver repeatedly succumbed to temptation, suffered the consequences, and was guided back on the path of virtue... Russell Kirk defined...

In The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk sought to identify, elucidate, and cultivate the best of the Western tradition as the West itself weathered, rather roughly at times, the storms of ideologies. Conserve the past, yes, but Kirk also wanted us to rally to the standards of the past...
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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...

When I finished The Conservative Mind for the first time, I remember thinking quite clearly that Russell Kirk had gotten so close to truth, but, then, just when he had the chance, he failed to promote freedom—the proper answer to every single thing...
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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...
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In the process of revitalizing Britain's governing principles, the American founding also unleashed the ideas of liberty and equality to an unexpected degree... A heavy overcast settled over the Huron Valley. Expecting snow at any moment, I...
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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...

Abraham Lincoln never was a doctrinaire; he rose from very low estate to very high estate, and he knew the savagery which lies so close beneath the skin of man, and he knew that most men are good only out of obedience to routine and convention...