A Conservatism of Thought and Imagination

Ten Conservative Principles (1993)

  1. First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.
  2. Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
  3. Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.
  4. Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.
  5. Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
  6. Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.
  7. Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
  8. Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
  9. Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.
  10. Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

Evolution of Kirk's Thought on Conservative Principles

In 1953, with the publication of The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk set out six “canons” that he considered a reasonable summary or outline of the significant themes common among conservative thinkers. In his 1982 introduction to the Portable Conservative Reader, Kirk offered a variation on those canons, and in a chapter in the 1993 Politics of Prudence, his last book, he expanded the canons to ten principles.

Highlighted Resources

Any healthy society requires an enduring contest between its permanence and its progression. We cannot live without continuity, and we cannot live without prudent change.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Spring 2016 Newsletter

The Spring 2016 issue of the Kirk Center’s newsletter, Permanent Things, is now available for download. This issue features reports of participation in a liberal–conservative summit held by the Kirk Center and the Hauenstein Center, recent seminars, and a profile of a new archivist helping to digitize the Kirk archives.

Jul 2016

Upcoming APL Conference

The annual conference of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters will be held in Baltimore, MD on May 27–29. The theme for 2016 is “The Benedict Option: The Problems of Culture in Times of Crisis,” and there will also be a panel on “The Mecosta Option.” Bruce Frohnen and Ian Crowe are among the featured panelists. See the APL website at philosophyandletters.org for more information and to register.

May 2016

RIP Justice Scalia

We marked the passing of Antonin Scalia with a tribute in the University Bookman. Justice Scalia wrote a letter to Annette Kirk in 2003 on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of The Conservative Mind, noting his admiration for Russell Kirk and his writings.

Mar 2016