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

All great systems, ethical or political, attain their ascendency over the minds of men by virtue of their appeal to the imagination; and when they cease to touch the chords of wonder and mystery and hope, their power is lost, and men look elsewhere for some set of principles by which they may be guided.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Fall Newsletter

imageThe latest number of the Russell Kirk Center newsletter (Fall 2015) has just been posted. It features news on the publication of The Politics of Prudence in Croatia, and photos of the host of scholars, students, and visitors who attend the many Kirk Center Programs. You can download it, and past issues, here.

Jan 2016

Birzer on Kirk

book cover image Russell Kirk: American Conservative, the new biography from Bradley J. Birzer, is now out from the University Press of Kentucky. Lee Edwards reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal and calls it “a beautifully written and deeply insightful biography.” And Wilfred M. McClay said in National Review, “Given the confused and dispirited state of American conservatism at the present moment, it is high time for a Russell Kirk revival. The appearance of Bradley J. Birzer’s splendid and exhaustively researched biography of Kirk just might provide the catalyst needed to set it in motion.”

Jan 2016

A new issue of Studies in Burke and His Time

SBHT24 Cover The Edmund Burke Society of America announces a new issue of their journal, Studies in Burke and His Time, Volume 24. The issue features articles on Burke’s identity, and also includes a report on the 2015 conference on Burke held at Villanova University. Articles from Matt Salyer, Michael Brown, and Ian Crowe accompany several book reviews, including a review of Yuval Levin’s Great Debate. The journal is being released as a PDF and is now available for download.

Nov 2015