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

Imagination it is that shapes society—moral imagination, or idyllic imagination, or diabolic imagination.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

ISI video draws on Kirk’s thought

The Intercollegiate Review has published a short video with Robert Reilly that was shot at Mecosta last summer. In it, Bob Reilly draws on Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order to explain why “America is older than you think.” The video is just two minutes long, but Bob manages to give a thoughtful introduction to three of the four cities: Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome.

Apr 2015

Birzer on Kirk

An interview with Brad Birzer, incumbent of the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College, is the feature article in the most recent issue of Religion and Liberty from the Acton Institute. Birzer discusses his new biography, Russell Kirk: A Conservative Life, due out in the fall of 2015 from the University Press of Kentucky, in which he focuses on Kirk’s intellectual development. You can read the extensive interview at this link.

Mar 2015

Lubbers on the Liberal Arts

Listen or read here as Arend D. Lubbers, Grand Valley State University President Emeritus and longest serving college president in the country, speaks on the importance of a liberal arts education. President Lubbers has been a longtime friend of the Kirk family and The Russell Kirk Center. At GVSU, he arranged for Russell Kirk to be a visiting professor, deliver a commencement address and to receive an honorary degree.

Mar 2015