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

Kirk was convinced that in our age, the unimagined life is not worth living for a human being. He labored to reform our sensibilities, so that we could see ourselves both for what we are and for what we have become. He labored to make available an intellectual tradition of dissent from the modern age. He labored to release our hearts from the bondage of ideology.

Mark Henrie

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Highlights

Historical Marker Project

Thank you! In preparation for the upcoming centennial of the birth of Russell Kirk, friends have successfully funded a historical marker for his birthplace of Plymouth, Michigan. We are grateful to all who participated. Here is a video of Annette Kirk and Andrea Kirk Assaf celebrating the end of the campaign. For more details, visit the GoFundMe campaign site. The project is being coordinated by Bart Smith, a former Wilbur Fellow.

Sep 2017

Kirk’s ongoing influence

We recently updated our page tracking people’s responses to the life and thought of Russell Kirk. In 2015, then-Governor Mike Pence noted that he hasn’t “taken a vacation in the last 25 years without a Russell Kirk book under my arm.” Seems like a good idea. (If you have other links to recommend for that page, please contact us.)

Jul 2017

Release of 2017 number of Studies in Burke and His Time

SBHT26 Cover The Edmund Burke Society of America announces a new issue of their journal, Studies in Burke and His Time. Volume 26 (2016–2017) features papers from a 2016 conference marking the completion of the Oxford University Press edition of Burke’s Writings and Speeches. The journal is being released as a PDF and is now available for download.

Jul 2017