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

The survival of any culture, or of the material fabric of civilization, requires vigorous imagination and readiness to sacrifice. By dullness and complacency are intellectual and social orders undone.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Announcing Kirk on Campus

We are pleased to announce a web presence for Kirk on Campus, our new project that celebrates and defends the permanent things at America’s colleges and universities. As a unique source of cultural conservative thought, Kirk on Campus fills a critical niche in the national conversation. The program will bring scholars unashamed but not uncritical of the great legacy of America and the West to schools across Michigan and its neighboring region. In doing so it will help contribute to a greater variety of thought and informed opinion, as well as to cultivate much-need civilized discourse.

Nov 2017

Edwards on Kirk

Lee Edwards has written an essay on Kirk in the Fall 2017 edition of Modern Age—“The Mind Behind ‘The Conservative Mind’,” outlining the unique traits of character, background, and mind that enabled Kirk to write his catalytic book, The Conservative Mind.

Nov 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