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

Russell Kirk has defended traditional values in a culture that restlessly seeks the shock of the new. Through numerous writings and lectures, conversations and seminars, he has taught Americans about America—about its deeply conservative habits, about the roots of its constitutional order, about the Burkean influence on our Founders.

The Hon. John Engler

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Highlights

A Biographical Interview with Russell Kirk

Sally WrightWe have just posted an extensive biographical interview of Russell Kirk, conducted in 1989 by Sally Wright (whose novels were reviewed recently in the University Bookman). In “Russell Kirk: Reflections on a Vagrant Career,” Wright captured Kirk’s perspectives on his life, personality, conversion, opinions, and much more. The piece is a good introduction to Kirk for the new reader, and will also have much to interest those familiar with Kirk and his writings.

Dec 2017

Fall Newsletter

Newsletter coverThe Fall 2017 Permanent Things Newsletter is now available, featuring reports from a gathering of the John Adams Society of Harvard, highlights on recent Kirk Center Fellows, and a conference on the moral imagination in Kirk, Bradbury, Eliot, and others. We are also announcing an upcoming event for attorneys, and preparing for the Kirk Centenary in 2018.

Dec 2017

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