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 moral imagination is the principal possession that man does not share with the beasts. It is man’s power to perceive ethical truth, abiding law, in the seeming chaos of many events. Without the moral imagination, man would live merely day to day, or rather moment to moment, as dogs do. It is the strange faculty—inexplicable if men are assumed to have an animal nature only—of discerning greatness, justice, and order, beyond the bars of appetite and self-interest.

Russell Kirk, Enemies of the Permanent Things, 1969

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Highlights

Lecture on Kirk’s Fiction

In April the Kirk Center hosted Jeffrey Dennis Pearce, a history teacher and the creator and editor of Ghostly Kirk, a web page dedicated to the ghostly fiction of Russell Kirk. Pearce gave a lecture on “Virtue in Two Ghostly Tales of Russell Kirk,” which was later made into an essay. We are pleased to post it for our readers.

May 2017

Fall Newsletter features new Society for Law and Culture

The Fall 2016 number of our newsletter, Permanent Things, is now available for download. It features news of the inaugural conference of a new Kirk Center initiative, the Society for Law and Culture; an emerging partnership with the new publishing house, Cluny Media; and news of other recent events and publications.

Dec 2016

Birzer wins 2016 Paolucci Award

We congratulate Bradley J. Birzer, the 2016 recipient of the Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award for his biography, Russell Kirk: American Conservative. This annual award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute honors the best book that advances conservative principles. ISI is hosting the Paolucci Award dinner during the Philadelphia Society national meeting, Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. Dr. Birzer will be speaking at the event. See this link for details on the award and dinner.

Sep 2016