Russell Kirk

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

Liberty and Authority: Toward a Catholic Conservatism

We’ve learned by now to apply a certain hermeneutic to the Holy Father’s proclamations, and that includes one given to a congress of Catholic lawmakers in Rome in late August: As long as the contribution of the Church to the great questions of society in our time can be put into discussion,” he said, “it [...]

Russell Kirk: Conservative, Convert, Catholic

Ordinarily Providence works through men and women—through St. Gregory, through St. Joan. Saints and martyrs will be raised up within this land of ours during the next hundred years, men and women not swept away by the running tide of our prosperity and our triviality. Even you and I, putting aside our vanity, may essay [...]

Conservatism Requires a Religious Foundation

Not all religious people are conservatives; and not all conservatives are religious people. Christianity prescribes no especial form of politics. There have been famous radicals who were devout Christians—though most radicals have been nothing of the sort. All the same, there could be no conservatism without a religious foundation, and it is conservative people, by [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part II of II)

 Editor's note: The first part of this essay was published in Crisis on July 4, 2013 and can be read here. Whether one's reading-tastes are developed in the school, the public library, or the family, there are certain patterns of reading by which a normative consciousness is developed. These patterns or levels persist throughout one's [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II)

In many American high schools, the teaching of literature is in the sere and yellow leaf. One reason for this decay is the unsatisfactory quality of many programs of reading; another is the limited knowledge of humane letters possessed by some well-intentioned teachers, uncertain of what books they ought to select for their students to [...]

Gay Scouting as the New Normal

My favorite of Russell Kirk’s many books always has been Enemies of the Permanent Things.  This wonderful, at times ironic, volume is a collection of social commentary, hopeful reminders of work still being done by important thinkers, and biting criticism. The book signals its central theme in its subtitle, “Observations of Abnormity in Literature and [...]

Whither Goest Conservatism?

A number of developments in the past month have put the spotlight squarely on the question, not too far back in people’s minds since last year’s election campaign, of what direction American conservatism is going to take in the foreseeable future. Until this year, after receiving criticism, the organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action [...]

A Conservative Response to Popular Culture

How should a conservative interact with popular culture?  We live in a time when popular music mocks religion, prime time television depicts homosexual relations and multi-generational groupings as “the new normal,” films depict literal orgies of gory sadism, and all promote narcissistic nihilism with a snarky self-confidence expressed in gutter language.  How should we respond [...]

Obama’s Disregard for Our European Inheritance Imperils American Freedom

Our quadrennial spectacle of electing a president brings out the relationship between political order and the nation’s cultural and social order. Take the question of “rights,” which is a concept at the heart of the American experiment.  Based on the nation’s revolt from England, and deeply grounded in the mother country’s common law tradition, rights [...]

What Should Children Read?

In recommending books to be read by young people from the age of seven to the age of twelve, this critic’s problem is not paucity, but plenitude. For the number of good books for young people is large, and it increases every year. So I set down here brief remarks about a select few books [...]

Russell Kirk on the Moral Imagination

In the franchise bookshops of the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred eighty-one, the shelves are crowded with the prickly pears and the Dead Sea fruit of literary decadence. Yet no civilization rests forever content with literary boredom and literary violence. Once again, a conscience may speak to a conscience in the pages [...]

Kirk among the Ruins

The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk by Gerald J. Russello (University of Missouri Press, 264 pages, $44.95) The conservative ideas of Russell Kirk are enjoying something of a revival. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute just published an impressive edition of his essays, and scholars are producing new interpretations of his work. Perhaps the best sign of [...]

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