The Corner

Re: Kirk

Kevin Holtsberry chimes in as well:

The letter you posted about the importance of Russell Kirk struck me as an example of why conservatism has gone astray of late. First of all, the reader clearly has no real understanding of the ideas Kirk promoted nor his role in defining conservatism as a philosophically coherent body of thought. As if rejecting “modernity wholesale” was the essence of Kirk’s thought. Second, his scale for judging influence is pathetic You have to have a “policy prescription” attached to your name to be important? You have to have “important” students to be worth mentioning? This is how we judge conservative thinkers? Bah. Besides, there are a great many Kirkians around the world doing great and important work even if they haven’t attained the stature your reader apparently requires.  How about the concept that without order there is no freedom? How about his insights into the dangers of ideology and change for change’s sake? His skepticism about the possible exportation of “democratic capitalism” around the world might be worth re-reading. This is to say nothing of his insights into the role of literature and culture – the “moral imagination” – in building a conservative polity.  I will admit that Kirk is venerated a great deal more than he is read these days, but this ignorance should be remedied by reading him more not by venerating him less. By all means lets study Burnham and Willmoore Kendall but spare me the lame complaints about “devout traditionalists” and monarchists and ISI. If he can’t read Kirk and understand his importance than his understanding of conservatism is the problem not Kirk’s ideas.