Friday, August 18, 2006
Real Conservatism: The Legacy of Russell Kirk, Apostle of the "Permanent Things"
J. Budziszewski's article (http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/BudziszewskiConservativism.php) prompts a key question: What is conservatism? Many answers will be forthcoming: "Getting the government off one's back" would probably be the first thing many would point to as a salient feature in conservative thought. While this is certainly one room within a many-storied mansion, it is not the central core of what it means to be a conservative; after all, Libertarians who favor smaller government are also quite vocal advocates for a hard secularism in public life, and still more vocal proponents of abortion "rights". These would hardly qualify as conservatives in any traditional sense.
So what is conservatism? For Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind), it can be boiled down to a commitment to "the permanent things"-namely, tradition, in the Chestertonian sense ("Giving one's ancestors a vote"). Read more about it here: http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.html
Read this article on the state of Kirk's legacy in the current neoconservative movement (http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i35/35a01801.htm)
Russell Kirk quote of the day: "When men or nations sweep away their past in the process of aggrandizement, presently the dream of avarice gives way to a forlorn longing for things beyond recall."