The Conservative Mind: Summary

2141 Words 9 Pages
Doctor Russell Kirk, is a name that I never had heard of much less even understood his significance in American history and politics before I started at Emporia. While identifying as a Conservative for most of my life (Please forgive me, but my parents were “New Deal” Democrats and I was young at the time); I never understood the philosophy or the background of the Conservative movement. More importantly, I never connected faith and personal values into what it meant to be a Conservative. I grew up as a child of the 1960s cocooned in Middle America beliefs. I watched on TV of the national backlash towards many of the values that represented Middle America by what later would be deemed their cornerstone of the future Progressives of the …show more content…
One must realize that one of the original titles of his book involved the word “Tories” which his editors deemed as inappropriate since most Americans would infer “Tories” in the context of the American Revolution not that of the British Parliament. Throughout “The Conservative Mind”, Kirk delicately reminds us that Conservativism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma. This understanding of what Conservativism should be, counters the inflammatory rhetoric of today’s Liberalism/Progressivism movement. Conservatives adhere to a familiar code that has long been overshadowed (muted may be a more accurate reference) from the rise of the common man and all his sensibilities in making a new Utopia. Kirk’s fifth canon underscores one of the key cornerstones of Conservativism:
Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters and calculators.” Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man’s anarchic
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The first is one of private contentment and public peace. They are based on prudence and humility. Once can be learned through the study and assimilation of classical philosophy. The second is through Christian discipline and virtue. Without these two virtues; man is miserable and destitute. These traits prevent man from becoming miserable and without piety, more importantly Christian compassion and mercy.
The acceptance of “conservatism” as the description of the growing movement of opposition to the rule of liberalism was not automatic nor without strenuous opposition. Both Frank S. Meyer, who eventually became one of the acknowledged leaders of the conservative movement, and F. A. Hayek, who did as much as any other single person to give direction and a sound footing to the movement in opposition to the planned economy, wrote vigorously against conservatism as a description of their position. Although recognized as one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement, Hayek has never been willing to describe himself as a conservative; he prefers to be known as an “Old

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