Kirk’s social vision, like that of our founders, depends on a critical mass of virtuous citizens who govern themselves. Instead of a policeman on every corner, a society must imbue each citizen with law-abiding inner disciplines.
But government, you see, can’t do that. What can are other institutions: families, churches, synagogues, schools, and community organizations—what Kirk, quoting Edmund Burke, liked to call the “little platoons” of society.
Russell Kirk identified three pillars of conservatism: order, tradition, and religion, the moral regulator of a society. These pillars are the things we most need to strengthen today.
Ideologues on both the left and the right tell us that they can come up with great utopian schemes for poverty, terrorism, and a host of other problems. Russell Kirk, however, helps us put such foolishness in perspective.
We stand on the shoulders of men like Kirk. He went before us. He fought well in the battle of ideas. And most marvelously of all, he sustained the faith.
For further reading and information:
Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (1953).
Russell Kirk, “ Freud and the Educationists ,” National Review,
You can read more about Russell Kirk and his writings at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal website.
Listen to a
Learn more about Russell Kirk and read his lectures at Townhall.com.
John Attarian, “ Russell Kirk’s Economics of the Permanent Things ,” The Freeman 46, no. 4 (April 1996).
For the past four years Young America’s Foundation has hosted a select group of student leaders to a seminar in
John J. Miller, “ The Ghosts of Kirk ,” National Review Online,
J. Budziszewski, “ ‘Little Platoons’: God’s Design for Our Relationships ,” BreakPoint WorldView, March 2003.
Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities —The Commission on Children at Risk, a panel of leading children's doctors, research scientists and youth service professionals, has issued a report to the nation about new strategies to reduce the currently high numbers of U.S. children who are suffering from emotional and behavioral problems such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, and thoughts of suicide. The Commission is basing its recommendations on recent scientific findings suggesting that children are biologically “hardwired” for enduring attachments to other people and for moral and spiritual meaning.