Russell Kirk

Russell Amos Kirk (October 19, 1918 – April 29, 1994)[1] was an American political theorist, moralist, historian, social critic, and literary critic, known for his influence on 20th-century American conservatism. His 1953 book The Conservative Mind gave shape to the amorphous post–World War II conservative movement. It traced the development of conservative thought in the Anglo-American tradition, giving special importance to the ideas of Edmund Burke. Kirk was considered the chief proponent of traditionalist conservatism. He was also an accomplished author of Gothic and ghost story fiction.

Russell Kirk
Kirk 1962
Kirk in 1962.
Russell Amos Kirk

October 19, 1918
DiedApril 29, 1994 (aged 75)
Alma materMichigan State University
Duke University
University of St Andrews
Notable work
Annette Courtemanche
(m. 1963; died 1994)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolTraditionalist conservatism
Main interests
Politics, history, fiction


Russell Kirk was born in Plymouth, Michigan. He was the son of Russell Andrew Kirk, a railroad engineer, and Marjorie Pierce Kirk. Kirk obtained his B.A. at Michigan State University and a M.A. at Duke University. During World War II, he served in the American armed forces and corresponded with a libertarian writer, Isabel Paterson, who helped to shape his early political thought. After reading Albert Jay Nock's book, Our Enemy, the State, he engaged in a similar correspondence with him. After the war, he attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In 1953, he became the only American to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by that university.[2]

Kirk "laid out a post-World War II program for conservatives by warning them, 'A handful of individuals, some of them quite unused to moral responsibilities on such a scale, made it their business to extirpate the populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima; we must make it our business to curtail the possibility of such snap decisions.'"[3]

Upon completing his studies, Kirk took up an academic position at his alma mater, Michigan State. He resigned in 1959, after having become disenchanted with the rapid growth in student number and emphasis on intercollegiate athletics and technical training at the expense of the traditional liberal arts. Thereafter he referred to Michigan State as "Cow College" or "Behemoth University." He later wrote that academic political scientists and sociologists were "as a breed—dull dogs".[4] Late in life, he taught one semester a year at Hillsdale College, where he was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Humanities.[5]

Kirk frequently published in two American conservative journals he helped found, National Review in 1955 and Modern Age in 1957. He was the founding editor of the latter, 1957–59. Later he was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Heritage Foundation, where he gave a number of lectures.[6]

After leaving Michigan State, Kirk returned to his ancestral home in Mecosta, Michigan, where he wrote the many books, academic articles, lectures, and the syndicated newspaper column (which ran for 13 years) by which he exerted his influence on American politics and intellectual life. In 1963, Kirk converted to Catholicism and married Annette Courtemanche; they had four daughters. She and Kirk became known for their hospitality, welcoming many political, philosophical, and literary figures in their Mecosta house (known as "Piety Hill"), and giving shelter to political refugees, hoboes, and others.[7] Their home became the site of a sort of seminar on conservative thought for university students. Piety Hill now houses the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. After his conversion to Catholicism Kirk was a founding board member of Una Voce America.[8]

Kirk declined to drive, calling cars "mechanical Jacobins", and would have nothing to do with television and what he called "electronic computers".

Kirk did not always maintain a stereotypically "conservative" voting record. "Faced with the non-choice between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey in 1944, Kirk said no to empire and voted for Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party candidate."[9] In the 1976 presidential election, he voted for Eugene McCarthy.[10] In 1992 he supported Pat Buchanan's primary challenge to incumbent George H. W. Bush, serving as state chair of the Buchanan campaign in Michigan.

Kirk was a contributor to Chronicles. In 1989, he was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan.[11]


The Conservative Mind

The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana,[12] the published version of Kirk's doctoral dissertation, contributed materially to the 20th century Burke revival. It also drew attention to:

The Portable Conservative Reader (1982), which Kirk edited, contains sample writings by most of the above.

Biographer Bradley J. Birzer argues that for all his importance in inspiring the modern conservative movement, not many of his followers agreed with his unusual approach to the history of conservatism. As summarized by reviewer Drew Maciag:

As Birzer's study demonstrates, Kirk's understanding of conservatism was so unique, idiosyncratic, transcendental, elitist, and in certain respects premodern and European, that it bore little resemblance to political conservatism in the United States. Conservative Mind successfully launched an intellectual challenge to postwar liberalism, but the variety of conservatism Kirk preferred found few takers, even within the American Right.[13]

Harry Jaffa (a student of Leo Strauss) wrote: "Kirk was a poor Burke scholar. Burke's attack on metaphysical reasoning related only to modern philosophy's attempt to eliminate skeptical doubt from its premises and hence from its conclusions."[14]

Russello (2004) argues that Kirk adapted what 19th-century American Catholic thinker Orestes Brownson called "territorial democracy" to articulate a version of federalism that was based on premises that differ in part from those of the Founders and other conservatives. Kirk further believed that territorial democracy could reconcile the tension between treating the states as mere provinces of the central government, and as autonomous political units independent of Washington. Finally, territorial democracy allowed Kirk to set out a theory of individual rights grounded in the particular historical circumstances of the United States, while rejecting a universal conception of such rights.


Kirk developed six "canons" of conservatism, which Russello (2004) described as follows:

  1. A belief in a transcendent order, which Kirk described variously as based in tradition, divine revelation, or natural law;
  2. An affection for the "variety and mystery" of human existence;
  3. A conviction that society requires orders and classes that emphasize "natural" distinctions;
  4. A belief that property and freedom are closely linked;
  5. A faith in custom, convention, and prescription, and
  6. A recognition that innovation must be tied to existing traditions and customs, which entails a respect for the political value of prudence.

Kirk said that Christianity and Western Civilization are "unimaginable apart from one another"[15] and that "all culture arises out of religion. When religious faith decays, culture must decline, though often seeming to flourish for a space after the religion which has nourished it has sunk into disbelief."[16]

Kirk and libertarianism

Kirk grounded his Burkean conservatism in tradition, political philosophy, belles lettres, and the strong religious faith of his later years, rather than libertarianism and free market economic reasoning. The Conservative Mind hardly mentions economics at all.

In a polemic, Kirk, quoting T. S. Eliot's expression, called libertarians "chirping sectaries," adding that conservatives and libertarians share opposition to "collectivism," "the totalist state," and "bureaucracy," but otherwise have "nothing" in common. He called the libertarian movement "an ideological clique forever splitting into sects still smaller and odder, but rarely conjugating." He said a line of division exists between believers in "some sort of transcendent moral order" and "utilitarians admitting no transcendent sanctions for conduct." He included libertarians in the latter category.[17] Kirk, therefore, questioned the "fusionism" between libertarians and traditional conservatives that marked much of post-World War II conservatism in the United States.[18]

Kirk's view of "classical liberals" is positive though; he agrees with them on "ordered liberty" as they make "common cause with regular conservatives against the menace of democratic despotism and economic collectivism."[19]

Tibor R. Machan defended libertarianism in response to Kirk's original Heritage Lecture. Machan argued that the right of individual sovereignty is perhaps most worthy of conserving from the American political heritage, and that when conservatives themselves talk about preserving some tradition, they cannot at the same time claim a disrespectful distrust of the individual human mind, of rationalism itself.[20]

Jacob G. Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation also responded to Kirk.[21]

Kirk and neoconservatism

Late in life, Kirk grew disenchanted with American neoconservatives as well.[22] As Chronicles editor Scott Richert describes it:

[One line] helped define the emerging struggle between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. "Not seldom has it seemed," Kirk declared, "as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States." A few years later, in another Heritage Foundation speech, Kirk repeated that line verbatim. In the wake of the Gulf War, which he had opposed, he clearly understood that those words carried even greater meaning.[23]

He also commented the neoconservatives were "often clever, never wise."

Midge Decter, director of the Committee for the Free World, called Kirk's remark "a bloody outrage, a piece of anti-Semitism by Kirk that impugns the loyalty of neoconservatives."[24] She told The New Republic, "It's this notion of a Christian civilization. You have to be part of it or you're not really fit to conserve anything. That's an old line and it's very ignorant."[25]

Samuel T. Francis called Kirk's "Tel Aviv" remark "a wisecrack about the slavishly pro-Israel sympathies among neoconservatives."[25] He described Decter's response as untrue, "reckless" and "vitriolic." Furthermore, he argued that such a denunciation "always plays into the hands of the left, which is then able to repeat the charges and claim conservative endorsement of them.[25]

Kirk and the Gulf War

Toward the end of his life, Russell Kirk was highly critical of Republican militarism. President Bush, Kirk said, had embarked upon "a radical course of intervention in the region of the Persian Gulf".[26][27]

Excerpts from Russell Kirk's lectures at the Heritage Foundation (1992):[28]

Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson were enthusiasts for American domination of the world. Now George Bush appears to be emulating those eminent Democrats. When the Republicans, once upon a time, nominated for the presidency a "One World" candidate, Wendell Willkie, they were sadly trounced. In general, Republicans throughout the twentieth century have been advocates of prudence and restraint in the conduct of foreign affairs.[29]

Unless the Bush Administration abruptly reverses its fiscal and military course, I suggest, the Republican Party must lose its former good repute for frugality, and become the party of profligate expenditure, "butter and guns." And public opinion would not long abide that. Nor would America's world influence and America's remaining prosperity.[29]

Yet presidents of the United States must not be encouraged to make Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, nor to fancy that they can establish a New World Order through eliminating dissenters. In the second century before Christ, the Romans generously liberated the Greek city-states from the yoke of Macedonia. But it was not long before the Romans felt it necessary to impose upon those quarrelsome Greeks a domination more stifling to Hellenic freedom and culture than ever Macedon had been. It is a duty of the Congress of the United States to see that great American Caesars do not act likewise.[29]

Man of letters

Kirk's other important books include Eliot and his Age: T. S. Eliot's Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century (1972), The Roots of American Order (1974), and the autobiographical Sword of the Imagination: Memoirs of a Half Century of Literary Conflict (1995). As was the case with his hero Edmund Burke, Kirk became renowned for the prose style of his intellectual and polemical writings.[30]


Beyond his scholarly achievements, Kirk was talented both as an oral storyteller and as an author of genre fiction, most notably in his telling of consummate ghost stories in the classic tradition of Sheridan Le Fanu, M. R. James, Oliver Onions, and H. Russell Wakefield. He also wrote other admired and much-anthologized works that are variously classified as horror, fantasy, science fiction, and political satire. These earned him plaudits from fellow creative writers as varied and distinguished as T. S. Eliot, Robert Aickman, Madeleine L'Engle, and Ray Bradbury.

Though modest in quantity—it encompasses three novels and 22 short stories—Kirk's body of fiction was written amid a busy career as prolific nonfiction writer, editor, and speaker. As with such other speculative fiction authors as G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien (all of whom likewise wrote only nonfiction for their "day jobs"), there are conservative undercurrents—social, cultural, religious, and political—to Kirk's fiction.

His first novel, Old House of Fear (1961, 1965), as with so many of his short stories, was written in a self-consciously Gothic vein. Here the plot is concerned with an American assigned by his employer to a bleak locale in rural Scotland—the same country where Kirk had attended graduate school. This was Kirk's most commercially successful and critically acclaimed fictional work, doing much to sustain him financially in subsequent years.

Later novels were A Creature of the Twilight (1966), a dark comedy satirizing postcolonial African politics; and Lord of the Hollow Dark (1979, 1989), set in Scotland, which explores the great evil inhabiting a haunted house. During his lifetime, Kirk also oversaw the publication of three collections which together encompassed all his short stories. (Three more such collections have been published posthumously, but those only reprint stories found in the earlier volumes.)

Among his novels and stories, certain characters tend to recur, enriching the already considerable unity and resonance of his fictional canon. Though—through their themes and prose-style—Kirk's fiction and nonfiction works are complementary, many readers of the one have not known of his work in the other.

Having begun to write fiction fairly early in his career, Kirk appears to have stopped after the early 1980s, while continuing his nonfiction writing and research through his last year of life. For a comprehensive bibliography of his fiction, see the fiction section of his bibliography.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "About Russell Kirk". The Russell Kirk Center. 2014.
  3. ^ Polner, Murray (March 1, 2010) Left Behind, The American Conservative
  4. ^ Kirk, Russell, ed., 1982. The Portable Conservative Reader. Viking: xxxviii.
  5. ^ Mary Catherine Meyer (February 25, 2016) Kirk should be on the Liberty Walk, The Hillsdale Collegian
  6. ^ Many published in his The Politics of Prudence (1993) and Redeeming the Time (1998).
  7. ^ Timothy Stanley (February 8, 2012). "Buchanan's Revolution: How Pitchfork Pat raised a rebellion—and why it failed". The American Conservative. The American Ideas Institute.
  8. ^ "Update: The Latin Mass in America Today". Regina Magazine.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Daniel (October 12, 2012) How Does a Traditionalist Vote?, The American Conservative
  10. ^ Kauffman, Bill (May 19, 2008) When the Left Was Right, The American Conservative
  11. ^
  12. ^ Which went into 7 editions, the later ones with the title The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot. Regnery Publishing. 7th edition (2001). ISBN 0-89526-171-5
  13. ^ Drew Maciag review of Bradley J. Birzer, Russell Kirk: American Conservatism (2015) in The Journal of American History 103#4 (March 2017) p. 1096. doi:10.1093/jahist/jaw600
  14. ^ Harry V. Jaffa (April 13, 2006). "Harry V. Jaffa Responds to Claes Ryn". The Claremont Institute. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
  15. ^ [1] Archived January 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Thomas Aquinas College
  17. ^ Kirk, Russell (Fall 1981). "Libertarians: the Chirping Sectaries". Modern Age. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute. pp. 345–51.
  18. ^ "The Volokh Conspiracy – Russell Kirk, Libertarianism, and Fusionism".
  19. ^ Kirk, Russell (May 28, 1988). "A Dispassionate Assessment of LIbertarians". Lecture #158 on Political Thought. Heritage Foundation. Russell Kirk is a Distinguished Scholar at the Heritage Foundation. He spoke at The Heritage Foundation on April 19, 1988, delivering the second of four lectures on the 'Varieties of the Conservative Impulse.' ISSN 0272-1155 [webpage notes]. OCLC 20729276
  20. ^ Machan, Tibor R. (August 1, 1988). "A Passionate Defense of Libertarianism". Lecture #165 on Political Thought. Heritage Foundation. OCLC 19009917.
  21. ^ "An Open Letter to Russell Kirk".
  22. ^ Russell, Kirk (December 15, 1988). "The Neoconservatives: An Endangered Species". Lecture #178 on Political Thought. Heritage Foundation.
  23. ^ Scott P. Richert (2004). "Russell Kirk and the Negation of Ideology". Chronicles Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-07-17.
  24. ^ She claimed that Kirk "said people like my husband and me put the interest of Israel before the interest of the United States, that we have a dual loyalty." Decter is the spouse of Norman Podhoretz.
  25. ^ a b c [2] Archived June 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Political Errors at the End of the Twentieth Century – Part I: Republican Errors By Russell Kirk . Accessed: November 26, 2012.
  27. ^ [3] Do Conservatives Hate Their Own Founder? – Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Accessed: November 26, 2012.
  28. ^ [4] Political Errors at the End of the 20th Century, Part III: International Errors. Policy Archive, April 1992. Accessed: November 26, 2012.
  29. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Political Errors at the End of the Twentieth Century – Part I: Republican Errors By Russell Kirk . Accessed: 26 November 2012.
  30. ^ Nash (1998).

Further reading

  • Attarian, John, 1998, "Russell Kirk's Political Economy," Modern Age 40: 87–97. ISSN 0026-7457.
  • Birzer, Bradley J. Russell Kirk: American Conservative (University Press of Kentucky, 2015). 574 pp.
  • Brown, Charles C. ed. Russell Kirk: A Bibliography (2nd ed. 2011: Wilmington, ISI Books, 2011) 220 pages; replaces Brown's 1981 bibliography
  • Campbell, William F. (Fall 1994). "An Economist's Tribute to Russell Kirk". The Intercollegiate Review. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (reprinted with permission by The Philadelphia Society). ISSN 0020-5249. OCLC 1716938. Archived from the original on February 22, 2010.
  • East, John P., 1984, "Russell Kirk as a Political Theorist: Perceiving the Need for Order in the Soul and in Society," Modern Age 28: 33–44. ISSN 0026-7457.
  • Feser, Edward C. (2008). "Conservative Critique of Libertarianism". In Hamowy, Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 95–97. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n62. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.
  • Filler, Louis. "'The Wizard of Mecosta': Russell Kirk of Michigan," Michigan History, Vol 63 No 5 (Sept–Oct 1979).
  • Fuller, Edmund. 'A Genre for Exploring the Reality of Evil." Wall Street Journal, July 23, 1979.
  • Hennelly, Mark M. Jr., "Dark World Enough and Time," Gothic, Vol 2 No 1 (June 1980).
  • Herron, Don. "The crepuscular Romantic: An Apprfeciation of the Fiction of Russell Kirk," 'The Romantist, No 3 (1979).
  • Kirk, Russell, "Introduction: The Canon of Ghostly Tales" in The Scallion Stone by Canon basil A. Smith. Chapel Hill, NC: Whispers Press, 1980.
  • Herron, Don. "Russell Kirk: Ghost Master of Mecosta" in Darrell Schweitzer (ed) Discovering Modern Horror Fiction, Merce Is, WA: Starmont House, July 1985, pp. 21–47.
  • Kirk, Russell, 1995. The Sword of Imagination: Memoirs of a Half-Century of Literary Conflict. Kirk's memoirs.
  • McDonald, W. Wesley, 1982. The Conservative Mind of Russell Kirk: `The Permanent Things' in an Age of Ideology. Ph.D. dissertation, The Catholic University of America. Citation: DAI 1982 43(1): 255-A. DA8213740. Online at ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
  • --------, 1983, "Reason, Natural Law, and Moral Imagination in the Thought of Russell Kirk," Modern Age 27: 15–24. ISSN 0026-7457.
  • --------, 2004. Russell Kirk and The Age of Ideology. University of Missouri Press.
  • --------, 1999. "Russell Kirk and the Prospects for Conservatism," Humanitas XII: 56–76.
  • --------, 2006. "Kirk, Russell (1918–94)," in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia ISI Books: 471–474. Biographical entry.
  • McCleod, Aaron. Great Conservative Minds: A Condensation of Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" (Alabama Policy Institute, 2005) 71pp; detailed page-by-page synopsis
  • Nash, George H., 1998. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America.
  • Person, Jr., James E., 1999. "Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind". Madison Books.
  • Pournelle, Jerry, "Uncanny Tales of the Moral Imagination," University Bookman, Summer 1979, Vol XIX, No 4.
  • Russell, Gerald J., 1996, "The Jurisprudence of Russell Kirk," Modern Age 38: 354–63. ISSN 0026-7457. Reviews Kirk's writings on law, 1976–93, exploring his notion of natural law, his emphasis on the importance of the English common law tradition, and his theories of change and continuity in legal history.
  • --------, 2007. "The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk". University of Missouri Press.
  • --------, 1999, "Time and Timeless: the Historical Imagination of Russell Kirk," Modern Age 41: 209–19. ISSN 0026-7457.
  • --------, 2004, "Russell Kirk and Territorial Democracy," Publius 34: 109–24. ISSN 0048-5950.
  • Steiger, Brad. "A Note on Ghostly Phenomena in Russell Kirk's Old House at Mecosta, Michigan." Strange Powers of E.D.P., NY: Belmont Books, 1969.
  • Sturgeon, Theodore, "A Viewpoint, a Dewpoint," National review, vol XIV No 6, Feb 12, 1963.
  • Whitney, Gleaves, 2001, "The Swords of Imagination: Russell Kirk's Battle with Modernity," Modern Age 43: 311–20. ISSN 0026-7457. Argues that Kirk used five "swords of imagination": historical, political, moral, poetic, and prophetic.

External links

American Conservative (book)

American Conservative is a book written by Russell Kirk.

Ash-Tree Press

Ash-Tree Press is a Canadian company that publishes supernatural and horror literature.

The press has reprinted notable collections of ghostly stories by such writers as R. H. Malden, A. N. L. Munby, L. T. C. Rolt, Margery Lawrence, and Eleanor Scott. It also has published newly edited collections of supernatural tales by such writers as John Metcalfe, Marjorie Bowen, Vernon Lee, and Frederick Cowles, and it has produced multi-volume sets of the complete supernatural short stories of Sheridan Le Fanu, E. F. Benson, H. Russell Wakefield, Russell Kirk, and A. M. Burrage. In 2001, the press published a collected edition of M. R. James's ghost stories and related writings.

In addition, Ash-Tree Press has published new collections of stories by contemporary authors and a series of original anthologies. Awards for these include the 2002 British Fantasy Award for best collection for After Shocks by Paul Finch and the 2004 International Horror Guild Award and 2005 World Fantasy Award for the anthology Acquainted with the Night, edited by Christopher and Barbara Roden.Ash-Tree Press itself has received the 1997 Special Award, Non-Professional, from the World Fantasy Awards and the 1999 Specialty Press Award of the Horror Writers Association.Christopher and Barbara Roden are the proprietors of both Ash-Tree Press and Calabash Press; the latter publishes fiction and nonfiction related to Sherlock Holmes.

Conservatism in the United States

American conservatism is a broad system of political beliefs in the United States that is characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism, support for Judeo-Christian values, moral universalism, free markets and free trade, anti-communism, individualism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from the perceived threats posed by socialism, authoritarianism, and moral relativism. Liberty is a core value, as is with all major American parties. American conservatives consider individual liberty—within the bounds of American values—as the fundamental trait of democracy; this perspective contrasts with that of modern American liberals, who generally place a greater value on equality and social justice and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals. American conservatives believe in limiting government in size and scope, and in a balance between national government and states' rights. Apart from some libertarians, they tend to favor strong action in areas they believe to be within government's legitimate scope, particularly national defense and law enforcement. Social conservatives oppose abortion and favor restricting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT rights, while privileging traditional marriage and allowing localities to require school prayer.American conservatism, like most American political ideologies, originates from republicanism, which rejected aristocratic and monarchical government and upheld the principles of the United States Declaration of Independence ("All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness") and the United States Constitution (which established a federal republic under the rule of law). Conservative philosophy is also derived in part from the classical liberal tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries, which advocated for laissez-faire economics (also called economic freedom and deregulation).Historians such as Patrick Allitt and political theorists such as Russell Kirk argue that the conservative tradition has played a major role in American politics and culture since 1776. However, they stress that an organized conservative movement with beliefs that differ from those of other American political parties has played a key role in politics only since the 1950s. The recent movement is based in the Republican Party, however some Southern Democrats were also important figures early in the movement's history, especially regarding crime control and labor unions, though most Southern Democrats were liberal.

Democracy and Leadership

Democracy and Leadership is a book by Irving Babbitt, with a foreword by Russell Kirk. It was published by Liberty Fund Inc., and first printed in 1924.


In American politics, fusionism is the philosophical and political combination or "fusion" of traditionalist and social conservatism with political and economic right-libertarianism. The philosophy is most closely associated with Frank Meyer.

John Engler

John Mathias Engler (born October 12, 1948) is an American businessman and member of the Republican Party who was elected to serve three terms as the 46th Governor of Michigan from 1991 to 2003. He later worked for Business Roundtable, where The Hill called him one of the country's top lobbyists.

Engler has spent most of his adult life in government. He was serving in the Michigan Senate when he enrolled at Thomas M. Cooley Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctor degree, having served as a Michigan State senator since 1979. He was elected Senate majority leader in 1984 and served there until being elected governor in 1990.

Engler served on the board of advisors of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, an educational organization that continues the intellectual legacy of noted conservative and Michigan native Russell Kirk. Engler also served on the board of trustees of the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Foundation, which funds many Kirk Center programs. Engler was a member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation board of trustees until 2014. As of 2018, he serves on the board of directors of Universal Forest Products. Previous board service included serving as a director of Dow Jones and Delta Air Lines and as a trustee of Munder Funds.

John Pelan

John C. Pelan (born July 19, 1957) is an American author, editor and publisher in the small press science-fiction, weird and horror fiction genres.

He first founded Axolotl Press in 1986 and published several volumes by authors such as Tim Powers, Charles de Lint, Michael Shea and James P. Blaylock. Following this, he founded Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and co-founded Midnight House. Darkside Press printed classics of Science Fiction, Midnight House published classic horror fiction (including

Charles Birkin, Jane Rice and R. R. Ryan) and Silver Salamander Press was devoted to new works of modern horror, but all three have been inactive since 2006.

Pelan has edited over two dozen single-author collections and novels by such authors as Russell Kirk, Violet Hunt and Fritz Leiber for various publishers including Ash-Tree Press. He is currently working on assembling collections by, Uel Key, Daniel F. Galouye and Richard B. Gamon. He is also the editor of several "new fiction" anthologies, including Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium, The Devil Is Not Mocked, The Last Continent: New Tales of Zothique, The Children of Cthulhu and the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Darker Side.

Pelan's short stories have appeared in Carpe Noctem, The Urbanite, Enigmatic Tales, and on-line at and His first novella, the Lovecraftian work The Colour Out of Darkness, was published by Cemetery Dance Publications.

John Randolph of Roanoke

John Randolph (June 2, 1773 – May 24, 1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives at various times between 1799 and 1833, and the Senate from 1825 to 1827. He was also Minister to Russia (1830). After serving as President Thomas Jefferson's spokesman in the House, he broke with the president in 1805 as a result of what he saw as the dilution of traditional Jeffersonian principles as well as perceived mistreatment during the impeachment of Samuel Chase, in which Randolph served as chief prosecutor. Following this split, Randolph proclaimed himself the leader of the "Old Republicans" or "Tertium Quids", a wing of the Democratic-Republican Party who wanted to restrict the role of the federal government. Specifically, Randolph promoted the Principles of '98, which said that individual states could judge the constitutionality of central government laws and decrees, and could refuse to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional.

A quick-thinking orator with a remarkable wit, he was committed to republicanism and advocated a commercial agrarian society throughout his three decades in Congress. Randolph's conservative stance, displayed in his arguments against debt and for the rights of the landed gentry, have been attributed to his ties to his family estate and the elitist values of his native Southside Virginia. His belief in the importance of a landed gentry led him to oppose the abolition of entail and primogeniture: "The old families of Virginia will form connections with low people, and sink into the mass of overseers' sons and daughters". Randolph vehemently opposed the War of 1812 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820; he was active in debates about tariffs, manufacturing, and currency. With mixed feelings about slavery, he was one of the founders of the American Colonization Society in 1816, to send free blacks to a colony in Africa. However, he also believed that slavery was a necessity in Virginia, saying, "The question of slavery, as it is called, is to us a question of life and death ... You will find no instance in history where two distinct races have occupied the soil except in the relation of master and slave." In addition, Randolph remained dependent on hundreds of slaves to work his tobacco plantation. But, he provided for their manumission and resettlement in the free state of Ohio in his will, providing monies for the purchase of land and supplies. They founded Rossville, now part of Piqua, Ohio and Rumley, Ohio.

Randolph was admired by the community and his supporters for his fiery character and was known as a man that was passionate about education and equality for all. He applied rousing electioneering methods, which he also enjoyed as a hobby. Randolph appealed directly to yeomen, using entertaining and enlightening oratory, sociability, and community of interest, particularly in agriculture. This resulted in an enduring voter attachment to him regardless of his personal deficiencies. His defense of limited government appeals to modern and contemporary conservatives, most notably Russell Kirk (1918–1994).

Mecosta, Michigan

Mecosta is a village in Mecosta County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 457 at the 2010 census. The village is within Morton Township. Mecosta Township, which is also in Mecosta county, is located several miles to the west.

Modern Age (periodical)

Modern Age is an American conservative academic quarterly journal, founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk in close collaboration with Henry Regnery. Originally published independently in Chicago, in 1976 ownership was transferred to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

With its founding Kirk hoped for "a dignified forum for reflective, traditionalist conservatism" and the magazine has remained one of the voices of intellectual, small-"c" conservatism to the present day.

Reflecting the ideals of its founder, in its politics it is traditionalist, localist, against most military interventions, not libertarian, anti-Straussian, and generally critical of neoconservatism. In its religious sympathies it adheres to orthodoxy, whether Roman Catholic, Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.

Modern Age has been described by the historian George H. Nash as "the principal quarterly of the intellectual right."

Paul Gottfried, a professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, has said that "Modern Age represents humanistic learning, reverence for the eternal, and the sense of human finiteness, values that (alas) have less and less to do with the academic presentation of the liberal arts."

Kirk edited the publication from 1957 to 1959. Eugene Davidson edited it from 1960 to 1969. David S. Collier was the quarterly's third editor, from 1970 to 1983. Modern Age's fourth editor was George A. Panichas who served from 1984 to 2007. The next editor was R. V. Young. Peter Lawler replaced Young in 2017. Lawler died later in 2017 and he was replaced by the current editor, Daniel McCarthy.The journal's Executive Editor is Mark Henrie, its Managing Editor is Anthony Sacramone, and its Poetry Editor is James Matthew Wilson.

Associate Editors include George W. Carey, Jude P. Dougherty, Jeffrey Hart, Marion Montgomery, Mordecai Roshwald, and Stephen J. Tonsor.

National Review

National Review (NR) is an American semi-monthly editorial magazine focusing on news and commentary pieces on political, social, and cultural affairs. The magazine was founded by the author William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955. It is currently edited by Rich Lowry.

Since its founding, the magazine has played a significant role in the development of conservatism in the United States, helping to define its boundaries and promoting fusionism while establishing itself as a leading voice on the American right.The online version, National Review Online, is edited by Charles C. W. Cooke and includes free content and articles separate from the print edition.


Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleocon) is a predominantly American conservative political philosophy which stresses traditionalism, limited government, Judeo-Christian ethics, regionalism, nationalism and European identity.Paleoconservatism's concerns overlap those of the Old Right that opposed the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s as well as American social conservatism of the late 20th century.

According to the international relations scholar Michael Foley, "paleoconservatives press for restrictions on immigration, a rollback of multicultural programmes, the decentralization of federal policy, the restoration of controls upon free trade, a greater emphasis upon economic nationalism and non-interventionism in the conduct of American foreign policy, and a generally revanchist outlook upon a social order in need of recovering old lines of distinction and in particular the assignment of roles in accordance with traditional categories of gender, ethnicity, and race".Political theorist Paul Gottfried is credited with coining the term in the 1980s. He says the term originally referred to various Americans, such as conservative and traditionalist Catholics and agrarian Southerners, who turned to anti-communism during the Cold War.

Philadelphia Society

The Philadelphia Society is a membership organization the purpose of which is "to sponsor the interchange of ideas through discussion and writing, in the interest of deepening the intellectual foundation of a free and ordered society, and of broadening the understanding of its basic principles and traditions". The membership of the Society tends to be composed of persons holding conservative or libertarian political views, and many of those associated with the Society have exercised considerable influence over the development of the conservative movement in the United States.

It was founded in 1964 by Donald Lipsett in conjunction with Bill Buckley, Milton Friedman, Frank Meyer, and Ed Feulner, and the former Presidents of the Society include Henry Regnery, Edwin J. Feulner, Russell Kirk, Mel Bradford, Forrest McDonald, T. Kenneth Cribb, M. Stanton Evans, Ellis Sandoz, Edwin Meese, Claes G. Ryn, Midge Decter, Roger Ream, Steven F. Hayward, Lee Edwards, William F. Buckley, and George H. Nash.Notable speakers at past meetings of the Society have included Larry Arnhart, Andrew Bacevich, Wendell Berry, Robert Bork, Mel Bradford, Warren T. Brookes, William F. Buckley, Vladimir Bukovsky, Ronald Coase, T. Kenneth Cribb, Midge Decter, M. Stanton Evans, Edwin J. Feulner, Milton Friedman, George Gilder, Victor Davis Hanson, William Hague, S. I. Hayakawa, Friedrich von Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, W.H. Hutt, Herman Kahn, Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Forrest McDonald, Edwin Meese, Frank Meyer, Charles Murray, Robert Nisbet, Michael Novak, Richard Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Henry Regnery, William A. Rusher, Paul Ryan, Ellis Sandoz, Shelby Steele, George J. Stigler, Terry Teachout, Edward H. Teller, and Eric Voegelin.

Portfolio Magazine

Portfolio Magazine, also known as Portfolio, The Magazine of the Fine Arts, was published bimonthly from 1979 to 1983 by Portfolio Associates of New York City. The editor and publisher was Edwin S. Grosvenor, who went on to edit American Heritage magazine. Other staff editors included Alexandra Anderson, Manuela Hoelterhoff, Denise Martin, Isolde McNichol, and Carter Wiseman.

The first issue was published in April, 1979, with articles by Hilton Kramer, Charles Moffett, and Colin Eisler.

Portfolio covered European and American painting, photography, architecture, and non-Western art. It aimed at a general audience, rather academics or art insiders. "Portfolio addresses people like me who are collectors, not scholars," a subscriber, Malcolm Forbes, told The New York Times. "It's comprehensive, superbly done, helps widen my horizons."Contributing editors included Paul Goldberger, Linda Nochlin, Robert Rosenblum, and Vincent Scully. Other contributors included Kenneth Clark, Michael Coe, Owen Edwards, H. W. Janson, Hilton Kramer, Ben Lifson, Barbara Novak, Carter Ratcliff, John Russell, Kirk Varnedoe, and John Wilmerding.

In 1983, Portfolio was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the General Excellence category. It was forced to suspend publication that year when a recession caused a drop in advertising pages.

Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal

The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal is a nonprofit educational organization based out of Mecosta, Michigan. It was founded in order to continue the legacy of Dr. Russell Kirk, an American political theorist, historian, social critic, literary critic, and fiction author. The Center is known for promoting traditionalist conservatism and regularly publishing Studies in Burke and His Time and The University Bookman, the oldest conservative book review in the United States.

The Michigan Review

The Michigan Review is a news publication in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Review, published biweekly, is funded primarily by grants from the Collegiate Network, donations, and by advertising revenue.

The Review was founded by Thomas Fous and Ronald J. Stefanski, in response to an editorial in The Michigan Daily attacking Fous, who was then the chairman of the University's College Republicans. Fous consulted with editors of The Dartmouth Review, as well as Detroit News writer Alan Miller to help direct the formation of the paper. The nascent group secured 501(c)(3) status for The Review, and empaneled an honorary advisory board, which included Paul W. McCracken, Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, R. Emmett Tyrrell, and Stephen Tonsor.

In late November 1982, the first issue of The Review debuted on the campus of the University of Michigan, as well as on campuses across the state of Michigan. The issue's founding editorial, entitled "In Response to Needs and Demands," laid out the history and mission of The Review. A copy of this editorial was reprinted in the April 16, 2007 issue.

Since its founding issue, The Review has gone through numerous incarnations, from a long-form magazine format, to an opinion journal format, to more traditional newspaper format. The current publication resembles a more traditional newspaper format than anything else. Though its paper size is that of a tabloid, its content and presentation is more traditional than stereotypical tabloids, which tend to sensationalize stories.

The Review has gained national notoriety during its history. It was an important voice on campus against the University of Michigan's speech code, which was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by federal courts. Additionally, The Review has long been engaged in a fight against U-M's use of affirmative action policies in its admissions processes. Its work on this issue has brought the journal national press exposure, including interviews on national and international news, as well as numerous articles by Review editors published in national outlets, like the National Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and The American Spectator. Most recently, The Review played an important role in its coverage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot initiative passed in 2006 that bans the use of racial and gender preferences in the state of Michigan.

Review alumni have achieved some measure of success in the national arena, working for such media outlets as the National Review, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The Hill, and Investor's Business Daily, and writing speeches for President George W. Bush.

Traditionalist conservatism

Traditionalist conservatism, also known as classical conservatism and traditional conservatism, is a philosophy emphasizing the need for the principles of a transcendent moral order, manifested through certain natural laws to which society ought to conform in a prudent manner. Shortened to traditionalism and in the United Kingdom and Canada referred to as Toryism, traditionalist conservatism is a variant of conservatism based on the political philosophies of Aristotle and Edmund Burke. Traditionalists emphasize the bonds of social order and the defense of ancestral institutions over hyper-individualism.Traditionalist conservatism places a strong emphasis on the notions of custom, convention and tradition. Theoretical reason is derided over and is considered against practical reason. The state is also seen as a communal enterprise with spiritual and organic qualities. Traditionalists believe that change—if it does happen—is not the result of intentional reasoned thought and it flows naturally out of the traditions of the community. Leadership, authority and hierarchy are seen as natural products. Traditionalism developed throughout 18th-century Europe, particularly as a response to the disorder of the English Civil War and the radicalism of the French Revolution.

In the middle of the 20th century, traditionalist conservatism started to organize itself in earnest as an intellectual and political force.

Traditionalist conservatism in the United States

Traditionalist conservatism in the United States is a variant of conservatism based on the political philosophies of Aristotle and Edmund Burke. Traditional conservatives emphasize the bonds of social order over hyper-individualism and the defense of ancestral institutions. Traditionalist conservatives believe in a transcendent moral order, manifested through certain natural laws to which they believe society ought to conform in a prudent manner. Traditionalist conservatives in the United States also emphasize the rule of law in securing individual liberty.

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