Analysis Of A Conservative Mind By Russel Kirk

2430 words - 10 pages

Russel Kirk was one of the main contributors to American intellectual conservatism. His work of 1953 is considered to be Kirk’s magnum opus. Author begins his book with the core ideas, which, he believes, appear to be essential for conservatism. What must be mentioned, however, is that Kirk does not provides a list of these six rules, which, according to him, arise to be dogmas of Anglo-American conservatism, but, rather, he proposes six characteristics that belong to a true conservative mind.
First and foremost, Kirk asserts that universe if guided by a transcendent rule or body of natural law, that rules people s conscience and society in general. Moreover, similar to the Plato’s idea about moral truth, Kirk claims that such truth exists, and we must, as a political subject, apply this Justice to all people (regarding those as “community of souls”). Things as right and wrong, truth and lie do exist, basically meaning that moral relativism is unacceptable by a conservative. Concerning uniqueness of a particular person, conservatives believe that they do not force sameness among society. Unlike liberals, Kirk states that egalitarianism is a very narrow and people should have more freedom in opportunities of being different. As opposed to the notion of “classless” society, conservatives are convinced that there is a natural inequality between men, which must not be forgotten. In addition to that, it is generally believed by conservatives, that freedom cannot exist without private property, as only having it one is able to secure himself. Finally, last but not least is the dogma that conservatives prefer customs to changes, as those can destroy in the same manner as improve.
Deepening in itself “Conservative Mind” switches the view from Kirk’s personal to the opinion of the father of modern conservatism – Edmund Burke. Latter was the member of the Whig party, and stood strongly for checks in governmental power and religious freedom, while being an opponent of expansion and arbitrary power. As Burke served Britain right before and during French revolution, he seemed reform as a necessity; however, such reform must be cautious and reasonable. In that respect, Burke was literally horrified of what have happened to the continent after 1789 and with his work “Reflections” alerted British people, that the thirst for “liberty, quality and brotherhood” must be extinguished, for if not, destruction will overwhelm England. It must also be mentioned, that Burke was a man of concrete and reality – thus, he did not accepted philosophes, which produced the Reign of Terror. In his response to Bentham and Rousseau, Burke stated that we search for our moral principles through revelation and intuition rather than through speculations of philosophes. With the arrival of the WWI and Russian Revolution, Kirk states that classical liberals of Burke’s time, like Acton, were proven wrong in their criticism towards Burke, and his “overreaction” to the French Revolution. ...

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