Prospects for Conservatives
A Compass for Rediscovering the Permanent Things
ISBN: 978-1621380504 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1621380498 (cloth)
“The mind and heart of America, in this tremendous hour, require an inspiration which cannot come out of the party caucus and the editorial room of the daily newspaper.” So writes Russell Kirk in Prospects for Conservatives. Sixty years hence the hour is late, the situation even more dire. Our governing elites, in all areas of social, political, and cultural life, have snapped the central axis of humanity and trampled upon the principles of natural, social, and transcendent order. But such are not ever lost, and it is these that Russell Kirk offers to us in this work―perhaps his best, in terms of style as well as intellectual depth and creativity, as Bradley Birzer notes in his introduction to this new edition.
As Dr. Birzer goes on to indicate, the book’s importance lies less in the specific issues it addresses than in its discussion of eternal truths. In Prospects, the author engages problems of the intellect, community, justice, order, loyalty, tradition, and power; and associates each of these either with the seven classical and Christian virtues or with the seven deadly sins. Yes, the hour is late, but transcendent order can never be entirely extinguished, and its re-articulation in Prospects for Conservatives―bringing it into clear view so that it can affect everyday living―is an unexpected grace from the pen of Russell Kirk, given to all whose intellects and imaginations have not yet lost their bearings. In an age when it is all too easily led off course, Dr. Kirk offers American conservatism a sure way forward, and reason for hope in perilous times.
Praise for Prospects for Conservatives:
“Originally regarded as the sequel to his landmark book, The Conservative Mind, Prospects is widely regarded as a stand-alone essay in its own right. In it, we are reminded that human beings best flourish in community, where the moral imagination is joined to right reason. Amid modernity’s minefields, wastelands, and pitfalls, readers of Russell Kirk will see hope in the possibilities of renewal for America and the West.”—Gleaves Whitney, Director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Grand Valley State University
“Prospects for Conservatives is a breathtakingly beautiful and wise affirmation of cultural conservatism. And it remains an indispensable guide to both the hope that is central to Kirk’s brand of conservatism, and to the dangers and discontents the current generation of conservatives still must confront.”—Jeffrey O. Nelson, co-editor, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia
“Russell Kirk follows Edmund Burke and other conservative masters in asserting that the problems of human life are ‘not to be amended overnight by some coffee-house philosopher.’ Instead, Kirk consults serious thinkers who consider fundamental questions and seek for principles, not programmatic solutions.”—Benjamin G. Lockerd, author of Aethereal Rumours: T.S. Eliot’s Physics and Poetics
Praise for earlier editions:
“Mr. Kirk deals faithfully with the smug and sentimental intellectual fashions that have contributed to our demoralized culture.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Professor Kirk has composed a sound and searching tract for our times, written with a vividness that should arouse the most jaded reader.”—Wall Street Journal
“A Program for Conservatives is a vigorous book, written with conviction, love and indignation.”—Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review
“It has been Russell Kirk’s service to his country to reexamine the fundamentals of conservatism, to face facts that doctrinaire liberalism has glossed over, to ask that most fundamental of questions―What must a man do to be saved? Liberalism’s answer has been in our day disastrous.”—The Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Russell Kirk (1918–1994), historian of ideas, critic, essayist, editor, and novelist, was the author of thirty-two books. Among them are The Conservative Mind, The Roots of American Order, The Politics of Prudence, Enemies of the Permanent Things, and six works of fiction. He received twelve honorary doctorates from American universities and many awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal.