Russell Kirk quotes

  • If you want to have order in the commonwealth, you first have to have order in the individual soul.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Order #Soul #Want

  • Men cannot improve a society by setting fire to it: they must seek out its old virtues, and bring them back into the light.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Men #Fire #Light

  • The twentieth-century conservative is concerned, first of all, for the regeneration of the spirit and character – with the perennial problem of the inner order of the soul, the restoration of the ethical understanding, and the religious sanction upon which any life worth living is founded. This is conservatism at its highest.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Religious #Character #Order

  • To check centralization and usurping of power ... we require a new laissez-faire. The old laissez-faire was founded upon a misapprehension of human nature, an exultation of individuality (in private character often a virtue) to the condition of a political dogma, which destroyed the spirit of community and reduced men to so many equipollent atoms of humanity, without sense of brotherhood or purpose.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Character #Men #Community

  • If a conservative order is indeed to return, we ought to know the tradition which is attached to it, so that we may rebuild society; if it is not to be restored, still we ought to understand conservative ideas so that we may rake from the ashes what scorched fragments of civilizations escape the conflagration of unchecked will and appetite.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Order #Civilization #Ideas

  • Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Reform #Surgery

  • Nothing is more conservative than conservation
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Conservative #Conservation

  • The principle of real leadership ignored, the immortal objects of society forgotten, practical conservatism degenerated into mere laudation of private enterprise, economic policy almost wholly surrendered to special interests.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Real #Special #Principles

  • In any society, order is the first need of all. Liberty and justice may be established only after order is tolerably secure. But the libertarians give primacy to an abstract liberty. Conservatives, knowing that "liberty inheres in some sensible object," are aware that true freedom can be found only within the framework of a social order, such as the constitutional order of these United States. In exalting an absolute and indefinable "liberty" at the expense of order, the libertarians imperil the very freedoms they praise.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Order #Knowing #Giving

  • A just government maintains a healthy tension between the claims of authority and the claims of liberty.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Government #Healthy #Liberty

  • The issue of environmental quality is one which transcends traditional political boundaries. It is a cause which can attract, and very sincerely, liberals, conservatives, radicals, reactionaries, freaks, and middle-class straights.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Class #Issues #Political

  • We ought not to endeavor to revise history according to our latter day notions of what things ought to have been, or upon the theory that the past is simply a reflection of the present
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Past #Reflection #Theory

  • Some 'separation' zealots would expunge any vestige of religious observance in public schools. Many of the same anti-religious fanatics would like to wipe out of existence all church-related schools, by regulation or taxation, so that universal ignorance of the life of spirit should prevail.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #School

  • The Secular City, having legislated and litigated itself out of any entanglement with the City of God, would be a hell upon earth .
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #Cities

  • Despite much talk in this land about religious freedom, churches and their schools now confront grave difficulties.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #School

  • The ACLU has been able to harass out of existence public expressions of faith.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #Expression

  • If the state - and within the state, the judiciary particularly - harasses and undermines the Church , in any society the state undoes itself.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #Church

  • Schooling deprived of religious insights is wretched education.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Religious #Insight

  • To complete the rout of traditionalists, in America an impression began to arise that the new industrial and acquisitive interests are the conservative interest, that conservatism is simply a political argument in defense of large accumulations of private property, that expansion, centralization, and accumulation are the tenets of conservatives. From this confusion, from the popular belief that Hamilton was the founder of American conservatism, the forces of tradition in the United States never have fully escaped.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #America #Confusion #Political

  • The decay of old aristocratic prejudices against greedy speculation, the undermining of orthodox Christian faith (which forbids avarice)... the debauching of agriculture to a gross money-getting concern: these particular aspects of a vast and voracious concentration upon profits are so many illustrations of our sinning confusion of values.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Christian #Illustration #Agriculture

  • If men are discharged of reverence for ancient usage, they will treat this world, almost certainly, as if it were their private property, to be consumed for their sensual gratification; and thus they will destroy in their lust for enjoyment the property of future generations, of their own contemporaries, and indeed their very own capital.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Men #Lust #Sensual

  • ...so mankind is now trapped by the failure of its energies and by the depletion of those natural resources that men have plundered wantonly.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Men #Energy #Natural

  • Why do we not exhaust the heritage of the ages, spiritual and material for our immediate pleasure, and let posterity go hang? So far as simple rationality is concerned, self-interest can advance no argument against the appetite of present possessors. Yet within some of us, a voice that is not the demand of self-interest or pure rationality says that we have no right to give ourselves enjoyment at the expense of our ancestors' memory and our descendants' prospects. We hold our present advantages only in trust.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Spiritual #Memories #Simple

  • And Burke, could he see our century, never would concede that a consumption-society, so near to suicide, is the end for which Providence has prepared man.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Suicide #Men #Providence

  • There are no lost causes because there are no gained causes.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Wisdom #Causes #Lost

  • Prejudice is not bigotry or superstition, although prejudice sometimes may degenerate into these. Prejudice is pre-judgment, the answer with which intuition and ancestral consensus of opinion supply a man when he lacks either time or knowledge to arrive at a decision predicated upon pure reason.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Men #Decision #Intuition

  • Moral decay first hampers and then strangles honest government, regular commerce, and even the ability to take genuine pleasure in the goods of this world. Compulsion is applied from above as self-discipline relaxes below, and the last liberties expire under the weight of a unitary state.... Since religion has lost its empire over the souls of men, the most prominent boundary that divided good from evil is overthrown; kings and nations are guided by chance and none can say where are the natural limits of despotism and the bound of license.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Kings #Men #Self

  • Even the wisest of mankind cannot live by reason alone; pure arrogant reason, denying the claims of prejudice (which commonly are also the claims of conscience), leads to a wasteland of withered hopes and crying loneliness, empty of God and man: the wilderness in which Satan tempted Christ was not more dreadful than the arid expanse of intellectual vanity deprived of tradition and intuition, where modern man is tempted by his own pride.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Loneliness #Pride #Men

  • True conformity to the dictates of nature requires reverence for the past and solicitude for the future. 'Nature' is not simply the sensation of the passing moment; it is eternal, though we evanescent men experience only a fragment of it. We have no right to imperil the happiness of posterity by impudently tinkering with the heritage of humanity.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Past #Men #Humanity

  • Common Reader for Everyday Ecologists
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Everyday #Common #Reader

  • The aim of any good constitution is to achieve in a society a high degree of political harmony, so that order and justice and freedom may be maintained.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Order #Justice #Political

  • I am a conservative. Quite possibly I am on the losing side; often I think so. Yet, out of a curious perversity I had rather lose with Socrates, let us say, than win with Lenin.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Winning #Thinking #Sides

  • Either order in the cosmos is real, or all is chaos. If we are adrift in chaos, then the fragile egalitarian doctrines and emancipating programs of the revolutionary reformers have no significance; for in a vortex of chaos, only force and appetite signify.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Real #Order #Cosmos

  • The libertarian thinks that this world is chiefly a stage for the swaggering ego; the conservative finds himself instead a pilgrim in a realm of mystery and wonder, where duty, discipline, and sacrifice are required-and where the reward is that love which passeth all understanding.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Sacrifice #Thinking #Discipline

  • We cannot make a heaven on earth, though we may make a hell.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Heaven #May #Earth

  • Every right is married to a duty, every freedom owes a corresponding responsibility.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Responsibility #Married #Duty

  • I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful. I despised sophisters and calculators; I was groping for faith, honor, and prescriptive loyalties. I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Loyalty #Organization #Numbers

  • The good society is marked by a high degree of order, justice, and freedom. Among these, order has primacy: for justice cannot be enforced until a tolerable civil social order is attained, nor can freedom be anything better than violence until order gives us laws.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Order #Law #Giving

  • ...only the unscrupulous or shortsighted can defend pollution and degradation of the countryside.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Degradation #Pollution #Countryside

  • The resources of nature, like those of spirit, are running out, and all that a conscientious man can aspire to be is a literal conservative, hoarding what remains of culture and of natural wealth against the fierce appetites of modern life.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Running #Men #Culture

  • Politics moves upward into ethics, and ethics ascends to theology.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Moving #Interesting #Ethics

  • It is good for a student to be poor. Getting and spending, the typical American college student lays waste his powers. Work and contemplation don't mix, and university days ought to be days of contemplation.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #College #Waste #Typical

  • Real literature is something much better than a harmless instrument for getting through idle hours. The purpose of great literature is to help us to develop into full human beings.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Real #Purpose #Literature

  • Rousseau and his disciples were resolved to force men to be free; in most of the world, they triumphed; men are set free from family, church, town, class, guild; yet they wear, instead, the chains of the state, and they expire of ennui or stifling lone lines.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Men #Class #Church

  • Mine was not an Enlightened mind, I now was aware: it was a Gothic mind, medieval in its temper and structure. I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Organization #Perfect #Mind

  • The modern spectacle of vanished forests and eroded lands, wasted petroleum and ruthless mining, national debts recklessly increased until they are repudiated, and continual revision of positive law, is evidence of what an age without veneration does to itself and its successors.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Law #Land #Age

  • The conservative "thinks of political policies as intended to preserve order, justice, and freedom. The ideologue, on the contrary, thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature. In his march toward Utopia, the ideologue is merciless.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Thinking #Order #Justice

  • Rather than ennobling the public mind and cementing the social fabric, applied science speedily became the chief weapon of a gross individualism, which was anathema to the frugal and righteous (John Quincy) Adams, the source of enormous fortunes divorced from duty, the instrument of unscrupulous ambition and rapacious materialism. Presently, it came to scar the very of the country which Adams loved, a disfiguring process uninterrupted since his day.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Country #Ambition #Mind

  • Humility, which Burke ranked high among the virtues, is the only effectual restraint upon this congenital vanity; yet our world has nearly forgotten the nature of humility. Submission to the dictates of humility formerly was made palatable to man by the doctrine of grace; that elaborate doctrine has been overwhelmed by modern presumption.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Humility #Men #Vanity

  • A society which denies the heart its role becomes, in very short order, a heartless society.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Heart #Order #Interesting

  • The automobile, practical since 1906, was proceeding to disintegrate and stamp anew the pattern of communication, manners, and city life in the United States, by 1918; before long, men would begin to see that the automobile, and the mass production techniques which made its possible, could alter the national character and morality more thoroughly than could the most absolute of tyrants. As a mechanical Jacobin, it rivaled the dynamo. The productive process which made these vehicles cheap was still more subversive of the old ways than was the gasoline engine itself.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Communication #Character #Men

  • ...ambition without pious restraint must end in failure, often involving in its ruin that beautiful reverence which solaces common men for the obscurity and poverty of their lot.
    -- Russell Kirk

    #Beautiful #Ambition #Men