Friday, August 9, 2013

Conservative Thinking

When I find things to read that stick with me, things I want to have access to later to reread or get quotes, I often save a copy in my personal files. Lately a number of those “keepers” happened to come from a source that I’m only just becoming familiar with. The site is I referred to one of their pieces in Wednesday’s blog.
So I started looking more at this source, TIC for short. Several of the first contributors listed are affiliated with Hillsdale College, which does some heroic work in sharing the concepts and philosophies that led to our Constitution. But other names are from various other places, though more college professors than other walks of life. I can’t say I agree with everything I’ve read from their site, but I think there’s definitely enough good there to pay attention. Sometimes the topics refer back and forth between the writings of various philosophers, and I don’t qualify as fully well-read with all those names. But sometimes these are clues to what I should go read. There have been a couple of mentions that the writers are all Christian, so I think that may be part of their worldview as well. At one point I thought they might be libertarian and secularist; but the more I read, the more I find that to be simply an error on my part.
Russell Kirk
photo from Wikipedia
TIC became on online newsletter in 2010, started by Winston Elliott III, who became president of the Free Enterprise Institute in 1992. He was greatly influenced by the conservative writings of Russell Kirk. The site states the mission this way:

Dr. [Russell] Kirk’s work informs the mission of The Imaginative Conservative, which is to be a forum for those who seek the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, M.E. Bradford, Christopher Dawson and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism.
The headings of categories on their site include books (reviews of books), conservatism, Russell Kirk, politics, culture, American Republic, liberal learning (in the sense of freedom and open-mindedness, or classical liberal thought, not the redefined word used the past century), economics, and bookstore. There categories fit relatively well with mine: political sphere, economic sphere, and culture/civilization sphere. Some things cross over enough (like education, for example) that they fit partially under all, which you would expect when the three spheres interrelate and spatially overlie each other.
A number of pieces written by Russell Kirk are included on the site.
The Essence of Conservatism, by Russell Kirk.   Just last post I was searching for ways to define and thereby differentiate conservatism and libertarianism. This definition of conservatism is a good addition to the conversation:
A conservative is not, by definition, a selfish or a stupid person; instead, he is a person who believes there is something in our life worth saving. Conservatism, indeed, is a word with an old and honorable meaning—but a meaning almost forgotten by Americans until recent years. Abraham Lincoln wished to be known as a conservative. “What is conservatism?” he said. “Is it not preference for the old and tried, over the new and untried?” It is that; and it is also a body of ethical and social beliefs. The word “liberalism,” however, has been in favor among us for two or three decades. Even nowadays, though there are a good many conservatives in both national and state politics, in neither major party do many leading politicians describe themselves as “conservatives.” Paradoxically, the people of the United States became the chief conservative nation of the world at the very time when they had ceased to call themselves conservatives at home.
Ten Conservative Principles, by Russell Kirk   This one also adds body to the definition. If you're wondering whether you align with conservatism, his ten principles might help with your introspection.
There are some other TIC pieces, by other writers, I’d like to recommend for your summer reading pleasure. But, to give myself room to comment, I think I’ll save those until the next post.

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