February 27, 2007


Caption: This guy approaches change cautiously, which can be a problem when he's on the road.

This is the second post in a series on whatever happened to conservatism (there's other stuff in here too). Please scroll down to yesterday's if this is your first visit.

Before there was Goldwater, and before William F. Buckley became a major national influence, there was the writer and scholar Russell Kirk, who wrote The Conservative Mind, one of the intellectual foundations of modern conservatism.

The book was first published in 1953 and went through seven editions. It's no lightweight tome even literally, ranging from the 1700s to the twentieth century over 500 or so pages. Buckley gave the book a great deal of credit for the conservative revival, noting that it "is inconceivable even to imagine, let alone hope for, a dominant conservative movement in American without [Kirk's] labor." (That was from the jacket.)

Although I'm not exactly a member of the tribe, I'd have to say it's worth reading not only for its intelligent presentation of intellectual conservatism but also for the contrast it provides to what passes for conservatism today.

Chapters range from a good one on Edmund Burke (who deserves his own post) to the Adams family to Randolph and Calhoun to various cranky old Englishmen to Disraeli and Newman to intellectuals like Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer Moore and George Santayana.

He stated his reasons for writing it as such:

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 civilization escape the conflagration of unchecked will and appetite.

Kirk identifies six key elements that comprise the "canon of conservative thought." These, among other things, will be on tomorrow's menu.

POVERTY AND PUBLIC ASSISTANCE NEWS. In case you missed the AP story yesterday about the current state of public assistance programs, here it is. Short version, while welfare "reform" slashed people off the rolls of cash assistance, more people than ever depend on supports for low income people such as food stamps, Medicaid, and disability benefits.

This is no surprise when good jobs are a major export, the number of people without health care are growing and the minimum wage has been stagnant for 10 years. People left welfare alright--from 36,000 cases in WV in 1996 to less than 10,000 in 2006--but they didn't leave poverty.

BUSH VS. KIDS. U.S. governors of both parties meeting in Washington are urging Bush not to cut the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has been one of the most successful policy initiatives in recent decades. CHIP covers children from low and moderate income families and has made a huge difference in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia.



Jspiker said...

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945), radio address, Oct. 26, 1939

Your picture says a thousand words!

El Cabrero said...

That's a good one. As you can probably tell, I'm trying to be civil on this topic as it is not exactly home turf.

Antipode said...

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of the world's oldest excercises in moral philosophy;that is the moral justification for selfishness"

JK Galbraith, God Rest His Soul

El Cabrero said...

Dammit, Beavis, you're using up my quotes! How am I going to finish this thing now?