Monday, November 28, 2011

Who Shall Go Forth Into Battle?

"The conservative movement is enfeebled, intellectually and in backing, at the very hour of its popular ascendancy... This may become a fatal impoverishment. For the most pressing need of the conservative movement in America is to quicken its own right reason and moral imagination. The rising generation, already won to a kind of unthinking conservatism on nearly every college campus, must be made aware that conservative views and policies can be at once intellectually reputable and pleasantly lively.

The ideologue cannot govern well; but neither can the time-server. So it is that thinking folk of conservative views ought to reject the embraces of the following categories of political zealots ... Those who instruct us that “the test of the market” is the whole of political economy and of morals. Those who fancy that foreign policy can be conducted with religious zeal, on a basis of absolute right and absolute wrong ... Those who assure us that great corporations can do no wrong ... And various other gentry who abjure liberalism but are capable of conserving nothing worth keeping.

... Is anybody left in the conservative camp? Yes.

There survives, even unto our day, a conservative cast of character and of mind capable of sacrifice, thought, and sound sentiment. That sort of conservative mentality was discerned in America by Tocqueville a century and a half ago, by Maine and Bryce a century ago, by Julián Marías twenty years ago. If well waked in mind and conscience, such people—really quite numerous in these United States—are capable of enduring conservative reform and reinvigoration. But if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall go forth to battle?"

Russell Kirk, The Intercollegiate Review, 1986.

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