Conservative Mind

The last few quotes from The Conservative Mind. All are from Kirk.

In sober fact, do men have souls, or do they not? Upon one’s solution of this inquiry rests the basis of politics; for if men do not possess souls, if there is no higher will, then they may be treated as parts of a machine—indeed, they cannot be treated otherwise.

Modern romanticism and modern science, though superficially inimical, share a disastrous impressionism; for both have surrendered to the theory of ceaseless flux, with no principle of judgment except the shifting pleasure of the individual. This is Pragmatism, the cancer of our intellect.

When property is insecure, the spirit of materialism flourishes.

The twentieth-century conservative is concerned, first of all, for the regeneration of 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; but it cannot be accomplished as a deliberate program of social reform, “political Christianity.” As Christopher Dawson observes, “There is a tendency, especially among the English-speaking Protestant peoples, to treat religion as a kind of social tonic in order to extract a further degree of moral effort from the people.”

The assault on institutional religion, on old-fashioned economic methods, on family authority, and on small political communities has set the individual free from nearly everything, truly; but that freedom is a terrifying thing, the freedom of a baby deserted by his parents to do as he pleases.

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