Kirk.... KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRK

About 4 percent of my retina and a corresponding percentage of my brain have been reading the debate in these columns about Alan Wolfe's evisceration of conservative theorist Russell Kirk. I confess that I am not smart enough to pick up on the nuances of the debate, so here is my (small) contribution in the form of some questions to which I do not know the answers: which conservative politicians today claim to be linear descendants from Kirk? What policy ideas can be traced to the tracks in his mind? Did he contribute meaningfully to resolving (or exacerbating) the uneasy truce between political conservatism and Christian moralism? Aside from the conservative intellectual elite, who counts Kirk as an intellectual influence? Would conservatism today be the same if Kirk had never lived? Is Kirk the conservative equivalent of Lionel Trilling? John Rawls? (How many liberals have even read John Rawls?) Actually, the Rawls question is unfair. Liberals might not know much about him, but his writing and thinking underpin the modern Democratic Party theory of redistributive rights and expansive government.

As an actual practitioner of politics, what should I know about Kirk?

Or should I go back to wondering why Rudy Giuliani's team of bodyguards always looks at me with growling eyes?

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Pittsburgh: 'It's Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Politics

Just In