What Conservatism Is Not: Radical Liberalism

What Conservatism Is Not: Radical Liberalism

The following quotes are taken from Russell Kirk’s book, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (1953)

Near the beginning, Kirk attempts to distill the elements of Radicalism. In today’s, lexicon he was attempting to define what is fittingly called Radical Liberalism, or Progressivism.

At any rate, the main elements of the radical social and political philosophy that Kirk is describing is certain death to the powerful American conservatism from which this great and incomparable nation was born.

The following is written by Russel Kirk about the nature of Radicalism. It is written in “high English” and it is not easy reading. However, diligent readers will certainly understand the main thrust of the elements of radicalism that Kirk presents because they have been witnessing the destructive force of its growth in America and Europe for over one-half of a century.

This main elements are as follows, and I quote:

  1. The perfectibility of man and the illimitable progress of society: meliorism. Radicals believe that education, positive legislation, and alteration of environment can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity toward violence and sin.
  2. Contempt for tradition. Reason, impulse, and materialistic determinism are severally preferred as guides to social welfare, trustier than the wisdom of our ancestors. Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.
  3. Political leveling. Order an privilege are condemned; total democracy, as direct as practicable, is the professed radical ideal. Allied with this spirit, generally, is a dislike of old parliamentary arrangements and an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.
  4. Economic leveling. The ancient rights of property, especially property in land, are suspect to almost all radicals; and collectivistic reformers hack at the institution of private property root and branch.
  5. As a fifth point, one might try to define a common radical view of the state’s function; but here the chasm of opinion between the chief schools of innovation is to deep for any satisfactory generalization. One can only remark that radicals unite in detesting Burke’s description of the state as ordained of God, and his concept of society as joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born—the community of souls.

End of quote, page 10.


Our Founding Father’s Constituted this great nation under the moral and ethical precepts of God. Whether one is a believer or not, they cannot argue with the existence of this legacy and the ascendancy of this great nation among the world of nations.

In spite of America’s periods of darker doings, well-noted by its detractors (the American Indian, Slavery, and examples of ruthless capitalism), America has done more than any other nation in the world to correct these natural human tendencies. It has done more than any other nation in the world to protect millions of people from death and subjugation by tyrants and totalitarians. America has done more that any other nation in the world to spread knowledge and technology; and freedom from tyranny, disease and poverty than any nation in the world.

Of course no society or citizenry in the history of the world is perfect. But, America did these things by strongly supporting the many religions among its population and freeing people to work, create, educate and raise their children as they desired. America did these things by allowing families to instill the values in their children that they had faith would lead to law-abiding and moral behavior toward others.

America leveled the “playing field by providing equality for all under the law and within its justice system. It did not do it by attempting to guarantee equality in all outcomes for its citizens. This is something that can never be done while preserving liberty for all. Better than any other nation in the history of  earth, America strives to provide equal opportunity for all its citizens to pursue their personal goals and achievements.

Sadly, during the past 55 years, increasing radical liberalism in America, as defined above by Russell Kirk, has predictably brought rank-corruption into our political system as well as (predictably) dramatically increasing rates of social psychopathology within our population.

History  now confronts us with the fact that America’s declining conditions will not improve until we return to the traditional precepts and moral values that once made us great.

It may already be too late.

Now may be the last great chance for Americans to channel all the optimism that we can muster into our coming elections.

We can do this by voting for a return to America’s Founding conservative principles.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, 11/9/15

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