Therapist-in-Chief

My college friend Jerry Russello, author of The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk, has an interview with me running on the website of the Kirk Center’s University Bookman.

I write a little bit about Kirk in the section of the book labeled “How Conservatives Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Imperial Presidency.” Kirk, to his credit, was never really able to stop worrying. Search his name on the Heritage Foundation website and you’ll find some stuff that would get Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to cry treason. Here’s Kirk in the wake of Gulf War I:

it would be ruinous for the Republicans to convert themselves into a party of high deeds in distant lands and higher taxes on the home front. Such a New World Order, like the Pax Romana, might create a wilderness and call it peace; at best, it would reduce the chocolate ration from thirty grams to twenty. And in the fullness of time, the angry peoples of the world would pull down the American Empire, despite its military ingenuity and its protestations of kindness and gentleness — even as the Soviet Empire is being pulled down today, thanks be to God.

I like this one, too (and quote it in the book):

The conservative endeavors to so limit and balance political power that anarchy or tyranny may not arise. in every age, nevertheless, men and women are tempted to overthrow the limitations upon power, for the sake of some fancied temporary advantage. It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for good–so long as the power falls into his hands. In the name of liberty, the French and Russian revolutionaries abolished the old restraints upon power; but power cannot be abolished; it always finds its way into someone’s hands. That power which the revolutionaries had thought oppressive in the hands of the old regime became many times as tyrannical in the hands of the radical new masters of the state.

Knowing human nature for a mixture of good and evil, the conservative does not put his trust in mere benevolence. Constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws, the old intricate web-of restraints upon will and appetite–these the conservative approves as instruments of freedom and order.

Man, remember conservatives? They used to believe stuff like that. Some of them still do, but they’re few and far between. Today Heritage’s Russell Kirk lecture goes to the likes of John Yoo. Seriously.

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Posted on May 19, 2008 in Conservatism, Cult of the Presidency, Uncategorized | Comments

4 Responses to “Therapist-in-Chief”

  1. Posted by: Jamison Panama - 02/04/2010

    I just needed to say that I found your site via Goolge and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!

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