All in The CommonPlace

7 Russell Kirk Quotes on Economics

For Kirk, private property was society’s means of dignifying human makers as bearers of the divine image. On the other hand, production and consumption are not the ends for which society existed, nor are they ends that can be pursued without regard for “the permanent things”—the moral virtues, respect for the natural world, and duty to one's neighbors. The following selections express Kirk’s estimation of prosperity as an indicator of a healthy society. He believed that the way a people generates their wealth (and how they treat the poorest among them) reveals their allegiance to the transcendent moral order upon which every enduring society must be founded.

Trained as a historian, Russell Kirk’s understanding of the past informed the entirety of his thinking. Although his approach to history was philosophical, he eschewed a “philosophy of history.” For Kirk, the benefit of historical study came from looking at particulars. Those particulars, however, could not be isolated from their larger historical narrative. History as particular narrative would then reveal a shadowy glimpse of the Logos, the fabric of reality that must inform both a personal and political present. Here is a sampling of his musings on the nature of historical consciousness: