The Forgotten Father of American Conservatism

Matthew Continetti

The Atlantic | 2018

Kirk’s conservatism was scholastic, literary, philosophical, poetic, and noninterventionist. He clashed with the libertarians, never embraced Joseph McCarthy, held National Review at arm’s length, broke with the neoconservatives over the Gulf War in 1990, and supported Patrick J. Buchanan in the 1992 Republican primary. Throughout his remarkable literary output of more than 20 books of nonfiction, three novels, hundreds of articles and book reviews, and some 3,000 syndicated columns—all while founding Modern Age (1957) and The University Bookman (1960)—Kirk championed the “permanent things” against ideological thinking on both the left and the right. His life’s work points to a path not taken by the conservative movement—one worth reexamining in this moment of uncertainty and flux.

Image courtesy WikiCommons

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