Russell Kirk and Redemptive Conservation
Russell Kirk (1918–1994), was a foundational thinker for post–World War II intellectual conservatism. He was not an environmentalist, but Kirk cared deeply for the causes of conservation and preservation. Scattered throughout his major works, and especially in shorter newspaper columns, one finds moments of “greener” thinking that suggest fruitful opportunities for a conservative tradition of environmental thought and imagination. Focusing on Kirk’s nonfiction works, this article considers the environmental implications of his ubiquitous themes of a moral economy, the “immortal contract,” a suspicion of ideology, and a more critical reflection on issues of waste, energy, and technology. Kirk’s environmental thought provides an invaluable ground on which later environmentally conscious, religious conservatives might build.