Russell Kirk's Defense of the American Tradition
Liberalism and Reconstitution
Russell Kirk's The Roots of American Order (1974) and Patrick J. Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed (2018) present competing views of the American tradition. The division is due largely to different views of John Locke’s influence on American constitutional formation. Deneen rejects the possibility that the American order is derived from both liberal and pre-liberal influences. Kirk, by contrast, finds continuity between the older Western and American traditions. This article investigates how competing visions of technology and virtue in these two thinkers speaks to the origin and future of liberalism in the American political order.