Acton Institute interns on their annual Kirk Center retreat: “Absolutely fantastic!”

The Kirk Center welcomed Acton Institute interns for their 2023 intellectual retreat, focusing on Russell Kirk’s best known work, The Conservative Mind, which turns seventy this year. To help the student participants deepen their understanding of the meaning of conservatism, then and now, they were fortunate to be joined by two prominent conservative historians, George H. Nash and Wilfred McClay. 

Dr. McClay spoke about the centrality of memory to conservatism. As he has put it: memory is “the glue that holds our lives together and imposes order and continuity amid the blooming buzzing confusion of sensations, thoughts, and activities that stream in upon our days. It is no exaggeration to say that a working memory is indispensable in the flourishing of the human person and of human culture.”

Dr. Nash commented on Kirk’s achievement in writing The Conservative Mind. “Successful resistance to the total state,” he argued, “the reconciliation of individualism and community…and the ‘restoration of the ethical understanding and the religious sanction upon which any life worth living is founded’: these are some of the challenges that The Conservative Mind identifies as central to a truly conservative agenda. The future, as always, is veiled from our vision. But as Dr. Kirk in his later years often reminded us, ‘it is the duty of conservatives to attempt to redeem the time as best they can.’”

As a bonus for the Acton Interns, an independent research scholar from Hungary residing at the Center this summer, Miklos Lovas, provided an insightful and well-received overview of the reception of Russell Kirk’s writings in Europe today. Kirk’s reputation, he concluded, is growing and his writings are increasingly translated throughout Europe, as well as in Asia and South America. 

Seminar participants found their annual Kirk Center experience:

“Amazingly enlightening….One of the most intellectually engaging discussions I have attended so far.”

“I loved getting to see where Kirk wrote and lived. As a conservative, it was a very special experience that I won’t forget.” 

“Absolutely fantastic! I leave with a fuller mind and deeper roots.”

“The Kirk seminars embody the spirit of Kirk’s thoughts on conservatism. I’ve learned so much about him as a scholar, writer, and man who created a robust conservatism.”

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