When The Conservative Mind was published in 1953, its author, like Lord Byron after the appearance of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,awoke to find himself famous. Russell Kirk was a hitherto unknown American academic, but Time magazine, which “devoted its entire July 6, 1953 book review section to The Conservative Mind,” and other organs of establishment thought touted Kirk as the voice of a renascent American conservatism.
Kirk’s later work never attracted as much notice as The Conservative Mind, but Kirk retained a substantial following as a leading figure of the so-called traditionalist wing of the American Right. For most of his long career as a writer, Russell Kirk hated libertarians. Libertarians, he wrote in an infamous essay of 1981, were “chirping sectaries.” He charmingly remarks: “the representative libertarian of this decade is humorless, intolerant, self-righteous, badly schooled, and dull. At least the old-fangled Russian anarchist was bold, lively, and knew which sex he belonged to.”