What I Learned From the Left Reply

A symposium of paleoconservative scholars discusses the leftist works they most admire.

In The Politics of Prudence, Russell Kirk dismissed the notion of conservatism grounding itself in a single foundational text. Since conservatism is “neither a religion nor an ideology,” Kirk concluded it “possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata.” Sure, Chronicles readers can recite the political dicta of Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre, and John Adams. We confront life’s complexity through the tales of Graham Greene, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Plato, Virgil, and Aquinas help us understand reality. But it seems the more we read, the more we realize we don’t know, and the more we keep reading, ad infinitum. Sometimes our pursuit of the truth forces us off the conservative bookshelf. And sometimes we discover nuggets of wisdom in unlikely sources, written by authors an ideologue would ignore. Here we honor Kirk’s aversion to ideology as we present conservative truths from unlikely sources.

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