Read American Cause by Russell Kirk Gleaves Whitney Online


The American Cause explains in simple yet eloquent language the bedrock principles upon which America's experiment in constitutional self-government is built. Russell Kirk, whose life and thought has recently been featured in C-SPAN's acclaimed American Writers series -- intended this little book to be an assertion of the moral and social principles upholding our nation. KThe American Cause explains in simple yet eloquent language the bedrock principles upon which America's experiment in constitutional self-government is built. Russell Kirk, whose life and thought has recently been featured in C-SPAN's acclaimed American Writers series -- intended this little book to be an assertion of the moral and social principles upholding our nation. Kirk's primer is an aid to reflection on those principles -- political, economic, and religious -- that have united Americans when faced with challenges and threats from the enemies of ordered freedom. In this new age of terrorism, Kirk's lucid and straightforward presentation of the articles of American belief is both necessary and welcome. Gleaves Whitney's newly edited version of Kirk's work, combined with his insightful commentary, make The American Cause a timely addition to the literature of liberty....

Title : American Cause
Author :
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ISBN : 9781882926930
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 125 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

American Cause Reviews

  • Mike
    2019-03-13 17:35

    In his quest to prove why America is an exceptional nation (perhaps the exceptional nation) Russell Kirk puts forward a series of abstract conceptions (e.g., tradition, order, etc.) which he thinks define America. But this mode of inquiry shows its faults right way. In Kirk's understanding, America is good because it is based on principles that Russell Kirk likes. In lieu of trying to more fully understand the Founders as they saw themselves, Kirk instead puts his own understanding front and center. One can almost hear the constant noise of back-patting as one reads through this short book.Kirk's silence on elements of the American Founding of which he is skeptical or disapproves is evidenced in his absolute silence regarding the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. (In an introduction for a biography of Jefferson written by Albert Jay Nock, Kirk writes that it was good that Nock did not spent too much time discussing the Declaration since it "is not conspicuously American in its ideas or its phrases.") Instead, along with Stephen Douglas, Kirk understands the Revolution to be not much of a Revolution at all. Americans were simply claiming their rights as Englishmen.Though sections on the evils of Marxism and communism are worth while, Americans reading this book will not come away with any clearer ideas about why their nation is exceptional.

  • Thomas Achord
    2019-03-07 20:36

    Being opposed to any semblance of a propositional nation, I am skeptical of any American "cause". Kirk says several times that he is not claiming an American "ideology" or promoting American exceptionalism. He says that what developed in America came from long reflection on truths and traditions going back to Israel, Greece, Rome, Europe, and Britain. Still, Kirk warns of the need for America to fight its enemies. Written during the heyday of the Cold War, one can understand the perspective Kirk writes from. One wonders what Kirk would say this side of (the beginning of) the breakdown of the nation state, mass immigration, global terrorism, and globalism itself. Yet, he does address, at least tangentially, the issue of globalism in denying that his vision wants anything to do with promoting democracy abroad. Though, he does wish America to be a shining example to the nations. I suppose this book has revealed to me my own prejudices against America. Kirk sees it as this thing of destiny and calling to greatness, both to be preserved and to be projected into the future. I see it as a thing to be preserved from those projecting it into the "future." Little of what Kirk describes as America's causal principles now remain. We no longer pursue ordered liberty. We no longer claim any semblance of Christianity, and what religion did exist only fostered to hold us back from egalitarian utopia. We have moved beyond Kirk's principled conservatism to an age of open ideology and radicalism. It is difficult to hear him define America in his day of one holding to truths and ideas now of a bygone age, at least in the public, academic, and political world. Is there any value in reading the book today? I plan to have my high schoolers read it. It deftly describes what we once were, at least in part. What it misses is the needed criticism of demographic replacement since the 60s till today. Ideas go with the people among whom they developed for thousands of years. Government grow out of people, their religion, experiences, beliefs, actions, and so forth. The actual people since Kirk's time have been replaced, and America's "cause" with them. Finally, what is needed is updated engagement with radicals in power. They were not in power in Kirk's day. Writing from the perspective of assumed majority, Kirk could say things that no one would dare say today; not because of political incorrectness but merely because they are no longer true. As mentioned above, it is no longer the case that we are a nation of Christian principles, nor even one that recognizes having ever been founded on said principles. So much is the historical revisionism. If there were a newer, short introductory text that addressed these issue, I would replace The American Cause with it. Until then, I'll continue to use this book.

  • Gerhard Konig
    2019-03-16 19:47

    Small 158 page book. From the book: We cannot understand our American cause unless we first understand the principles upon which the American people have formed their complex society. We shall look at the moral convictions of Americans and see how these moral convictions have been expressed in our national life. We shall look at the political convictions of Americans and see how these political convictions have shaped the American government. We shall look at the economic convictions of Americans and see how these economic convictions have accounted for the growth of American industry and commerce. Three Principles controlling any people: 1)The set of moral convictions a people hold. Their ideas about the relationship between God and man, about virtue and vice, honesty and dishonesty, honor and dishonor. 2)The set of political convictions a people hold. Their ideas about justice and injustice, freedom and tyranny, personal rights and power, and the whole complex problem of living together peaceably. 3)The set of economic convictions a people hold. Their ideas about wealth and property, public and private responsibilities in the affairs of making a living, and the distribution of goods and services. No cause can be maintained long unless a considerable proportion of a people understand the meaning of that cause. It seems to me that the number of people who truly understand the complexity of the American cause has grown dangerously small. Within the United States, a dismayingly large number of people seem to assume that our order and justice and freedom and prosperity, will continue forever, with no need of their help; if they think at all about the forces which keep American society vital, they seem to think of the nation's life as a kind of machine, tended by someone in Washington, from which they have an absolute right to benefit but to which they are obliged to contribute nothing. Three cardinal ideas of Western politics: the idea of justice, the idea of order, the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society. 1)Justice is the principle and the process by which each man is accorded the things that are his own--the thing that belong to his nature. 2)Order is the principle and the process by which the peace and harmony of society is maintained. 3)Freedom is principle and the process by which a man is made master of his own life. It implies the right of all members of adult society to make their own choices in most matters.

  • Michael
    2019-02-23 15:41

    A short and eloquent book by one of the fathers of American conservatism, Russell Kirk. Written in the mid-1950s, The American Cause serves as a sort of primer on what makes America special. What was remarkable to me was the assumptions that Kirk could make in the 1950s--the importance of family, the wide-spread practice of religion, the assumption of the primacy of the state (as opposed to the federal government), the general acceptance of values like thrift, hard work, self-reliance, etc. These areas of American life have frayed beyond anything the Communists (the enemy at the time of this book's writing) could have hoped for in their most ardent fantasies of world conquest. This book is a quote garden; I underlined and starred and checked dozens of passages. In the interest of brevity, I will provide just one that seemed especially poignant: "Minds ignorant of principle easily are vanquished by ideology." Now, ideology in and of itself is not a band thing. My definition of ideology is a group of related principals. When one holds principals that conflict, ideology is more difficult to maintain, which is what leads so many people to be political independents. Kirk is correct, though, in anticipating our modern day's lack of coherent principles, and the vanquishment of many good people's ability to think clearly by the numbing drone of our cartoon like media. Most people have (uninformed, misinformed, or ill-informed) opinions, strong feelings about 'them', and a desperately shallow understanding of our nation's history. It's little wonder that our politics are so small, so mean, and so dismaying. I have said many times that I would like to build a time machine and go back to 1945 to raise my family in America's Golden Age. Russell Kirk is a voice from that era. I am glad he's not hear to see what we've become.

  • Alexander Rolfe
    2019-03-13 20:34

    This would be a good book for the George Fox University senior capstone class. Either when they're doing "Islam and the West," or "The American Dream." It's simple enough that they could understand it, and it's short, it's repetitive, and it's a good summary of what makes America worth upholding. It argues against communism, but that material is probably as useful as ever, given our lurch toward statism.

  • Glenn Moody
    2019-03-14 16:50

    This book was written in 1957. It's shocking how many things have changed in this country since then. Many of the points he made about this country and why we are great have been lost over the years. It just reinforces in my mind that we are on the wrong course and could end up not being the preeminent power in the world in the foreseeable future unless some things change.

  • Matthew Dambro
    2019-03-20 20:46

    The Godfather of the Conservative movement wrote a magnificent explanation of American exceptionalism. It is Kirk at his best. The last two chapters should be read aloud every day in the United States Congress.

  • Brenton
    2019-03-04 20:40

    concise, clear and reminds me of why i am such a flag-waver.

  • Sean Watson
    2019-03-08 17:28

    If I were to say it should be compulsory for every American to read this book I will have learned nothing from it. Every American should read it though.

  • Patrick
    2019-02-20 18:33

    This is a superb little book explaining what American exceptionalism is (and isn't). It's just as relevant today as it is half a century ago when Kirk wrote it. Highly recommended and quick to read.

  • Andrew Stout
    2019-03-03 22:37

    A well made case for the claim that American political principles are a unique and informed expression of classical Western traditions with careful consideration given to practical circumstances.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-19 20:50

    Has Ben sold this?