We are Made for Cooperation

From the chapter entitled “Who are the Conservatives?” in Russell Kirk’s book Prospects for Conservatives:

By the conservatism of desolation, I mean the forlorn en­deavor of certain persons of conservative instincts to convince themselves that they are “individualists”—that is, devotees of spiritual and social isolation. The dreary secular dogma of in­dividualism is the creation of Godwin, Hodgskin, and Herbert Spencer, and it progresses from anarchy back to anarchy again. Any thinking conservative knows it for a snare and a delusion. The real conservative is all in favor of sound individuality; he is all against doctrinaire “individualism,” the belief that we ex­ist solely in ourselves, and for ourselves, so many loveless specks in infinite time and space…

The conservative, if he understands himself and his world, is no sentimental humanitarian; but neither is he a swaggering nihilist, jeering at the state, the duties of men in society, and the necessities of modern life. As a reaction against the grim and insensate collectivism that menaces us today, this flight to individualism is understandable; but it is consummate folly, for all that, and even more disastrous to the conservative cause than the policy of unprincipled trimming. There is an order which holds all things in their places, Burke says; it is made for us, and we are made for it. The reflective conservative, far from denying the existence of this eternal order, endeavors to ascer­tain its nature, and to find his place in it.

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