…Throughout his writings, Kirk speaks again and again of : “order in the soul and order in the commonwealth.” In this book he explains the source and significance of this central idea…The prime source is Plato’s Republic, where Socrates outlines a parallel between the inner order–in which the reason rules the emotions or spirited part and the emotions rule the physical appetites–and the civil order, in which the guardians rule the warriors, who rule the workers. The analogy suggests that a healthy polity is possible only when there is proper order both in the community and in most of the persons who are part of it. Kirk’s emphasis on education and literature derives from his belief that no political system will work if the people are not moderately virtuous.
The necessity of personal morality in a thriving community is denied by the enemies of the permanent things, who do not believe that there are permanent standards of behavior or indeed an unchanging human nature, and who seek to create political systems that will make everyone happy without much effort. [T.S.] Eliot captures this liberal mindset well when he describes these modern political theorists “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.” Of course this is a pernicious fantasy….