Talk:Leo Strauss and the American Right

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Email to a anti-neocon friend who sent me the Drury review to bolster her views:

I note with interest the general hostility of Ms. Drury. Despite the reviewer's statement that this "is not the ravings of conspiracy theoris." I agree that it is not the "ravings," but she does see a conspiracy. Which to be fair, it is, though I would prefer the word plan. You are trying to kill us. We are trying to kill you. Fair's fair.

Of course, Ms. Drury shows her strident liberalism when she says it "insists on equality of opportunity and justice." Well, yes, if we take "justice" to mean "equality of opportunity" means "equality of result." Then affirmative action and all actions emanating from it to change qualifications meet the possessions of those favoured, like the absence of white skin or male gender.

I think we get to the core of the keen liberal objection. Rather like your anger with me in defending the Protestants in Northern Ireland when I said we were being attacked and we Protestants were entitled to defend ourselves and counter attack. At this point you pose as peacemaker, and urge my acceptance of the "invitable" march of what I would call liberal oppression because it disfavours people like me. It is you, the warmaker, selling peace at a price of stopping your war. Well, no sale.

So when Ms. Drury says Strausssian philosophy accepts the death of God, (unlike traditional conservatism) and then moves positivistically (unlike traditional conservatism) to fill the vacuum with elite group of self-elected philosopher kings," I would like a Kristoline source for that.

This is the core of it. You liberals feel you could deal with the long slow howl of conservatism in decline, with its power of god in ruins and its cohesive whole lost. You were just in the midst of a mopping up operation. Conservatives were defined in your liberal camp as charming old men and know-nothing yahoos. It was the liberal camp which commanded the intellectual heights, and ran the media academic bureaucratic (MAB) complex. it was game over for the Tories. They might take over government so the liberal field could lie fallow, but they would be permanently sidelined.

But no. Kiplingque, Tories formed squares, re-assessed the situation and saw that the liberal forces, while humungus, were all over the map and had vulnerabilities to exploit. but they needed exploitation. Liberal promises of good governance, their War on Poverty, their gender and racial integration schemes did not meet objectives -- in fact, fell far short of them. Rather like Stalinist and Maoist governing agencies they instead depended on setting the agenda, forever having new schemes to fix this and that and silencing any scientific review of old program performance.

The above, if one accepts the risible notion that the likes of Christy McCormick number among the elite, is saying much the same as the following sentence: "This elite, alive to the nihilism [how does nihilism differ from postmodernism? Just asking] of the liberal ethos and its potentially anarchic consequences, believes it must act forcefully to paper over the hole left by His demise."

This is a bit over the top, but I'll let it go for the moment: "Their esoteric/exoteric readings of philosophy tell them they must forge from the ashes a seamless, monocultural machine to encourage obedience and staunch chaos. This nationalistic machine must be equipped with a religion (any religion) and a mythic culture based on flag-reverence and knee-jerk patriotism."

Again, I would like to hear the above come from a Kristol clear source. I notice the partisanship of this so-called academic reading of developments. How she throws back in the teeth of conservatives the various curses that were thown at liberals over the years. Phrases like "knee jerk" and "post modernist" come up.

How disappointing it must have been for the liberals to find that the new conservatives, if you will forgive a positive spin on neoconservatives with its neonazi conotations, instead of embracing the widely discredited notion of a single god in a particular incarnation, but instead widened the Concept and allowed It to become more ecumenical and adopt a best-ideas-of-God outlook. If God was a myth in the liberal mind, I suppose I will have to accept that the conservatives were creating a mythic structure, though it can just as easily be interpreted as generalised the notion and making it more inclusive, leaving specific interpretations of what God is to individual groups and individuals. So from a point of view of the whole, God isn't so much dead but ceased to be subject to a singular, and thus, a devisive definition -- something liberals could point to as being contradictory and useless. As the Eagles pop group sang, "They just can't kill the beast."

I would agree that "pluralistic, liberal societies cannot meet the challenge posed by well-organized, culturally cohesive states," but disagree that "Straussians [at least I have never heard one say it], unlike traditional conservatives see the state as malevolent, and justify their activism by insisting that as philosophers they are immune to temptations of power."

No, all Tories think the national state apparatus is a natural enemy of liberty, but more so if it is in liberal hands. Chamberlain-style conservatives, the ones you and Ms. Drury find cute, were appeasing the liberal forces hoping that once they saw the error of their ways they would return to older forms which had produced the the Wonder Year results of the 1950s and early '60s. But New Conservatives, having spent a good deal of their lives in liberal ranks, could never believe this. Liberals would no more surrender the MAB than Stalinists would. To give it over to Tories willingly was unthinkable. No, it had to be taken. Or at the very least destroyed so there would be nothing worth holding, thus restoring equality to a very unequal field.

As I have repeatedly said, we are in a political wartime situation. We New Conservatives wish not to temporize and appease liberals; we are out to reciprocate the sentiments towards us. I know they are kindly and sweet to our old conservative gentlemen and sneer at our Archie Bunker rednecks, an attitude which seems to have paved their way to victory with liberalism uber alles.

As I have said repeatedly, during wartime all belligerents take on the colours of their opponents. Allied armies were no more democratic than the Axis ones. Rigid authoritarianism is needed to attack and defend. I have long argued that so-called John Stuart Mill's utilitarian liberalism was neither liberal nor conservative. By advocating "the greatest good for the greatest number," his view camouflages subjective liberal principles under the cover of a seemlingly objective operating system.

It all depends on how "greatest good" and "greatest number" is defined. Such grist from the JS Mill can be used just as effectively by conservatives. One can even say that of Nazis, if successful, would have established a world majority (the greatest number) with a cohesive singular culture working effectively together to advance the fortunes of mankind (the greeatest good). One can say liberals seek the greatest good when they "insist" on equal opportunity (which is assumed to mean equality of result and the opportunity to meet the revised standards they themselves have set), after which most people would live happily ever after.

And so conservatives can say the same thing, that if one follows the markets and keeps to the old rules (new conservatives would say the new rules as amended to be more inclusive) you will have the greatest good for the greatest number, too. All can make the claim, as indeed the communists can in their own way, though eventually the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And at least the conservatives, viz. the UK, HK, Singapore, Australia, have tastier puddings economically than those countries which have taken a left liberal road. And China is finding that things get better the more they move toward conservative economic principles.

I would deny Ms. Drury's following charge; "Straussian conservatives identify and mythologize American traditions. While Burke had the last remnants of feudalism to extol as a naturally just system, American conservatives have been forced to create a "traditional" America out of whole cloth."

This is pure nonsense, even in regard to Burke. If Straussians are guilty of this, then conservatives have been too. They both have extolled the accomplishments of the British and American past. Burke can hardly be blamed for admiring feudalism because it was the only past he had. Such a statement is fraudalent and hardly worthy of an academic, even a liberal one. What upsets Ms. Drury I suspect is that new conservative historians, appalled by the partisan historical revisionism imposed by liberals over the last 20 years, have turned liberal "whole cloth" over to the shredder. A fine example was the multiple choice question Derek faced and I wrote about at the Suburban whether the impact of colonialism was "good, bad" or "very bad," with the correct answer being "very bad." Liberals cannot have it both ways. They cannot say these stone and bronze age peoples lacked the benefits of modernity and thus victimized by the west, whose crime it was was to provide what benefits they had or ever would along this line.

So when she says "Strausss followers have invaded history departments across the US where they have been working hard to uncover "tradition" in the beginnings of America," a difficult task given that America was the first truly modernist state."

First this ignores that very few new conservative historians have taken jobs in college history departments, which are still dominated, as indeed entire faculties are, by liberals. I grant liiberal teachings are pretty thin gruel, the tinsel of Black History Months, Women's History or trying to delve into what little is known of native history from the drivellings of drunken Indians whose grasp of the oral history of last is inadequate, yet whose views now form the basis of liberal historical texts. This gauze only survives if shown the reverence accorded to the Shroud of Turin and kept away from scrutiny. This is the true horror of neocon history professors -- that they are there at all to challenge not "whole cloth," but lint held together with emotional static usually employed by fundamentalists to literal readings or holy scripture.

This following passage I would also like to see tumble from the pens or lips of Straussians, who allegedly "believe there is no ultimate truth, but that instead there are only discourses of power and that whoever controls the discourse wins," which I can accept as a wartime technique, a view I think liberals share regarding their own side, except they actually have a corps of useful idiots who believe it. They are the ones with the "morally bankrupt premise," but unlike ours, it has been proven bankrupt through practice, while the neocon premise has yet to be proved right or wrong. It's great sins, as you yourself point out, lie in the future. The normal use of the term bankrupt involves something that is insolvent. Liberalism plainly is. Whether new conservatism is has yet to be shown and therefore, is not until it is.

I note here that unlike you who have them at odds, Ms. Drury takes time "explaining the bizarre combination of libertarianism and fundamentalism." As I recall you have the fundies and the neocons united against the libertarians. Come now, you must all sing from the same Book of Liberal Common Prayer.

"Such [neocon] a philosophy is, of course, its own best self-satirization," she says with towering liberal self-certainty. "Like other dogmas which have been used to support those in power -- Social Darwinism and eugenics come to mind -- neoconservatism is just the latest apologia for the up-to-date reactionary." Sent to a liberal anti neocon friend

First of all, those in power are the liberals, who still command the MAB. They have temporarily lost the executive and the legislative in the US, but still hold such commands in most other jurisdictions except Australia, Russia and in some mysterious ways, China, too. So it is Ms. Drury and not the likes of the Kristols who are defending those in power. On the contrary they are working to deprive those in power of power.

I have always found the word "progressive" an interesting term as it presumes a progress defined by the left as inevitable, quite hopeless to oppose. When it seemed that way when we first met, your bulkwark argument was that it was so hopeless that I should give it up. Now that it is more hopeful, you turn to its supposed evil, though you are hard pressed to find example of its egregious nature other than those that lie in the future. And certainly you point to nothing that Your Bill would not have been excused from doing had he done it.

Oh, now for that final touch of liberal piety towards its foes, "It exposes rather the infiltration of post-modern intellectual cynicism into the once decent, and even honorable, Republican Party." Oh yes, that honorable decent GOP receding into the trash can of history like the dodo bird, safely small and cringing enough to be pitied. How terrible it must be to find, that it forming squares, fixing bayonets and coming up with a game plan to butcher those who would seek to kill it.

Edit note

I relocated the following sentence from the article page - it wasn't clear which of the three reviews on the linked page it was referring to or what was significant about the content of the review or its prevalence on the web.--Bob Burton 15:08, 7 December 2007 (EST)

An anonymous review of Drury's book has been posted on numerous websites, many of which seem to be owned by the same individual or group. [1]