Disclaimer: I am no expert on Leo Strauss. Nor do I care to become one. The reason for this post is to examine Strauss’s influence on Neocons. And to focus a laser on how the Neocon Ideology, based on a few cardinal (straussian) principles, gives us such a clear map, like a spiderweb, interlinking Iraq-Torture-Deceit-Elistism and more.
Let’s begin with a lovely question by Purple State in a comment at a recent blog of mine:
What kind of democracy do we have when what our government is doing is
so secret even our elected representatives aren’t allowed to know
what’s happening or, if they are allowed, can’t speak of it to anyone,
not even to other elected representatives. …
There’s something strange here… This is all a great mystery to me.
Hmmmm….. No kidding!
It seems that I have inadvertently been following a slender thread, across many blogs – to a spiderweb. And I never knew it. I was just following the things that frustrated me about bushco. The lies. The Deceit. The Outsourcing of everything. The Marketing of propaganda. The Obsession with Iraq. The Torture. Neverending War. Contempt for citizens. And come to find out: The neocons planned it all out beforehand!
So I hope by the time you finish this post a little light bulb is gonna go off for you. And suddenly you’ll see the spider web, with "Leo Strauss" and his fanatical disciples (and their acolytes) sitting right in the middle of it.
For some reason, and I won’t spend time trying to figure it out here, there are individuals in history who crave disciples. And who foster a kind of "cult" around themselves, so that people who become "disciples" feel special and the group itself becomes a kind of cohesive entity with a sense of mission. Freud did that. A Ponzi scheme works like that. And Leo Strauss seems to have done something similar. Not only do these folks seem to spawn fanatical disciples (or investors – same thing!), but they also seem to spawn fanatical enemies. So if, at times, I link to a fanatical enemy of the neocons, I do so, not because I agree with the radical anti-straussians (some of whom follow Lyndon LaRouche), but because these "enemies" have taken a lot of time and trouble to research their foe. And we’re gonna use their "existing databank" (who? where? what? = the facts), while disregarding their wacko, anti-semitic rhetoric (the nutty why and how = their theories). The principle here is a little like using cumadin, which is a rat poison if you take too much of it, but works really well as a blood thinner, when used very carefully in moderation.
So: careful warning – Do not under any circumstances get taken in by radical theories, even if I have to link to them!
With those caveats in mind, let us proceed into the Dark Machiavellian World of straussian "principles". And I do not use the word "Machiavellian" lightly, for Machiavelli was required reading for straussian disciples. First, I will summarize the main straussian/neocon principles. Following that we’ll take a look at how these "principles" – or perhaps a better word would be "treasonous ideas" – are visible in the emerging landscape of the bush/cheney crime spree, which masqueraded as government.
Nothing is more threatening to Strauss and his acolytes
than the truth in general and the truth about Strauss in particular.
His admirers are determined to conceal the truth about his ideas.
[Canadian Professor and Strauss Expert, Shadia Drury]
Straussian/Neocon "Principles" 101 – (TheraP’s cliff notes version):
- Noble Lies (lies/secrecy as "virtue" – > 4,10,13)
- Perpetual War (war as "virtue" -> 5, 6, 8, 13)
- Fear of the masses and democracy (-> 4, 9)
- Government by an elite (covert rule of "the wise" -> 1,10)
- Instilling a sense of superiority in a nation (-> 8, 13)
- Stability/Unity via FEAR of an external threat (->13)
- Exploiting moral issues/religion’s hold on the people (->1,13)
- National survival – supersedes the well-being of others (->2,5)
- Contempt for dissenters (->10,13)
- Those in power make the rules and call it justice (->1,13)
- Combination of religion and nationalism (->7,13)
- Fear – greatest ally of tyranny (->1,6,13)
- Manipulate the images (media, based on idea of Plato’s cave)
[Synopsis above taken from the following sources: Shadia Drury, Brad deLong, Karen Kwiatkowski, Don Swift, Jeffrey Steinberg, and Danny Postel, who includes an extensive bibliography and interview with Shadia Drury, the Strauss expert. More below.]
The basic building blocks of this ideology are found in lying, the manipulation of fear, contempt for anyone outside the "inner circle" of devotees, and the feeling of being part of an elite, whose judgments substitute the "law". (It is an interesting side-note that one of Strauss’s mentors was Carl Schmitt, the man who became a key legal advisor to Hitler.) If you take these building blocks, horrifying as they seem, you can decipher bushco. You can read the glyphs, so to speak.
By playing around with the "principles" above, you can see the outlines, the blueprint for the bushco spiderweb of deceit. You’ll see cheney’s machinations, the lies that led us into Iraq, the manipulation, propaganda, use of torture to gin up a war and keep it going. The Orwellian language and "selling" of every bad policy as "beneficial". The never ending obfuscations and denials, the use of Homeland, the contempt for human rights, for the poor & distressed, the secrecy and "So what?"attitude. It’s all laid out, right in those so-called "principles" that are totally lacking in principle. (Naturally, given the principles of secrecy and lying, they’d deny every bit of what I’ve told you: All of this throws new light on one blog of mine about Systemic Deception and the Breakdown of Civic Trust.)
Not all members of the previous Badministration were straussians. But that’s beside the point. For the non-straussians, like cheney and rice, were willing to sign on to the same principles, whether by personal character as sociopaths (cheney, rumsfeld), desire to be part of an elite (rice?), or perhaps as allies against a common foe. Those who did not share straussian "ideals" were cut off, like branches being pruned. Anyone who signed on was "willing to play."
That’s it in a nutshell. More below if you want it. Do not miss the final paragraph!
For those willing to plow on, here are some more details:
Leo Strauss was born in 1899 in the region of Hessen, Germany, the
son of a Jewish small businessman. He went to secondary school in
Marburg and served as an interpreter in the German army in the first
world war. He was awarded a doctorate at Hamburg University in 1921 for
a thesis on philosophy that was supervised by Ernst Cassirer.
Strauss’s post-doctoral work involved study of Edmund Husserl and
Martin Heidegger, and in 1930 he published his first book, on
Spinoza’s critique of religion; his second, on the 12th century Jewish
philosopher Maimonides, was published in 1935. After a research period
in London, he published The Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes
In 1937, he moved to Columbia University, and from 1938 to 1948
taught political science and philosophy at the New School for Social
Research, New York. During this period he wrote On Tyranny (1948)
and Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952).
In 1949, he became professor of political philosophy at the
University of Chicago, and remained there for twenty years. His works of
this period include Natural Right and History (1953), Thoughts
on Machiavelli (1958), What is Political Philosophy? (1959), The
City and Man (1964), Socrates and Aristophanes (1966), and Liberalism
Ancient and Modern (1968).
Between 1968 and 1973, Strauss taught in colleges in California and
Maryland, and completed work on Xenophon’s Socratic discourses and Argument
and Action of Plato’s Laws (1975). After his death in October
1973, the essay collection Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy
(1983) was published.
3. Why is that Statement of Principles important? Jason Vest provides a brief history of the Committee on the Present Danger, which begins like this:
Almost thirty years ago, a prominent group of neoconservative hawks
found an effective vehicle for advocating their views via the Committee
on the Present Danger, a group that fervently believed the United States
was a hair away from being militarily surpassed by the Soviet Union, and
whose raison d’être was strident advocacy of bigger military
budgets, near-fanatical opposition to any form of arms control and
zealous championing of a Likudnik Israel. Considered a marginal group in
its nascent days during the Carter Administration, with the election of
Ronald Reagan in 1980 CPD went from the margins to the center of power.
4. Further info on authors cited above in cliff notes:
Professor and author of definitive works on Strauss. Critiques how
straussian disciples have influenced US politics and were architects of
the previous administration’s War in Iraq, etc.
Discussion of Strauss’s early writing before he came to the US. Useful
summary of Straussian lies and principles. Interesting comments to the
Gives an insider view of how straussians turned "national security
intelligence" into a propaganda factory, ignoring the intelligence-gathering
wisdom of long time experts.
Excellent objective view of straussian thinking and how straussians
sought to influence US politics, particularly under bushco.
Jeffrey Steinberg: Tracks Strauss’s disciples, acolytes and who they
mentored, worked with, tracks their career moves. Excellent source for
who, where, how. Names are in bold. Easy to get a sense of major figures
in this movement and roles they played. Ignore his theories unless you
are studying Lyndon Larouche and company’s radical thought.
Danny Postel: Extensive bibliography and interview with Shadia Drury,
the Strauss expert. Also studies straussian influence on US politics.
Hopefully, by now, you see how all of this interrelates, how fanatical and dangerous this group of disciples and conspirators is, how deceitful, machiavellian, and traitorous they are, and how tenaciously and deceptively they will fight – against any effort to unearth all the damage they have done to our nation.
[Originally titled: Who is Leo Strauss? And why should we care? (National Disgrace Exposed!)]