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Does Anybody Know Anything About Leo Strauss?

Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:05 pm

I've seen written all over the place that the neocons are all intellectual descendents of Leo Strauss, a German-Jewish refugee from Hitler. They call themselves Straussians. I picked up this book called "Leo Strauss and the American Right" and if the author of the book is correct and doesn't have an axe to grind, the man was a serious wingnut!! Yet Richard Perle, Paul WOlfowitz and others studied under him.

Basically Strauss sort of says that the world is divided into natural leaders, elites, and the led. The led have to be kept down for their own good. Plato sort of said this too.

But Strauss also says that it is OK to use lies and deception and to manufacture a war if that means that the common folk were tractable. Strauss believed that that was the true human condition, that liberalism, education for the masses, led to nihilism, narcissism, and the dissolution of society. Then a Hitler could come along and basically take over the country. So Strausses benign dictatorship is better than Hitler. Actually he thinks a benign dictatorship is the only thing that stops a Hitler form taking power.

He believed all philosophers knew this that in writing - there is an exoteric meaning and a hidden esoteric meaning that only the elite are smart enough to grasp.

He believes religion is essential for society. But not for the traditional conservative reasons. He believes it is a sham and an opium, and that in fact there are no moral absolutes. He believes religion is an opiate, but that the people need their opium. To den them that, even if it is a bunch of old fairy tales is cruel.

Now I haven't finished the book and the author of the book I'm reading, Shadia Drury, is accused of being to polemical on the left, that is, painting Strauss to be a wacko by selectively using his text. In some of her prose, that criticism seems legit.

So any philosophy majors out there? Neocons? Who was the *real* Leo Strauss?

A Strauss intro.

From the Straight dope

Interview with Shadia Drury.

I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
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RE: Does Anybody Know Anything About Leo Strauss?

Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:14 pm

Don't know too much about his philosophy as you described, but he is one of the intellectual fathers of the neocons. Every year in DC, a lot of them gather to celebrate on his birthday I believe.

Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle studied under him at the University of Chicago if I'm not mistaken.
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RE: Does Anybody Know Anything About Leo Strauss?

Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:37 am

Leo Strauss was a German Jew, and I believe fled before the holocaust and ended up teaching philosophy at the Univ. of Chicago.
I skimmed a book of his once, so I'm no expert but I have read some for philosophy class. My understanding of what he says is that the people have the power to rule themselves, but that it is natural and good for them not to know it. Basically the way you wrote it. You should read Emma Goldman as a counterpoint to this guy.

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