Friday, May 09, 2003

Strong Must Rule the Weak, said Neo-Cons' Authoritarian Nationalist Philosopher Strauss
'''Strauss was neither a liberal nor a democrat,'' [Shadia Drury, author, 'Leo Strauss and the American Right'] said in a telephone interview from her office at the University of Calgary in Canada. ''Perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical (in Strauss's view) because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them.'''

'Like Plato, Strauss taught that within societies, ''some are fit to lead, and others to be led'', according to Drury. But, unlike Plato, who believed that leaders had to be people with such high moral standards that they could resist the temptations of power, Strauss thought that ''those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right, the right of the superior to rule over the inferior''.

'For Strauss, ''religion is the glue that holds society together'', said Drury, who added that Irving Kristol, among other neo-conservatives, has argued that separating church and state was the biggest mistake made by the founders of the U.S. republic. ''Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing'', because it leads to individualism, liberalism and relativism, precisely those traits that might encourage dissent, which in turn could dangerously weaken society's ability to cope with external threats. ''You want a crowd that you can manipulate like putty,'' according to Drury.

'''Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed,'' he once wrote. ''Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united - and they can only be united against other people''. ''Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat,'' Drury wrote in her book. ''Following Machiavelli, he maintains that if no external threat exists, then one has to be manufactured. Had he lived to see the collapse of the Soviet Union, he would have been deeply troubled because the collapse of the 'evil empire' poses a threat to America's inner stability.'''

Strauss was a German jew who fled the country for the US in 1938. A Zionist since youth, the works of Shahak on Jewish mindset might also provide insight into his attraction to 'esoteric doctrines.' He apparently believed that the Holocaust could be attributed to the failure of liberal democracy, ie the Weimar Republic, and thus rejected democracy in favour of authoritarianism. Parallels with Plato are inevitable although of course he could hardly be compared in importance to Plato.

This is another chapter in the study of American fascist ideology. The US states that its goals are freedom and democracy and far too many people are still inclined to take this at face value. Assuming this account of Strauss' philosophy is correct, it is much clearer and to the point than the earlier Seymour Hersh report. One can see how the philosophy is both profoundly undemocratic and how it appeals to neo-conservatives. Hersh however did emphasise the obscurity of Strauss' writings and the platonic teaching of 'esoteric doctrines' (noble lie) unknown to the masses - a tool to deceive the public about one's intentions.

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