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Thread: Straussism: The Philosophy Directing The Age Of Tyranny

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    Straussism: The Philosophy Directing The Age Of Tyranny

    Straussism: The Philosophy Directing The Age Of Tyranny

    Jan Allen
    May 22, 2006

    Straussism is the philosophy of the obscure University Of Chicago philosophy instructor Leo Strauss.

    Straussism calls for tyranny -- rule from those above.

    The purpose of this document is to present the principles of Straussism as a Rosetta Stone to give one the knowledge to decipher and translate the rhetoric and actions of the George Bush neocon administration into some degree of coherent meaning.


    Leo Struass (1899-1973) was a student of philosophy in Germany and watched the Weimar Republic dissolve into chaos and then into tyranny. As a Jew, he was forced to flee Germany and he eventually ended up at the University of Chicago, where he developed a cult following from some the brightest students. For Strauss, the demise of the Weimar Republic represented a repudiation of liberal democracy. Liberalism, to Strauss, equals relativism, which necessarily leads to nihilism. Strauss longed to return to a previous, pre-liberal, pre-bourgeois era of blood and guts, of imperial domination, of authoritarian rule, of pure fascism.

    These views resonated with Straussian disciples such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol and Harry Jaffa. They took these ideas out of the classroom and translated them into actual political doctrine: the manifesto of the Project for a New American Century. Straussian principles would be implemented on a global scale, and 9/11 provided the perfect pretext. Paul Wolfowitz, who attended Strauss's lectures on Plato, became the architect of the Iraq War, using hyped intelligence concerning WMD's as the "noble lie".

    The disciples of Leo Strauss have risen to dominate White House foreign and domestic policy; the disciples call themselves neocons; they call their philosophy neo-conservatism. This new conservatism is intoxicated with Plato's philosophy of nature. The new conservatism is not slow or cautious, but active, aggressive, and reactionary in the literal sense of the term. Inspired by Strauss's hatred for liberal modernity, its goal is to turn back the clock on the liberal revolution and its achievements.

    Twenty Two Characteristics Of Straussism.

    1) The Few Must Rule The Many

    John Locke and the American founding fathers held “the natural law tradition” which holds that man possesses natural rights to life, liberty, and property and that the state is always and everywhere the greatest threat to these God-given rights. To the founders, this meant that government should be "bound by the chains" of the Constitution, to paraphrase Jefferson. If men were angels, there would be no need for government, Madison wrote in defense of the Constitution. But men are not angels, Madison continued, which is why government power must always be limited. Leo Strauss rejected this view of natural rights in favor of Plato’s “philosopher-king” model of government; the “philosopher kings” exercise the “rule of the wise”. Straussians assign dignity to the few. The superiority of the “ruling philosophers” is an intellectual superiority and not a moral one.

    2) Virtue Is Defined By The Elite: It Is That Which Is “For The Public Good”

    The elite few are to have unlimited state power who use it to pursue “virtue” with virtue being, their own vision of "the public good." Moral virtue had no application to the really intelligent man, the philosopher. Moral virtue only existed in popular opinion, where it served the purpose of controlling the unintelligent majority.

    3) The Strong Must Rule The Weak

    Strauss taught: “The strong must rule the weak”; this was presented quite well in Jim Lobe's article 'The Strong Must Rule The Weak'

    4) Only One Natural Right: The Right To Rule Over The Vulgar Many

    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 the Straussian, the people of the United States are the “vulgar many,” chumps, dupes, and ciphers to be manipulated, poked, and prodded in the direction of the “Long War,” a new Hundred Years’ War, as spelled out by Rumsfeld’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review. “A policy of perpetual war against a threatening enemy is the best way to ward off political decay. And if the enemy cannot be found, then it must be invented.”

    Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, is not one of freedom, but of subordination. Strauss divided the history of political thought into two camps: the ancients (like Plato) are wise and wily, whereas the moderns (like Locke and other liberals) are vulgar and foolish.

    5) Justice Is Merely The Interest Of The Stronger

    Strauss shares the insights of the wise Plato that justice is merely the interest of the stronger; that those in power make the rules in their own interests and call it justice.

    6) “The Rule Of The Wise” is unquestionable, absolute, authoritarian, undemocratic and covert

    The rule of the wise is not to be questioned: one is not to raise questions about classic values such as justice or constitutional principles; hence the rule of the wise must be unquestioned.

    The rule of the wise is to be absolute, authoritarian and undemocratic: The rule of the wise cannot involve any onsideration of the unwise: Leo Strauss said: “It would be equally absurd to hamper the free flow of wisdom by consideration of the unwise wishes of the unwise; hence the wise rulers ought not to be responsible to the unwise subjects;" the rule of the wise must be absolute and authoritarian; majority-democracy would result in the subjection of what is by nature higher to that which is lower. Strauss’ reading of Plato comes down to this: a majority-democracy is an act against nature and must be prevented at all costs. Under the Straussian autocratic system, dissent is not only dangerous, it is seditious.

    This rule of the wise must be covert; and this principle is facilitated by the overwhelming stupidity of the gentlemen. The more gullible and unperceptive they are, the easier it is for the wise to control and manipulate them.

    7) The Three Classes: The Wise-Few, The Vulgar-Many And The Gentlemen

    The wise are the lovers of the harsh, unadulterated truth. They are capable of looking into the abyss without fear and trembling. They recognize neither God nor moral imperatives. They are devoted above all else to their own pursuit of the “higher” pleasures, which amount to consorting with their “puppies” or young initiates.

    The vulgar many, are lovers of wealth and pleasure. They are selfish, slothful, and indolent. They can be inspired to rise above their brutish existence only by fear of impending death or catastrophe.

    The gentlemen, are lovers of honor and glory. They are the most ingratiating towards the conventions of their society, that is, the illusions of the cave. They are true believers in God, honor, and moral imperatives. They are ready and willing to embark on acts of great courage and self-sacrifice at a moment’s notice.

    8) The State Is Omnipotent: It Manifests Militaristic Nationalism.

    Strauss believed that human aggression could only be restrained by a powerful, nationalistic state. He believed that such an omnipotent state can only be maintained if there is an external threat, "even if one has to be manufactured." This is why Straussians believe in perpetual war and is another reason why they have formed a cult around "the church of Lincoln," whom they hold up as "the greatest statesman in history." Lincoln manufactured many "threats," including the truly bizarre notion that representative government would perish from the earth if the Southern states were permitted to secede peacefully. In reality, peaceful secession would have been a victory for self-government, keeping in mind that neither Lincoln nor Congress ever said that they were launching an invasion for any reason having to do with liberating the slaves.

    Strauss taught that war – any war – will restore our “moral seriousness”, "clear away the fog of unthinking relativism," enable us to see evil, restore virtue, heroism, valor, and a sense of sacrifice, allow us to die for our comrades, country and faith, avoid the "hazards of civilization," make us more thoughtful, force us to "consider our loyalties," make men "decisive", and "place greatness within the reach of ordinary men."

    “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."

    The only way a political order can be stable and not deteriorate in hedonistic pleasure is if it is united by an external threat.

    Wealth, freedom, and prosperity make people soft, pampered, and depraved. War is an antidote to moral decadence and depravity. Thus war is held to be redemptive

    9) Perpetual War Is Necessary

    Perpetual War not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in; thus an "aggressive, belligerent foreign policy," of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars, not to mention Wolfowitz and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power. Strauss' neoconservative students see foreign policy as a means to fulfill a "national destiny", as Irving Kristol defined it already in 1983, that goes far beyond the narrow confines of a "myopic national security."

    10) Patriotic Fervor Is To Be Rallied

    The nation against its external enemies as well as its internal decadence, sloth, pleasure, and consumption, encourages a strong patriotic fervor among the honor-loving gentlemen who wield the reins of power. That strong nationalistic spirit consists in the belief that their nation and its values are the best in the world, and that all other cultures and their values are inferior in comparison.

    11) Political Expediency And Murder Become Virtue

    Athens, the democracy, weakened by plague, suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of oligarchic Sparta and its allies. Strauss, following Plato, did not grieve for the loss of Athens; the real city had been no match for the ideal city. In his view, the active life of the citizen of Periclean Athens suffered by comparison with the contemplative life of the philosopher.

    The Straussians in the Department of Defense and in the think tanks took this to mean that they could kill on principle. And they did and they do. The first Bush sent his Spartan general to Iraq, and the second sent the same Spartan to the Security Council. The Straussians could not call their work politics, so they called it virtue.

    End Part I
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    12) Possess And As Necessary Present The “Hidden Meaning” Reject Countervailing Historical Narratives

    Straussians routinely claim to possess unique understanding of the "hidden meaning" of history and historical documents, which is often directly at odds with the plain historical facts.

    13) Maintain A Culture Of Lying And Carry On A Perpetual Confusion Campaign

    Maintain a culture of lying through a compliant media and professional spokes-liars, and carry on a perpetual campaign to confuse the public and keep it ignorant of the elites political designs. The result of this is that Elite operate from a shroud of secrecy; thus their reasonings and logic is nontransparent.

    Strauss continually endeavored to convince his acolytes that they are the natural ruling elite. And it does not take much intelligence for them to surmise that they are in a situation of great danger, especially in a world devoted to the modern ideas of equal rights and freedoms. Now more than ever, the wise few must proceed cautiously and with circumspection. So, they come to the conclusion that they have a moral justification to lie in order to avoid persecution.

    Yes Strauss goes so far as to say that dissembling and deception – in effect, a culture of lying – is the peculiar justice of the wise.

    14) The Many Are Told What They Need To Know And No More.

    Deception is carried on continually. Lies are to be both aggressive and perpetual. While the elite few are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, the many could not cope; if exposed to anything other than the maintained reality, they would quickly fall into nihilism or anarchy.

    15) Lies Are Held To Be Nobel: Develop, Maintain And Present Noble Lies

    Strauss believed in the concept of “noble lies”: the conviction that lies, far from being simply a regrettable necessity of political life, are instead virtuous and noble instruments of wise policy to keep the many from the dangers of liberalism and democracy.

    Plato himself advised his nobles, men with golden souls, to tell noble lies, that is, political fables, much like the specter of Saddam Hussein with a nuclear bomb: to rally the people, to keep the other levels of human society (silver, iron, brass) in their proper places, loyal to the state and willing to do its bidding

    Strauss defined the modern method of noble lies in the use of esoteric messages within an exoteric text, telling the truth to the wise while at the same time conveying something quite different to the many; thus he advocated an Orwellian double speak method of communication

    16) Dissemble Democracy

    Maintain true democracy that is a leadership-democracy for the Few while at the same time feign majority-democracy to the Many.

    Relate the principle of true democracy to the elite: the strong must rule the weak. While at the same time dissemble mythical democracy to the populace: the rule of the majority. Strauss had no objections to democracy as long as a wise elite, inspired by the profound truths of the ancients. Wrap speeches with the American flag giving the appearance of appearance of legitimacy in dissimulation and deceit.

    17) Religion Is For The Many

    Strauss believed in, and proposed, a state religion as a way of reviving absolutes, countering free thought, and enforcing a cohesive unity. Strauss argued against a society containing a multiplicity of coexisting religions and goals, which would break the society apart. Religion was primarily a propaganda tool to be used to get the many to acquiesce in state intervention on behalf of aggressive nationalism.

    Authority and discipline are key values for Straussians; the many need religion to keep them in line. Marx called religion the opium of the people, Strauss thought the people needed their opium. Thus, Religion is absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the many who otherwise would be out of control.

    Religion was for the many alone; the philosopher kings need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were "a pious fraud." Neoconservatives are pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers.

    “Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing,'' because it leads to individualism, liberalism, and relativism, precisely those traits that may promote dissent that in turn could dangerously weaken society's ability to cope with external threats or not be available for aggressive nationalism

    18) Secrecy Is Essential

    The wise must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the people’s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals. People will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, and both lies and secrecy are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many.

    19) Nature Abhors A Contract

    Long before the events of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration, goaded on by Wolfowitz, Kristol, The American Enterprise Institute, The Project for the New American Century, and others on the right, had made a decision to oust Saddam Hussein. Bush seems to have had a personal vendetta, but the others had more philosophical reasons.

    There was nothing Machiavellian about the attack. It was based on principles the planners derived from natural law. One suspects that President Bush, with his simplistic messianic mind-set, was attracted to this line of reasoning: The natural law in the yew hearts of human beings, the innate ability to know right from wrong, took precedence over mere convention.

    And so the Bush regime violated the contract that was agreed to when the United States joined the United Nations; it flouted the U.S. Constitution, which is also a contract, by attacking without the required declaration of war by the Congress; and it disregarded the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in other secret detention camps around the world.

    The administration's wise men held up Strauss's version of natural law as the model, dismissing contracts as mere laws of men. Natural law, interpreted by Bush's "wise counsels," gave the President permission to launch a preemptive war through an appeal to the higher power. Natural-law theory assumes that men seek the good and that by asking the perennial questions--what is virtue? What is justice?--they will come to wisdom.

    Straussians, like Kristol, hold that the Founding Fathers espoused natural-law theory, saying that natural law was both divine and self-evident. But the Founders were concerned with inalienable natural rights. After much debate in their convention, they wrote a contract.

    20) Intimidate All Opponents

    "Professors who had less respect for Leo Strauss were read quotations from [Strauss’s] Natural Right and History." The other faculty and students at Chicago viewed the Straussians as "intellectual brown shirts, engaged in a campaign of deliberate intimidation." This of course is a practice that these same people practice today, rarely engaging in honest intellectual debate but rather attempting to intimidate or censor those who disagree with them. Alan Keyes, for example, typically dismisses his critics as being "incapable of recognizing moral purpose," as though he alone possesses such abilities.

    21) Extinguish The Fires of Rabble

    Jim Lobe in ‘Strong Must Rule The Weak’ writes: As for what a Straussian world order might look like, (Shadia) Drury said the philosopher often talked about Jonathan Swift's story of Gulliver and the Lilliputians. ''When Lilliput was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect.''

    The fires of rabble are the modern licentious doctrines and philosophies; these include such things as individualism, liberty, legalism and constitutionalism. The fires of rabble have resulted in great social decay: divorce, delinquency, crime, and abounding creature comforts; and the fires of rabble have created seditious constructs of contracts, statutes and constitutions.

    The Vulgar, that is America, is literally on fire; in order for it to be saved, the fires of rabble must be extinguished through the institution of martial law.

    22) Ennoble The Many

    If the Few were to give the Many, such things as freedom, happiness, and prosperity, in Strauss's estimation, this would turn them into animals. The goal of the wise is to ennoble the vulgar. But what could possibly ennoble the vulgar? Only weeping, worshipping and sacrificing ennobles the many.

    Concluding Remarks

    1) Neo-conservatism is the ultimate stealth weapon of mass destruction whose purpose is to destroy liberty and affluence.

    2) It is ironic that American neoconservatives have decided to conquer the world in the name of liberty and democracy, when they have so little regard for either

    3) It is helpful to think in terms of opposites

    Mother Teresa and Straussians are opposites. Mother Teresa was humble, willing to yield, caring and truthful; whereas, Straussians are exhalative, ruthless, uncaring and deceitful.

    4) Strauss as a nihilist

    Strauss is a nihilist in the sense that he believes that there is no rational foundation for morality. He is an atheist, and he believes that in the absence of God, morality has no grounding. It’s all about benefiting others and oneself; there is no objective reason for doing so, only rewards and punishments in this life. But Strauss is not a nihilist if we mean by the term a denial that there is any truth, a belief that everything is interpretation.

    He does not deny that there is an independent reality. On the contrary, he thinks that independent reality consists in nature and its “order of rank” – the high and the low, the superior and the inferior. Like Nietzsche, he believes that the history of western civilization has led to the triumph of the inferior, the rabble – something they both lamented profoundly.

    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    EminemsRevenge Guest
    Looks like the logical extension of Adam Smith's "theology" to me.

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