Thursday, August 19, 2004

IHT: The long reach of Leo Strauss (Pfaff 2003)

IHT: The long reach of Leo Strauss
.. Something of a cult developed around Strauss during his later years at Chicago, and he and some admirers figure in the Saul Bellow novel, "Ravelstein." The cult is appropriate because Strauss believed that the essential truths about human society and history should be held by an elite, and withheld from others who lack the fortitude to deal with truth. Society, Strauss thought, needs consoling lies.

He held that philosophy is dangerous because it brings into question the conventions on which civil order and the morality of society depend. This risks promoting a destructive nihilism.

According to Strauss, the relativism of modern American society is a moral disorder that could block it from identifying its real enemies. "Moral clarity" is essential. The Weimar Republic's toleration of extremism allowed the rise of the Nazi party.

Bush and Rove live the Straussian story. The key element is that "stories" are what the masses need. It's why Bush has absolutely no credibility among anyone who thinks. It's not that Bush is stupid, it's that we know everything he says is a "story" for the "masses".

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