Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Straussians in Canadian politics

I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the alleged malign "Straussian" influence on new Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper in my latest TAE Online op-ed. My conclusion? It’s basically a re-run of the same conspiracy-mongering that occurred on our side of the border, traceable on large part back to a political theorist who has made a career of "outing" Strauss and alleged Straussians. She’s making less and less sense as she goes on, and, as you can see from this commentary, never made much sense to begin with.

Still, Harper’s, er, "Straussians" (actually Voegelinians, Hayekians, and students of students of Strauss) are an interesting bunch, sure to enliven Canadian political discourse. As John von Heyking has ably shown, however, we shouldn’t look for an atheist elitist theocracy north of our border anytime soon. Disappointing, eh?

Discussions - 3 Comments

When you consider that Harper, in order to govern at all, will need to woo the votes either of the social democrats (NDP) or the Quebec separatists (Bloc Quebecois), there is not much danger of a conspiratorial take over of Canadian politics.

As for being co-opted by belligerent pro-Iraq war Straussians, Harper hasn’t even stated a clear position on whether he is a supporter of the War or not, whereas Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff has not only been on the record as pro-War but spent much time in his campaign explaining that his idea of the "lesser evil"--does not constitute enthusiastic endorsement of torture, but only an appreciation of the moral complexities entailed in dealing with war and terror. No one claims that there is a Straussian conspiracy behind Ignatieff!!!

Hmmm, "Straussian" ideas mouthed by the non-Straussian Ignatieff. Ignatieff is at Harvard. Harvey Mansfield is at Harvard. Ignatieff is at the Uof Toronto. Straussians are at the U of Toronto. The conspiracy is deeper than we thought!

Doesn’t Dr. Dury blame Alexander Kojeve for Postmodernism and also state that this is more of a conservative agenda than a liberal one?

In the end doesn’t she simply criticize Strauss for being postmodern???? She is also against Michell Foucault and George Bataille...So in the end she is against post-modernism? She is against Nietzsche...

But lets say that we drop all the names and the associations, do her arguments have merits? Do the ideas she decries have the ill effects she claims? Supposing for a second that a philosophers ideas and the diffusion and thus modification of these ideas are seperate questions with seperate effects, what follows?

She is basically attacking double/secret meanings. For the sake of simplified communication who can’t agree with this? She claims to like the "apparent" Strauss: "There are many political theorists and intellectual historians who are not Straussians (i.e. not insiders) and who were sympathetic to Strauss because of his criticisms of relativism and value-free social science and his celebration of the tradition of natural law and natural right. I was one of these political theorists." But she dislikes the "hidden" Strauss.

You have got to be kidding me, she is Platonic and Hegelian and also a Professor of the Classics therefore she is everything she "apparently" hates...her hidden meaning is that she supports conservatives, particularily a sort of twisted conservative that means what he doesn’t say and says what he doesn’t mean, she has to philosophize it all in this manner because she fears "the death of man" that she decries in Kojeve, and thus must find the complex/irrational in the simple/rational, and express herself thus.

At least that is what I get out of reading the first page of her Vital Nexus. Consider that she begins by saying that she agrees with the "apparent" Strauss and then ends with the following analogy of philosophy to Music:

"All this makes it clear that if we are to understand Strauss, we must learn to take him at his word, and not be lulled by the familiar sweetness of his tune.

Anastaplo is not far off. I’ve gotten the words right, I’ve just decided to ignore the tune. He, on the other hand, is so mesmerized by the tune, that he can’t hear the words. In philosophy, unlike music, it’s the words that matter."

Completly Hillarious.

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