Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Political Philosophy

Yom Kippur Reflection on Leo Strauss

From philosophy professor Hans Jonas's wonderful memoir, an episode about Leo Strauss to ponder: 

On a fall day--it must have been in 1934--we went for a walk in Hyde Park.  We'd walked along in silence for quite a while.  Suddenly he turned to me and said, "I feel terrible."  I said, "Me too."  And why?  It was Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, and both of us were not in the synagogue but were walking through Hyde Park.  That was telling.  For him much more than for me....  But for Strauss it was a source of torment.  "I've done the equivalent of committing murder or breaking a loyalty oath or a sinning against something."  This "I feel terrible" came straight from his soul. [p. 49]

With more on Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, and intellectual life during Weimar, WW II, and the post-war U.S.

Discussions - 35 Comments

The e-mail also points out the obvious fact that Strauss was fascist, and that everyone who knew him knew that his sympathies were with the fascists, but he was prevented from becoming a Nazi by being Jewish by birth, although everyone also knew that he was an atheist.

Incidentally, see p. 181 of the book for Jonas' noting of Strauss love of fascists. Everyone who knew Strauss who wasn't an American knew this. Hannah Arendt, for instance. But Strauss's fascistic American admirers have always denied this obvious fact, in order to conceal their own fascism. Its pretty funny when you think about it.

Diogenes, light your lamp. P. 181 of the Jonas book contains not a word about Strauss; it is an attack on Hannah Arendt's knowledge of Judaism. That is as honest as the rest of your nonsense.

Just a typo on my part, nothing more. See p. 161 for Jonas' revulsion at Strauss's fascist-loving ways (something which Arendt was also well aware of, incidentally, and other friends of Strauss as well: see William H.F. Altman, "The Alpine Limits of Jewish Thought"). If you'd actually read the book in the first place you would have known it was in there.

For shame, Diogenes. You could have pointed us to anything written by Strauss' own hand, but you instead rely upon shaky secondhand testimony. I'm glad it comports with your preconceived notions, though. If you ever wish to indulge in more mindless blathering, check out Shadia Drury as well - she's a riot.

Shaky second hand testimony? It is actually the testimony of numerous people who knew Strauss in Germany, including those were very friendly to him, such as Jonas. As for why I referenced Jonas: simple. Ken Thomas already cited him as an authority on Strauss. So you might consider Jonas "shaky second hand testimony" - for reasons which you have not explained - but Thomas evidently believes that Jonas's "wonderful memoir" is an authoritative source for "Yom Kippur Reflections on Leo Strauss": in which case its surely an equally authoritative source for Jonas' account of his disgust at Strauss's fascist-loving ways. As for pointing to "anything written by Strauss' own hand": Strauss taught a whole generation of students not to simply take philosophers at face value. So Strauss has to be read with care. Of course, living and teaching in America after the Second World War, he was never going to simply announce that he was fascist. But he did convey the point clearly enough in his writings between the lines, for anyone with eyes to see. See the Altman article that I previously referenced, as well as "Leo Strauss on "German Nihilism": Learning the Art of Writing". As for "preconceived notions": you've misunderstood their significance. Strauss never really endorses liberal democracy, or the United States of America, or condemns fascism, anywhere in his writings. Rather, Strauss relies on the "preconceived notions" of his American readers, who simply assume that a German Jew must not have been fascist. Those are the "preconceived notions" that are being exploited. But Strauss never condemns fascism. In fact, he lets his careful readers see why he supports it - in just the same way that he taught them to read other authors.

Maybe you should define what you mean by "fascism" or what you think Strauss saw as fascism that could not be denounced and must be supported.

I think Strauss is being misrepresented here. As I understand it, Strauss disliked dogmatism in any form; it just so happened that dogmatism was manifested in contemporary democracies, and furthermore through radical egalitarianism, historicism, and relativism. Had the opposite dogmas been dominant, might Strauss have backed off his so-called 'fascism'? The success of the West is the tension between Athens and Jerusalem.

EVERYONE knows about Strauss and his esoterics, so you hardly bring anything new to the table. Sorry, but I don't happen to believe that because Strauss never 'endorses democracy,' or 'condemns fascism' makes one a fascist. That logic carried out could just as easily go the other way. More likely than not, it implies that Strauss promulgated moderation, which you, Diogenes, clearly do not.

*that because Strauss never 'endorses democracy,' or 'condemns fascism,' it makes him a fascist.

Incidentally, see p. 181 of the book for Jonas' noting of Strauss love of fascists. Everyone who knew Strauss who wasn't an American knew this. Hannah Arendt, for instance. But Strauss's fascistic American admirers have always denied this obvious fact, in order to conceal their own fascism. Its pretty funny when you think about it.

Wait just a second. You are trying to argue that Americans who didn't know Strauss was a fascist (!!!) deny that he was a fascist to conceal their own fascism? Sorry, but 2+2 does not equal 5. Americans can't both "not know" he was a fascist and at the same time conceal his known fascism for some murky ulterior motive. That's BS.

"Maybe you should define what you mean by "fascism" or what you think Strauss saw as fascism..."
- Look at the Jonas memoir and the answer is straightforward: Mussolini, whom Strauss supported. Whether or not he also had a qualified sympathy for Nazism is a more difficult question. I don't think that's clear, but it is a possibility (see the Altman articles).

"EVERYONE knows about Strauss and his esoterics, so you hardly bring anything new to the table. Sorry, but I don't happen to believe that because Strauss never 'endorses democracy,' or 'condemns fascism' makes one a fascist."
- Of course that alone doesn't. That's why I've cited a bunch of other facts about and interpretations of Strauss. What is relevant about Strauss's failure to endorse democracy or condemn fascism is simply this: he was exploiting the prejudice of his American readers, who simply assumed that all decent, educated people must be anti-fascist democrats. That presumption must be questioned in order for Strauss to be understood.

"As I understand it, Strauss disliked dogmatism in any form; it just so happened that dogmatism was manifested in contemporary democracies, and furthermore through radical egalitarianism, historicism, and relativism. Had the opposite dogmas been dominant, might Strauss have backed off his so-called 'fascism'?"
- This is all irrelevant. In the 1930s Strauss was not concerned with "radical egalitarianism" or "contemporary democracies", because he was part of a deeply undemocratic, illiberal and anti-egalitarian political culture. If he was simply a "skeptic" he could and should have challenged those trends then. But he didn't. He supported them. It was only after fascism lost out and Strauss moved to America that he adopted his "skeptic" mask. That was a way to appeal to the principles of liberal democracy in order to conceal his support of anti-liberal, anti-democratic ideologies.

"You are trying to argue that Americans who didn't know Strauss was a fascist (!!!) deny that he was a fascist to conceal their own fascism? Sorry, but 2+2 does not equal 5. Americans can't both "not know" he was a fascist and at the same time conceal his known fascism for some murky ulterior motive."
- Yes they can, for reasons which are perfectly obvious to anyone who is familiar with Strauss's own ideas about philosophic rhetoric. On the surface, Strauss was appealing to American 'gentleman': those who were fairly conservative maybe, but just assume that a decent and educated man like Strauss must not be fascist. Underneath that, Strauss has a more radical message, which was understood by some of his students, who then exploited the more moderate but naive conservatism of the 'gentleman' students, in order to push for ever-more radical right-wing policies. If most of Strauss's American audience had known he was a fascist all along, he would never have been able to attract so many students. So, most Straussians are just run-of-the-mill reactionaries. But those who've grasped the more radical elements of his writing manipulate those tendencies to provide support for ever-more-radical, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, and essentially anti-American, policies. Again, this isn't a contradiction if you understand Strauss's own ideas about philosophic rhetoric: Strauss learned this sort of two-pronged pedagogical strategy from other philosophers, and by teaching students how to read those philosophers, he enabled some of his students to read him in a way that would show his more radical message.

Here are some of Strauss's own words (translation: Scott Horton), from a letter Strauss wrote to Karl Lowith (an academic friend) - some words that Jonah Goldberg didn't bring up in his "Liberal Fascism" bestseller:

"On the other hand, I see no acceptable possibility of living under the swastika, i.e., under a symbol that says nothing more to me than: you and your ilk, you are physei(3) subhumans and therefore justly pariahs. There is in this case just one solution. We must repeat: we, “men of science,” - as our predecessors in the Arab Middle Ages called themselves - non habemus locum manentem, sed quaerimus…(4) And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination.(6) I am reading Caesar’s Commentaries with deep understanding, and I think of Virgil’s Tu regere imperio… parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.(7) There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought. And even then: rather than any cross, I’ll take the ghetto."

[Published Source: Leo Strauss, Gesammelte Schriften, Bd. 3: Hobbes’ politische Wissenschaft und zugehörige Schriften, Briefe (Heinrich Meier, ed.), Metzler Verlag 2001, pp. 624-25.]

In the letter that Scanlon brings to light, Strauss says that fascism is untenable for him, because of who he is: he'd be killed under the swastika. But he admits that this doesn't say anything about fascism itself. Diogenes claims that Strauss reneged only when fascism lost out. These are two incompatible premises. The latter suggests that the former isn't true. At any rate, Strauss requires virtuoso readings of his whole corpus as well as all of its topics. He's an interesting figure and worth figuring out on one's own: I don't need any partisan figure to tell me what to think.

Re-light that lamp, Diogenes: there's nothing about fascism on p., 161, either-- or 151, for that matter. That Strauss was "an early supporter of Mussolini, before he turned antisemitic" hardly makes him a fascist--consider the alternatives. After all, Churchill expressed some qualified admiration for Mussolini as well, and that hardly makes him a fascist either. So, an end to this dishonesty and demagoguery.

The quote from the Scanlon post needs to be read in full context. Pay particular heed to the cross versus ghetto reference. But this was before Strauss learned to take America seriously. It's clearly that he learned from Harry V. Jaffa and his other American students that the best regime and the ideals of classical political philosophy can live on in the modern world and in America today, in men's souls and in politics, in the statesmanship of Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson (see "On Classical Political Philosophy," in What Is Political Philosophy?)

"...Strauss says that fascism is untenable for him, because of who he is: he'd be killed under the swastika."

What he said was - "only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible...to protest against the abomination" (of "the new right-wing Germany" - the Third Reich).

So, he is saying that fascism is simultaneously "untenable for him" but at the same time an intrinsic principle of the political philosophy that must be embraced in order to defeat it? Huh?? No, actually, he's saying that Nazism is untenable for him - that's sensible.

Clearly, Strauss made a distinction between Nazism and fascism (fair enough), but he thought fascism was necessary to defeat the Nazis. Funny how the father of so many neo-cons smashes a core element of the "thesis" of Lucianne's Boy, though. He regarded Nazism (properly) as right-wing, and he regarded fascism (also correctly) as right-wing. But oh yes, yes, fascism is, so says Jonah, a "phenomenon of the left"!

But I've found it typical of Straussians to be so very slippery in their argumentation. Taking the esoteric approach to ridiculous depths to avoid being accurately associated with those evils they endorse and embrace (if only sideways via some pseudo-profound intellectual distance). Quite similar to the approach of some of today's conservative racists.

Craig, please tell me that you're not so unsophisticated as to understand Goldberg's thesis? The liberal welfare state and soft socialism of the left over the last hundred years has led to the increased power of the state and a decline in liberty for the individual. Fascism is on the right, socialism and Communism on the left in the continuum of political ideas, but as Francois Furet notes in his Passing of an Illusion, the continuum bends around into more of a circle and fascism and communism end up looking a lot alike in their character. Hayek and others noted this trend as well. It's hardly an incomprehensible and weird idea.

It may be impossible to plumb the depths of Ken Thomas's shallowness. If someone thinks that expressing support for Mussolini has "nothing to do with fascism", they're simply in a delusional nut-job world. As for "taking America seriously": grow up. Strauss never admired America and he was certainly far too intelligent to ever "learn" anything from jackasses like Harry Jaffa. If Strauss believed that America was the solution to everything, he could simply have written the sort of propaganda that Jaffa writes. He didn't. In fact, he never wrote about America. Grow up.

At first, lots of people thought fascism sounded like a great idea and most of the world admired Mussolini. Seeing where Italian Fascism was going to go and seeing where it went are very different points of view. Time changes things and ideas, as well as personal perspectives.

Goldberg is merely pointing out the attraction of fascism as an economic/political idea when divested of its historic ugliness. Having read Craig Scanlon on politics for some time now, fascism by any other name would smell sweeter than any other form of government to him. Some of us think that fascism by any other name would eventually smell as foul, though there are many varieties of foulness that the basic idea could take on.

I don't know enough about Strauss to take that argument on and will leave it to others.

Diogenes--stop making up quotes: i.e., lying. What I said was "Re-light that lamp, Diogenes: there's nothing about fascism on p., 161." You made up a quote. You're caught in a lie: Apologize.

Strauss plainly refers to the U.S. throughout his writings. True, he never wrote a book about America, as he had excellent students to do so. Name-calling is not substitute for an argument, as the books are an argment.

"Craig, please tell me that you're not so unsophisticated as to understand Goldberg's thesis?"

Wait a minute - are you saying that one NEEDS to be unsophisticated to understand Goldberg's thesis? Was that a backhanded compliment? Those are rare! Will I now also be able to grasp the Bush Doctrine in the deep and thorough way that NLT's Sarah does?

"Fascism is on the right, socialism and Communism on the left in the continuum of political ideas, but as Francois Furet notes in his Passing of an Illusion, the continuum bends around into more of a circle and fascism and communism end up looking a lot alike in their character."

Well, then doesn't that just negate the whole point? If it's a circle and what's on the right looks like what's on the left and they meet on the other side, I guess Goldberg could have just gone with liberal-conservative left-right fascism communism... or something? Also, I don't get your initial statement that fascism is on the RIGHT - aren't you trying to DEFEND Goldberg? Per the title of his book, and the twisted revisionism within it, Goldberg's saying that fascism is of the LEFT. Oh well, Furet and Hayek, la de da... Even esotericist Strauss was at least honest enough to state that fascism, authoritarianism and imperialism are "principles of the right." You guys are just stuck on your mantra that "all that is bad comes from the left" and, per Goldberg, the "theory" that "I know you are, but what am I?" Pretty sophisticated stuff.

"Having read Craig Scanlon on politics for some time now, fascism by any other name would smell sweeter than any other form of government to him. Some of us think that fascism by any other name would eventually smell as foul..."

Interesting attempt at a smear job. Julie Ponzi said I wanted to go back to the days of lynchings in the US, and now you're saying that I crave fascism. Stay classy, you two! This latest smear from a person (you) who liked the idea of putting Muslims on trains and deporting them en masse?

http://nlt.ashbrook.org/2007/01/french-baby-boomlet.php#comment-34887

(Or, I suppose another...ahem...solution might be to have government-imposed limits on the number of offspring that Muslims (or those who have parents from any Muslim-dominant or Arab or just overly sandy country) have.)

"You made up a quote. You're caught in a lie: Apologize."
- You accuse me of lying by....lying! There are no quotation marks in any of my posts. There IS reference to Jonas' disgust with Strauss's love of fascism, i.e., Mussolini. You want to perpetuate the ludicrous fantasy that liking Mussolini has nothing to do with liking fascism, which is prima facie absurd, and all the more insane in light of everything else that is known about Strauss. Thus, you accuse me of lying by making up a quote: an obvious lie, since there is no quote in any of my posts. What a fool you are, to lie for the purpose of an accusation of lying.

Moreover, Strauss does not "plainly refer [sing.] to the U.S. throughout his writings". He barely refers to it at all. And when he does its always in the less important places of less important books. His Machiavelli book has a joke in it about how the U.S. participated in Machiavellian "evil" in the introduction. His Natural Right and History book has a few rhetorical flourishes for purposes of a public lecture at the opening, and then forgets the U.S. after that. More importantly, by Strauss's own testimony, his best books were those on Xenophon's Socrates, which say not a word about America. The idea that Strauss thought that American 'statesmanship', or anything else American, had anything to do with classical philosophy is the purest nonsense, as one can see from the fact that although Strauss's letters say a great deal about classical philosophy, they say nothing about America, including and especially when he's talking about the possibility of restoring classical philosophy. Strauss's books are indeed an argument. But they're not an argument about America. And what arguments they have are all essentially anti-American. The idea that Strauss's most mentally challenged students, such as that moral cretin and megalomaniac Harry Jaffa, carry any weight is even a greater waste of time: Strauss himself often notes in his letters how in his teaching he was frustrated at being unable to pursue his real interests (for instance, Rousseau, he says) - and, as the letters show, those interests were never American.

I do not mean, "Craig Scanlon, you Fascist!" which is the way you are taking what I said. Maybe I have misunderstood, but it seems to me that you do not like a consumerist/capitalist/free market economic system. "The ... State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone...." Not the State under a George Bush, of course, but the State under an Obama, maybe so. You do not like any strenuous individualism, but of course, the militarism of Fascism is not for you, either. You seem to favor a more collectivist society than we have, though not in any totalitarian way. I do not see that an authoritarian state that controlled our behavior in terms of what we could or could not own or do would really bother you, although I fully admit that your aims would be different from Mussolini's. You would have government control us for our own good, for the good of the planet, for the good of mankind. Yours is a softer, gentler authoritarianism, which is why you would not call what you call for in government "Fascism", although I did.

What I was saying in February of 2007, was that the thought of losing a liberal, democratic/republican society is appalling to me. If welcoming Muslims into our nation means our laws come to conform to or even adjust to accomodate Sharia and the accompanying lack of liberty, especially for women, then the idea of deporting them becomes tempting. Otherwise - don't be silly.

There is another thing; you seem inclined to have government suppress religion or to keep the religious from participating in government in any way. You seem to wish to remove from television and radio anyone like Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh, which sounds like political repression to me.

Diogenes, you are unhinged on the subject of Harry Jaffa. I am not inclined to believe you on the topic of Strauss given what you say about Jaffa, which is not merely ugly, but ridiculous.

Neither Ken Thomas nor Kate have to "believe" what I say about Strauss. Its not a matter of "belief". Its a matter of fact: if you've read his letters, you'll already know everything that I listed - namely, that although he talks about reviving classical political philosophy often, he never discusses America in that context, and indeed he barely so much as mentions America in his letters at all; you'll also have read the letters where Strauss plainly says that his best two books are his last two on Xenophon, and if you've read those books, you'll know that they say nothing about America at all; you/'ll have read the letter where he says that teaching prevents him pursuing his real interests - and you'll know that he specifically says that studying Lucretius and Rousseau are those real interests. You don't have to take my word for it. Read Strauss. Its all there in plain language. Trusting me is beside the point. Strauss said it all himself.

I hardly think Diogenes needs (or necessarily even wants) any help from me, but I'd say that the Strauss quote I provided was no small beer; it's at least as damning (or merely confirming certain fascist sympathies - if you don't automatically think that's damning, we can skip that characterization) as anything else mentioned in this thread. And one can take it in its entire context. Do you think that Strauss was being so up-is-down "esoteric" as to say that Nazism was great, that fascism, authoritarianism, and imperialism were of the LEFT, and that they should be beat back in order to help the Nazis? Ok...

Kate, first you said "Having read Craig Scanlon on politics for some time now, fascism by any other name would smell sweeter than any other form of government to him." - that fascism (labeled otherwise) is my preferred political system. Now you've scaled that back to "I do not mean, "Craig Scanlon, you Fascist!"" - ok, so you mean, "Craig, you Fascist-Using-Another-Label-But-Still-Fascist!" Oh, well, that's perfectly fair, reasonable, and polite, then.

I've not the time to address all of your last post, Kate, but suffice it to say that I, too, am not a fan of the idea of Sharia rule of law, but I'm also not receptive to the idea of fundamentalist Christian law (or ultimately, even a moderate, specifically Christian domination of our government). I'd like to see the government protect both your rights and that of Muslims without allowing either of you - two flip-sides, both extremely destructive to freedom, to the same "Clash of Civilizations" coin - to dominate.

And what was the purpose of your quoting Mussolini? Here's how that very same definitive statement ("What is Fascism" (1932)) from Mussolini starts:

" Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

...The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others -- those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after...

...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect."

Holiness, heroism, love of war, opposite of socialism... Oh yeah, that's all my favorite stuff, right there!

(more later if I have time and desire)

Get out the strait jackets--check the quote marks in Diogenes' (what an ironic name) posts to see what nonsense he utters about never having quotation marks. Nothing else he says makes his case either--e.g., consider whom he writes to in the letters that have been published; how many are Americans or students of America? Strauss wrote many books besides his last two. Etc. Frankly, nothing he writes can be trusted as having any truth content whatsoever. See Peter Minowitz's Struassaphobia for a diagnosis of the malady "Diogenes" suffers from. http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/09/hbc-90005789

Yikes - Since nobody else has stepped in, I'll play referee for the Thomas v. Diogenes bout.

1. Thomas accused Diogenes of lying. Thomas said "Re-light that lamp, Diogenes: there's nothing about fascism on p., 161." Diogenes fired back, somewhat carelessly with "If someone thinks that expressing support for Mussolini has 'nothing to do with fascism', they're simply in a delusional nut-job world." He misquoted Mr. Thomas. Diogenes also misquotes Thomas, claiming that he said "taking America seriously" when Thomas said "take America seriously." Even less significant of a misquote than the first. Still, not an accurate quote. But hardly offenses so great to warrant the "You made up a quote. You're caught in a lie. Apologize." from Thomas.

2. It seems fairly obvious that when Diogenes later says that "There are no quotation marks in any of my posts." he's referring to quotes of Strauss or Jonas, whom he does NOT quote. He has those fairly minor misquotes of Thomas, but that's all. He uses "quotes" and "quotation marks" but not of Strauss or Jonas. Just of Thomas and t-hag.

I enjoyed this from T-Hag:
"At any rate, Strauss requires virtuoso readings of his whole corpus as well as all of its topics. He's an interesting figure and worth figuring out on one's own: I don't need any partisan figure to tell me what to think."

- Yes, as though less-than-virtuoso readings of, for example, Marx have ever stopped the right from critiquing him. (I'm not saying that such thorough readings are necessary or should be required - they're not - just that one can look at an individual work from a great mind and interpret it fairly without having read every single morsel ever produced by that same mind.) I'm betting that few, if any, Ashbrook instructors or scholars have even read half of Marx's works. Similarly, people of all kinds (right, left, center) quote the Bible all the time without being virtuosic scholars of the text. Let's be serious here, and honest.

- And none of Strauss's defenders are the least bit partisan, eh? Ever heard of PNAC? Practically a Who's Who of Straussians right there...

- I still don't understand your bizarre interpretation of Strauss's words from the Lowith letter.

"Get out the strait jackets--check the quote marks in Diogenes' (what an ironic name) posts to see what nonsense he utters about never having quotation marks."

- You're simply delusional here. Look at my first two posts: not a single quotation mark; third post: a quotation mark around the title of an article; fourth post, I quote from YOU, not from Strauss or Jonas. As Craig Scanlon points out, I may have slightly altered the tense or what have you of your posts in order to make the quote grammatical within my own sentence, but I certainly didn't change the meaning of what you wrote, and in any case, what was at issue was Strauss and Jonas, whom I did not quote from, but only paraphrased, while providing page references. It never even occurred to me previously that you might be whining about you having been "misquoted", since I did not make any change to the meaning of your statements (and nor have you attempted to show any) and, more importantly, because the post was about Strauss and Jonas. Believe it or not, no one cares much about whether Ken Thomas is quoted. People do care about Strauss and Jonas. Its quite amusing that you simply assume that you must be the center of attention in a post where you're not even at issue, but rather the views of Strauss and Jonas are. Like Harry Jaffa, you appear to suffer from deep delusions of grandeur.

"Nothing else he says makes his case either--e.g., consider whom he writes to in the letters that have been published; how many are Americans or students of America?"
- They're not American students, but, as I pointed out, one of the points which Strauss makes explicit in his letters is that he deliberately 'dumbed-down' his ideas for his students, and he found teaching frustrating for that reason (e.g., letter to Jacob Klein of July 12, 1949). Moreover, Strauss does talk A LOT about the revival of classical philosophy. If he thought that America was relevant to that, he could have easily said so. But he never does. He does often defend Nietzsche and Heidegger against the criticisms of Karl Lowith, but he never says, "Karl, you should really read Lincoln". As for American students: there's a reason why Strauss didn't have comparable correspondences with them: as his published letters indicate, he didn't care as much about them. This is demonstrated also by his lengthy (but not yet published) correspondence with an American student: Seth Benardete. They talk constantly about classical philosophy. Not about America. Even though Benardete was actually an American.

"Strauss wrote many books besides his last two."
- His last two Xenophon books are not his last books, but he explicitly says that his Xenophon books are his best (letter to Gershom Scholem, November 17 1972). And although those books are all about America, they say not a single word about America.

"Frankly, nothing he writes can be trusted as having any truth content whatsoever."
- You don't have to trust me. Read the letters by Strauss.

"See Peter Minowitz's Struassaphobia for a diagnosis of the malady "Diogenes" suffers from"
- Straussophobia? I respect Strauss much more than you do. That's why I've actually read him, and take his words seriously (e.g., if he says his Xenophon books were his best, I think that's probably important, instead of ignoring it or being ignorant of it, like you).

Craig,

Yes, I admit, when I stumbled on that definition of fascism by Mussolini, which I had never seen before, it gave me pause, but clearly not enough pause. I was really looking for the definitions by Thomas Sowell, Russell Kirk and Jeanne Kirkpatrick that have formed my understanding of the term. I would have to go hunt through my bookshelves for the actual books, since I can't find those easily online, and I just do not want to. My kids have roiled my library over the last couple of years and may have rifled it, too, the dears.
Didn't I say you were no Mussolini? I took the only piece of the Mussolini definition that fit, I confess.
However, Mussolini does not really address economics in that definition of fascism and it is on that basis that I slung my accusation. I may misread you, but you seem always inclined to extend government control of the economy. That extends into people's lives and will become a tyranny that I don't think either of us will really like living with.
I do not see that Christian fundamentalists who would wish to dominate our government actually have a chance of ever doing so. Almost all of those people that I have ever met eventually rethought their dogmatism and came down on the side of toleration, siding with our nation's founders. I know there are always fanatics turning up, but honestly, those folks I knew (through home schooling networks) bump into the liberality that is inherent in American Christianity and give up their struggle.
I really hope that Muslims will, too, but see little hope of that at the moment.
I don't know every Christian and honestly avoid Christianity as a movement in the sense of watching and following those who consider themselves leaders. Sometimes I hear about those folks through friends, but am happy to be out of that loop, as are the majority of Christians, I believe.
Therefore, when you or anyone else rants about Christians taking over America, it seems really funny. Protestants do not agree with Catholics, and even rarely with one another. They will rally around an idea, like that abortion is murder of an innocent and that murder of an innocent is wrong. If that is tyranny, then we are just going to have to disagree about that sort of tyranny, too.
The United States was founded as a Christian nation in the broadest sense of that term. Its liberal, democratic politics forced toleration, thank God, and eventually all states eliminated established churches, but there was no atheistic impulse to our government nor denial of religion.

A note of thanks to you, Diogenes, for the kind words about my work. As for the debate in general, I would suggest sticking with LS himself. For what it's worth, I think many of LS's critics make the mistake of attempting to connect him, through his "students," to a conspiracy to bring fascism to the US. His own words indicate a more cautious although scarcely less insidious project: to undermine our commitment to liberal democracy's foundations in natural rights (as opposed to "right") and the separation of church and state (as opposed to reopening "the theological-political problem solved on these shores by the SOCAS). Anti-communism offered LS the cover he needed (and of course he hated Communism too!) to APPEAR as a "friend and ally" of LD, which he wasn't. It's no accident he uses the "we" in the oft-quoted sentence from "Liberal Education and Responsibility:" check out how many times he uses "I," "my," and "me" in the opening paragraph as well as the first two times he uses "we." Thanks again, Diogenes!

Oh Kate, good stuff. In the process of admitting that you got - as the kids say - pwned with the Mussolini quote (taken in its proper, larger context), you found a way to mention (I suspect, boast about) your home library; yes, I get it, the absent-minded professor syndrome, surrounded by the millions of books you've read and your erudite, brilliant children! In any event, I think Mussolini's definition of fascism is more useful in nearly any situation than those offered by Sowell or Kirk... or Lucianne's Boy.

One last tidbit of yours to address:
"There is another thing; you seem inclined to have government suppress religion or to keep the religious from participating in government in any way. You seem to wish to remove from television and radio anyone like Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh, which sounds like political repression to me."

Kate, can you please direct me, and your fellow NLT readers, to ANYTHING I've said that where I "seem inclined to have government suppress religion or to keep the religious from participating in government in any way"?? Or, at least, to what I've said which you have so creatively interpreted?? Please, do go to church, and do vote your Christian values! I do strongly recommend the Liars For Jesus book (Vol. 1 is impressive) and site (linked to previously), to counteract the Barton delusions you seem to operate under. Are you or anyone in your congregation involved in this repulsive project (which I do not wish to stop)?
http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

As for my "wish to remove from television and radio anyone like Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh, which sounds like political repression" - come on, Kate. What's funny is that I can't imagine where you might have picked up this meme of eliminationism (they want to "remove" or take off the air, Beck, Limbaugh, etc.!!!) is from one of the right-wing talkers themselves - they constantly peddle their imminent martyrdom and non-stop victimization - or, at least, one of their loyal dittohead fans who does. No, Kate, I don't want to "remove" them, ok? You've apparently forgotten about my near-absolutist stance on freedom of speech. If the government attempted to ban or shut down Beck or Limbaugh or any of that bloviating army, I'd be among the first to protest it. Let the knuckle-dragging cretins have their say! Seriously.

Whether you, most Straussians, or the ghost of Strauss would do the same if Michael Moore or Keith Olbermann were threatened with the same treatment, I have my doubts...

I hadn't thought of that stuff like boasting. Is it boast-able? Thank you.

As to the Mussolini business, I am Christian and needed to make a confession. I am become a guilty blogger, as there are all sorts of things I ought to be doing/writing instead of expressing myself here, which makes me sloppy in backing up my opinions, and I apologize for it.

Which is partly why I will not go back and hunt through your many, many comments and prove my point about what I have taken as your repressive inclinations. If you are correct about I should have read you, then I am surprised that no one else has jumped to your defense and taken me to task for misrepresenting you.

I think you Liars for Jesus stuff is silly and unhistorical. I have read extensively on religion in the early republic, especially in original documents. To extrapolate arguments about faith and doctrine into no faith and doctrine is silly.

I really know so little about Strauss. Those students of students of Strauss do not exactly force study of him, in my experience of learning from them. Yet a majority of Americans being and having been declared Christians for all of American history has somehow allowed folks like Olbermann and Moore to thrive, become wealthy -- they can be as stupid as they like and still make a buck here. Nice place this horrible, repressive America?

I suppose what I am really doing is laughing at your supposed "near-absolutist stance on freedom of speech." which mostly has seemed to be a loud "SHUT-UP, YOU MORON!" about those folks whose speech you claim to be protecting.

Seriously.

"I suppose what I am really doing is laughing at your supposed "near-absolutist stance on freedom of speech." which mostly has seemed to be a loud "SHUT-UP, YOU MORON!" about those folks whose speech you claim to be protecting."

Again with the amorphous "seemed." Perhaps your perceptive capacities are just sub-par? And again with the stance of (the right-wing talkers) being victims (shouted down with ad hominem by the likes of me, threats to suppress them, attempts to suppress them, etc.). Where do you get these ideas. Fine, don't sift through my every word at NLT, just give me something from the recent past. Something I said, not something you imagined. What you, and so many others on the right, seem to have trouble with is the distinction between criticism and repression. Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, (and you) don't seem to understand how it works. A public statement is made, and those from the opposition make a reply. Those replies might be even be extremely critical. Just because others do so well in pointing out the flaws and errors in the right-wingers' views doesn't mean that anyone is saying that the righties aren't ENTITLED to their views. Of course they are, however ridiculous, fact-free, and absurd their views might be. I think the right should really work on comprehending this distinction.

It had to be at least the third time you mentioned your home library. Whatever. In any case, I suspect you could find any quote you want by using the google.

I searched for Sowell and fascism; the first couple of links gave me him supporting Goldberg's book and providing fodder for Glenn Beck's creative thinking, on Beck's show on Fox"News".

For shame, Diogenes. You could have pointed us to anything written by Strauss' own hand, but you instead rely upon shaky secondhand testimony. I'm glad it comports with your preconceived notions, though. If you ever wish to indulge in more mindless blathering, check out Shadia Drury as well - she's a riot.

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