Paul Gottfried’s ‘Leo Strauss And The Conservative Movement In America’

In the comments of Social Matter and on several other similar sites, a peculiar type of creature can be seen popping up. This creature is passingly familiar with classical literature and can pass for someone on the right side of the political spectrum. They avoid issues of controversy and insert themselves into theoretical discussions. Most whom I’ve seen do not demonstrate the capacity to understand the conversation, but their purpose is not to contribute but to insert and name-drop, to shift the conversation toward a book or theory of a man named Leo Strauss.

Paul Gottfried wrote a book entitled, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America, which I believe is a must-read for anyone concerned with political entryism, especially in illiberal movements. This book review will also serve as a warning; when you see the Straussian coming, the solution is a quick ban. The Straussian is the entryist par excellence, as Gottfried illustrates in this seminal work, and is never productive toward any attempt at intellectual or ideological development.

Gottfried writes his book because he has seen a pattern in academia where the Straussians have taken for themselves the mantle of the Right and used it to exclude non-Straussian rightists from the academic conversation, largely serving as the right-end guard of the Left. The goal of Straussians in their rightward attacks is to limit all political discourse to debates about institutions and foundations, and thereby place the topics of culture, religion, and ethnicity out of bounds.

This is precisely the reason that the Left tolerates the Straussians in high positions in academia and politics; from the Left’s perspective, they’re the prison wardens of the Right, nasty individuals themselves but preferred to the nastier inmates. Straussians are urban, Jewish and Catholic intellectuals, so they swim in the same waters as the Left but identify Right and perform this policing function which anchors the frame of acceptable discourse firmly to the Left. Gottfried is writing to vindicate the Old Right, which was supplanted by the academic Straussians in the late 20th Century and in politics by their neoconservative students, by critiquing both Strauss and the Straussians from the Right.

Gottfried traces the origins of Strauss’s thought from his education among German Jewish intellectuals of the Weimar period. He points to teachers like Hermann Cohen and Franz Rosenzweig which formed the foundation of Strauss’s own mixed feelings toward his Jewish heritage. Cohen’s neo-averroeism served as the source of Strauss’s own proclamation that faith and reason, religion and philosophy, were fundamentally irreconcilable and the necessity of grounding philosophy in a kind of rationalistic discourse which excluded any form of metaphysics or religious content.

Strauss’s famous treatment of Thomas Aquinas shows this tendency in full, wherein Aquinas is assimilated into a Natural Rights framework by stripping metaphysical meaning from Aquinas’s use of Reason, turning it into a purely mechanistic notion based on logic. Strauss’s experience of Weimer Germany and its collapse formed the character of this thinker, described by Gottfried as, “…stuck in 1938, reliving the battle where democracy failed to stand against anti-semitism.”

For the Straussians, all politics revolves around reliving and winning the same fight forever, and the recourse they choose is that, “Thus, democracy must be taught as a cult to be spread overseas,” so that the rise of the Nazis might never happen again. This appeal to rationalism and the exclusion of metaphysics from politics is a core element of this Straussian cult of democracy.

According to Gottfried, the reason this approach is so appealing to Strauss and his followers is that it permits the assimilation of Christian scholarship to the modern democratic tradition by denuding it of its Christian character, thus both making it palpable for Jewish and atheist scholars and stripping Christians of any distinct intellectual culture of their own from which anti-semitism might arise. Strauss himself took a nuanced approach to rightist Christian thinkers like Carl Schmidt, generally criticizing them in academic terms for failing to support liberal democracy against Nazism despite respecting of the quality of their work, but his followers, being more partisans than scholars, would reject this approach for a more confrontational rhetoric centered on universalist liberal democracy. This feature is central to the vast majority of Straussian works as epitomized by the example of Michael Zuckert’s Natural Rights Republic, in which Zuckert denies any Christian influence whatsoever on the foundation of the United States, declaring the American foundation to be a product of Lockean liberalism and 18th Century religious skepticism.

The most famous element of Strauss’s hermeneutic is his theory of esotericism in political philosophy. According to Strauss, the incompatibility between philosophy and religion forces all philosophers to write in a format where the surface reading of a text conforms to the state religion while the hidden meaning expresses the truth of philosophy, which is anti-religious and rationalistic. For those interested, the method is elaborated in Persecution and the Art of Writing.  Gottfried argues that this “hidden” meaning tends to be whatever the Straussian believes to be the “rational” opinion, such that “a properly read Straussian hermeneutic demonstrates than any author is secretly a Jewish intellectual from New York or Chicago.” Thus, Strauss claims to show that every philosophical text can be seen as part of a giant, secret conversation by philosophers throughout the ages which is hidden to the eyes of the uninitiated but revealed to the Straussian method.

As mentioned, for Straussians, the overriding priority of political philosophy is the protection of universalist liberal democracy against all challengers, which is seen as the only barrier against anti-semitism.  Strauss was well known for his personal conflict with the leaders of the APSA for their refusal to become partisans of the United States against the Soviet Union, which he primarily criticized in terms of their treatment of Jewish refuseniks. Straussian politics are rationalistic and practical because they revolve around this central goal. Straussians are primarily concerned with cementing an international political order whose universalism will provide a fool-proof barrier to anti-semitism, which has two major consequences.

First, the Straussians and their Neoconservative students from University of Chicago and Yale have no real disagreements with the Left on domestic issues, and only disagree on international relations. Irving Kristol, in The Neoconservative Persuasion says as much, explicitly separating neoconservatives from the Old Right by saying that the neoconservatives do not reject and in fact embrace the Great Society reforms of the 60s. Straussians began to leave the Left when the Left abandoned Kennedy/Johnson-style hawkishness and anti-communism, turning into the early neoconservatives. Straussians see the American military as a tool to enforce the cult of democracy around the world, thus to embed protections against anti-semitism in all nations.

This is why major Straussian thinkers like Harry Jaffa idolize Abraham Lincoln as the ideal American president; the combination of democratic rhetoric backed by militarism is the model Straussians wish to imitate around the world, and the conquest of Dixie is seen as the beginning of a world-wide mission to impose the democratic cult by force. Straussians reject classical liberalism or libertarianism because legal equality fails to provide sufficient protection against anti-semitism; only a full egalitarian program through liberal democratization eliminates the risk of another Nazi regime.

Secondly, this leads to the peculiar characteristic of the Straussian scholar as professing political neutrality and embracing the label of educator rather than partisan.  Straussians see themselves in a life-or-death Manichean struggle between the forces of good and evil, in which reason, philosophy, and skepticism battle revelation, religion, and anti-semitism for control of world politics. Strauss taught that the division between philosophy and religion required the philosopher to act from the shadows. To step out would be to risk the wrath of the Christian establishment and to follow in the footsteps of Socrates. The Straussian philosopher, therefore, is a teacher to the children of the elites, never taking power for himself but indoctrinating the youth in the secret, esoteric teachings of the great writers.  While the parent would think that their children are learning Plato and, not understanding the hidden meaning, think they were being educated, the Straussian would pass on the hidden, anti-religious, rationalistic, democratic meaning to the student.  Thus, the student of the Straussian would eventually take power and implement the project of Straussian philosophy.  The Straussian scholar, therefore, abjures from politics himself, claiming neutrality.  This is not a front, however, because they are interested in controlling both parties, not just the Right, and they argue that universalist liberal democracy is the whole of acceptable politics, with all positions outside being anti-semitic crime, not politics.

Thus, Gottfried gives us a summary of the influence of Straussian thinkers on the American Right and the problems posed by these thinkers infiltrating and largely commandeering the Republican Party. All politics are subordinated to the goal of universalist liberal democracy because this is the only ideology the Straussians believe will dissolve the majorities within the various nation-states of the world, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. Irving Kristol reinforces this theme in several essays in the collection, The Neoconservative Persuasion, arguing that the goal of the NeoCons is to drag the Right into a position compatible with liberal democracy and that the Jewish project in America is to transform the entire country into New York.  Straussianism and its counterpart Neoconservativism are, in Gottfried’s words, “a counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left, affecting a right-wing pose without a right-wing worldview.”  It is rightist only in the sense of resisting the leftward drift beyond universalism into radical identity politics which the Straussians see as reopening the domain of politics for a resurgent anti-semitism in the model of Al Sharpton.

To Gottfried’s work, let me add the following. Gottfried focuses on the Jewish origins of Straussians but gives little attention to the Claremont Catholic wing, which was attracted to Straussianism during the Catholic intellectual renaissance in the United States during the 50s.  What was attractive to the Jewish Straussians was also attractive to the Catholics of the 50s, namely dissolving the Protestant and Anglo-Saxon character of American culture in favor of a universalistic proposition nation, in which the Catholic minority could operate without standing out from the majority.

In order to create a space free of anti-Catholic sentiment, Catholic Straussians embraced this movement and form many of the foot soldiers of the academic and political wings. These Straussians, I argue, are the most dangerous for two reasons. First, they are more likely to be convincing in projecting a right-wing or reactionary pose. Their social conservativism seems to place them outside the mainstream of the Left, thus disguising the fact that in all but faith, neoconservative Catholics are no different than liberals. They are well-placed to infiltrate Catholic traditionalism and practice typical Straussian entryism from that angle. Second, Catholic Straussians are converts and true believers. They tend to be more radical than their Jewish counterparts who are largely pragmatic, following in Strauss’s footsteps by focusing on the safety of the Jewish community over abstract political discourse and theory.

Catholic Straussians make up the bulk of the clean-cut, well-dressed conservative foot soldiers at academic conferences and conservative movement functions, and combine the fanaticism of faith with their new religion, a blend of soft-serve Christianity with Straussian liberal democracy.

When the Straussian commenter shows up in the comments section, do not treat this person like someone seeking discourse. The Straussian is an infiltrator, even more dangerous when he comes professing Catholicism and claiming to be a man of the Right. Gottfried’s book goes into far more detail about the character of Straussian political theory than I could possible describe in this short book review. Take the time to pick up this short work for yourself. At 170 pages, it is manageable and indispensable to understand an enemy who pretends to be on our side.

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22 Comments

  1. This is interesting, as I was planning on writing something about Decius Mus, the author of the flight 93 article. I have read some more of his stuff (like this:http://amgreatness.com/2016/10/17/a-progressive-smear-against/) and was left scratching my head by his claims. This was further exacerbated by this article (http://amgreatness.com/2016/10/31/political-science-publius-decius-mus/)

    The single claim which summarizes it all, is his claim in the first linked article that:

    “Also contra Heer, virtue and constitutionalism are not either/or propositions. The two are inextricably intertwined. A virtuous people is better able to maintain constitutional norms which, if they are functioning properly, will help maintain virtue in the people. That’s the West Coast position, anyway. The East Coasters are more likely to say that America was founded on the theory that virtue could be replaced by incentives (“self-interest rightly understood”) backstopped by “institutions with teeth in them.”

    I can only call total bullshit on this, and for this purpose we can use the eminent Catholic philosopher of ethics Alaisdair McIntyre (there is a reason I keep bringing him up.) Virtue understood by Aristotle and Aquinas (and this is covered too briefly by the author of this piece in his individualism essays) is a learned disposition. Only through practice in a social pursuit can one develop virtues, and this learning must be in relation to a social context within which this development of virtue can take place. Ethics then become a matter of learning how, which is context specific and cannot be written down any more accurately than learning an instrument can. Yes, you can write a guide for learning, but no one learned how to play the piano from reading a manual. The idea is ridiculous. One tries, gets feedback, tries again, gets more feedback, practices some more etc . Constitutionalism being an offshoot of the ethical school of voluntarism (a building block of modernity – we are all voluntarist now!) basically rejects this and place ethics as a matter of what, and not a matter of learning how (so now you get the tedious deontology versus consequentialism voluntarist civil war.) Constitutionalism then states that A, B and C must always be the case and X, Y and Z must always be done – regardless of the possible circumstances which it can never fully envelope.
    To add to this, republican constitutionalism makes society into a warzone of competing power centers which is as definitive a way as possible to reject the virtues as understood by Aristotle and Aquinas.

    But this is all a little beside the point, as the real issue is that the Strausians are not some great threat, nor are they really any different to the “right” that they are infiltrating. At base everyone, and I mean everyone, engaging with the current political systems believes the same things – it is the price of entry, and the key one of these beliefs is the belief in anarchism – that society is comprised of individuals gelled together. All positions from left to right are merely differentiated by the unprincipled exceptions to this point.

    So from an absolutist position, there is no entryism issue because this anarchism is rejected. From a neoreactionary one there obviously is, which should be pause for thought.

  2. Traditionalist Catholic intellectuals are largely marginalized in the current cultural zeitgeist of the Catholic Church.

    There’s an almost imperceptible drive to annihilate the Cultural Character of the country in the name of Catholicism, because of reasons many don’t even comprehend anymore; an object in motion tends to stay in motion… The Protestant foundation of the country has been secularized, which one would think would leave an opening for the Catholic cultural impetus to shift from a defensive to a cooperative or expansive mindset. But such a shift is impossible because of the very Straussian impulses you’ve outlined here.

    The result being, the American Catholic Church, institutionally and broadly speaking, is participatory in the destruction of the last remnants of American Culture as it stands today, without any thought for why.

    1. I would argue that Catholic Straussians know why, they just prefer their fantasy reality to the reality on the ground. Like Jewish Straussians, they’re stuck in the 1930’s, and in their mind American nationalism stands for Irish Need Not Apply. Strauss and his followers frame all politics as the Manichean struggle of Democracy vs. Totalitarianism and refuse any paradigm which differs from that model, so Catholic Straussians will refuse to admit that the Irish are now white and Catholics are not seen any differently than Evangelicals by the secularists. They’d rather grievance-monger that their granddaddy wasn’t allowed in the Country Club because it feels better to be a virtue-signalling cuck than to realize that Catholics are next on the menu after the gay marriage lawsuits bankrupt and shutter the last Evangelical church.

      1. I have seen no significant evidence of this in my experience.

        The primary issue with the Catholic Church, as I see it, is that one can be “Catholic” without actually adhering to the basic tenants of Catholicism, and the Church proper refuses to call out these “cultural” and “family tradition” Catholics for fear of losing them to Secularism.

        Truly an inconsequential fear when they are already lost.

        In essence, the Catholic Straussian is, in fact, a contradiction in terms. If one is a Straussian, as outlined here, they cannot be a Catholic in any meaningful way; after all, a Catholic can not be neutral, but must be a willing, fervent and zealous partisan for Christ and his Church. Furthermore, the very structure of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy is Monarchical, all the way down to its bones. Hence why it’s core continues to weather the onslaught of the zeitgeist with such patience and steadfastness, despite all outward appearance.

        It’s not that Catholics are Straussians, but weak Catholics are certainly carried along by the Straussian current they’re mired in.

        Away from the Christ and His Church I might add, and, perhaps, into the Straussian camp, where they cease to be Catholic.

        1. I absolutely understand and sympathize with your point. Let me clarify, then, that when I say “Catholic Straussian,” the Catholic part is a self-identification by the speaker, rather than Catholic as member of the Corpus Mysticum Christi. I have no mirror into the soul of Man, and can only report their faith as they report it to me.

  3. An interesting article. Strausians seem to think themselves above the moral laws of ordinary people, self-chosen by God, as it were.

  4. Why don’t the Straussians insist on universal liberal democracy in Israel? The argument about Strauss and neoconservatism is intellectual claptrap designed to conceal the real purpose of policies that advance the interests of Jews.

    1. But Israel is a liberal democracy, and Straussians often defend it on the grounds that it is the only democracy in the Middle East.

  5. I don’t know much about Straussians, but I do know a bit about Leo Strauss and claiming that he was an uncritical defender of liberal democracy is wildly untrue. Leo Strauss was the first person I ever read to make an explicit argument against laws prohibiting racial discrimination. Less mundanely, he was the first person I ever read to critique liberalism not as something that had gone wrong somewhere, but as something that was sick from the beginning. At most, you might say, that Strauss was a critical friend of democracy, given the alternatives.

    Years later, post Modlbug and many other things, I re-read Strauss and was surprised by how tame I found him. It was a like an adult returning to see the tigers he had once found so fearsome at the zoo.

    Liberalism, though, is such a hard box to get out of that I’m loathe to dismiss anyone who has even take a few steps outside it. Last night I ate dinner with a young man, fresh out of university who ranted on about “post-modernism” and “Afrocentric revisionism” and other stuff he presumably heard about from Ben Shapiro. I could have told him he was still a Leftist cuck or whatever, but I nodded along while trying to drop a few hints and, if we meet again, I’ll try to drop a few more.

    So to distill what I’m saying:

    1) Never comment on a figure based upon what you read about them from someone else.
    2) Try not to look down to much on people who haven’t been as successful in escaping liberalism as you.

    1. Three comments –

      First, this is a review of Gottfried’s book, so I emphasize the arguments he is making on the influence of Leo Strauss on the Conservative movement. My personal review of Straussianism would be far more nasty. (In fact, it was. The Hegelians on faculty were rolling on the floor with schadenfreude by the end.) He was not an uncritical defender of American democracy, but I largely agree with Gottfried that he defended the concept of liberal pluralist democracy uncritically because of his Jewish background and the experience of the Nazi regime. The go-to Straussian comeback whenever you succeed in an argument against them is: “So what? What is the purpose of stating those facts? Do you want democracy to fail? What happens then?” Their final resort is the argument to consequence, that disagreeing with them leads to Death Camps. This is the fundamental character of his work; the man was brilliant but his work rests on a fallacy. Strauss himself was a life-long New Deal Democrat. He never stepped off the reservation.

      But, I also agree with Gottfried that Strauss himself, unlike his followers, was a sophisticated thinker who took his esoteric-exoteric model seriously, and we should be careful when we read him to remember his hermeneutical model. Just because Strauss says something doesn’t mean he really means it; as per Persecution and the Art of Writing, we could be reading the intended exoteric meaning, not the true esoteric meaning.

      Secondly, I read Natural Rights and History, Persecution and the Art of Writing, and the Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism before I reviewed Gottfried’s book, to ensure I could catch any glaring inaccuracies. I studied under two Claremont school Straussians for six years in which I read works by Jaffa, Bloom, both Zuckerts, Pangle, and Mansfield. Hell, I even spend some time with the Claremont group at the annual APSA meetings each year because arguing with Straussians is more fun than the SJW crowd who stand around complaining about how you didn’t earned your able-ist privilege of standing. (Actual conversation, I’m not exaggerating. They /stood around/ shouting this at the dissenters in the audience.

      Finally, your comment is exactly why people need to read this book. You’ve been fooled into thinking Strauss is of the Right, even if marginally so. If you honestly say that, “he was the first person I ever read to critique liberalism not as something that had gone wrong somewhere, but as something that was sick from the beginning” then please try to read more broadly from the older Right tradition. Ideas Have Consequences or The New Science of Politics, flawed as they are, should have been your first experience with actual rightist anti-Liberal thought which rejects Liberalism from the start. Try Voegelin’s From Enlightenment to Revolution if you feel yourself to be too advanced for those primers; to paraphrase, Whereas the Progressive wishes to burn the entire house and build anew upon the ashes, the Liberal wishes to tear down half the house and dwell within the ruin, thinking the remainder shall not fall in upon his head. (This is not to say that I advocate for the Voegelinians, either, since under Walsh they’ve gone full SJW and openly mock their founder at meetings and in their internal communications) Strauss is the controlled opposition, he says enough to pose Right but turns you back to the Left. Any comparison with actual anti-Liberal writers demonstrates this fact.

      So, to distill what I’m saying:

      1) Never make assumptions about the background of people you don’t know.

      2) Never assume you know more about a topic than people you don’t know.

      1. What’s your take on the West Coast vs East Coast Straussians. Decius and co. at Claremont seem much more friendly than the Neocons. But I still get the sense that they are all in for Liberal democracy, they just would like a less leftist form of it.

        1. First, I would say that NeoCons are not Straussians but students of Straussians, so they don’t abide by the philosophy of Strauss, just the political objectives of securing the Jewish (or Catholic) community from persecution through internationalism, the atomizing force of pluralism and secular materialism, and universal democracy imposed by American arms.

          Most of the argument between East-West revolves around the interpretation of philosophy (the vita contemplativa) as the Best Life and whether it precludes politics; a real East Coast Straussian will not participate in politics, but sees himself as a teacher of politicians. A Claremont Straussian sees himself as a teacher first but sees politics as compatible with the Philosophic Life. Gottfried thinks it’s a pretend argument about technical terminology, but I’m not sure. My gut tells me there’s something to it and it has something to do with the Catholic-Jewish divide.

          Certainly, East Coast Straussians are far more socially liberal and tend to be nonpartisan, but they are also far more Jewish, while Claremont Straussians are Movement Conservatives, and also far more Catholic. Is there a causal relationship there? I think so, but I think most people look at it backwards. The interpretation difference stems from the religious and political difference, not vice versa, since I tend to see identity trumping ideology rather than the opposite. Insofar as the Claremonters are more friendly, I would say it’s because they’re closer to the core constituency of the Right in identity terms, not because of any inherent ideological disagreement with their Jewish, East-Coast counterparts, so they are more sympathetic, even if they ultimately disagree. Also, a few are beginning to see the threat that the left is posing and I think people like Decius might be realizing (too late) that the Left is a greater threat than marginalized white Evangelicals.

          In other words, what the Claremonters have going for them is that they would feel bad if their neighbors were permanently disenfranchised and impoverished, even if they believed it was ultimately necessary to protect liberal pluralist democracy.

          The root of Straussianism, as I mentioned before, in my opinion is this kind of paranoia of Right-wing persecution. Years ago, one of my dissertation advisors, a Claremont Straussian, was horrified by my thesis, not because he disagreed or because of any error but because I obliquely defended the Neo-Harringtonians and “those people are bad.” At the core, they sympathize but also they fear those of us on the Right as potential Nazis, so I wouldn’t trust one further than I could throw them. Several are my friends, I admit, insofar as any academic can call another academic a friend, and I enjoy speaking with them, but I wouldn’t ever out myself to them as per this online identity. It’s hard enough avoiding the SJW attempts to get me fired, I don’t need to add new enemies.

          1. “If you honestly say that, “he was the first person I ever read to critique liberalism not as something that had gone wrong somewhere, but as something that was sick from the beginning” then please try to read more broadly from the older Right tradition.”

            Right, I’ll just whip out my time machine and fix that.

            “Strauss is the controlled opposition, he says enough to pose Right but turns you back to the Left.”

            And yet, here I am.

            “Secondly, I read Natural Rights and History, Persecution and the Art of Writing, and the Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism before I reviewed Gottfried’s book, to ensure I could catch any glaring inaccuracies”

            So you’re basically admitting that you’ve just written an article about a man whose work you are only passingly familiar with. I would recommend “Liberalism Ancient and Modern”, “Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity”, “The Political Philosophy of Hobbes” and “Thoughts of Machiavelli”.

            To quote Moldbug, “There is no magic jujitsu that will make Washington go away instantly. There is just a very large amount of extremely hard work.”

            Social Matter seems to be the Antiversity for lazy people.

            Finally, I just find Paul Gottfried’s “View from the Right 1936” schtick boring. Lawrence Auster, for all his blind spots, was insightful and interesting; Gottfried is just whiney and bitter: “ooooh, they got all the academic promotions wah wah wah, they’re not real rightists like me, waaah”.

            So, like I say, it’s probably not worth spending too much time reading Strauss at this stage, but, if that’s your choice, then don’t write articles about him either.

          2. No, I don’t bother to go further than 3 or 4 books into Strauss himself because the return on investment isn’t worth it, when I can get the essence plus commentary directly from those who sat in Strauss’s graduate seminars. I notice that you don’t even attempt to defend the living tradition of Straussianism, which is the core of both my article and Gottfried’s book, because like any Straussian, your argumentation is not an attempt to correct any particular error in my or Gottfried’s work (please point them out if you can) but to disqualify because of my particular taste in core Straussian texts.

            Frankly, given the nature of his work, there is no point reading Strauss at all unless you’re being guided by a Straussian scholar, since he clearly states his method involves hiding the truth about what he is studying. Was your interpretation of the works in question formed via Jaffa or one of his students? Via Mansfield? Via Bloom? No? If not, then reading all those books was pointless. If you weren’t in the movement (or at least under cover in the movement like me), you don’t know what Strauss meant because he writes in code. An undergrad course in an auditorium doesn’t count. Straussianism is a living tradition, and anyone outside of the genealogical line is only LARPing at Straussian theory, like the NeoCons.

            Gottfried warns us in the book’s introduction that a Straussian’s first loyalty is always the Mission, and tells us in the introduction that criticizing Strauss brings them out of the woodwork. “And yet, here I am,” indeed, commenting on an article about entryists. Thanks for proving the point.

            When you have a substantive criticism of a factual error, I’ll reply. Until then, I’m done with this topic. You’ve committed the cardinal sin of intellectual discourse: you’re boring.

          3. “Frankly, given the nature of his work, there is no point reading Strauss at all unless you’re being guided by a Straussian scholar, since he clearly states his method involves hiding the truth about what he is studying. ”

            Where? Or would it be too boring to look? Good job we have Gottfried and his 170 page Straussianism for Dummies book to explain everything.

          4. Persecution and the Art of Writing, 1980 reprint (1952 original). Pages 25, 27, and 36 are fairly explicit about Strauss’s hermeneutic of writing so that only the “moral and intelligent” and the “philosopher” can understand, while the general public or uninitiated cannot. Most Straussians argue that Persecution is one of the few exoteric works.

            Or you could read what Bloom has to say obliquely through his commentary and translation of the Republic, one of the best sources of Straussian esotericism, but that falls into the same problem. Is Bloom being honest or hiding the truth? If you really want to know, you have to take a graduate seminar. I’m sure you don’t want eyewitness testimony from someone else.

            Try again?

      2. Strauss in those places makes some perfectly reasonable, even banal, comments about intellectual history,
        1) It is not reasonable to assume that every thinker made explicit the all of his views, especially when we know for a certain fact that it would often have been literally suicidal to do so.
        2) If an author who you have no reason to assume is an idiot seems to patently contradicts himself, it’s reasonable to ask whether he may have done so deliberately.
        3) In many historical epochs it was considered normal, even commonplace, for an author to include esoteric messages in his works.

        This was a lot less of a revelation than you would think given the hysterics that it has prompted. For example, pretty much everyone thought that Hobbes was an atheist or, at least, an opponent of orthodox Christianity, until the 20th century when certain scholars started reading Hobbes in a childishly literal manner and declared that after all he was really just a Christian Natural Law philosopher with a few quirks.

        It is certainly not remotely true that here, or anywhere else, Strauss “clearly states his method involves hiding the truth about what he is studying”, in a sense almost the opposite.

  6. This is a fantastic article and a great primer on Straussianism.

    I myself am not an expert on Strauss and haven’t read him in any depth. But as the author noted it’s impossible to not notice that the majority of thinkers on the Cuck Right are almost all Straussians. It seems some of them understand the inherent nihilism present within the Liberal tradition and view wars for democracy as a way of delaying/plastering over this inherent problem. This in and of itself makes them dangerous.

    But the real problem is that they, as the author noted are the gatekeepers of the American right and for the past 50 years have managed to keep good, genuinely anti-Liberal ideas out of the Right in America.

    Thus it is obvious that they need to be dealt with, once they’re out of the picture the rest of the American Right wing will belong to anyone with a good narrative and the means to spread it.

    As the author noted, the Catholic Straussians are the worse as they have a lot of influence with Trad types/soc cons etc. They need to be attacked with vigor and haste.

    1. From the point of view of the Straussians, I believe the nihilism is a benefit, not drawback to the system. My friends on that side of the fence are full-bore hardcore #NeverTrump, primarily on the issue of nationalism, and in private they admit that the womanizing issues are just convenient wedges; they think America First! rhetoric is going to lead to Protestants burning Catholic churches across America and mass deportations of anyone insufficiently English. They think that enervating Protestant Whites will protect the Catholic Church. I keep telling this one friend of mine that nobody on the Left cares anymore that his last name is Italian, not English, or knows the difference between his St. Thomas medal and my Christian flag pin. Screw over Evangelicals and Catholics are next on the list.

      1. It’s hard to believe there are still Catholics who actually believe that sort of thing.

        Liberalism is a far greater threat to Catholicism in the U.S. than some fictional KKK, anti-Catholic plot. Liberalism has been wreaking havoc on the Catholic Church in the U.S. for years and if they don’t do something about it’s going to kill it.

  7. Not just in the US. It’s the same situation all over the world.

  8. To the commenter who called us all cucks and got his comment deleted:

    1. GFY
    2. Thank you for the inspiration. You’re wrong. Purging leftists is more important than fighting over institutional forms.
    http://gordian12.blogspot.com/2016/11/democracy-is-symptom-not-cause.html

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