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George Victor
Sarann and George's read on Leo Strauss and "Steve" and his ilk

WE invite participation, having ourselves read something of the Greek scholar Leo Strauss and his role in creating the school of philosophy that underpins, in the words of Shadia Drury, a (in 1988) "new brand iof rabid, radical , nihilistic , and postmodern conservatism."

And those are Strauss's? positive values.

Would really like to see babble come to some understanding of this guy - and hence some understanding of Stephen Harper - so that we don't fall back on crudities like comparisons with the late Adolph Schickelgruber(hope I got the spelling nearly right. I'll check).

We have to be more sophisticated than the enemy. And with this past week's events under our belt, we can truly call Dubya's "Steve"?, "the enemy", eh? (Hope this doesn't screw up my chances of U.S. overflight. Really want to get to Cuba to thaw out.)

Anyone with some thoughts on Leo?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Has Harper actually read Strauss?

If you are reading this, you have just proved once again how annoying signatures/tag lines are. Support their abolition.

George Victor

The assumption would be that one does not have to have read Strauss to have incorporated his assumptions.

But read Drury on the uptake of Straussian thinking by leading disciples in the U.S. tio see what you think on this one, MS.

And a casual google of Strauss/U. of Calgary and Flanagan you find several connections. Happy reading.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Let me get this straight:

In order to understand Stephen Harper better we are supposed to study the writings of somebody else who is kind of like Harper, but whose works we don't know whether Harper has read, or even if Harper has ever heard of him.

Does that about sum it up?

If you are reading this, you have just proved once again how annoying signatures/tag lines are. Support their abolition.

George Victor

MS, just read some of the sources available to you and THEN make up your mind.?

And if you don't wish to engage in a "reading circle" on the subject of Strauss (and the Harper conection) - be a good twit and stay away.

This idea may never develop, but the aphorisms that pass for critical thoughts on Harper and neo-conservatism that have gone the rounds hereabouts the past few days, suggest that some may find study is warranted.

Or do the one-liners now satisfy you, MS??The quick riposte, the enemy put down ?and away to another subject, ego satisfied?

Do you not grow tired?

I do. And I have come to realize that I practise just that. And after the silliness that came out of Harper's conquest in parliament and the vast ignorance reflected in public opinion out there, I've decided to try to do better.

Hence this attempt at in-depth analysis. Freewheeling thought.

You just feel like taking potshots from the sidelines?? Indulge yourself. But don't expect another reply.

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George Victor

Hello Sarann.

Would you care? lead off - just some random thoughts or whatever - or shall I?

George Victor

Hello Sarann.

Would you care? lead off - just some random thoughts or whatever - or shall I?

Tommy_Paine

I'm not sure I am on board with your premise, George.? I don't think the left suffers from a lack of sophistication in our philosophy, or in understanding the philosophy that underpins the actions of our opponents in politics.

I would argue that we are too sophisticated.?? Which isn't me being anti intellectual-- while I might poke fun here and there, I attach no small importance on philosophy, and of course I am a great proponent of the use of rational thought, even if I am not the greatest practitioner.

If we leave the realm of politics for a moment, and shift over to the genre of science writting, we find that it's a rare gift for a scientist to also have the gift to explain science to ordinary chaps like myself.? They are rare.

Similarly, I think the conservatives have taken the easy way around this problem, by using fear and taking advantage of public ignorance.??? We on the left won't allow ourselves to do this very often.??

And, I'm glad we don't.

But it really makes it a big challenge-- how to speak to people who follow politics like I follow fashion.? Just because I don't know anything about fashion doesn't make me stupid-- although I must appear that way to Carl Lagerfeld.?? And just because many people don't know how parliament works-- or doesn't work-- doesn't make them stupid.

The challenge is to educate without appearing to do so.? To take away ignorance without leaving them grieving for a lost comfort, but enraptured like a kid at christmas with a new gift.

?It is an very difficult thing to do.

Does Strauss address this?

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Reverend Blair

Using fear and taking advantage of public ignorance is, in itself, very Straussian, Tommy Paine.

As for George's original premise, yes Harper is very much a Straussian. ?He follows some of the very basic tenets...elitism dressed up as populism, the mixing of religion and politics, the use of national symbols (hockey etc.), and the elevation of the military to promote uber-nationalism. ?That goes along with his corporatism, neo-liberal economics, and his search for power at any cost.

Has he read Strauss? ?We'll likely never know for sure, but his actions and his rhetoric have definite Straussian overtones, he studied in the U of C where the Canadian off-shoot of Straussian political theory is generally considered to be based, and some of his best known political allies are considered to be adherents of Strauss. ?Likely the best evidence though, is that when you start talking about it Conservatives show up and try to prove otherwise, often using Straussian tactics themselves.

Harper is a Straussian. ?The hard part is explaining to people what that means. ??

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George Victor

Strauss, Tommy P. would be the last guy in the world to be concerned. This is a true elist of the classical mould, whoe recognized only one social dividion - the rulers and the ruled.

You saw how mention of the name Hitler turned off people. So how do we? beging to describe Haper and his followers - their distinct method of political manipulation, which seems to find support in areas we didn't think possible?

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And may I continue this conversation tomorrow? That last rum and coke did me in.???? Thanks.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I could be mistaken, but I think George believes that if Canadians knew what it was that informed and fueled Stephen Harper's political ambitions, then Canadians would be less likely to support him. I agree that if Canadians knew, it would make a difference. However, there has already been tremendous effort to inform Canadians who Stephen Harper really is. One of the most effective was the Liberal campaign of Paul Martin in his effort that resulted in a minority government.

In fact, let's be certain and say Harper is and has been a polarizing figure in Canadian politics and it has mattered to the extent that Harper's success has rested entirely, not partly and not peripherally, but wholly, on the Liberal Party's failures.

His government only exists, in the first place, because Paul Martin lead a divided party into an election and then failed to provide a conciliatory minority goverment at a time when both the Conservatives and the NDP were spoiling for a fight. The election then came at the exact time Canadian anger over the Liberal? sponsorship scandal was peaking ... and Harper could only win a minority.

The weak and divided Liberals elected to lead them a technocrat with not much of a following, a weak public profile, and poor communication skills. Throughout the session of parliament, the Conservatives mocked the Liberals and forced Dion and his party to cry "uncle" over and over and over again. They then spent millions of dollars on an ad campain to undermine any good feeling that Dion might enjoy in English Canada. Dion already had little standing in Quebec.

Harper then broke his own party's policy of fixed election dates and went to the polls with a Liberal Party as unpopular as any time in living memory... and Harper could only win a minority.

This latest Harper miscalculation (and it is no matter what the polls say), was aimed agan at hobbling the Liberal party. In fact, one might argue that Harper's entire political carrer is not about ideology or philosophy or any intellectual tendency at all, but rather from a deep and indominatbvble malevolence toward the Liberal Party. Harper's aim is not to power but to some mad form of vengeance against the entire Liberal institution.

That leads to two obvious conclusions: 1) It matters not a whit what Harper's underlying ideological philosophies are because it's really a whole lot more about spilling political blood. 2) The Liberal Party could save Canadians a lot of trouble and pain by disbanding and letting Harper "win".

Tommy_Paine

Always a good practice to post in sobriety.???You can probably tell when I hit the bong and grab a beer-- it's about ten minutes after my last post.? Laughing

Thomas Paine was up against a slightly different beast.? I didn't detect anything in his writting that coincides with the division I see-- which is one of economics.? Paine was living in an age when heriditary rights were still very much in vogue, and he saw society divided thusly.

?Invoking the name of Hitler has been debunked, and is generally recognized as the mark of hyperbolic idealogue-- left or right.? And it's probably a true recognition.

However, these Staussian tactics can be linked to tactics used by the soon to be?late and unlamented Bush administration.??

?And, you know for many people this recession and generally self serving governments has been going on for years.? People are tired of being afraid.

As I said in another post lost somewhere, these tactics have a limited shelf life.???

The tactic employed depends on a cycle of moving from one fear filled lie to another, before the previous lie is debunked, or too many chickens come home to roost at once.

The trick, for our side, is speed, clarity, and as some obscure person south of the border pointed out, hope in place of fear.

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George Victor

T.Paine:

However, these Staussian tactics can be linked to tactics used by the soon to be?late and unlamented Bush administration.??

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That's the connection, Mr. P.? It is the NEW conservatism that employs the economics described by Naomi Klein and the "lower taxes" appeal on the hustings of Thatcher and Reagan.

But see Straussian.net for some idea of where those people in U.S. gov't came from. And Straussians are now identified with academies everywhere. As Anne Norton says in her Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire: "Academics think of the University of Chicago, Harvard University and the University of Toronto simply as places where one might learn political theory. Straussians think of them as Straussian schools."

And "How Chicago became a center for the export of conservative scholars is, in part, a story of the prejudices of the academy, left and right, American and German."

Google up a couple of references and see if any of it seems to fit what is happening in political circles here these days.

It ain't Thomas Paine's revolutionary America.?No rights of man, here, only respect for?leaders.Smile

martin dufresne

"Google up a couple of references and see if any of it seems to fit" - Could you share with us a few significant quotes at least, George Victor? Maybe even a précis of Strauss' thought. There is an elitist chip-on-the-shoulder feel to this thread so far - à la "if you aren't already aware, it says a lot of you" - which I don't need to open up to something of concern. Personally, I had never heard of Strauss's name outside of classical music circles until now, although I know that U of Calgary is a hornest's nest of right-wingers.

martin dufresne

"And I am SO glad you are not "opening up" your concerns."

I think you misread me.

George Victor

I am an IT primitive, MD. But in 20 seconds I had googled that site :

Straussian.net

and found many pages of material...by about the 7th page, yes, you'll get some Richard Strauss and Claude Levi-Strauss mixed in.

And I am SO glad you are not "opening up" your concerns.? We want just expository input here, please...no vicious, Straussian attacks .Wink?

And you will, on getting into the material, find that these people depend on "secrecy"...just as much as old, sucker-punch Steve.

As Shadia Drury says in The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss: "The neoconservatives have the gall to conquer the world in the name of liberty and democratic evangelism. But on careful examination, it turns out that what they mean by liberty is free trade, corporate capitalism, and global economic hegemony of their corporate friends and allies.

And what they mean by democracy is rule of the manipulated majority."

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The neocons have experienced some?setbacks in the U.S. recently, but their ideas are only beginning to blossom in Canada thanks to Steve. And because they are instituted through economic measures - Friedman, like Strauss, was University of Chicago - rather hard to eradicate, later. Something about rising expectations on the part of the public (and to hell with the ducks in the tarpit tailings ponds).?

Hoodeet

Hoodeet (JW)

Good remark, that Straussians are coming to life
in Canada thanks to Harper, who studied at U.Calgary, one of those
"nests of straussians". In fact, Strauss's elitism regarding the
exclusion and control of the ignorant masses, and the pursuit of real
politik and empire in the name of higher values seems to have found a
perfect nest in the PM's ideological constitution.

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It's Me D

martin dufresne wrote:
"Google up a couple of references and see if any of it seems to fit" - Could you share with us a few significant quotes at least, George Victor? Maybe even a précis of Strauss' thought. There is an elitist chip-on-the-shoulder feel to this thread so far - à la "if you aren't already aware, it says a lot of you" - which I don't need to open up to something of concern. Personally, I had never heard of Strauss's name outside of classical music circles until now, although I know that U of Calgary is a hornest's nest of right-wingers.

Well said martin, and the Canadian people will not be helped in their understanding of Steven Harper by reference to an unknown rightist ideologue. At least people understand that Hitler was objectionable. Harper himself is more reviled in common circles than Strauss so what political value does linking the two have?

George Victor

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And ignorance is bliss?

How would you interpret Hoodeet's remarks?? He seems to know the fella.

Are you not curious?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Ignorance is bliss, George. Humans depend on it and "hope" to evade truth. Have you read this: Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst

Hoodeet

Hoodeet (JW)

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George Victor:? I don't know
more than what I've read in various articles and heard on CBC.?
Never have been able to read Strauss.? Perhaps I shouldn't make
such sweeping comments.

btw, I'm a she, not a he.

George Victor

FM:

Ignorance is bliss, George. Humans depend on it and "hope" to evade truth. Have you read this: Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst

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I just try to keep the subject -and hope -?alive, FM.? Taken to signing my private missives "Jeremiah George".? What the hell, eh? (How I love that pediculated fish of yours. Says all).

George Victor

Hoodeet:

George Victor:? I don't know
more than what I've read in various articles and heard on CBC.?
Never have been able to read Strauss.? Perhaps I shouldn't make
such sweeping comments.

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I thought your "sweeping comment" was very perceptive on two counts: (1) it got right to the heart of Strauss's idea of ruler and ruled - right out of his take on "Natural Right and History", and (2) the perfect fit with the PMs attitude toward governing - destroy state involvement in our society's institutional arrangements with only a few exceptions.

We can see how Friedman's economics and Strauss's philosophy based on the supremacy of Natural Law fit together. Strauss is concerned with society's effect on "man" and his "slavery to his society."

Gosh, and these folk talk about the "social engineering" of "the left." But, of course, theirs is carried out in the name of "freedom" of the individual - even while seeking to suppress that freedom.

?And Shadia Drury?lists these contradictions for us so that we don't really have to get too deeply into Strauss's tendentious scribblings, or deal with his attempts to take the audience/reader through his painful logic in arguing for a return to natural law: "...the need for natural right is as evident today as it has been for centuries and even millennia. To reject natural right is tantamount to saying that all right is positive right, and this means that what is right? is determined exclusively?by the legislators and the courts of the various countries." (It is understandable that you "never have been able to read " the guy.

Strauss's reasoning from logic - in classic Greek fashion - leads to his?stating ?that the "rejection of natural right is bound to lead to disastrous consequences."

What is more, a "demonstrably false premise (is that) men can know what is good."?

While Anne Norton gossips about people in Strauss's background in Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire, she finally does not understand his work or why it appeals to the conservative.

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Anyway,?while this precis of the central?importance of Strauss?to our understanding of "Steve"??may not convince md and D to alter their views,? I hope that my take? is? not way off base.

The work of the neocon seems so goddam outlandish, one could almost question their sanity - but if we see they have another take on what is "the good", and look for the origins of that idea - we have another explanation. What I have to try to marry is their apparent prostitution in work on behalf of the corporate world. I suspect that there they see the CEO as the logical modern inheritor of the philosopher-king's lieutenants (and I will have to go into his work again to ferret out the comparison).

"Steve", as the mover and shaker, is in a position to re-structure society itself?under ?Natural Law. A bit much? Okay, but why? Particularly?since he's supposed to be?a Rapturist (although I've forgotten the source of that one).