Saving America

Shadia Drury

There is a growing awareness that a reclusive German American philosopher is the inspiration behind the reigning neoconservative ideology of the Republican Party.

Leo Strauss has long been a cult figure within the North American academy. And even though he had a profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy, his disciples have gone to great lengths to conceal the fact.

And for the most part they have succeeded - as an article by James Atlas in The New York Times and one by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker indicate.

Their picture of Strauss as the great American patriot, who was a lover of freedom and democracy is pure fabrication. Nothing could be further from the truth. The trouble with the Straussians is that they are compulsive liars. But it is not altogether their fault.

Strauss was very pre-occupied with secrecy because he was convinced that the truth is too harsh for any society to bear; and that the truth-bearers are likely to be persecuted by society - specially a liberal society - because liberal democracy is about as far as one can get from the truth as Strauss understood it.

Strauss's disciples have inherited a superiority complex as well as a persecution complex. They are convinced that they are the superior few who know the truth and are entitled to rule. But they are afraid to speak the truth openly, lest they are persecuted by the vulgar many who do not wish to be ruled by them.

This explains why they are eager to misrepresent the nature of Strauss's thought. They are afraid to reveal that Strauss was a critic of liberalism and democracy, lest he be regarded as an enemy of America. So, they wrap him in the American flag and pretend that he is a champion of liberal democracy for political reasons - their own quest for power. The result is that they run roughshod over truth as well as democracy.

It should however be pointed out that being a critic of liberalism or democracy or both does not make one automatically an enemy of America. On the contrary, freedom and democracy can only be strengthened by intellectually confronting their critics. Strauss has no special antipathy for America. He is the enemy of liberty in general. It was for love of America that he wished to save her from her disastrous love affair with liberty, as I will explain.

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