"...in a military State or a feudal State or what we would nowadays call a totalitarian State, it doesn't much matter what people think because you've got a bludgeon over their head and you can control what they do. But when the State loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem. It may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule and therefore you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. Creation of necessary illusions. Various ways of either marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion."
"To the Straussians, rationality does not provide an adequate basis for a stable social order. To the contrary, the Age of Enlightenment has ushered in the crisis of modernity, in which nihilism -- the moral vacuum left behind by the death of God -- inevitably leads to decadence, decline and, ultimately, genocide."
"Any number of people have remarked on the profound oddness of this op-ed in today's New York Times, by Richard "Prince of Darkness" (sic) Perle and David "Axis of Evil" (sic) Frum. ...
Consider that Perle, while not a student of the late Leo Strauss, admits to having been influenced by him. (About Frum, I don't know, and it doesn't seem worthwhile to check.) One of Strauss's more prominent ideas is the that of secret writing, expounded in many places, including the essays collected in his little book Persecution and the Art of Writing. The philosophers of ancient and medieval times, Strauss says, would hide their most controversial and provocative teachings --- the doctrines most likely to provoke the priests and the mob --- in plain sight, by writing in a deliberately obscure and contradictory way. An astute reader, knowing that the philosopher was intelligent, and skilled in writing, and chose his words carefully, would be led to meditate on these difficulties, and so grasp what was really being said. Stupid people would merely get confused, and the philosopher himself could honestly point to many places where what he wrote upheld conventional pieties. Prof. DeLong provides a brilliant illustration of the method in action, by applying it to Strauss's own book on Machiavelli.
Strauss, then, certainly taught about secret writing, and may well have practiced it himself (as DeLong suggests). ...
(Actually, Persecution is an interesting book. I'm not competent to evaluate Strauss's claims myself, but it at least seems plausible that some of the medievals were engaged in the kind of hidden writing he describes at least some of the time. I'm much more skeptical about antiquity. The claim that all the philosophers were saying the same thing, and that that thing was Ken MacLeod's "true knowledge" * is downright stupid. But the latter points are not much in evidence, if at all, in Persecution.)"
Cassini Division, pages 89-90 --This does sound pretty close to Neoconservatism to me.
"Life is a process of breaking down and using other matter, and if need be, other life. Therefore, life is aggression, and successful life is successful aggression. Life is the scum of matter, and people are the scum of life. There is nothing but matter, forces, space and time, which together make power. Nothing matters, except what matters to you. Might makes right, and power makes freedom. You are free to do whatever is in your power, and if you want to survive and thrive you had better do whatever is in your interests. If your interests conflict with those of others, let the others pit their power against yours, everyone for theirselves. If your interests coincide with those of others, let them work together with you, and against the rest. We are what we eat, and we eat everything.
All that you really value, and the goodness and truth and beauty of life, have their roots in this apparently barren soil.
This is the true knowledge.
"It's the worst of times; it's the best of times. That's how we feel as we navigate from a paternal society, now discredited, to a society in which impulse is given its way. People don't bother to grow up, and we are all fish swimming in a tank of half-adults. The rule is: Where repression was before, fantasy will now be; we human beings limp along, running after our own fantasy. We can never catch up, and so we defeat ourselves by the simplest possible means: speed.What Bly is talking about are the differences between a traditional hierarchial society and a modern egalitarian society. Some of these changes we might call "drawbacks", some only "differences". Many of them are often overlooked in discussions of these topics, but deserve not to be.
... we are losing our ability to mature. ...
We know that the (traditional) paternal society had an elaborate and internally consistent form with authoritative father reflected upward to the strong community leader and beyond him to the father god up among the stars, which were also arranged in hierarchical levels, called "the seven heavens." Children imitated adults and were often far too respectful for their own good to authorities of all kinds. However, they learned in school the adult ways of talking, writing, and thinking.
Our succeeding sibling society, in a relatively brief time, has taught itself to be internally consistent in a fairly thorough way. The teaching is that no one is superior to anyone else; high culture is to be destroyed, and business leaders look sideways to the other business leaders. The sibling society prizes a state of half-adulthood in which repression, discipline, and the Indo-European, Islamic, Hebraic impulse-control system are jettisoned. The parents regress to become more like children, and the children, through abandonment, are forced to become adults too soon, and never quite make it. "
"A people deficient in moral restraint or civic virtue, (James) Madison understood, could not long govern itself; unbounded human passions would finally tear the republic to pieces. Utterly undisciplined peoples are not fit for self-government, he insisted, but require 'nothing less than the chains of despotism [to] restrain them from destroying or devouring one another.'
But how are American citizens to acquire the moral self-mastery required for self-government? To be sure, the Founders did not suppose that their new government would seek directly to inculcate those virtues in its citizens. Rather, as Federalist No. 55 suggests, American self-government 'presupposes" moral self-mastery'. "
"Strauss developed from his heterodox premise an argument for which he sought support from, inter alia, Plato and Machiavelli of which these are the key conclusions:As to that last, I suspect that we could easily find conspiracy theorists who would cheerfully (or fearfully) enlighten us about the very real, but secret existence of the Guardians.- Democracy is best defended by an ignorant public pumped up on nationalism and religion. (Hmm, it doesn't sound right to me to describe a Straussian state as a "democracy".)For Strauss, the governing elite had to be akin to the "Guardians" discussed in Plato's Republic, and this is the fundamental weakness of the Strauss thesis: no caste such as Plato's mythical "Guardians" has ever existed in reality ..."
- Such nationalism requires an external threat in order to survive and therefore if none exists, one must be invented.
- In government truth must be the preserve of an elite few.
- The elite must be prepared to tell "noble lies" to the uncomprehending masses.