What’s the deal with Straussians?

October 25, 2007

The Salad has yet to follow its postmodern murmurings to their logical conclusions. As a post-postmodernist, I follow in the footsteps of a neo-pre-modernist. I speak, of course, of Leo Strauss. With the Ciceronian joining the ranks I know I have an ally in calling for a retrieval of the classics and a firm taking hold of Athens as a point of orientation. At the very least I know I will hear two cheers from the Salad crew for highlighting a U of C stalwart.

Often considered the shadowy patriarch of an arch-conservative cabal, Strauss was thought to be hierarchical, elitist, and anti-Liberal. Since when is privileging the philosopher-class a crime? His desire to question everything lead him to question natural rights. We hold these truths to be self-evident? What are you, meshugeh?

But even more intriguing than Strauss himself are his students and their various intellectual progeny. Who doesn’t enjoy watching Alan Keyes? No hands? I didn’t think so. I mean, how can you not love a guy who makes use of Plato to prove his point in a televised political debate because he is appealing to the common sense of Illinois voters? Once again Chicago, that somber city, and the great state of Illinois prove to be fertile ground for great ideas and great pizza.

Straussians like Keyes use Plato to argue against gay marriage and (correctly!) claim to know how Jesus would have voted. How, you ask? How can one man stand so firm in his very true convictions in the face of secular, humanist, god-hating pseudo-Christians like Barack Obama? It’s simple. Behind every great man stands a great teacher – a great, gay, atheist, Jewish teacher .

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2 Responses to “What’s the deal with Straussians?”

  1. Not with a bang Says:

    One wonders if the neocons didn’t simply choose Strauss on account of the relative obscurity of his views. There was a nice TNR biopic/book review piece on Strauss that boiled his political philosophy down to an aloof “philosophers ought to be left alone so that they can philosophize” — which is more or less what Strauss thought that Rambam was trying to say with the guide.

  2. Rabbi Dr. Professor Jurgen Haverstam, DHL Says:

    Agreed. The neocons get most of the attention from conspiracy theorists because they are (or were) seen as highly influential and attempting to put his thought into practice. As you point out, the extent to which that is true is questionable. I guess what I find interesting are the vast differences between Strauss’ various followers (Keyes as student of Bloom). Maybe that would have been better demonstrated by talking about liberal followers of Strauss. If you know where I can find the TNR piece I’d love to see it, thanks.


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