Scott Horton (2006): On Leo Strauss https://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/07/letter_16.html: 'In the last several months, the New York Times has run four pieces defending Leo Strauss from his critics.... The Times has run no pieces in which Strauss is actually criticized, which suggests an odd editorial posture. Indeed, the Times seems to have mounted a veritable campaign for the defense of the beleaguered Leo Strauss, which seems strange considering that he has been dead for over thirty years. These pieces are remarkably consistent. For one, each turns the very serious criticism of Strauss and his relationship with the American Neoconservative movement into a point of ridicule.... They present Strauss as a “liberal democrat”... [IN] the tradition of... Locke, Hume and J.S. Mill.... [But] Strauss takes firm target at the core values of liberal democracy, and particularly the American variant. Before his arrival in America, Strauss was blunt in these criticisms. After his arrival, he adopted a far more circumspect approach.... But it is an act of serious deception to present Strauss as “democracy’s best friend” (to quote the last, a review essay by Edward Rothstein published on July 10, in turn quoting Steven Smith’s new book, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism).... Strauss was a Middle European intellectual living in a period where liberalism looked exhausted and unable to function, and many of his contemporaries, and indeed many of Strauss’ mentors, were engaging with fascist thought... Heidegger and Schmitt.... The Löwith letter is profoundly revealing of the nature of Leo Strauss’ conservatism. It places his conservatism outside of the Anglo-American tradition that links to figures like Locke, Hume and Burke. Instead, it springs from a traditional Continental European variant which is deeply rooted in religion and in the notion of a benevolent (though sometimes not particularly benevolent) authoritarian leader legitimized by religion.... "The fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us [Jews] says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible... without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme to protest against the shabby abomination.... There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought. And even then: rather than any cross, I’ll take the ghetto.... Dixi, et animam meam salvavi"... #noted #2020-06-04
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