Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire

Leo Strauss and the Politics of American EmpireThe Teachings Of Political Theorist Leo Strauss Have Recently Received New Attention, As Political Observers Have Become Aware Of The Influence Strauss S Students Have Had In Shaping Conservative Agendas Of The Bush Administration Including The War On Iraq This Provocative Book Examines Strauss S Ideas And The Ways In Which They Have Been Appropriated, Or Misappropriated, By Senior PolicymakersAnne Norton, A Political Theorist Trained By Some Of Strauss S Most Famous Students, Is Well Equipped To Write On Strauss And Straussians She Tells Three Interwoven Narratives The Story Of Leo Strauss, A Jewish German Born Migr , Who Carried European Philosophy Into A New World The Story Of The Philosophic Lineage That Came From Leo Strauss And The Story Of How America Has Been Made A Moral Battleground By The Likes Of Paul Wolfowitz, Leon Kass, Carnes Lord, And Irving Kristol Straussian Conservatives Committed To An American Imperialism They Believe Will Usher In A New World Order

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  • Paperback
  • 256 pages
  • Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire
  • Anne Norton
  • English
  • 09 November 2017
  • 9780300109733

10 thoughts on “Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire

  1. says:

    First, the good I went to the University of Chicago for graduate school Not only that, I went to the department of that school that still does the most to protect Strauss s legacy Did I take classes with Straussians No, I did not But I have Straussian friends, and learned something of their beliefs So, Norton s book made me nostalgic for Chicago, even though by the time I was there the Hegelians and, broadly speaking, modernists, far outnumbered the Straussians Now, that aside, this book is awful It was published in 2004 I remember it coming out and unfortunately bears the marks of the Bush presidency, a period in which soi disant liberal intellectuals abandoned their self respect entirely and produced endless polemics with almost no variation in tone, theme or importance i.e., none This book is one of those polemics, with a very minimal effort to link the turpitude of the Bush administration and neoconservativism in general to misunderstandings of Strauss s work The problem, dear reader, is that Norton was a Straussian, and feels the urge to defend the Meister s work even while she excoriates the pupils This was disappointing what I really wanted was a work by a Straussian turned rational human being, who could both explain the lure of Strauss s doctrines i.e., they provide certainty in a period of uncertainty they enable the student to take part in the aristocracy without being undemocratic and then show that they are or less based on a bad reading of medieval political theory Norton did none of this Instead, she vaguely explained two of Strauss s books, without admitting the ludicrous nature of their arguments, then went on to skewer the easily skewered works of later Straussians Nobody needs help laughing at Closing of the American Mind Some do need help understanding why Natural Law is not a sound basis for intellectual inquiry Anyway, this book can be summed up quite simply Norton describes a dinner party at which a sociologist tells her that the world is divided between the followers of Strauss and the followers of Sayyid Qutb Norton then writes a chapter about how neocons are just like Islamic terrorists, because they, you know, believe stuff American liberals spent the 60s complaining about Kissinger s realism, and they were right to do so it s cynical to act geopolitically only when you have a clear interest in doing so But once you ve undermined realism, you can t turn around and argue against neoconservatism because the Bush administration believed that saving the world was a good thing IT IS A GOOD THING The problem wasn t that they wanted to save the world The problem was that they wanted to save it for capitalism But the liberal academy is so morally bankrupt that it can only criticize politicians for not following the right procedures while they rape and destroy the rest of the world Golf claps ensue.

  2. says:

    Norton s book is both analytical and autobiographical she studied at the University of Chicago with Strauss s students and others who would later become prominent political Straussians I would never have thought of writing about Straussians , she begins, but things changed Certain of the people I had known came to power The nation went to war Because the nation is at war, and because the Straussians are prominent among those who govern, the accounts I had been given are no longer part of a curious personal history but elements of a common legacy One problem with the book is that it is based mostly on her recollections of things she heard and saw many years ago The book, therefore, probably shares many of the evidentiary problems common to recovered memories and gossip But its most significant weakness is that Norton never separates her personal experience, both positive and negative, with Straussians in graduate school from her analysis of Strauss s influence in Washington today She remains deeply ambivalent about Strauss and never provides a clear answer the 64,000 question how much influence do the teachings of Strauss really exercise on the Bush administration Read the full review, What Would Strauss Do on our website

  3. says:

    I want to give this book 3.5 stars rather than three My main frustration is that the author never really says what the teachings of Leo Strauss actually are Norton gives hints, but never seems to tie these hints into a coherent whole The other issue I have is the fact that the author attributes a political philosophy to the Straussians, but never really offers an explanation of how the teachings of Strauss became the foundation of the Strauusians or why they took it to the destructive end that they have It was a fairly easy read, and Norton does make some good points when discussing the intersection of politics and philosophy, but I feel she could have done .

  4. says:

    This is a quick read about what Norton refers to as the cult following the late University of Chicago political theorist, Leo Strauss The students of Strauss and the students of the students of Strauss who now walk the corridors of power, she writes in a summary sentence, walked a different set of corridors in the sixties and seventies In Chicago some of them formed what my professors called Straussian truth squads They constituted themselves as bands of intellectual vigilantes, entering the classrooms of professors they disliked or distrusted, asking questions not to hear the answers but as a form of disruption and intimidation A foundation for this certainty is Strauss s Natural Right and History Values in political life are objective and there are Platonic truths to judge untruth In the academic world, this approach is harmless just fierce debates about political theory But among the neo con followers of Strauss, there are real world consequences The defenders of liberal values stand against the forces of barbarism, Norton writes of them America s greatness is to seek out conflict, impose American will, and silence those who cant about liberty and the consent of the governed This is all about an American Empire The neo con story line is that The United States should seek to bring about the demise of the regimes that might threaten the United States in the first instance, and seek in the second to remake the world Israel has the toughness America lacks, Norton says of them, and quotes from a neo con book whose authors write that, There is no middle way for Americans it is victory or holocaust While there might be some pay back at work in this book, Norton s discussion of the neo cons was informative because she shows real world implications of their philosophical position These are big thinkers who play with other people s lives They are tribal in the worse sense They are black and white thinkers in a large, diverse world Gray does not exist They are a very dangerous people Of course, they see us the same way

  5. says:

    Though the neocon movement seems and like a thing of history, this is a nice quick and easy read that is wonderfully catty about Straussian s in the academy It includes an excellent line about how she doesn t want to hear about the glories of war from slope shouldered men with soft hands sitting in the academic lounge at the University of Chicago.Norton has far time for Strauss himself than she does for his followers She does an excellent job of pointing out the absurdity of many of the Straussian s work, citing for one example, Allan Bloom, the author of The Closing of the American Mind.In Closing of the American Mind, Bloom argues with the growing inclusion of those less gifted or rich, or, by extension, not white into the colleges of the nation, America was losing its intellectual rigor Basically, its been down hill since the G.I Bill and a liberal education is not what it once was As Norton points out, in making this arguement, Bloom counted on those liberal in power to behave like, well, liberals, and not mention that as a Jew and a gay man, he really had no place in the academy that he was championing anyway There is a genius here in knowing your enemy will not make use of your personal life to point out the contradictions in your thinking, but there is also an obvious self hatred that is both sad and disturbing.Norton s bit on the overtly political Straussian s isn t nearly as interesting The book to read for that side of the story is the Rise of the Vulcans by Jim Mann.

  6. says:

    This book is less about Leo Strauss than it is about some of his neoconservative students at the University of Chicago who have been involved in setting US foreign policy including the recent adventure in Iraq over the past 30 or so years Most of what we have here seems to amount to high level academic gossip about people such as Paul Wolfowitz along with some of the other prominent Straussians at the Claremont Institute, UChicago, AEI, etc A better title might be Straussuans and the Politics of American Empire, since it s less about the man himself than about his students.The author includes what seem to be a number of cherry picked quotes by Strauss that imply that the man was a neoconservative in terms of foreign policy, although we don t get much of an in depth analysis of what the man actually believed and wrote about.I give the book 3 stars because much of this gossip is quite interesting to read about, but don t buy this book if you really want an in depth analysis of what Strauss actually wrote about within the context of US foreign policy For that, Steven Smith s book Reading Leo Strauss may be a better bet.

  7. says:

    I ordered this book after watching a TV documentary about Strauss and how his ideas have been used by the Neo Cons While the documentary was extremely interesting and relevant, this book left me disappointed The author does not do a very good job of linking the teachings of Strauss and how they have been mis used by Straussians This is despite the book s flyleaf claiming This provocative book examines Strauss s ideas and the ways in which they have been appropriated,or misappropriated, by senior policymakers Many of the points the author makes left me thinking So what or well, that s stating the obvious Much of it is a when I was a student in Chicago which doesn t really have any relevance Rather, it is as though some disjointed ideas and obvious points have been packaged into a book I am sure there are better explorations of the Strauss Straussian phenomenon out there.

  8. says:

    I actually agree with the Straussian reviewers on this it s a terribly written and thought out book If it were the oral history of Strauss s students and disciples it promised to be, it could have been very interesting and a book like that is really needed Unfortunately, gossipy reminiscences and breezy essays on Straussian themes of wildly differing quality suggest this was put together as a quickie to capitalize on the Strauss Wars If you re going through the messy journalism on the Straussians from 2003 or so, worth a skim, but not for anything serious.

  9. says:

    I thought the ancestry of modern american conservative thought was interesting influences past and present However the book is presented as a blur, and that blur ultimately detracts from it.Opinion blurred with Fact.Personal experienced blurred with third party observations.Analysis of history blurred with the present.The Iraq wart blurred with everything else.Theres a great book bound to be written on this, however Norton s rendition is not it.

  10. says:

    I felt like the book could have explored , but the author wrote about her professional experience in academia with Straussians To give her some credit, she tried to make a counter narrative that neoconservatives that utilize Strauss philosophy have misinterpreted or misappropriated his ideas.

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