Leo Strauss, Machiavelli and False Piety
joelp printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 05:43:24 PM EST

In 1512 Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that "a prince, and especially a new prince, cannot observe all things which are considered good in men, being often obliged, in order to maintain the state, to act against faith, against charity, against humanity, and against religion." He instructed rulers to act AS IF they were pious, because piety is valued by the populace, but warned against actually allowing these Morals to interfere with government's behind-the-scenes decision making and actions, stating categorically that is was NECESSARY to deceive the populace in order to govern effectively.

Leo Strauss, exile from the Nazi's, professor at the University of Chicago to many we know today as the Neo-cons, helped bring these teachings directly into modern American politics, but with a moral twist that both condemned and respected Machiavellian tactics simultaneously.

The importance of Leo Strauss's influence on both current far-Right Republican politics as well as far-Right Conservative Christian tactics to infiltrate the Republican Party cannot be overstated. As a grinning Ralph Reed has stated many times publicly, it's not important what people think about you, only that you operate quietly in the background and achieve your goals by any means necessary. What American Christian voters should be asking themselves is, "Are our values truly being heard, or are today's Republican Right simply pretending they are hearing us in order get our votes, remain in power, and instead continue their pro-corporate and pro-militaristic agenda?"


Leo Strauss's influence on current American political thought cannot be overstated. While teaching Machiavellian political science concepts in Chicago his students included Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Harry Jaffa and many other late 20th Century Neocons and Project for New American Century signers. His views influenced Grover Norquist, Jack Abramov and Ralph Reed in founding the Young Republican clubs in major univerities across the United States. So much of what is going on today in American politics has been described as either Machiavellian or Straussian, which is essentially the same thing.

Here are some quotes and resources on Strauss, which are numerous online:

"Strauss was neither a liberal nor a democrat," (Shadia Drury, author of 1999's Leo Strauss and the American Right) said in a telephone interview from her office at the University of Calgary in Canada. "Perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical (in Strauss's view) because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them... Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing," because it leads to individualism, liberalism, and relativism, precisely those traits that might encourage dissent, which in turn could dangerously weaken society's ability to cope with external threats. "You want a crowd that you can manipulate like putty," according to Drury. (from The Strong Must Rule the Weak: A Philosopherfor an Empire Jim Lobe, May 12, 2003)

"Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was a student of philosophy in Germany and watched the Weimar Republic dissolve into chaos and then into tyranny. As a Jew, he was forced to flee Germany and he eventually ended up at the University of Chicago, where he developed a cult following from some the brightest students. For Strauss, the demise of the Weimar Republic represented a repudiation of liberal democracy. Liberalism, to Strauss, equals relativism, which necessarily leads to nihilism. Strauss longed to return to a previous, pre-liberal, pre-bourgeois era of blood and guts, of imperial domination, of authoritarian rule, of pure fascism.

These views resonated with Straussian disciples such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol and Harry Jaffa. They took these ideas out of the classroom and translated them into actual political doctrine: the neoconservative manifesto of the Project for a New American Century. Straussian principles would be implemented on a global scale, and 9/11 provided the perfect pretext. Paul Wolfowitz, who attended Strauss's lectures on Plato, became the architect of the Iraq War, using hyped intelligence concerning WMD's as the "noble lie"." (from The Weimar Diaspora and American Political Thought at Blog Carnival)

Links

Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the Neo-cons, and Iraq

Saving America: Leo Strauss and the Neoconservatives

Twenty Two Characteristics Of Straussism by Jan Allen

Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception

The Cult of Leo Strauss: Leo Strauss

Ignoble liars: Leo Strauss, George Bush, and the philosophy of mass deception

Straussians: Mass Murder at the Mall as Gospel

The Strong Must Rule The Weak

Neocons Dance A Straussian Waltz

Text and links from the page on Leo Strauss at my American Fundamentalists website.




Los Angeles-based artist Joel Pelletier is the creator of "American Fundamentalists (Christ's Entry into Washington in 2008)", an 8x14 foot painting depicting American religious, political and economic fundamentalists. He has been touring the US with the painting talking about "American Fundamentalism and the Threat to Democracy and Freedom of Faith" (more at americanfundamentalists.com)




Display:
In their new book about Karl Rove called THE ARCHITECT, James Moore and Wayne Slater repeat a conversation Rove had with a friend about being an Agnostic. Rove, the man who got Bush elected and is working hard to hold on to the Republican majority in both Houses, is a true Machiavellian, and has been responsible for the ties between the Bush Administration and conservative Christians, including Catholics (including setting up the "Office of Faith-Based Initiatives" as a form of political patronage and payback for votes). He appeals to their "Moral Values" for their votes, insisting the this Administration agrees with their "values," where in actuality he and most of the NeoCons are Agnostics and/or Atheists, for whom "values" means free markets and military world domination. For them, the ends justify the means, and morality is for suckers. Exposing these lies and misrepresentations should be an important task for progressives and moderates trying to change the tone in Washinton and America, both in politics and religion.

We are told that Americans are not happy when they feel they have been lied to, and Christian "Values voters" are being lied to on a daily basis by these political operatives as well as their Conservative Religious leaders. Let's help get the word out and find out if it's true!

by joelp on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 06:01:32 PM EST


BTW, Rove attends a DC Methodist church for show - the same church as Valerie Plame and Ambassador Wilson. Rove has been quoted as saying he did not know her before the whole "Plamegate" incident, but they had met socially (if briefly) through their church before her name was leaked to the press (by Rove and others).

by joelp on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 07:09:47 PM EST

I have my comments on my blog.  "Those who know me, know that I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings. One of the major themes that runs through the whole series is that the ends never justifies the means.... "

by perpetualstudent on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 04:39:52 PM EST

A bit of a tangent, but:


I know that Machiavelli advocated deception in the service of the state, and ruthlessness in a ruler.  Sometimes I wonder, however, if Machiavelli would have even liked the Neo-Cons, had he met them.  Take this Machiavelli quote:


<i>Republics have a longer life and enjoy better fortune than principalities, because they can profit from their greater internal diversity.  They are the better able to meet emergencies.</i>


This seems to suggest that he really didn't want a totalitarian state, run by a small cabal, like the Neo-Cons do. Maybe he was more of a ruthless guy that still wanted a republic, not an empire?



by cynical humanist on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 03:19:02 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
Over the past year, a number of posts have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Two Years Ago Today, the 'Least Credible History Book in Print' was Published
This post is an updated version of my post from this same date last year, which, not surprisingly, was titled "One Year Ago Today,......
By Chris Rodda (1 comment)
Geocentrist Creationists Seek To Become The Center Of Attention
There are days when fundamentalist zealots do something so off the wall that I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
A Full Quiver of Bad Advice
Mike Huckabee mailed out an open invitation to all Texas pastors inviting them to attend the Texas Renewal Project.  The first 1,000 to respond......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)
Opus Dei Priest's Secessionist Roadmap to Theocracy
Fr. C.J. ("John") McCloskey is in many ways the  American face of the secretive Catholic organization, Opus Dei.  He is a former Wall Streeter,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Don't Be April Fooled by Far-Right Activists Dressed Up as Democratic Candidates
This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post. It expands and updates previous posts about the Neo-Confederate theocrats Michael Peroutka and Pastor David Whitney. Maryland......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Dangerous Defiance: Md. Official Ignores Court Ruling On Sectarian Prayer
I'm not a lawyer, but let me give you a little free legal advice anyway: It's never a good idea to defy a federal......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors'
Austin Ruse doesn't understand why people were so upset when he said on a national radio program that university leaders "should all be taken......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Justice For All: The Supreme Court And The Role Of The Justices' Religious Beliefs
Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about how the personal religious beliefs of members of the Supreme Court might affect their decisions.The question......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
RINO Says His Dino Proves Noah's Flood -- Wha Wha What?
Michael Peroutka, the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in 2004 and co-founder of the theocratic Institute on the Constitution, made news recently when......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Franklin Graham Slams Obama and Supports Putin in Battle Over Gay Rights
With a column vigorously supporting Vladimir Putin's anti-gay crusade in Russia, Evangelist Franklin Graham finds himself edging closer to inheriting the mantle of Fred......
By Bill Berkowitz (3 comments)
Neo-Confederate Democrats: Oxymorons?
“Many of you may be thinking that I have lost my mind,” Republican Del. Don Dwyer wrote in a March 2013 email and Facebook......
By jhutson (2 comments)
The Catholic Right Star & the Porn Star -- UPDATED
A Duke University freshman best known by her stage name Belle Knox has been much in the news. She was even interviewed by Piers......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Baptists and Bullets in Texas Politics
One thing regional Baptist GOP candidates share in common is a deep affection for gun rights.  The endorsements of pro-gun positions takes precedence over......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
The Battling Noahs & The Titanic Film Comeback of Noah & His Ark
Who would have imagined that in 2014, Noah, yes the Noah of the Biblical story of Noah and his Ark, would be garnering so......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)

America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (1 comment)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (0 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)
Jerry Falwell's Fundamentalist Liberty University Still Getting Hundreds of Millions in Federal Aid
In 2010, Liberty University got more federal funding than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In a 2011 Talk To Action story, contributor Bill Berkowitz covered the new trend in which right-wing evangelical colleges and......
Bruce Wilson (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.