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


And Yet Finn Remains Bishop
It has been more than two years since Bishop Robert Finn was convicted by a Missouri criminal court for failing to report child abuse......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
On Christmas Day, in the Morning
In recent years at Christmastime, I have posted a response to the preposterous-but-malevolent claims broadcast on Fox News and elsewhere that there is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee had a defining moment in the wake of the Newtown massacre. One that as we enter the 2016 presidential......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Moses And Michele: Departing Member Of Congress Spreads More Misinformation
The Religious Right's Moses fixation continues to grow.As you might recall, the Texas State Board of Education recently demanded social studies textbooks that highlight......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report
One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Boot These Bigoted Bans: Movement Seeks To Remove Anti-Atheist Bias From State Constitutions
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
James Madison and Tax-Supported Chaplains
In light of former Sen. Rick Santorum's recent silly declaration that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution,......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Death to Obama; Death to "Homos"; What's Next?
When the Obama administration was young, threats against the president were common, and sometimes quite public. One notorious such incident was that of Rev.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rick Scarborough's America
When Stand Up Sunday was convened by Mike Huckabee in Houston it was to feature the leading spokesmen for the Religious Right agenda.  The......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
I don't usually write directly about electoral politics, but sometimes I bring an outsider's perspective to how the inside looks to some of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
American Christian Right Leaders in Rome
The remarkable and growing alliance between conservative Catholicism and protestant evangelicalism was on prominent display at a recent event at the Vatican. My colleague......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism FREDERICK......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
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 (5 comments)
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 (4 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 (1 comment)
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 (2 comments)
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)

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.