The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
West Coast Straussianism Explained
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

From an email in reply to my brief post on Jacob Heilbrunn’s New York Review of Books article “Donald Trump’s Brains.”

I can’t get the More tag working to put some of it on a different page, so I’ll just post the whole thing.

… I apologize in advance for the rambling. Like Pascal, I don’t have time to write something short.

… You write:

I’m more than a little vague on how the different flavors of Straussianism tie into Trump vs. NeverTrump.

I do not claim to be able to answer this definitively. But let me take a stab.

I do not think you have Bloom right, but let us leave that aside (for now, at least). Let’s start with Strauss. Strauss is impossible to summarize, and deliberately so. He deliberately wrote in such a way as to ensure that even his most devoted followers would forever argue about what he really meant. This, he thought, would be good for philosophy, for intellectual ferment, for the brains and skills of his own students and later students, and so on. In this, he was copying the writers he most revered, above all (I believe) Plato, Xenophon, and Machiavelli. Not that there weren’t others—one might include Farabi and Maimonides—but I think that as writers, those were the big three for Strauss. One would have to include Aristotle as a thinker, but I don’t think Strauss modeled his writing after Aristotle’s.

Central to the project Strauss set for himself was to revive philosophy in the face of 20th century dogma which dismisses philosophy as impossible, superstition, outmoded, etc. Which condemns the thought of the past to be essentially and inevitably time-bound. Which holds that there is an arc of progress to thought no less than to technology and politics. Obama’s “right/wrong side of history” is just a dumbed-down version of this idea, which is most fully explicated in Hegel and which has dominated social science, the liberal arts, and nearly all intellectual life since the early 20th century.

Strauss had to walk a fine line: reassert the possibility that there are permanent truths and that they can be learned from old books and old debates, while at the same time not giving rise to dogma himself. He knew from reading about the past and from his own experience teaching that it is more than possible to liberate bright young men from 20th century dogma. (This is yet another permanent truth: in every age, there is a dogma, and a great teacher can always find bright young men to liberate from dogma.) But the danger is that, once liberated, these bright young men will insist on a counter-narrative that explains everything. They will reject one dogma, only to embrace another dogma—even if the new teaching was not intended as a dogma. Strauss was determined not to be the source of such a dogma.

Plato wrote 35 dialogues and no treatises in part to make it very difficult for his words to be used to form any kind of dogma. Strauss, I believe, wanted to do the same, which is why he wrote the way he did.

Yet—the tensions pile up—he didn’t want to simply liberate young men from error. He wanted to point toward the truth.

It wasn’t just “OK, historicism and positivism are wrong; now you’re on your own.” He wanted his students and readers to be open to the possibility that ancient metaphysics, ontology and epistemology were correct, or at the very least more probable than the possible alternatives. When it came to conclusions about the nature and ends of human life and action, Strauss believed that philosophy—that the human mind itself—could furnish only probabilistic answers. That’s not to say every question was a toss-up. Some are 99-1, while some are 51-49 (and some 50/50). But 100% certainty is impossible and even the greatest thinker must retain some humility about the limits of even the greatest mind.

This is explains in part why even (we) Straussians disagree with one another. We can all appeal to Strauss’s writings to find evidence for our own interpretation, but Strauss was too careful to close any doors.

Jaffa himself could and did marshal very compelling evidence that Strauss was at least open to Jaffa’s views on America, Lincoln, modernity, political legitimacy, etc. But he couldn’t PROVE it because Strauss was too careful to be definitive ether way.

I think Strauss would be glad that his students are still arguing about this stuff. If we weren’t, that would be evidence that his thought had ossified into dogma, and that he had failed.

So what do East and West Coast have in common? What do we BOTH get from Strauss?

First, an awareness of what Strauss called “the permanent problems”: Athens v. Jerusalem, politics v. philosophy, ancients v. moderns. These “permanent problems” or arguments or debates are simply coeval with man and never go away. These arguments can be found in a handful of “great books” which, when studied with care, reveal their authors all to be talking to one another about (more or less) the same big ideas. There is no “progress” that automatically makes the thought of the present superior to the thought of the past. Old books and old arguments are not interesting merely for historical reasons. They must be approached as if they might contain a permanent truth or possibility if one is to learn from them.

Second, as noted, a rejection of 20th century elite intellectual dogma, above all historicism (arc of progress, all thought is time-bound), positivism (law is wholly man-made and has no basis in nature), relativism (right and wrong are culturally determined) and the “fact-value distinction” (good and evil have no objective basis beyond human opinion).

Third, an openness to the possibility that, in fact and in truth, right and wrong have an independent metaphysical existence in nature itself, that is not affected by men’s opinion. Might may sometimes make right in the sense that the strong-yet-unjust may physically rule—this happens a lot, needless to say—but that mere fact never obviates the independent existence of good and evil.

Fourth, an openness to the possibility that there is a human nature that fundamentally does not change over the centuries or millennia. Man is partly malleable but not infinitively so. Circumstances change and those circumstances will influence that part of man which is malleable. But core to human nature is logos or reason or speech, which places man above the animals and below God (or the gods, or the unmoved mover, or nature). This is true even for atheists, who must acknowledge that speech gives man incredible power (for instance to rule over the entire animal kingdom, despite being physically a much inferior specimen to so many species) but nothing close to omniscience or omnipotence.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but those are the points that I think touch on what you are asking about.

So where do East and West differ?

That’s another huge topic. I will be as concise as I can, hoping that you’ll allow for some inevitable caricature.

This simplest way to put it would be: We West Coast Straussians believe the East Coasters to be too dogmatically certain that atheism is true, that there is, in the final analysis, no rational basis for good or evil. Or as one of them put it to me once, describing his understanding of Bloom’s fundamental view, there is “nothing cosmic” undergirding man’s belief or eagerness to believe in right and wrong. We want justice to be independently true, but nature unfortunately does not play along. Or, to quote Don Draper, “the universe is indifferent.”

The East Coasters for their part say of us: you West Coasters dogmatically assume that there is a natural, rational basis for right and wrong, good and evil, justice, etc. But not only can you not prove it, you can’t even marshal a preponderance of evidence to show that it’s more probable than the indifference thesis. You just want to believe, so you do, and lie to yourselves that your belief is rational, when it isn’t. If you were better philosophers, you would realize that, but fundamentally you are not philosophers but political ideologues.

To which we reply: You East-Coasters dogmatically equate philosophy with atheism. You assume that a preference for a transcendent order must be religious and antithetical to philosophy. You don’t take seriously our argument—which we get from Strauss and the texts he analyzed—that the existence of logos is itself a sufficient basis for such an order. More than that, you reject out of hand our argument that—given the existence of logos—natural morality is more reasonable and probable than relativism or nihilism.

And on it goes.

Specifically with regard to America, it goes like this (Heilbrunn does not have it right):

East Coast: since its peak in ancient times, Western civilization took two very large wrong turns. The first was Christianity, which attempts to synthesize the irreconcilable (Jerusalem and Athens, or faith and reason). The second was modernity, which attempts to break the Christian impasse by re-founding philosophy on the narrow basis of man’s material self-interest. This inevitably led to the civilizational race-to-the-bottom, in which we find ourselves. America in particular is based on Locke, which is just “enlightened self-interest”: i.e., control yourself so that you might enjoy material goods more securely. But the enjoyment of material goods is the only true end recognized by the American regime or its core principle. The only way out is a return to the ancients.

West Coast: Aristotle’s Ethics remain a true standard for human behavior and virtue for all time. Aristotle’s Politics—and all ancient conceptions of the best regime—however, are time-bound, in the sense that circumstances have changed and circumstances prevailing in Aristotle’s time no longer prevail. Those circumstances may return some day—again, there is no “progress”—but for the past many centuries, for now, and for the foreseeable future, the circumstances in which Aristotle’s “best regime” actually was practicably best are not prevalent. Important changes—the end of the ancient city, the Roman conquest of the ancient world, Christianity, modernity, the rise of the nation-state (among others)—mean that the best practicable regime has also changed. The best practicable regime in the current circumstance is a regime based on the recognition of natural equality (no man is marked by nature as the ruler of others), the reciprocal nature of rights and duties, and the consent of the governed. To say that all this is nothing more than “enlightened self-interest” is to ignore all that the Founders—and Locke!—had to say about good and evil, morality, virtue, duties, and religion.

East Coast: Strauss proved that all that high-minded talk in Locke was just “exoteric,” i.e., window dressing for the gullible and less-bright (i.e., you guys). The Founders may not have truly understood the radicalism in Locke but they still built a regime with no firm basis beyond self-interest. They were not smart or philosophic enough to understand what they were doing, so they built a fundamentally flawed regime.

West Coast: There is considerable textual evidence that Strauss deliberately played up the radicalism of the early moderns, including Locke, for rhetorical purposes. That purpose initially accomplished, he later published more favorable accounts of Locke and others as correctives. We also have to admit the possibility that Strauss was wrong about Locke. Strauss after all was human and not infallible he would be the first to insist that philosophy can never bow to authority, and he would disclaim for himself any status as an authority. But whatever Locke’s ultimate teaching, the American Founding must be judged on its own terms as an act of practical, actual statesmanship, and not solely against an abstract philosophic standard. Neither the “city in speech” of Plato’s Republic nor the “best regime” of Aristotle’s Politics has ever existed anywhere. The American regime is real. Let’s judge it by what politics is supposed to do: “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”; in other words, to effect the “safety and happiness” of its citizens. By that standard, until recently, the American regime has worked remarkably well. And it has done so in no small part because it is NOT simply a compact of self-interest, but because its design takes into account “the indissoluble union between virtue and happiness.”

So what does this have to do with Trump? A few things, if indirectly.

If my interpretation of East-West differences is correct, then, first of all, the East thinks less highly of America than we on the West do, so they are less concerned about saving America from degradation. They think it was born degraded.

This points to the second difference. We on the West think something went fundamentally wrong with America. This we trace most directly to capital-P Progressive ideas, which are based on flawed European philosophic imports. This is a good place to point out that East and West agree on modernity to a large degree. Strauss famously divided modernity into “three waves.” The first was the early moderns, Machiavelli to Montesquieu. The second begins with Rousseau. The third begins with Nietzsche. East and West agree, I think, on the fundamental flaws of the second and third waves; even if some of us find much merit in Nietzsche’s critique of 19th century bourgeois-democratic man. Where we at least partially disagree is over the merits of the early moderns, especially as interpreted by sober statesmen such as the American Founders. We also disagree in that the West Coast sees the import of second and third wave modernity into America as particularly harmful to the American regime and the American character. The Eastern school perhaps does not disagree on that point, but see the slide downward from the first to the second and third waves as inevitable, not just in the history of thought but in practical politics. We in the West do not agree that it was inevitable. Had America been able to resist second and third wave modernity, the nation and regime might still be sound. At any rate, we hold that there is no intrinsic flaw in the American regime itself or in the American people which made later modernity inevitable here.

Now, if something is inevitable, what do you do about it? Surely you don’t fight it, right? What’s the point? That tends to be the East Coast default. Can’t win, don’t try. They disdain the political.

This points to a still-deeper divide. Strauss taught that there are certain fundamental tensions in human life: Athens and Jerusalem, politics and philosophy, ancients and moderns (as noted above). He carefully avoids pronouncing fully and finally for any alternative. The most you can say is that he shows his preferences: Athens, philosophy, ancients. But he does not declare or decide. And he always makes the case fairly and fully for both sides, and says that reason cannot by itself dispositively foreclose any alternative.

The East again says that is all window dressing. Strauss is firm, if not explicit, in his rejection of politics for philosophy. He lived as a thinker and writer, not a doer. The example of Socrates, and so on.

Ah, but it’s not that simple. Socrates fought for Athens. The questions he raised were fundamentally political. Plato and Aristotle were both the teachers of political men. Plato went to Syracuse to advise a tyrant. Machiavelli was a practicing statesman for 14 years. Strauss himself made politics his main theme as a teacher. And so on.

We on the West further say: the East makes a definitive choice out of what Strauss left open. They decide where he, at the very least, hedged. In this choice at least, they are being dogmatic, contrary to Strauss’s teaching and example (and, most important, contrary to reason).

We say further, in explicitly Straussian terms, that philosophy depends on politics. This comes out clearly from the ancients and the deepest of the moderns (above all Machiavelli) and is a theme that Strauss emphasized often. Philosophy depends on the political community. There is no philosophy, or possibility of philosophy, in a pre-political or tribal society, and there is no philosophy in a despotism. Freedom of thought and inquiry depends on a sound, decent, moderate politics (which might be democratic, republican, aristocratic, constitutionally monarchic, etc.). Philosophy cannot afford to ignore politics, lest it put itself in danger. This is illustrated in ancient times by the story of Thales looking up at the sky and walking into a well, and in modern times by Shakespeare’s Prospero, who loses Milan and is exiled to a deserted island because of his neglect of politics.

Some say that the East-West divide fully burst open when Tom Pangle, visiting Claremont in 1982, said to an audience (at the Athenaeum, no less) “Socrates didn’t give a damn about Athens.” Pangle later denied having said this, though eye-witnesses insist that he did. But he wouldn’t go so far as to disclaim the sentiment, either. This is but one instance—if a dramatic one—of why we West-Coasters always at least partially distrust the Easters. When caught red-handing saying what they really believe, they tend to revert to fishy denials, as if they intuit that their beliefs are disreputable. They claim their beliefs are all about having the courage to face the dismaying truth—as opposed to us simpletons who need myths to live by—but they don’t have the courage to be honest about their beliefs. Of course, they would say that they are simply being ironic to the un-philosophic masses.

The East would also laugh at the mere thought that the West, in standing for Trump, is standing for philosophy. But mere laughter is not an argument. They have either not grappled with the thesis or they have made peace with what it opposes.

Strauss’s most famous public (as opposed to narrowly academic) debate was the 1949-1952 exchange with Kojeve. The core issue in that debate is identical to the core issue of the 2016 U.S. presidential election: globalism versus nationalism, universalism versus particularism, leveling similarity versus genuine diversity, the “universal and homogenous state” versus a heterogeneous community of separate and distinct nations. Strauss clearly sides with the latter. Which is to say, in the context of 2016, with Trump.

This is too much for any East Coast Straussian ears. They fall back on what they feel is their strongest argument: Trump is vulgar. They compare him to Churchill, Clemenceau, De Gaulle, Eisenhower and the like and find him wanting. I don’t want to dismiss this argument out of hand. But what, exactly, makes it decisive?

East Coast Straussians pride themselves on being Graecophiles above all. Well, Plutarch could not be clearer in his indifference to sexual immorality and other personal failings. East Coast Straussians are, to put it mildly, not exactly stalwart in defense of traditional morality. By this I do not mean that they are personally dissolute. From what I can tell by their outward behavior, they are by and large sober in thought and deed, and very responsible. But in RHETORIC, they are worse than Charles Murray’s white overclass, which cannot bring itself to preach what it practices. The East Coast Straussians preach the OPPOSITE of what they practice. They preach (however slyly) relativism and even nihilism, while they personally live orderly, sober, moral lives. And then, to make matters worse, they accuse us West-Coasters of being stupid dolts for having the temerity to defend morality with philosophic arguments. This is grating, to say the least. And then they compound that with pearl-clutching, moralistic objections to Trump.

Sorry, not buying.

So, fundamentally, we West Coast Straussians took 2016 more seriously than the East Coasters because we take every election more seriously than they do. We just CARE more. If they want to object to that, fine. I’d like to have them on the record taking a stand for politics.

We also saw 2016 as a fundamental test of the regime. This goes back to what I said about Claremont (West Coast Straussianism) having identified Progressivism as a fundamentally alien rootstock grafted onto the American regime. I know that you (Steve) have found things to like in Progressivism: immigration restriction, anti-trust, civil service exams, national parks, and so on. We Claremonsters like all those things, too. But they are not fundamentally Progressive. All of those things are fully compatible with the American regime as designed by the Founders. Those policies are not the heart of Progressivism. The heart of Progressivism is the attack on the American Founding principles as fundamentally untrue and the denial that any political principles can ever be lastingly true, because all political principles are time-bound (historicism) and there is no permanent human nature. Man is infinitely malleable. This is the Progressive attack mounted by Hiram Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and the like.

Progressivism holds that the times are continually changing. This is different than a fundamental change of circumstance, which might be changed back. This is an idea of unidirectional progress, an inexorable historical process, a “force” completely independent of human control and that cannot be affected by any human action.

How then to keep up with the times, with this inevitable process of constant change? Progressivism qua Progressivism posits the necessity of expert rule. This is but one illustration of the genius of Strauss in seeing that everything old is new and vice versa. The ancients say that the best regime is the rule of the wise. On one level, who could object to that? Wise rule is better than unwise rule.

But in practice, it becomes fraught. Who is truly wise? Many claim to be wise, but are they really? Who is wise enough to judge who is wise? And how to convince the unwise many to consent or submit to the wise few? The ancients think all this through and appear to conclude that while the rule of the wise is in principle the best regime, in practice it is all but impossible to implement. The classics are very circumspect and measured about the power of human wisdom and the limits of what man can do.

The moderns by contrast—especially second wave moderns—tend to hubris. They revive expert rule as a serious program. It is a necessity because only a wise few can properly intuit what the ever-changing times demand, and implement that on the unwise many, who without guidance would just keep doing things the old way. This is the root of transnational bureaucracies such as the EU and what in America has been termed the “administrative state.” That latter term has been explored and developed most fully by John Marini, a Claremont-trained scholar. He is really the most important node connecting West Coast Straussianism to Trump.

Marini’s analysis of how the American regime has been transformed from one of Constitutional government by consent into administrative rule by experts is the single most complete and accurate account of how America is really governed today. Marini was first to see that Trump was mounting a fundamentally political challenge to administrative rule.

Take your favorite issue: immigration. For years, you’ve been saying that the ruling class mantra is “Nothing to vote on here, move along.” That’s Marini’s point. A bipartisan “expert” consensus determines the “correct” position and then ensures that it prevails, no matter what the people want or vote for. That’s true not just of immigration but of a range of issues.

When the people vote for change—for candidates who at least SAY they will do something different—the change never materializes. What Marini recognized in Trump posed a fundamental challenge to this paradigm. It wasn’t just that Trump was right on core issues of immigration, trade and war, though of course he was. It was that Trump was mounting the first serious, if implicit, challenge to administrative rule in decades. To the whole governing paradigm of the West since the advent of Progressivism.

The last thing I would point out is that Tom West’s new book The Political Theory of the American Founding will eventually be seen as THE bible of West Coast Straussianism. To my mind, it already is. But it just came out and so is still being digested. This is simply THE best and most comprehensive account of what the American Founders actually believed and tried to implement. It purports to be a descriptive and not prescriptive or programmatic book. West simply says “I’m going to tell you what the Founders believed, without passing judgment.” But inevitably one comes away thinking “This is the way it should be. This makes far more sense than the current insanity.” If there is to be a rebirth of political sanity, this book will be the guide.

 

 

 
Hide 122 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. I personally think Machiavelli takes far more Aristotle’s beliefs-above all, that man is, by nature, a political creature-and Thucydides’ realism than abstract Platonism. But YMMV-I’m hardly a philosophical expert and would be glad to be corrected here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @SOL
    Paleos like Tom Fleming have a more positive image of Machievelli as a realist with respect to political power than the Straussians.
    , @Anonymous
    Generally you are right on the money here.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  2. Strauss’s most famous public (as opposed to narrowly academic) debate was the 1949-1952 exchange with Kojeve. The core issue in that debate is identical to the core issue of the 2016 U.S. presidential election: globalism versus nationalism, universalism versus particularism, leveling similarity versus genuine diversity, the “universal and homogenous state” versus a heterogeneous community of separate and distinct nations. Strauss clearly sides with the latter. Which is to say, in the context of 2016, with Trump.

    Globalism versus nationalism, universalism versus particularism, leveling similarity versus genuine diversity, the “universal and homogenous state” versus a heterogeneous community of separate and distinct nations.

    I say:

    Globalization vs patriotism — not nationalism — is the battle you want. A particular nation for a particular people. Democracy is impossible in anything larger than a nation-state. There is no such thing as a “community” of nations.

    SEND SAILER SOME BITCOIN

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Could you expound on how you are distinguishing the meaning of these two terms - nationalism and patriotism - and why one should prefer the latter?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. Straussianism is Trotskiite nonsense and the fount of neoconservative globalism. American conservatism died when these people took over under Reagan.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art
    Straussianism is Trotskiite nonsense and the fount of neoconservative globalism. American conservatism died when these people took over under Reagan.

    American conservatism died when William F Buckley invited Jewish neo-cons into Conservatism.
    , @guest
    Straussianism is no such fount, contra-Gottfried (whom I respect and admire). It is all wrapped up in neoconservatism, but you'll find that movement has different roots.

    Straussianism is simply the largest right-wing academic movement, and unfortunately that made it near-leftist, because you know Western universities these days. Also unfortunately, the Chicago milieu was thickly neoconnish, and most students who were influenced by Strauss in philosophy and Bloom in other humanities, also faced other, non-Straussian or merely Strauss-adjacent, political, economic, and other influences.

    Neoconservative globalism simply isn't what Strauss' philosophy was about. It wasn't traditional Americanism, either. It also wasn't fit for a ruling-class philosophy. It wasn't concrete enough on its own.

    Which is why his descendants went off in so many directions. The most popular tendency was for them to go in a universalist, leftist, neoconnish direction. Because--surprise!--universities are full of leftists. You don't graduate from the University of Chicago and go off to be a professor at a major university or rise up the ranks of Republican administrations if you're a paleocon or nowadays a member of the alt-right. You don't get to be on t.v., either, or get published by major houses. Or get any press at all.

    Truly rightist academic schools barely exist for a reason. It's not because none of us are smart enough. Strauss is what you might call a liberal, but in the classical sense. And I don't mean an 18th or 19th-century liberal. I mean an ancient liberal. One who thought modernity went wrong around Machiavelli. He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America. That made him unique, but it virtually guaranteed he'd be misused in practice. Because modern America has no use for him taken straight.

    Gottfried was dead right about one thing. The Strauss/Bloom thesis about America being corrupted by continental philosophy is wrong. You could almost say it was the other way around. Not that I like continental philosophy. I hate it.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  4. What does Strauss have to say about the death of the Editor as a profession?

    Read More
    • LOL: Cortes
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  5. Sorry, too long.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  6. How many credit hours do I get for reading that?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “But mere laughter is not an argument.”

    Fwiw this is probably a reference to a famous quote in philosophy by the ferociously brilliant David Lewis. When presenting his theory of modal realism he argued that possible worlds are literally concrete worlds . That is, when I say, “Well, it’s possible that Steve Sailer is actually the real puppet master controlling both Trump and Putin” then I am saying there is a real, physical world where this is happening in fact.

    Naturally, philosophers had the immediate reaction of “No EFFING way” to which David Lewis replied, “I cannot argue with an incredulous stare.”

    Decades later the “incredulous stare” is still referenced in philosophy circles as a reminder that we’re looking for arguments and not just reactions because some truths are counterintuitive. David Lewis himself pointed out that we have folk wisdom because it works most of the time–but the incredulous stare will stop us from seeing when it might be wrong.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    David Lewis specialized in coming up with arguments that seemed insane but you could never quite put your finger on how to prove them wrong. It was a remarkable talent he had, although I'm not sure I'd want his knack to be less unusual.
    , @candid_observer

    “I cannot argue with an incredulous stare.”
     
    And how and why should one argue with an incredible assertion?

    Sorry, the claim that there really is a physical world in which a counterfactual assertion is actually true is just groundless BS of the rankest kind. Why should anyone be obliged to refute it?

    Because the guy who said it was really smart?

    Not smart enough, I think.
    , @Anonymous
    In the theory of the multiverse, it is axiomatic that the probability of any event that is within the possibility of the laws of physics happening in some universe, or on some timeline, is one. So there's one in which I got broke in at 17 by a fiftysomething Marilyn Monroe and many more where neither she nor I ever existed in the first place. And certainly, one or more where Steve Sailer does control Trump and Putin.
    , @guest
    Laughter is not an argument, nor is an incredulous stare. But who says it is an argument?

    Punching someone in the face is not an argument, either. You do that when you're past argument. Or beneath it. Or the person you punch is.

    No one wants to argue with people who say stupid things that are frankly beneath serious response. Just because some truths are counterintuitive doesn't mean you can assert whatever you want. Even if you are smart.

    The proper response, until such time as he can demonstrate his assertion and prove us all tricked by the Idols of the Tribe, is: "No, I don't mean that there's a real, physical world where blah-blah is yadda-yadda. Shut up."

    This whole it might be true because it's so dang counterintuitive and hard to argue against places us well beyond reason, in Cloud-Cuckooland. David Lewis is really the one punching us in the face, with words.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  8. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam’s Razor would do us well.

    Let’s examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, “muh democracy” – devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it – personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don’t benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about “making the world safe for democracy” despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: “I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better – no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!”

    Option B: “I can’t wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can’t believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!”

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people’s true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don’t need to know a single word of last century’s bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it’s pointless. People aren’t motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people’s true motivations.

    Read More
    • Agree: Wade
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Anon wrote:

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.
     

    Or, how about:

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an "evil empire." But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.

    , @Dave Pinsen

    Let’s examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, “muh democracy” – devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it – personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.
     

    This exemplifies the danger of dogma that Steve's email-writer warned about.

    Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in "muh democracy" wasn't about democracy per se -- there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore, for example, and make it a democracy. The idea, wrong-headed as it was, was that replacing a sclerotic autocracy in the heart of the Arab world with a democracy would lead to some sort of evolution against jihadism. Of course, that hasn't happened, in part because of the clannishness due to inbreeding that Steve warned about presciently in 2003, and due to the absence any popular secular counterpoint to Islamism in the Arab world.

    There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not.

    But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk -- not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up -- but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. There were calls to end the sanctions on Iraq before the invasion -- Bin Laden even cited it as one of his big 3 grievances against the U.S. -- and I think the U.S. government, Cheney especially, feared that if Saddam Hussein could get away with flaunting laws against WMD other rogue states would too, and eventually one would give WMDs to terrorists.

    Briefly, that argument got support when Gaddafi gave up his WMD program, but when he was sodomized to death, that probably gave rogue states the idea that it was better to keep a WMD deterrent against us.

    Option B is "Because the Jews/Israel/oil" dogma. But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel's PM was warning Bush behind the scenes of the dangers of trying to democratize Iraq (both points made here: https://forward.com/opinion/9839/sharon-warned-bush/ ). And of course the invasion of Iraq ended up strengthening Iran.

    The "because oil" argument is even more specious. The (much!) cheaper way of getting Iraqi oil would have been to end the sanctions and simply buy it from them.

    And the idea that Cheney got rolled by Jews ignores Cheney's 1% doctrine. Cheney was arguably the strongest advocate of the Iraq War in the Bush administration, with the possible exception of Bush.

    , @IHTG
    Wignat detected! Paging Thermidor Magazine!
    , @Cato

    People aren’t motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people’s true motivations.
     
    Not true for people with the calling, but certainly true for 99.99% of the population. So, since all truth is simply based on frequency, you are correct.
    , @Art Deco
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people?

    That's what gets you about these discussions, the notion that historical and social developments can be explained by sifting through people's composed cogitations to such a degree that one need not investigate other forces influencing society. Philosophers and political theorists have hammers, see nails.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  9. Thanks for posting this, Steve. I hope this generates at least a couple of more posts.

    Read More
    • Agree: Dave Pinsen, wren
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    Maybe Ron Unz can give that guy a blog here.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  10. @Anonymous
    "But mere laughter is not an argument."


    Fwiw this is probably a reference to a famous quote in philosophy by the ferociously brilliant David Lewis. When presenting his theory of modal realism he argued that possible worlds are literally concrete worlds . That is, when I say, "Well, it's possible that Steve Sailer is actually the real puppet master controlling both Trump and Putin" then I am saying there is a real, physical world where this is happening in fact.

    Naturally, philosophers had the immediate reaction of "No EFFING way" to which David Lewis replied, "I cannot argue with an incredulous stare."

    Decades later the "incredulous stare" is still referenced in philosophy circles as a reminder that we're looking for arguments and not just reactions because some truths are counterintuitive. David Lewis himself pointed out that we have folk wisdom because it works most of the time--but the incredulous stare will stop us from seeing when it might be wrong.

    David Lewis specialized in coming up with arguments that seemed insane but you could never quite put your finger on how to prove them wrong. It was a remarkable talent he had, although I’m not sure I’d want his knack to be less unusual.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anonymouslee
    and there is a real point to the exercise--that if something strikes you as a reductio ad absurdum it might be useful to show us why.

    this is what Chomsky said about his review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior. Chomsky thought Skinner's thesis was ridiculous but that's exactly what made the book so great: it was a careful, comprehensive exploration of an idea that did the work of discrediting itself if you knew how to see it. Skinner did all the weighing and measuring of behaviorism and Chomsky just had to show why he found it wanting.
    , @Anon Academic
    Lewis was unusual also in that he was a genius of the counter-intuitive and outright crazy, but is also a recent philosopher whose ideas have inspired fairly practical implementations. His counterfactual notion of causality is not in widespread use, but is part of a line of long-term promising work in automated software debugging.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  11. Anyone interested in Strauss needs to read Anne Norton’s Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire : I have a review up at amazon. After reading Norton, you will never again take Allan Bloom seriously (and you’ll understand why no one quite knew what The Closing of the American Mind actually meant).

    Norton, incidentally, is chair of the poli-sci department at Penn and considers herself a “post-modernist”: she is the only post-modernist I actually enjoy reading (to her, “post-modernism” seems to mean viewing politics from the perspective of the little boy who noticed that the emperor was naked).

    (And, yes, if anyone cares, I actually have tried to read some of Strauss: I even posted a review on amazon of The City and Man, which I actually kind of liked.)

    On Progressivism, I strongly recommend Murray Rothbard’s recently published The Progressive Era, which I just finished reading on Christmas Day. Whether or not you swallow Rothbard’s brand of libertarianism, you will find a wealth of details that are hard to find elsewhere: for example, I was surprised to learn of the the close tie-in between prohibitionism (AKA “temperance”) and first-wave feminism.

    Also, as a result of his background as an economic historian, Rothbard has a lot of intriguing details on the history of the trusts and the consolidation movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on Hoover’s push for an anti-competitive corporatist economy in the ’20s (i.e., before the Crash — most of our contemporaries do not realize that Hoover was actually an exemplary progressive), on the conflicts and occasional collaboration between the Rockefellers and the House of Morgan, etc.

    Rothbard loved the nitty-gritty details of history, and those details of what real human beings thought and did are actually much more interesting than textbook histories let on.

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln’s getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War. Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that. And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sam
    Rothbard had some great lectures on the gilded age and the progressive era, many of which I believe made it into the new book. His take on ethnic politics as the chief reason for the intensity with which late 19th century politics, and seemingly mundane issues like monetary policy, was incredibly captivating.

    Incidentally he also shares the talent that Steve has for finding all sorts of connections between different actors in history as well as the talent for creating an interesting narrative out of historical events.
    , @syonredux

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln’s getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War.
     
    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy....

    Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that.
     
    Of course, Lincoln's proposition was based on the idea that America was a White man's country....

    And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.
     
    Again, the Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy....
    , @Art Deco
    I see you have an affection for salaried cranks.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  12. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “…the American regime has been transformed from one of Constitutional government by consent into administrative rule by experts…”

    And when that doesn’t work, into all-to-often largely self-selected “experts” called judges.

    “…Socrates fought for Athens.”

    Socrates seems to have had a pretty distinguished military career:

    “…For a time, Socrates fulfilled the role of hoplite, participating in the Peloponnesian war—a conflict which stretched intermittently over a period spanning 431 to 404 B.C…

    …Socrates states he was active for Athens in the battles of Amphipolis, Delium, and Potidaea

    …In the Symposium, Alcibiades describes Socrates’ valour in the battles of Potidaea and Delium, recounting how Socrates saved his life in the former battle…

    …Socrates’ exceptional service at Delium is also mentioned in the Laches by the General after whom the dialogue is named…”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymouse
    Who is the author of this essay?

    It is all over the place, lacking focus. Some of her remarks are absurd or meaningless. For example,Prof. Pangle said or did not say that Socrates didn't care a hoot about Athens. This is beyond wrong. Consider the dialogue Crito in which Socrates' best friend (his best best friend Chaerephon was dead) visits him in prison. It seems this is the last day it will be possible for Crito to have Socrates spirited out of prison at night by some criminals Crito has hired, as the next day Socrates is to be executed. Socrates informs Crito that he will stay and not flee his sentence. The reasons why are subtle and much argued over in scholarly literature on that dialogue. Socrates impersonates the Laws of Athens by whom the reader is informed that Socrates except for being sent abroad in losing military campaigns three times, never left the city, not even to go to nearby festivals outside the city elsewhere in Greece, like everyone else, which facts, according to the talking Laws, are tokens of his patriotism.

    The Straussian epigones are a sad lot which is only to be expected of epigones. The notion that there are 2 schools of Straussians, East Coast and West Coast, is almost as comical as the notion that Socrates didn't give a fig about the Athenians and their Laws.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  13. @Anon
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam's Razor would do us well.

    Let's examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, "muh democracy" - devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it - personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don't benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about "making the world safe for democracy" despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: "I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better - no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!"

    Option B: "I can't wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can't believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!"

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people's true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don't need to know a single word of last century's bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it's pointless. People aren't motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people's true motivations.

    Anon wrote:

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    Or, how about:

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an “evil empire.” But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an “evil empire.” But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.
     
    What counts as a threat?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  14. How do you argue with a credulous stare? Mencius Moldbug might be handy here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Antlitz Grollheim
    Ketman
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  15. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Easy coast…West coast…East Coast…West coast.

    So, this is what it sounds like when smart people talk in tongues. Most modern philosophy isn’t much more than selectively quoting guys like “Plato” so other people will think the author sounds smart. That’s basically 99% of modern philosophy.

    “So what does this have to do with Trump? A few things, if indirectly.”

    Probably nothing in reality. Trump is just a guy motivated by tribe and personal gain, like all humans.

    He supports a border wall because somebody else’s tribe is encroaching on his tribe’s turf. It’s that simple. No abstract nonsense required. The same logic applies to the left: border wall bad because it hurts our tribe’s future electoral prospects. Whatever these groups say to the contrary is just verbiage meant to throw others off from their true, primal motivations.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  16. @PhysicistDave
    Anyone interested in Strauss needs to read Anne Norton's Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire : I have a review up at amazon. After reading Norton, you will never again take Allan Bloom seriously (and you'll understand why no one quite knew what The Closing of the American Mind actually meant).

    Norton, incidentally, is chair of the poli-sci department at Penn and considers herself a "post-modernist": she is the only post-modernist I actually enjoy reading (to her, "post-modernism" seems to mean viewing politics from the perspective of the little boy who noticed that the emperor was naked).

    (And, yes, if anyone cares, I actually have tried to read some of Strauss: I even posted a review on amazon of The City and Man, which I actually kind of liked.)

    On Progressivism, I strongly recommend Murray Rothbard's recently published The Progressive Era, which I just finished reading on Christmas Day. Whether or not you swallow Rothbard's brand of libertarianism, you will find a wealth of details that are hard to find elsewhere: for example, I was surprised to learn of the the close tie-in between prohibitionism (AKA "temperance") and first-wave feminism.

    Also, as a result of his background as an economic historian, Rothbard has a lot of intriguing details on the history of the trusts and the consolidation movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on Hoover's push for an anti-competitive corporatist economy in the '20s (i.e., before the Crash -- most of our contemporaries do not realize that Hoover was actually an exemplary progressive), on the conflicts and occasional collaboration between the Rockefellers and the House of Morgan, etc.

    Rothbard loved the nitty-gritty details of history, and those details of what real human beings thought and did are actually much more interesting than textbook histories let on.

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln's getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War. Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that. And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.

    Rothbard had some great lectures on the gilded age and the progressive era, many of which I believe made it into the new book. His take on ethnic politics as the chief reason for the intensity with which late 19th century politics, and seemingly mundane issues like monetary policy, was incredibly captivating.

    Incidentally he also shares the talent that Steve has for finding all sorts of connections between different actors in history as well as the talent for creating an interesting narrative out of historical events.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  17. Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam’s Razor would do us well.

    It seems to be a universal that the smarter a human population is, the more it contorts its thinking to rationalize its behavior. The Mongols, for example, made a habit out of finding legalistic pretexts for their invasions (their favorite seems to be “you executed our supremely arrogant ambassadors who demanded you surrender your realm to us.”).

    If the Mongols couldn’t get by without “my cause is just, not selfish,” I’m not sure anyone outside sub-Saharan Africa can.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  18. Different coasts but the same fertilizer.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  19. @Steve Sailer
    David Lewis specialized in coming up with arguments that seemed insane but you could never quite put your finger on how to prove them wrong. It was a remarkable talent he had, although I'm not sure I'd want his knack to be less unusual.

    and there is a real point to the exercise–that if something strikes you as a reductio ad absurdum it might be useful to show us why.

    this is what Chomsky said about his review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Chomsky thought Skinner’s thesis was ridiculous but that’s exactly what made the book so great: it was a careful, comprehensive exploration of an idea that did the work of discrediting itself if you knew how to see it. Skinner did all the weighing and measuring of behaviorism and Chomsky just had to show why he found it wanting.

    Read More
    • Replies: @guest
    That is, what, inadvertent devil's advocacy?

    You can learn from stupid and wrong things. But it doesn't make the wrong things great, unless you mean it in the sense that Plan 9 from Outer Space is a great movie.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  20. I’m not sure how all of this connects to country clubs and golf, but I am going to think about it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @newrouter
    "I’m not sure how all of this connects to country clubs and golf, but I am going to think about it."

    Maybe view the East Coast Straussians as the front 9 and the West Coast Straussians as the back 9?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  21. All I know is that the West Coasters produce the Claremont Review of Books, a handsome magazine, with big, beautiful pages, highlights of the most interesting current academic books, and articles by Angelo Codevilla, the most interesting political thinker outside of the dissident right.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  22. @Luke Lea
    How do you argue with a credulous stare? Mencius Moldbug might be handy here.

    Ketman

    Read More
    • Replies: @CK
    Thank you for that word, and for the enjoyment of learning about it.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  23. I now have a headache. I think I shall turn in early this evening.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  24. @PhysicistDave
    Anyone interested in Strauss needs to read Anne Norton's Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire : I have a review up at amazon. After reading Norton, you will never again take Allan Bloom seriously (and you'll understand why no one quite knew what The Closing of the American Mind actually meant).

    Norton, incidentally, is chair of the poli-sci department at Penn and considers herself a "post-modernist": she is the only post-modernist I actually enjoy reading (to her, "post-modernism" seems to mean viewing politics from the perspective of the little boy who noticed that the emperor was naked).

    (And, yes, if anyone cares, I actually have tried to read some of Strauss: I even posted a review on amazon of The City and Man, which I actually kind of liked.)

    On Progressivism, I strongly recommend Murray Rothbard's recently published The Progressive Era, which I just finished reading on Christmas Day. Whether or not you swallow Rothbard's brand of libertarianism, you will find a wealth of details that are hard to find elsewhere: for example, I was surprised to learn of the the close tie-in between prohibitionism (AKA "temperance") and first-wave feminism.

    Also, as a result of his background as an economic historian, Rothbard has a lot of intriguing details on the history of the trusts and the consolidation movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on Hoover's push for an anti-competitive corporatist economy in the '20s (i.e., before the Crash -- most of our contemporaries do not realize that Hoover was actually an exemplary progressive), on the conflicts and occasional collaboration between the Rockefellers and the House of Morgan, etc.

    Rothbard loved the nitty-gritty details of history, and those details of what real human beings thought and did are actually much more interesting than textbook histories let on.

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln's getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War. Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that. And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln’s getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War.

    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy….

    Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that.

    Of course, Lincoln’s proposition was based on the idea that America was a White man’s country….

    And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.

    Again, the Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy….

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    syonredux wrote to me:

    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy….
     
    Well... yeah, they were. But, Jeff Davis was not a fire-eater. And, Lincoln quite clearly knew that by reinforcing Sumter he was starting a war (see, e.g., Kenneth Stampp's And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860--1861 -- note that Stampp is no Confederate sympathizer!).

    My personal sympathies are with the radical abolitionists: I actually agree with those who believe that the free states should have seceded from the slave states as a result of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. (Of course, the radical abolitionists were also more than "pretty crazy" by the standards of their time!)

    There was plenty of blame to go around for the greatest bloodbath in American history: see, e.g., Michael Holt's The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (again, Holt is a respected mainstream historian and not a Confederate sympathizer).

    I'm happy to blame Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee, Seward and the erstwhile Northern Whigs, the Southern fire-eaters, and, yes, some of the abolitionists, as well as Lincoln.

    What I object to is the beatifying of Lincoln. He was, after all, the President, he could have prevented the bloodbath, and he didn't. People like Jaffa who worship Lincoln are just as crazy as anyone who worships Jeff Davis or Robert Barnwell Rhett.

    The Civil War should not have happened. It was preventable. No other civilized country found a Civil War necessary to end slavery.

    The "statesmen" on both sides who failed to prevent that war are not deserving of adulation.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  25. Contra the view that progressivism is a European graft see Mencius Moldbug, who has written that “communism is as American as apple pie” and made a pretty convincing case of it.

    Many of the founders were noble men and admirable. My problem with them is that their war on the Crown was illegal and their solution, while worth a try, didn’t stand the test of time.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  26. @PhysicistDave
    Anon wrote:

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.
     

    Or, how about:

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an "evil empire." But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an “evil empire.” But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.

    What counts as a threat?

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    syonredux wrote to me:

    What counts as a threat [in terms of the USSR]?
     
    Well... the USSR was, as someone once said, a Third World country with nuclear weapons. Ever since Stalin beat Trotsky (Trotsky was the real apostle of world revolution), the USSR was remarkably cautious in its foreign policy: indeed, they were really frightened of the West. There was no indication they ever intended first use of their nukes, which was the only plausible threat they could have posed (see, e.g., how Khrushchev backed down and was humiliated by JFK over the Missile Crisis).

    Putting aside the nukes, there was never any chance the USSR could conquer the USA with conventional weapons. There was never any chance the Soviets could ideologically convince the American people to adopt Communism. Economically, scientifically, and technologically the USSR was a basket case (I speak as a physicist/engineer who followed Soviet work).

    Geopolitically, the only place they could dominate was Eastern Europe, and eventually they failed even there. They failed to dominate Maoist China; they could not even conquer Afghanistan.

    The USSR were a bunch of losers, pretty much no matter how you cut it.

    Which is why even the Russians themselves were well rid of the USSR.

    But, the Soviets were not in the back pocket of the US ruling class, and that bothered the US elite.

    Of course, the Soviets also made an excellent bogeyman to frighten ordinary Americans and get them to knuckle under to the American ruling elite. (The establishment liberal H. W. Brands actually laid this out in some detail in his book The Strange Death of American Liberalism: it was a great ploy by Establishment liberals while it lasted.)

    It is not a coincidence that we finally saw the beginnings of an independent Right after the fall of the Soviet Union when the Russian bugbear could no longer be used to keep the conservative grass-roots in line.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  27. Strauss vs the much better Aristotle … The Straussian stuff does not merit the lengthy, difficult-to-read professor-y piece above … Strauss was an early big player of a modern academic-political game, being intentionally obscurantist and ambiguous in order to (1) present a fake air of profundity (2) hide a Machiavellian agenda of social manipulation to benefit elites.

    On the other hand, what is fascinating, are some quotes from a great ancient Greek whom Strauss, Bloom etc claim to admire … philosopher and polymath Aristotle, who, it turns out, advised strongly against incautious immigration!

    Below, text from Aristotle’s ‘Politics’, 1944 Harvard translation by H. Rackham, text on the Perseus site, ‘Bekker numbers’ below the ‘pages’ of the Greek original

    Here’s Aristotle in his ‘Politics’, giving multiple examples of immigration disasters … Aristotle saying that often, either you expel the immigrants or they take over and maybe even expel you (1303a-b):

    Difference of race is a cause of faction, for just as any chance multitude of people does not form a state, so a state is not formed in any chance period of time.

    Hence most of the states that have hitherto admitted joint settlers or additional settlers have split into factions; for example Achaeans settled at Sybaris jointly with Troezenians, and afterwards the Achaeans having become more numerous expelled the Troezenians, which was the Cause of the curse that fell on the Sybarites;

    And at Thurii Sybarites quarrelled with those who had settled there with them, for they claimed to have the larger share in the country as being their own, and were ejected;

    And at Byzantium the additional settlers were discovered plotting against the colonists and were expelled by force of arms;

    And the people of Antissa after admitting the Chian exiles expelled them by arms;

    And the people of Zancle after admitting settlers from Samos were themselves expelled;

    And the people of Apollonia on the Euxine Sea after bringing in additional settlers fell into faction;

    And the Syracusans, conferred citizenship on their foreign troops and mercenaries and then faction set in and they came to battle; and the Amphipolitans having received settlers from Chalcis were most of them driven out by them.

    Here’s Aristotle on the habit of oligarchs to prefer that their operational mafias be some kind of foreign tribe or aliens or ‘dual citizens’ (1311a, 1314a)

    A king’s body-guard consists of citizens, a tyrant’s of foreign mercenaries … And it is a mark of a tyrant to have men of foreign extraction rather than citizens as guests at table and companions … feeling that citizens are hostile but strangers make no claim against him

    A few more applicable-to-today phrases from Aristotle’s ‘Politics’ (1313b-1314a)

    It is a device of tyranny to make the subjects poor, so that the people being busy with their daily affairs may not have leisure to plot against their ruler … Tyranny is a friend of the base [i.e., low-quality people]; the base are useful for base business, for nail is driven out by nail, as the proverb goes.

    And it is a mark of a tyrant to dislike anyone that is proud or free-spirited; for the man who shows a free spirit robs tyranny of its superiority and position of mastery.

    Hat tip for the pointers to the above material by New Nationalist and Guillaume Durocher – Durocher tho may have number errors in his Aristotle text citations, per Perseus

    Read More
    • Replies: @candid_observer
    Aristotle's Politics is mostly an empirical sort of investigation. It draws inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system based on the set of data on political arrangements with which Aristotle was familiar.

    The correct use of Aristotle's Politics in our day is not to apply his conclusions to our current political systems. It is rather to look at our now vastly richer, and more relevant, data set of political arrangements, and draw our own inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system.

    The real lesson Aristotle should be teaching all of us is empiricism when it comes to politics, and the concomitant respect for both human nature and culture.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  28. Begging your forgiveness for presenting a frivolous response to such a sterling post, but my instant reaction to this:

    The East would also laugh at the mere thought that the West, in standing for Trump, is standing for philosophy

    was to think of this:

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  29. @iffen
    I'm not sure how all of this connects to country clubs and golf, but I am going to think about it.

    “I’m not sure how all of this connects to country clubs and golf, but I am going to think about it.”

    Maybe view the East Coast Straussians as the front 9 and the West Coast Straussians as the back 9?

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    Perhaps.

    Maybe the East Coast is the WASP country club and the West Coast is the Jewish one.

    If we stay with it we might get somewhere. Apparently the key to being a "good" Straussian is to keep reading the tea leaves until the esoteric truth knocks your socks off.

    But then, with no socks on you wouldn't be allowed into either club, so that can't be it.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  30. Steve, that was great. Thanks for posting the whole thing (although I don’t believe for a moment that you were having trouble with the “more” function—must be some esoteric maneuvering on your part).

    I thought your correspondent might be Thomas West, until he was mentioned in the final paragraphs. Possibly he’s Michael Anton, of Flight 93 fame? In any case, the comment reflects the caliber of your readership and the esteem in which this blog is held. Congratulations.

    As for Heilbrunn, as I recall he was one of the early figures to write about the “ominous” influence of Straussians, but the new piece on Trump’s brains seemed to be mostly a retread of things he said 20 years ago.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I don’t believe for a moment that you were having trouble with the “more” function—must be some esoteric maneuvering on your part

    No, I couldn't get the More button to work. It work on comments, but not on my posts.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  31. This interesting post was unfortunately flying kilometers above the intelligence level of the readership of this blog.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  32. Wonderful!! This is the conversation that is needed at this time, not the lectures we receive from our betters billed as “discussions.”
    Unfortunately, this cost me money! It resulted in the purchase of three new books, which is three more than I need at this time.
    Please feature this epistle in the side bar for some time to come.

    Brad

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  33. @Anon
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam's Razor would do us well.

    Let's examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, "muh democracy" - devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it - personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don't benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about "making the world safe for democracy" despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: "I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better - no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!"

    Option B: "I can't wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can't believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!"

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people's true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don't need to know a single word of last century's bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it's pointless. People aren't motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people's true motivations.

    Let’s examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, “muh democracy” – devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it – personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    This exemplifies the danger of dogma that Steve’s email-writer warned about.

    Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in “muh democracy” wasn’t about democracy per se — there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore, for example, and make it a democracy. The idea, wrong-headed as it was, was that replacing a sclerotic autocracy in the heart of the Arab world with a democracy would lead to some sort of evolution against jihadism. Of course, that hasn’t happened, in part because of the clannishness due to inbreeding that Steve warned about presciently in 2003, and due to the absence any popular secular counterpoint to Islamism in the Arab world.

    There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not.

    But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk — not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up — but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. There were calls to end the sanctions on Iraq before the invasion — Bin Laden even cited it as one of his big 3 grievances against the U.S. — and I think the U.S. government, Cheney especially, feared that if Saddam Hussein could get away with flaunting laws against WMD other rogue states would too, and eventually one would give WMDs to terrorists.

    Briefly, that argument got support when Gaddafi gave up his WMD program, but when he was sodomized to death, that probably gave rogue states the idea that it was better to keep a WMD deterrent against us.

    Option B is “Because the Jews/Israel/oil” dogma. But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel’s PM was warning Bush behind the scenes of the dangers of trying to democratize Iraq (both points made here: https://forward.com/opinion/9839/sharon-warned-bush/ ). And of course the invasion of Iraq ended up strengthening Iran.

    The “because oil” argument is even more specious. The (much!) cheaper way of getting Iraqi oil would have been to end the sanctions and simply buy it from them.

    And the idea that Cheney got rolled by Jews ignores Cheney’s 1% doctrine. Cheney was arguably the strongest advocate of the Iraq War in the Bush administration, with the possible exception of Bush.

    Read More
    • Agree: IHTG
    • Replies: @Anon
    "Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in “muh democracy” wasn’t about democracy per se — there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore"

    ...or Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern country allied with Israel, and a country that spent billions leading up to 9/11 promoting the kinds of extremist ideologies that inspired the act. Arguably, Saudi Arabia did more than any other country in the world to facilitate 9/11 - a large majority of the hijackers were even Saudi nationals. Iraq? Not so much.

    "But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel’s PM was warning "

    But not arguing that Iraq wasn't a threat to Israel at all. The neocons repeated many times on national television that Iraq was a stepping stone to Syria and Iran, both countries we've had/or may have conflict with in the near future. In fact, it's now being reported that Israel and Trump officials have signed a series of memoranda on the so-called threat of Iran. What I've stated isn't "dogma" but well reasoned supposition - probably fact.

    "But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk — not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up — but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. "

    That wasn't a justification but merely an excuse. The inspectors were back in, the sanctions regime had been strengthened (largely to deter Bush from invading), and there was no realistic expectation that Hussien would build more WMD after he had cooperated in their destruction.

    "There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not."

    Now THAT is dogma. You don't really believe the "bad guy" argument was anything other than a fig leaf for these people, do you? Did we actually topple Mugabe? Or did Blair simply use that as an excuse when he (Bush really) had an ulterior motive? THAT was the point I was making: people use words to hide their true motives; study primal motives, not words.

    , @guest
    Invading Iraq ended up strengthening Iran, yes, but that wasn't the plan. The plan, stupid as it was, was to deal with the former and thereby make it easier to deal with the latter. They actually hoped for an "Arab Spring" to give them a second, American(Israeli)-friendly Iranian revolution. Having Iraq as a base would make that easier. If that failed and they had to go to war with Iran, having Iraq as a base would also make that easier.

    Why not bypass Iraq and start with the Big Cheese? I don't know strategy that well. Maybe Iraq was the easier option. But I definitely know a second Iraq war was an easier sale to the public. It wasn't directly tied to 9/11, which made it not a slam dunk. But we had left the country dangling after the Gulf War. Hussein was a bad guy, we had the Sanctions Drama, WMDs were plausible, and so on.

    We did Iraq first because that was considered the easier path. We're worse off now by their measure, because they severely overrated their mystical powers.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  34. @Antlitz Grollheim
    Ketman

    Thank you for that word, and for the enjoyment of learning about it.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  35. @Anon
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam's Razor would do us well.

    Let's examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, "muh democracy" - devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it - personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don't benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about "making the world safe for democracy" despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: "I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better - no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!"

    Option B: "I can't wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can't believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!"

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people's true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don't need to know a single word of last century's bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it's pointless. People aren't motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people's true motivations.

    Wignat detected! Paging Thermidor Magazine!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  36. @Brabantian
    Strauss vs the much better Aristotle ... The Straussian stuff does not merit the lengthy, difficult-to-read professor-y piece above ... Strauss was an early big player of a modern academic-political game, being intentionally obscurantist and ambiguous in order to (1) present a fake air of profundity (2) hide a Machiavellian agenda of social manipulation to benefit elites.

    On the other hand, what is fascinating, are some quotes from a great ancient Greek whom Strauss, Bloom etc claim to admire ... philosopher and polymath Aristotle, who, it turns out, advised strongly against incautious immigration!

    Below, text from Aristotle's 'Politics', 1944 Harvard translation by H. Rackham, text on the Perseus site, 'Bekker numbers' below the 'pages' of the Greek original

    Here's Aristotle in his 'Politics', giving multiple examples of immigration disasters ... Aristotle saying that often, either you expel the immigrants or they take over and maybe even expel you (1303a-b):


    Difference of race is a cause of faction, for just as any chance multitude of people does not form a state, so a state is not formed in any chance period of time.

    Hence most of the states that have hitherto admitted joint settlers or additional settlers have split into factions; for example Achaeans settled at Sybaris jointly with Troezenians, and afterwards the Achaeans having become more numerous expelled the Troezenians, which was the Cause of the curse that fell on the Sybarites;

    And at Thurii Sybarites quarrelled with those who had settled there with them, for they claimed to have the larger share in the country as being their own, and were ejected;

    And at Byzantium the additional settlers were discovered plotting against the colonists and were expelled by force of arms;

    And the people of Antissa after admitting the Chian exiles expelled them by arms;

    And the people of Zancle after admitting settlers from Samos were themselves expelled;

    And the people of Apollonia on the Euxine Sea after bringing in additional settlers fell into faction;

    And the Syracusans, conferred citizenship on their foreign troops and mercenaries and then faction set in and they came to battle; and the Amphipolitans having received settlers from Chalcis were most of them driven out by them.

     

    Here's Aristotle on the habit of oligarchs to prefer that their operational mafias be some kind of foreign tribe or aliens or 'dual citizens' (1311a, 1314a)


    A king's body-guard consists of citizens, a tyrant's of foreign mercenaries ... And it is a mark of a tyrant to have men of foreign extraction rather than citizens as guests at table and companions ... feeling that citizens are hostile but strangers make no claim against him

     

    A few more applicable-to-today phrases from Aristotle's 'Politics' (1313b-1314a)


    It is a device of tyranny to make the subjects poor, so that the people being busy with their daily affairs may not have leisure to plot against their ruler ... Tyranny is a friend of the base [i.e., low-quality people]; the base are useful for base business, for nail is driven out by nail, as the proverb goes.

    And it is a mark of a tyrant to dislike anyone that is proud or free-spirited; for the man who shows a free spirit robs tyranny of its superiority and position of mastery.

     

    Hat tip for the pointers to the above material by New Nationalist and Guillaume Durocher - Durocher tho may have number errors in his Aristotle text citations, per Perseus

    Aristotle’s Politics is mostly an empirical sort of investigation. It draws inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system based on the set of data on political arrangements with which Aristotle was familiar.

    The correct use of Aristotle’s Politics in our day is not to apply his conclusions to our current political systems. It is rather to look at our now vastly richer, and more relevant, data set of political arrangements, and draw our own inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system.

    The real lesson Aristotle should be teaching all of us is empiricism when it comes to politics, and the concomitant respect for both human nature and culture.

    Read More
    • Replies: @SOL
    That's the 2oth century take on Aristotle, as the consummate "empiricist" as opposed to Plato.

    In actuality, Aristotle's conclusions regarding the size of polity and how some people are unfit for self-government because of their being habituated to living in empire are relevant today. It is not that his claims work only with the data with which he was familiar, but rather that the political ends or goods are either given by nature or not, and it is his conclusions regarding the means to attaining those ends that may be debatable.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  37. Well, I seem to be in the minority of those who found this pretty fascinating, albeit long and kinda academic. Keep in mind that the “Flight 93″ essay, which influenced so many (including me) was an expression of West Coast Straussianism.

    I’ve been fascinated by Strauss’s ideas for many years, and have myself wondered if Strauss himself was an atheist who thought religion was for dupes (but politically useful). It’s been so hard to get a straight answer, and this email explains why: Strauss himself was intentionally vague, and his interpreters are split into two schools on this subject. Not having a scorecard on who is East vs. who is West, I’ve probably read different Straussians and been confused as to how sympathetic they are to metaphysics.

    Yes, I know many (like Paul Gottfried) consider Strauss (and his followers) to be crypto-Progressives. (There are claims that Strauss voted for Adlai Stevenson, that Allan Bloom and others were basically JFK liberals who only became conservatives-in-name because the New Left went too far into Marxism in contrast.) But the basic ideas about elite rule, exoteric/esosteric doctrine, the need for secret writing (reading between the lines) to avoid persecution–these are interesting subjects no matter the labels applied to the thinker, or what politicians they are rumored to have voted for.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Opinionator
    Keep in mind that the “Flight 93″ essay, which influenced so many (including me) was an expression of West Coast Straussianism.

    Where is the influence of Strauss seen in that essay?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  38. The East Coast Straussians preach the OPPOSITE of what they practice. They preach (however slyly) relativism and even nihilism, while they personally live orderly, sober, moral lives.

    This is very Straussian. Not the noble lie though. More like an ignoble lie. Let the masses wallow in nihilism and relativism on their road to perdition while we get only stronger in our course and resolve to stay above them and retain our faculties to control this riffraff.

    while they personally live orderly, sober, moral lives

    Would this apply to Allan Bloom? The sober and moral part, in particular?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  39. This is great, thank you. All I know about Strauss is here, so what about it: http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/11/04/paul-gottfrieds-leo-strauss-conservative-movement-america/.

    Thanks again.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  40. Tl;dr… The country is ruled by a Deep State of progressives. Trump is the best chance we had of taking our country back.

    The OP says Strauss intentionally wrote in a way that resisted forming dogma. I say Straussians write in a way that makes it hard for Rachel Maddow to demonize them on TV.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  41. @ChrisZ
    Steve, that was great. Thanks for posting the whole thing (although I don’t believe for a moment that you were having trouble with the “more” function—must be some esoteric maneuvering on your part).

    I thought your correspondent might be Thomas West, until he was mentioned in the final paragraphs. Possibly he’s Michael Anton, of Flight 93 fame? In any case, the comment reflects the caliber of your readership and the esteem in which this blog is held. Congratulations.

    As for Heilbrunn, as I recall he was one of the early figures to write about the “ominous” influence of Straussians, but the new piece on Trump’s brains seemed to be mostly a retread of things he said 20 years ago.

    I don’t believe for a moment that you were having trouble with the “more” function—must be some esoteric maneuvering on your part

    No, I couldn’t get the More button to work. It work on comments, but not on my posts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ChrisZ
    Thanks for the reply. I guess I was reading too much between the lines. ;)
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  42. @nebulafox
    I personally think Machiavelli takes far more Aristotle's beliefs-above all, that man is, by nature, a political creature-and Thucydides' realism than abstract Platonism. But YMMV-I'm hardly a philosophical expert and would be glad to be corrected here.

    Paleos like Tom Fleming have a more positive image of Machievelli as a realist with respect to political power than the Straussians.

    Read More
    • Replies: @guest
    James Burnham, who was a Trotskyite cum conservative--though not exactly a typical neocon--of course wrote the book Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  43. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Let’s examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, “muh democracy” – devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it – personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.
     

    This exemplifies the danger of dogma that Steve's email-writer warned about.

    Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in "muh democracy" wasn't about democracy per se -- there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore, for example, and make it a democracy. The idea, wrong-headed as it was, was that replacing a sclerotic autocracy in the heart of the Arab world with a democracy would lead to some sort of evolution against jihadism. Of course, that hasn't happened, in part because of the clannishness due to inbreeding that Steve warned about presciently in 2003, and due to the absence any popular secular counterpoint to Islamism in the Arab world.

    There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not.

    But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk -- not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up -- but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. There were calls to end the sanctions on Iraq before the invasion -- Bin Laden even cited it as one of his big 3 grievances against the U.S. -- and I think the U.S. government, Cheney especially, feared that if Saddam Hussein could get away with flaunting laws against WMD other rogue states would too, and eventually one would give WMDs to terrorists.

    Briefly, that argument got support when Gaddafi gave up his WMD program, but when he was sodomized to death, that probably gave rogue states the idea that it was better to keep a WMD deterrent against us.

    Option B is "Because the Jews/Israel/oil" dogma. But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel's PM was warning Bush behind the scenes of the dangers of trying to democratize Iraq (both points made here: https://forward.com/opinion/9839/sharon-warned-bush/ ). And of course the invasion of Iraq ended up strengthening Iran.

    The "because oil" argument is even more specious. The (much!) cheaper way of getting Iraqi oil would have been to end the sanctions and simply buy it from them.

    And the idea that Cheney got rolled by Jews ignores Cheney's 1% doctrine. Cheney was arguably the strongest advocate of the Iraq War in the Bush administration, with the possible exception of Bush.

    “Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in “muh democracy” wasn’t about democracy per se — there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore”

    …or Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern country allied with Israel, and a country that spent billions leading up to 9/11 promoting the kinds of extremist ideologies that inspired the act. Arguably, Saudi Arabia did more than any other country in the world to facilitate 9/11 – a large majority of the hijackers were even Saudi nationals. Iraq? Not so much.

    “But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel’s PM was warning ”

    But not arguing that Iraq wasn’t a threat to Israel at all. The neocons repeated many times on national television that Iraq was a stepping stone to Syria and Iran, both countries we’ve had/or may have conflict with in the near future. In fact, it’s now being reported that Israel and Trump officials have signed a series of memoranda on the so-called threat of Iran. What I’ve stated isn’t “dogma” but well reasoned supposition – probably fact.

    “But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk — not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up — but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. ”

    That wasn’t a justification but merely an excuse. The inspectors were back in, the sanctions regime had been strengthened (largely to deter Bush from invading), and there was no realistic expectation that Hussien would build more WMD after he had cooperated in their destruction.

    “There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not.”

    Now THAT is dogma. You don’t really believe the “bad guy” argument was anything other than a fig leaf for these people, do you? Did we actually topple Mugabe? Or did Blair simply use that as an excuse when he (Bush really) had an ulterior motive? THAT was the point I was making: people use words to hide their true motives; study primal motives, not words.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen

    …or Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern country allied with Israel, and a country that spent billions leading up to 9/11 promoting the kinds of extremist ideologies that inspired the act. Arguably, Saudi Arabia did more than any other country in the world to facilitate 9/11 – a large majority of the hijackers were even Saudi nationals
     
    Not sure "allied with Israel" accurately describes Saudi Arabia circa 2003, but sure: you could have made the same democracy injection argument there too. But the legal/diplomatic/legislative groundwork, such as it was, had already been laid for Iraq. Saddam Hussein had been a convenient paper tiger to rail about in Congress or launch cruise missiles at to burnish hawkish bona fides for over a decade. And there were UN security council resolutions relating to the end of the first Gulf War that could be tendentiously used to sort of justify a new one.

    But not arguing that Iraq wasn’t a threat to Israel at all.
     
    Iraq did launch some Scud missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War, and there was some worry it might do the same during the Iraq War, but it's hard to see how it was much of a threat to Israel. Iran you could make a stronger argument for, given its relationship with Hezbollah, for example.

    That wasn’t a justification but merely an excuse. The inspectors were back in, the sanctions regime had been strengthened (largely to deter Bush from invading), and there was no realistic expectation that Hussien would build more WMD after he had cooperated in their destruction.
     
    No, I think it was the justification they believed the most. Part of the problem, in hindsight, was that Saddam Hussein wanted his domestic enemies (most likely the Kurds, who he'd gassed before) to think he still had WMD. So he didn't come as clean as would have otherwise with the UN.

    Now THAT is dogma. You don’t really believe the “bad guy” argument was anything other than a fig leaf for these people, do you?
     
    I think Blair was sincere when he said that.

    Did we actually topple Mugabe?
     
    No, but that was Blair's point: we can't get rid of all evil dictators, but here's a rare opportunity where we can get rid of one, so let's do it.

    Or did Blair simply use that as an excuse when he (Bush really) had an ulterior motive?
     
    Which was what, in your view? To have his legacy discredited?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  44. @candid_observer
    Aristotle's Politics is mostly an empirical sort of investigation. It draws inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system based on the set of data on political arrangements with which Aristotle was familiar.

    The correct use of Aristotle's Politics in our day is not to apply his conclusions to our current political systems. It is rather to look at our now vastly richer, and more relevant, data set of political arrangements, and draw our own inferences as to the most desirable sort of political system.

    The real lesson Aristotle should be teaching all of us is empiricism when it comes to politics, and the concomitant respect for both human nature and culture.

    That’s the 2oth century take on Aristotle, as the consummate “empiricist” as opposed to Plato.

    In actuality, Aristotle’s conclusions regarding the size of polity and how some people are unfit for self-government because of their being habituated to living in empire are relevant today. It is not that his claims work only with the data with which he was familiar, but rather that the political ends or goods are either given by nature or not, and it is his conclusions regarding the means to attaining those ends that may be debatable.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  45. what Strauss called “the permanent problems”: Athens v. Jerusalem

    What is this Athens v. Jerusalem problem about? As Saul Bellow observed in Ravelstein Jerusalem wins in the end or it can’t be otherwise in hearts and minds of Jewish practitioners of Western philosophy. It seems that Jews still have not recovered from the shock they suffered from confrontation with far superior Greek culture in antiquity.

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lazare-bernard/1894/antisemitism/ch02.htmNot less than the Stoics did the Sophists detest the Jews. But the causes of their hatred were not religious, but, I should say, rather literary. From Ptolemy Philadelphus, until the middle of the third century, the Alexandrian Jews, with the intent of sustaining and strengthening their propaganda, gave themselves to forging all texts which were capable of lending support to their cause. The verses of Aeschylus, of Sophocles, of Euripides, the pretended oracles of Orpheus, preserved in Aristobulus and the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria were thus made to glorify the one God and the Sabbath. Historians were falsified or credited with the authorship of books they had never written. It is thus that a History of the Jews was published under the name of Hecataeus of Abdera. The most important of these inventions was the Sibylline oracles, a fabrication of the Alexandrian Jews, which prophesied the future advent of the reign of the one God. They found imitators, however, for since the Sibyl had begun to speak, in the second century before Christ, the first Christians also made her speak. The Jews would appropriate to themselves even the Greek literature and philosophy. In a commentary on the Pentateuch, which has been preserved for us by Eusebius,l7 Aristobulus attempted to show that Plato and Aristotle had found their metaphysical and ethical ideas in an old Greek translation of the Pentateuch. The Greeks were greatly incensed at such treatment of their literature and philosophy, and out of revenge they circulated the slanderous stories of Manetho, adapting them to those of the Bible, to the great fury of the Jews; thus the con- fusion of languages was identified with the myth of Zeus robbing the animals of their common language. The Sophists, wounded by the conduct of the Jews, would speak against them in their teaching. One among them, Apion, wrote a Treatise against the Jews. This Apion was a peculiar individual, a liar and babbler, to a degree uncommon even among rhetors, and full of vanity, which earned him from Tiberius the nickname “Cymbalum mundi.” His stories were famous; he claimed to have called out, by means of magic herbs, the shade of Homer, says Pliny.

    Read More
    • Replies: @MB
    "What is this Athens v. Jerusalem problem about?"

    In a nutshell, how do we know what is true and good or even if there is such a thing?
    From religion/revelation, reason or sensation/empiricism.
    IOW Christ, Plato (or Aristotle).
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  46. @Anonymous
    Straussianism is Trotskiite nonsense and the fount of neoconservative globalism. American conservatism died when these people took over under Reagan.

    Straussianism is Trotskiite nonsense and the fount of neoconservative globalism. American conservatism died when these people took over under Reagan.

    American conservatism died when William F Buckley invited Jewish neo-cons into Conservatism.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  47. @Anonymous IV
    Well, I seem to be in the minority of those who found this pretty fascinating, albeit long and kinda academic. Keep in mind that the "Flight 93" essay, which influenced so many (including me) was an expression of West Coast Straussianism.

    I've been fascinated by Strauss's ideas for many years, and have myself wondered if Strauss himself was an atheist who thought religion was for dupes (but politically useful). It's been so hard to get a straight answer, and this email explains why: Strauss himself was intentionally vague, and his interpreters are split into two schools on this subject. Not having a scorecard on who is East vs. who is West, I've probably read different Straussians and been confused as to how sympathetic they are to metaphysics.

    Yes, I know many (like Paul Gottfried) consider Strauss (and his followers) to be crypto-Progressives. (There are claims that Strauss voted for Adlai Stevenson, that Allan Bloom and others were basically JFK liberals who only became conservatives-in-name because the New Left went too far into Marxism in contrast.) But the basic ideas about elite rule, exoteric/esosteric doctrine, the need for secret writing (reading between the lines) to avoid persecution--these are interesting subjects no matter the labels applied to the thinker, or what politicians they are rumored to have voted for.

    Keep in mind that the “Flight 93″ essay, which influenced so many (including me) was an expression of West Coast Straussianism.

    Where is the influence of Strauss seen in that essay?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous IV
    When it was first published under a pseudonym, it wasn't overt. (Roger Kimball correctly guessed the author was a Straussian early on. https://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2016/09/10/the-bumpy-ride-of-our-flight-93/ )
    But once it was confirmed that the author was Michael Anton, it was worth considering that Anton is part of that Claremont culture that this email discusses. Anton wrote many things under his own name for the CRB.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/contributor-list/49/

    I suppose endorsing Trump was seen as so dangerous/toxic that he decided to use a pseudonym.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn't have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons. I've spent the past year getting up to speed on the East-West split among Strauss followers, and this email from one of Steve's readers is a welcome contribution.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  48. The universe is indifferent but local rules/maxima/minima apply. For example, voters in flyover land areas like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin among others didn’t want to settle for a political platform that was presented or perceived as at best indifferent and more overtly hostile so they reacted.

    Nihilism, or the perception thereof, might be fashionable in the right train cars on the Acela Corridor, but it doesn’t travel well to the west. Seeing that type of native resistance identified and translated into an emotive and actionable message was fun to watch.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  49. Some things make a lot more sense as I get older, but philosophy remains opaque. It seems all about using specific words to pin down things that can’t be. Over generalizations and arguments about things that no sensible person would care about. Economics makes sense, politics makes sense, even psychology done honestly makes sense. Philosophy just seems like obfuscation.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  50. @Anon
    "Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in “muh democracy” wasn’t about democracy per se — there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore"

    ...or Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern country allied with Israel, and a country that spent billions leading up to 9/11 promoting the kinds of extremist ideologies that inspired the act. Arguably, Saudi Arabia did more than any other country in the world to facilitate 9/11 - a large majority of the hijackers were even Saudi nationals. Iraq? Not so much.

    "But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel’s PM was warning "

    But not arguing that Iraq wasn't a threat to Israel at all. The neocons repeated many times on national television that Iraq was a stepping stone to Syria and Iran, both countries we've had/or may have conflict with in the near future. In fact, it's now being reported that Israel and Trump officials have signed a series of memoranda on the so-called threat of Iran. What I've stated isn't "dogma" but well reasoned supposition - probably fact.

    "But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk — not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up — but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. "

    That wasn't a justification but merely an excuse. The inspectors were back in, the sanctions regime had been strengthened (largely to deter Bush from invading), and there was no realistic expectation that Hussien would build more WMD after he had cooperated in their destruction.

    "There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not."

    Now THAT is dogma. You don't really believe the "bad guy" argument was anything other than a fig leaf for these people, do you? Did we actually topple Mugabe? Or did Blair simply use that as an excuse when he (Bush really) had an ulterior motive? THAT was the point I was making: people use words to hide their true motives; study primal motives, not words.

    …or Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern country allied with Israel, and a country that spent billions leading up to 9/11 promoting the kinds of extremist ideologies that inspired the act. Arguably, Saudi Arabia did more than any other country in the world to facilitate 9/11 – a large majority of the hijackers were even Saudi nationals

    Not sure “allied with Israel” accurately describes Saudi Arabia circa 2003, but sure: you could have made the same democracy injection argument there too. But the legal/diplomatic/legislative groundwork, such as it was, had already been laid for Iraq. Saddam Hussein had been a convenient paper tiger to rail about in Congress or launch cruise missiles at to burnish hawkish bona fides for over a decade. And there were UN security council resolutions relating to the end of the first Gulf War that could be tendentiously used to sort of justify a new one.

    But not arguing that Iraq wasn’t a threat to Israel at all.

    Iraq did launch some Scud missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War, and there was some worry it might do the same during the Iraq War, but it’s hard to see how it was much of a threat to Israel. Iran you could make a stronger argument for, given its relationship with Hezbollah, for example.

    That wasn’t a justification but merely an excuse. The inspectors were back in, the sanctions regime had been strengthened (largely to deter Bush from invading), and there was no realistic expectation that Hussien would build more WMD after he had cooperated in their destruction.

    No, I think it was the justification they believed the most. Part of the problem, in hindsight, was that Saddam Hussein wanted his domestic enemies (most likely the Kurds, who he’d gassed before) to think he still had WMD. So he didn’t come as clean as would have otherwise with the UN.

    Now THAT is dogma. You don’t really believe the “bad guy” argument was anything other than a fig leaf for these people, do you?

    I think Blair was sincere when he said that.

    Did we actually topple Mugabe?

    No, but that was Blair’s point: we can’t get rid of all evil dictators, but here’s a rare opportunity where we can get rid of one, so let’s do it.

    Or did Blair simply use that as an excuse when he (Bush really) had an ulterior motive?

    Which was what, in your view? To have his legacy discredited?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  51. @yaqub the mad scientist
    Thanks for posting this, Steve. I hope this generates at least a couple of more posts.

    Maybe Ron Unz can give that guy a blog here.

    Read More
    • Agree: wren
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  52. @Opinionator
    Keep in mind that the “Flight 93″ essay, which influenced so many (including me) was an expression of West Coast Straussianism.

    Where is the influence of Strauss seen in that essay?

    When it was first published under a pseudonym, it wasn’t overt. (Roger Kimball correctly guessed the author was a Straussian early on. https://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2016/09/10/the-bumpy-ride-of-our-flight-93/ )
    But once it was confirmed that the author was Michael Anton, it was worth considering that Anton is part of that Claremont culture that this email discusses. Anton wrote many things under his own name for the CRB.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/contributor-list/49/

    I suppose endorsing Trump was seen as so dangerous/toxic that he decided to use a pseudonym.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn’t have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons. I’ve spent the past year getting up to speed on the East-West split among Strauss followers, and this email from one of Steve’s readers is a welcome contribution.

    Read More
    • Replies: @utu

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn’t have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons.
     
    Michael Anton by self-admission is Straussian in a sense that he was influenced by Strauss and taught by Jaffa. He is of Lebanese descent and not Jewish. He was accused of anti-Semitism for "arguing that the America First Committee was “unfairly maligned"."

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/michael-anton-is-the-most-interesting-man-in-the-white-house-211930901.html
    This rejection of multiculturalism, criticism of Islam, opposition to immigration and support for the America First Committee led some critics to dub Anton a white nationalist and suggest he had “embraced an anti-Semitic past.” Anton vehemently denied those charges in an interview published on Sunday by American Greatness, a website where he served as an editor until last month. In that conversation, Anton acknowledged that “a lot of anti-Semites supported” the America First Committee but disputed that “the group was anti-Semitic and anyone who says anything good about it is an anti-Semite.” Anton pointed to his admiration for Strauss and Jaffa, who were both Jewish, as evidence he couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic. He also said it was a “lie/smear” to label him a “white nationalist.”
     
    , @DPG
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/09/intellectuals-for-trump

    He was interviewed while still pseudonymous.

    “The man known as Decius was tall and fit, a youthful middle-aged professional dressed in a well-tailored gray suit and a pink shirt. He has worked in the finance world, but he talked about political philosophy with the enthusiasm of someone who would do it for fun, which is essentially what he does. Before he began to speak, he held out an iPhone showing a picture of his family: if he was unmasked, he said, his family would suffer, because he works for a company that might not want to be connected to an apostle of Trumpism.”
    , @Opinionator
    Thanks. I appreciate the reply. I'll grant for the sake of argument that Anton is a Straussian. However, is there anything particular in that essay that reflects Straussian ideas and thinking? (I would have in mind something other than "Flight 93 Election was written by a Straussian. Therefore it has Straussian influences.")
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  53. @Steve Sailer
    David Lewis specialized in coming up with arguments that seemed insane but you could never quite put your finger on how to prove them wrong. It was a remarkable talent he had, although I'm not sure I'd want his knack to be less unusual.

    Lewis was unusual also in that he was a genius of the counter-intuitive and outright crazy, but is also a recent philosopher whose ideas have inspired fairly practical implementations. His counterfactual notion of causality is not in widespread use, but is part of a line of long-term promising work in automated software debugging.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  54. @Anon
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam's Razor would do us well.

    Let's examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, "muh democracy" - devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it - personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don't benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about "making the world safe for democracy" despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: "I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better - no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!"

    Option B: "I can't wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can't believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!"

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people's true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don't need to know a single word of last century's bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it's pointless. People aren't motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people's true motivations.

    People aren’t motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people’s true motivations.

    Not true for people with the calling, but certainly true for 99.99% of the population. So, since all truth is simply based on frequency, you are correct.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  55. Excellent post. Readers might be interested to know that they can access many of Strauss’ lectures (audio and transcripts) at the following website..https://leostrausscenter.uchicago.edu/
    Not a substitute for reading his books, of course.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  56. The real question with regard to Straussianism, of either the West or East Coast variety, is: how much are any of the subjects it addresses legitimately philosophical, rather than ultimately empirical?

    I personally can’t see a single important thing depicted in this email that strikes me as inherently philosophical. Certainly questions such as the upsides and downsides of immigration or of particular wars seem inherently empirical. The question of the tradeoffs of an administrative state strike me as empirical as well, even if we sometimes don’t have all the information we might like as to how we might determine these upsides and downsides. I believe that if we could predict the true positives and negatives of an administrative state, we would very likely know our answer to the question of its overall value. In fact, the current unrest in the US over the actions of our administrative state, and its obvious blindness to its own distortions and mistakes, is excellent evidence of its huge downsides.

    It might in principle be true that we might understand all the tradeoffs of a given political arrangement, and, depending on our overarching philosophy, choose quite different ideal systems. Yet I see no evidence of such a dilemma facing us. Everything that seems to matter in such decisions seems instead to depend only on correct predictions about outcomes of various systems.

    Even if our ability to predict these outcomes is very limited, and indeed often incorrect, we gain absolutely nothing I can see by invoking philosophical theory instead. There’s zero reason to believe that the philosophical theory is more likely to set us right on our predictions, and, again, it’s only correct prediction that matters.

    So why is Straussianism — or philosophy — of any stripe adding any value here?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  57. @Anonymous
    "But mere laughter is not an argument."


    Fwiw this is probably a reference to a famous quote in philosophy by the ferociously brilliant David Lewis. When presenting his theory of modal realism he argued that possible worlds are literally concrete worlds . That is, when I say, "Well, it's possible that Steve Sailer is actually the real puppet master controlling both Trump and Putin" then I am saying there is a real, physical world where this is happening in fact.

    Naturally, philosophers had the immediate reaction of "No EFFING way" to which David Lewis replied, "I cannot argue with an incredulous stare."

    Decades later the "incredulous stare" is still referenced in philosophy circles as a reminder that we're looking for arguments and not just reactions because some truths are counterintuitive. David Lewis himself pointed out that we have folk wisdom because it works most of the time--but the incredulous stare will stop us from seeing when it might be wrong.

    “I cannot argue with an incredulous stare.”

    And how and why should one argue with an incredible assertion?

    Sorry, the claim that there really is a physical world in which a counterfactual assertion is actually true is just groundless BS of the rankest kind. Why should anyone be obliged to refute it?

    Because the guy who said it was really smart?

    Not smart enough, I think.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  58. @Anonymous IV
    When it was first published under a pseudonym, it wasn't overt. (Roger Kimball correctly guessed the author was a Straussian early on. https://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2016/09/10/the-bumpy-ride-of-our-flight-93/ )
    But once it was confirmed that the author was Michael Anton, it was worth considering that Anton is part of that Claremont culture that this email discusses. Anton wrote many things under his own name for the CRB.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/contributor-list/49/

    I suppose endorsing Trump was seen as so dangerous/toxic that he decided to use a pseudonym.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn't have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons. I've spent the past year getting up to speed on the East-West split among Strauss followers, and this email from one of Steve's readers is a welcome contribution.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn’t have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons.

    Michael Anton by self-admission is Straussian in a sense that he was influenced by Strauss and taught by Jaffa. He is of Lebanese descent and not Jewish. He was accused of anti-Semitism for “arguing that the America First Committee was “unfairly maligned”.”

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/michael-anton-is-the-most-interesting-man-in-the-white-house-211930901.html
    This rejection of multiculturalism, criticism of Islam, opposition to immigration and support for the America First Committee led some critics to dub Anton a white nationalist and suggest he had “embraced an anti-Semitic past.” Anton vehemently denied those charges in an interview published on Sunday by American Greatness, a website where he served as an editor until last month. In that conversation, Anton acknowledged that “a lot of anti-Semites supported” the America First Committee but disputed that “the group was anti-Semitic and anyone who says anything good about it is an anti-Semite.” Anton pointed to his admiration for Strauss and Jaffa, who were both Jewish, as evidence he couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic. He also said it was a “lie/smear” to label him a “white nationalist.”

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  59. What about the bicoastal Straussians?

    I found the book whoever sent the email plugged to be the most useful information out of this blog entry. Just who sent the email? Not like Sailer not to provide a better introduction.

    That Rothbard has had a new book published or reprinted was also good to know. Still I think you’re overly excited about this Strauss guy.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  60. @Anonymous IV
    When it was first published under a pseudonym, it wasn't overt. (Roger Kimball correctly guessed the author was a Straussian early on. https://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2016/09/10/the-bumpy-ride-of-our-flight-93/ )
    But once it was confirmed that the author was Michael Anton, it was worth considering that Anton is part of that Claremont culture that this email discusses. Anton wrote many things under his own name for the CRB.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/contributor-list/49/

    I suppose endorsing Trump was seen as so dangerous/toxic that he decided to use a pseudonym.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn't have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons. I've spent the past year getting up to speed on the East-West split among Strauss followers, and this email from one of Steve's readers is a welcome contribution.

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/09/intellectuals-for-trump

    He was interviewed while still pseudonymous.

    “The man known as Decius was tall and fit, a youthful middle-aged professional dressed in a well-tailored gray suit and a pink shirt. He has worked in the finance world, but he talked about political philosophy with the enthusiasm of someone who would do it for fun, which is essentially what he does. Before he began to speak, he held out an iPhone showing a picture of his family: if he was unmasked, he said, his family would suffer, because he works for a company that might not want to be connected to an apostle of Trumpism.”

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  61. ‘Myself when young did eagerly frequent

    ‘Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

    ‘About it and about: but evermore

    ‘Came out by the same door where in I went.’

    –Omar Khayyam/Edward FitzGerald

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  62. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    "But mere laughter is not an argument."


    Fwiw this is probably a reference to a famous quote in philosophy by the ferociously brilliant David Lewis. When presenting his theory of modal realism he argued that possible worlds are literally concrete worlds . That is, when I say, "Well, it's possible that Steve Sailer is actually the real puppet master controlling both Trump and Putin" then I am saying there is a real, physical world where this is happening in fact.

    Naturally, philosophers had the immediate reaction of "No EFFING way" to which David Lewis replied, "I cannot argue with an incredulous stare."

    Decades later the "incredulous stare" is still referenced in philosophy circles as a reminder that we're looking for arguments and not just reactions because some truths are counterintuitive. David Lewis himself pointed out that we have folk wisdom because it works most of the time--but the incredulous stare will stop us from seeing when it might be wrong.

    In the theory of the multiverse, it is axiomatic that the probability of any event that is within the possibility of the laws of physics happening in some universe, or on some timeline, is one. So there’s one in which I got broke in at 17 by a fiftysomething Marilyn Monroe and many more where neither she nor I ever existed in the first place. And certainly, one or more where Steve Sailer does control Trump and Putin.

    Read More
    • Replies: @guest
    There is no one theory of THE multiverse. You're talking about one theory according to which all possible things almost certainly actually happen in some self-contained world-thingy, among other world-thingies, which all add up to one big thingy.

    There are other models of multiverses.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  63. @SOL
    Paleos like Tom Fleming have a more positive image of Machievelli as a realist with respect to political power than the Straussians.

    James Burnham, who was a Trotskyite cum conservative–though not exactly a typical neocon–of course wrote the book Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    guest wrote:

    James Burnham, who was a Trotskyite cum conservative–though not exactly a typical neocon–of course wrote the book Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom
     
    Which is a fascinating book that I highly recommend.

    Burnham may have been more than slightly crazy (and a CIA agent, but do I repeat myself?), but he was smart.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  64. @Dave Pinsen

    Let’s examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, “muh democracy” – devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it – personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.
     

    This exemplifies the danger of dogma that Steve's email-writer warned about.

    Option A is mostly a straw man. The interest in "muh democracy" wasn't about democracy per se -- there was no similar zeal to invade Singapore, for example, and make it a democracy. The idea, wrong-headed as it was, was that replacing a sclerotic autocracy in the heart of the Arab world with a democracy would lead to some sort of evolution against jihadism. Of course, that hasn't happened, in part because of the clannishness due to inbreeding that Steve warned about presciently in 2003, and due to the absence any popular secular counterpoint to Islamism in the Arab world.

    There was also a moral argument, in that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and it would be good to get rid of him. Tony Blair made this point in at least one interview, arguing that it would be great to get rid of Mugabe too, but we could knock off Saddam, so why not.

    But the strongest argument for invading Iraq was the WMD risk -- not from Iraq itself, though that was trumped up -- but from the fraying of the international effort to contain it. There were calls to end the sanctions on Iraq before the invasion -- Bin Laden even cited it as one of his big 3 grievances against the U.S. -- and I think the U.S. government, Cheney especially, feared that if Saddam Hussein could get away with flaunting laws against WMD other rogue states would too, and eventually one would give WMDs to terrorists.

    Briefly, that argument got support when Gaddafi gave up his WMD program, but when he was sodomized to death, that probably gave rogue states the idea that it was better to keep a WMD deterrent against us.

    Option B is "Because the Jews/Israel/oil" dogma. But even before the invasion of Iraq, AIPAC was arguing Iran was the bigger threat to Israel, and Israel's PM was warning Bush behind the scenes of the dangers of trying to democratize Iraq (both points made here: https://forward.com/opinion/9839/sharon-warned-bush/ ). And of course the invasion of Iraq ended up strengthening Iran.

    The "because oil" argument is even more specious. The (much!) cheaper way of getting Iraqi oil would have been to end the sanctions and simply buy it from them.

    And the idea that Cheney got rolled by Jews ignores Cheney's 1% doctrine. Cheney was arguably the strongest advocate of the Iraq War in the Bush administration, with the possible exception of Bush.

    Invading Iraq ended up strengthening Iran, yes, but that wasn’t the plan. The plan, stupid as it was, was to deal with the former and thereby make it easier to deal with the latter. They actually hoped for an “Arab Spring” to give them a second, American(Israeli)-friendly Iranian revolution. Having Iraq as a base would make that easier. If that failed and they had to go to war with Iran, having Iraq as a base would also make that easier.

    Why not bypass Iraq and start with the Big Cheese? I don’t know strategy that well. Maybe Iraq was the easier option. But I definitely know a second Iraq war was an easier sale to the public. It wasn’t directly tied to 9/11, which made it not a slam dunk. But we had left the country dangling after the Gulf War. Hussein was a bad guy, we had the Sanctions Drama, WMDs were plausible, and so on.

    We did Iraq first because that was considered the easier path. We’re worse off now by their measure, because they severely overrated their mystical powers.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  65. @Anonymous
    In the theory of the multiverse, it is axiomatic that the probability of any event that is within the possibility of the laws of physics happening in some universe, or on some timeline, is one. So there's one in which I got broke in at 17 by a fiftysomething Marilyn Monroe and many more where neither she nor I ever existed in the first place. And certainly, one or more where Steve Sailer does control Trump and Putin.

    There is no one theory of THE multiverse. You’re talking about one theory according to which all possible things almost certainly actually happen in some self-contained world-thingy, among other world-thingies, which all add up to one big thingy.

    There are other models of multiverses.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  66. @Anonymous
    "But mere laughter is not an argument."


    Fwiw this is probably a reference to a famous quote in philosophy by the ferociously brilliant David Lewis. When presenting his theory of modal realism he argued that possible worlds are literally concrete worlds . That is, when I say, "Well, it's possible that Steve Sailer is actually the real puppet master controlling both Trump and Putin" then I am saying there is a real, physical world where this is happening in fact.

    Naturally, philosophers had the immediate reaction of "No EFFING way" to which David Lewis replied, "I cannot argue with an incredulous stare."

    Decades later the "incredulous stare" is still referenced in philosophy circles as a reminder that we're looking for arguments and not just reactions because some truths are counterintuitive. David Lewis himself pointed out that we have folk wisdom because it works most of the time--but the incredulous stare will stop us from seeing when it might be wrong.

    Laughter is not an argument, nor is an incredulous stare. But who says it is an argument?

    Punching someone in the face is not an argument, either. You do that when you’re past argument. Or beneath it. Or the person you punch is.

    No one wants to argue with people who say stupid things that are frankly beneath serious response. Just because some truths are counterintuitive doesn’t mean you can assert whatever you want. Even if you are smart.

    The proper response, until such time as he can demonstrate his assertion and prove us all tricked by the Idols of the Tribe, is: “No, I don’t mean that there’s a real, physical world where blah-blah is yadda-yadda. Shut up.”

    This whole it might be true because it’s so dang counterintuitive and hard to argue against places us well beyond reason, in Cloud-Cuckooland. David Lewis is really the one punching us in the face, with words.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  67. @anonymouslee
    and there is a real point to the exercise--that if something strikes you as a reductio ad absurdum it might be useful to show us why.

    this is what Chomsky said about his review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior. Chomsky thought Skinner's thesis was ridiculous but that's exactly what made the book so great: it was a careful, comprehensive exploration of an idea that did the work of discrediting itself if you knew how to see it. Skinner did all the weighing and measuring of behaviorism and Chomsky just had to show why he found it wanting.

    That is, what, inadvertent devil’s advocacy?

    You can learn from stupid and wrong things. But it doesn’t make the wrong things great, unless you mean it in the sense that Plan 9 from Outer Space is a great movie.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  68. There is a book about how Strauss was misinterpreted on the Iraq War and general global U.S. empire issue, called Straussophobia.

    Unfortunately, the author is into academic mumbo-jumbo on the issue of “discrimination,” and he has Russians as a veritable oppressed minority. Which is hard to read. But he does take down axe-grinders who chased a will-o-the-wisp because some intellectual system had to be blamed for members of the Bush administration who thought they were able to create their own reality.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  69. @syonredux

    Option C: The US elite realized that the only power that stood in the way of complete domination of the world by the US elite was the USSR, so they had to demonize the USSR, even though it posed no real threat to the USA, and ultimately crush it.

    Which is not to deny the fact that the USSR really was a murderously repressive regime that engaged in mass murder against its own people: yes, the USSR really was an “evil empire.” But the USSR was never a threat to the USA, only an impediment to world domination by the US elite.
     
    What counts as a threat?

    syonredux wrote to me:

    What counts as a threat [in terms of the USSR]?

    Well… the USSR was, as someone once said, a Third World country with nuclear weapons. Ever since Stalin beat Trotsky (Trotsky was the real apostle of world revolution), the USSR was remarkably cautious in its foreign policy: indeed, they were really frightened of the West. There was no indication they ever intended first use of their nukes, which was the only plausible threat they could have posed (see, e.g., how Khrushchev backed down and was humiliated by JFK over the Missile Crisis).

    Putting aside the nukes, there was never any chance the USSR could conquer the USA with conventional weapons. There was never any chance the Soviets could ideologically convince the American people to adopt Communism. Economically, scientifically, and technologically the USSR was a basket case (I speak as a physicist/engineer who followed Soviet work).

    Geopolitically, the only place they could dominate was Eastern Europe, and eventually they failed even there. They failed to dominate Maoist China; they could not even conquer Afghanistan.

    The USSR were a bunch of losers, pretty much no matter how you cut it.

    Which is why even the Russians themselves were well rid of the USSR.

    But, the Soviets were not in the back pocket of the US ruling class, and that bothered the US elite.

    Of course, the Soviets also made an excellent bogeyman to frighten ordinary Americans and get them to knuckle under to the American ruling elite. (The establishment liberal H. W. Brands actually laid this out in some detail in his book The Strange Death of American Liberalism: it was a great ploy by Establishment liberals while it lasted.)

    It is not a coincidence that we finally saw the beginnings of an independent Right after the fall of the Soviet Union when the Russian bugbear could no longer be used to keep the conservative grass-roots in line.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  70. The West is Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. Only Jews say Athens v. Jerusalem
    St. John wrote about Logos is his first sentence. And Arche… Important Greek words/concepts
    The West must reassert itself as Catholic, or this derivative, Junior Varsity nonsense will continue.
    Jesus f*^%ing Christ I can’t believe this Straussian shit is “thought leadership.”

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  71. @guest
    James Burnham, who was a Trotskyite cum conservative--though not exactly a typical neocon--of course wrote the book Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom.

    guest wrote:

    James Burnham, who was a Trotskyite cum conservative–though not exactly a typical neocon–of course wrote the book Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom

    Which is a fascinating book that I highly recommend.

    Burnham may have been more than slightly crazy (and a CIA agent, but do I repeat myself?), but he was smart.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  72. @utu

    what Strauss called “the permanent problems”: Athens v. Jerusalem
     
    What is this Athens v. Jerusalem problem about? As Saul Bellow observed in Ravelstein Jerusalem wins in the end or it can't be otherwise in hearts and minds of Jewish practitioners of Western philosophy. It seems that Jews still have not recovered from the shock they suffered from confrontation with far superior Greek culture in antiquity.

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lazare-bernard/1894/antisemitism/ch02.htmNot less than the Stoics did the Sophists detest the Jews. But the causes of their hatred were not religious, but, I should say, rather literary. From Ptolemy Philadelphus, until the middle of the third century, the Alexandrian Jews, with the intent of sustaining and strengthening their propaganda, gave themselves to forging all texts which were capable of lending support to their cause. The verses of Aeschylus, of Sophocles, of Euripides, the pretended oracles of Orpheus, preserved in Aristobulus and the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria were thus made to glorify the one God and the Sabbath. Historians were falsified or credited with the authorship of books they had never written. It is thus that a History of the Jews was published under the name of Hecataeus of Abdera. The most important of these inventions was the Sibylline oracles, a fabrication of the Alexandrian Jews, which prophesied the future advent of the reign of the one God. They found imitators, however, for since the Sibyl had begun to speak, in the second century before Christ, the first Christians also made her speak. The Jews would appropriate to themselves even the Greek literature and philosophy. In a commentary on the Pentateuch, which has been preserved for us by Eusebius,l7 Aristobulus attempted to show that Plato and Aristotle had found their metaphysical and ethical ideas in an old Greek translation of the Pentateuch. The Greeks were greatly incensed at such treatment of their literature and philosophy, and out of revenge they circulated the slanderous stories of Manetho, adapting them to those of the Bible, to the great fury of the Jews; thus the con- fusion of languages was identified with the myth of Zeus robbing the animals of their common language. The Sophists, wounded by the conduct of the Jews, would speak against them in their teaching. One among them, Apion, wrote a Treatise against the Jews. This Apion was a peculiar individual, a liar and babbler, to a degree uncommon even among rhetors, and full of vanity, which earned him from Tiberius the nickname “Cymbalum mundi.” His stories were famous; he claimed to have called out, by means of magic herbs, the shade of Homer, says Pliny.
     

    What is this Athens v. Jerusalem problem about?

    In a nutshell, how do we know what is true and good or even if there is such a thing?
    From religion/revelation, reason or sensation/empiricism.
    IOW Christ, Plato (or Aristotle).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Desiderius
    http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/arnold/writings/4.html
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  73. @Anonymous
    Straussianism is Trotskiite nonsense and the fount of neoconservative globalism. American conservatism died when these people took over under Reagan.

    Straussianism is no such fount, contra-Gottfried (whom I respect and admire). It is all wrapped up in neoconservatism, but you’ll find that movement has different roots.

    Straussianism is simply the largest right-wing academic movement, and unfortunately that made it near-leftist, because you know Western universities these days. Also unfortunately, the Chicago milieu was thickly neoconnish, and most students who were influenced by Strauss in philosophy and Bloom in other humanities, also faced other, non-Straussian or merely Strauss-adjacent, political, economic, and other influences.

    Neoconservative globalism simply isn’t what Strauss’ philosophy was about. It wasn’t traditional Americanism, either. It also wasn’t fit for a ruling-class philosophy. It wasn’t concrete enough on its own.

    Which is why his descendants went off in so many directions. The most popular tendency was for them to go in a universalist, leftist, neoconnish direction. Because–surprise!–universities are full of leftists. You don’t graduate from the University of Chicago and go off to be a professor at a major university or rise up the ranks of Republican administrations if you’re a paleocon or nowadays a member of the alt-right. You don’t get to be on t.v., either, or get published by major houses. Or get any press at all.

    Truly rightist academic schools barely exist for a reason. It’s not because none of us are smart enough. Strauss is what you might call a liberal, but in the classical sense. And I don’t mean an 18th or 19th-century liberal. I mean an ancient liberal. One who thought modernity went wrong around Machiavelli. He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America. That made him unique, but it virtually guaranteed he’d be misused in practice. Because modern America has no use for him taken straight.

    Gottfried was dead right about one thing. The Strauss/Bloom thesis about America being corrupted by continental philosophy is wrong. You could almost say it was the other way around. Not that I like continental philosophy. I hate it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Opinionator
    What the hell did his descendants see in him that was illuminating?
    , @Art Deco
    He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America.

    Norman Podhoretz isn't the source of what's wrong with your world.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  74. Thanks for posting this Steve.

    Perhaps a rebuttal from an East Coaster? Preferably one not tiresomely anti-Trump.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  75. @Anonymous IV
    When it was first published under a pseudonym, it wasn't overt. (Roger Kimball correctly guessed the author was a Straussian early on. https://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2016/09/10/the-bumpy-ride-of-our-flight-93/ )
    But once it was confirmed that the author was Michael Anton, it was worth considering that Anton is part of that Claremont culture that this email discusses. Anton wrote many things under his own name for the CRB.

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/contributor-list/49/

    I suppose endorsing Trump was seen as so dangerous/toxic that he decided to use a pseudonym.

    In 2016, based on my semi-informed knowledge of Strauss, I wouldn't have assumed *any* Straussian would be pro-Trump. I assumed they were all neo-cons. I've spent the past year getting up to speed on the East-West split among Strauss followers, and this email from one of Steve's readers is a welcome contribution.

    Thanks. I appreciate the reply. I’ll grant for the sake of argument that Anton is a Straussian. However, is there anything particular in that essay that reflects Straussian ideas and thinking? (I would have in mind something other than “Flight 93 Election was written by a Straussian. Therefore it has Straussian influences.”)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous IV
    Well, I'm no expert on Strauss. I've only read one of his own books, and have read several secondary works about him (including Paul Gottfried's Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America which sees Straussians as left-wing wolves in sheep's clothing.) As the email above indicates, so much of Strauss is really about philosophers of the distant past, not so much about nuts and bolts political policy of the present. Is there a "Straussian" position on immigration? I couldn't say.

    Being influenced by Gottfried's portrait of Strauss, I was assuming that Straussians would tend to be hawkish neocons, OK with open borders, the welfare state, etc. So I was surprised about the background of Michael Anton, and have been trying to read more stuff at CRB since last year, thinking there might be some good intellectual work being done that is sympathetic to the Dissident Right--despite the Straussian pedigree.

    As for the markers of Straussian influence in the essay, the biggest one would be the discussion early on of Charles Kesler's. He writes of Kesler's "esoteric endorsement of Trump." The esoteric/exoteric divide is a big thing in Straussian theory. The idea is that you have to give exoteric positions to keep the demos from showing up with pitchforks, but you maintain philosophically-based esoteric positions for the good of the society. Kesler only "hints" an supporting Trump (just as Anton was hiding behind a pseudonym). Indeed in the political climate of today, the need to hide behind "exoteric" positions is a Straussian idea that now makes a lot of sense to me!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  76. Fascinating and informative — especially for someone who has been educated by Strauss’ line of disciples. Thanks to the writer!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  77. @guest
    Straussianism is no such fount, contra-Gottfried (whom I respect and admire). It is all wrapped up in neoconservatism, but you'll find that movement has different roots.

    Straussianism is simply the largest right-wing academic movement, and unfortunately that made it near-leftist, because you know Western universities these days. Also unfortunately, the Chicago milieu was thickly neoconnish, and most students who were influenced by Strauss in philosophy and Bloom in other humanities, also faced other, non-Straussian or merely Strauss-adjacent, political, economic, and other influences.

    Neoconservative globalism simply isn't what Strauss' philosophy was about. It wasn't traditional Americanism, either. It also wasn't fit for a ruling-class philosophy. It wasn't concrete enough on its own.

    Which is why his descendants went off in so many directions. The most popular tendency was for them to go in a universalist, leftist, neoconnish direction. Because--surprise!--universities are full of leftists. You don't graduate from the University of Chicago and go off to be a professor at a major university or rise up the ranks of Republican administrations if you're a paleocon or nowadays a member of the alt-right. You don't get to be on t.v., either, or get published by major houses. Or get any press at all.

    Truly rightist academic schools barely exist for a reason. It's not because none of us are smart enough. Strauss is what you might call a liberal, but in the classical sense. And I don't mean an 18th or 19th-century liberal. I mean an ancient liberal. One who thought modernity went wrong around Machiavelli. He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America. That made him unique, but it virtually guaranteed he'd be misused in practice. Because modern America has no use for him taken straight.

    Gottfried was dead right about one thing. The Strauss/Bloom thesis about America being corrupted by continental philosophy is wrong. You could almost say it was the other way around. Not that I like continental philosophy. I hate it.

    What the hell did his descendants see in him that was illuminating?

    Read More
    • Replies: @guest
    I don't know for certain what most attracted them, but the thing they have most in common, maybe, is their method of close reading. One of Strauss' most influential books was Persecution and the Art of Writing, in which he argued famous philosophers stuck secret meaning "between the lines" in their writings to avoid persecution. This is "esoteric" writing. His method of analysis was meant to retrieve the secret meaning.

    Which in many cases could result in nothing more reliable than, for instance, constructionist having a field day and making up their own stories because of the Death of the Author. Indeed, there can be as many esoteric interpretations for one piece of writing as there are Straussians, and more.

    But it's not supposed to be a free-for-all, and, contra-critics, esoteric writing isn't a crackpot idea. We all know, I think, that philosophers usually don't mean exactly what they say. Even when their lives aren't on the line, but especially when they are. To modern literary theory (lit crit) in academia, it should have been non-controversial. Except that it was rightwingers doing it. Or, rather, people to the right of them. Not so far right as me.

    It's a tempting thing, to believe you've found meaning in writings no one else has ever discovered. I think that explains Strauss' acolytes more than anything else.

    Then again, maybe they followed Strauss simply because they had common enemies--commies, continental philosophers, positivists, existentialists , etc.--and Strauss was one of the only relatively conservative games in town. Beggars can't be choosers.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  78. What is it about what I have been consuming for the past few years that made this post so appetizing?

    I didn’t even realize that I was hungry.

    I will be reading the book that guy was plugging.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  79. @syonredux

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln’s getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War.
     
    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy....

    Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that.
     
    Of course, Lincoln's proposition was based on the idea that America was a White man's country....

    And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.
     
    Again, the Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy....

    syonredux wrote to me:

    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy….

    Well… yeah, they were. But, Jeff Davis was not a fire-eater. And, Lincoln quite clearly knew that by reinforcing Sumter he was starting a war (see, e.g., Kenneth Stampp’s And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860–1861 — note that Stampp is no Confederate sympathizer!).

    My personal sympathies are with the radical abolitionists: I actually agree with those who believe that the free states should have seceded from the slave states as a result of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. (Of course, the radical abolitionists were also more than “pretty crazy” by the standards of their time!)

    There was plenty of blame to go around for the greatest bloodbath in American history: see, e.g., Michael Holt’s The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (again, Holt is a respected mainstream historian and not a Confederate sympathizer).

    I’m happy to blame Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee, Seward and the erstwhile Northern Whigs, the Southern fire-eaters, and, yes, some of the abolitionists, as well as Lincoln.

    What I object to is the beatifying of Lincoln. He was, after all, the President, he could have prevented the bloodbath, and he didn’t. People like Jaffa who worship Lincoln are just as crazy as anyone who worships Jeff Davis or Robert Barnwell Rhett.

    The Civil War should not have happened. It was preventable. No other civilized country found a Civil War necessary to end slavery.

    The “statesmen” on both sides who failed to prevent that war are not deserving of adulation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Opinionator
    What I object to is the beatifying of Lincoln. He was, after all, the President, he could have prevented the bloodbath, and he didn’t.

    How could he have prevented it?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  80. @anonymous
    "...the American regime has been transformed from one of Constitutional government by consent into administrative rule by experts..."

    And when that doesn't work, into all-to-often largely self-selected "experts" called judges.

    "...Socrates fought for Athens."

    Socrates seems to have had a pretty distinguished military career:


    "...For a time, Socrates fulfilled the role of hoplite, participating in the Peloponnesian war—a conflict which stretched intermittently over a period spanning 431 to 404 B.C...

    ...Socrates states he was active for Athens in the battles of Amphipolis, Delium, and Potidaea...

    ...In the Symposium, Alcibiades describes Socrates' valour in the battles of Potidaea and Delium, recounting how Socrates saved his life in the former battle...

    ...Socrates' exceptional service at Delium is also mentioned in the Laches by the General after whom the dialogue is named..."

     

    Who is the author of this essay?

    It is all over the place, lacking focus. Some of her remarks are absurd or meaningless. For example,Prof. Pangle said or did not say that Socrates didn’t care a hoot about Athens. This is beyond wrong. Consider the dialogue Crito in which Socrates’ best friend (his best best friend Chaerephon was dead) visits him in prison. It seems this is the last day it will be possible for Crito to have Socrates spirited out of prison at night by some criminals Crito has hired, as the next day Socrates is to be executed. Socrates informs Crito that he will stay and not flee his sentence. The reasons why are subtle and much argued over in scholarly literature on that dialogue. Socrates impersonates the Laws of Athens by whom the reader is informed that Socrates except for being sent abroad in losing military campaigns three times, never left the city, not even to go to nearby festivals outside the city elsewhere in Greece, like everyone else, which facts, according to the talking Laws, are tokens of his patriotism.

    The Straussian epigones are a sad lot which is only to be expected of epigones. The notion that there are 2 schools of Straussians, East Coast and West Coast, is almost as comical as the notion that Socrates didn’t give a fig about the Athenians and their Laws.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  81. @newrouter
    "I’m not sure how all of this connects to country clubs and golf, but I am going to think about it."

    Maybe view the East Coast Straussians as the front 9 and the West Coast Straussians as the back 9?

    Perhaps.

    Maybe the East Coast is the WASP country club and the West Coast is the Jewish one.

    If we stay with it we might get somewhere. Apparently the key to being a “good” Straussian is to keep reading the tea leaves until the esoteric truth knocks your socks off.

    But then, with no socks on you wouldn’t be allowed into either club, so that can’t be it.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  82. @PhysicistDave
    Anyone interested in Strauss needs to read Anne Norton's Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire : I have a review up at amazon. After reading Norton, you will never again take Allan Bloom seriously (and you'll understand why no one quite knew what The Closing of the American Mind actually meant).

    Norton, incidentally, is chair of the poli-sci department at Penn and considers herself a "post-modernist": she is the only post-modernist I actually enjoy reading (to her, "post-modernism" seems to mean viewing politics from the perspective of the little boy who noticed that the emperor was naked).

    (And, yes, if anyone cares, I actually have tried to read some of Strauss: I even posted a review on amazon of The City and Man, which I actually kind of liked.)

    On Progressivism, I strongly recommend Murray Rothbard's recently published The Progressive Era, which I just finished reading on Christmas Day. Whether or not you swallow Rothbard's brand of libertarianism, you will find a wealth of details that are hard to find elsewhere: for example, I was surprised to learn of the the close tie-in between prohibitionism (AKA "temperance") and first-wave feminism.

    Also, as a result of his background as an economic historian, Rothbard has a lot of intriguing details on the history of the trusts and the consolidation movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on Hoover's push for an anti-competitive corporatist economy in the '20s (i.e., before the Crash -- most of our contemporaries do not realize that Hoover was actually an exemplary progressive), on the conflicts and occasional collaboration between the Rockefellers and the House of Morgan, etc.

    Rothbard loved the nitty-gritty details of history, and those details of what real human beings thought and did are actually much more interesting than textbook histories let on.

    Finally, it just has to be said that the preeminent West Coast Straussian Harry Jaffa thought that Abe Lincoln was just really swell, despite Lincoln's getting over six hundred thousand Americans killed in an avoidable Civil War. Yeah, yeah, Lincoln established that we were a proposition nation or something like that. And the eradication of slavery was certainly a good thing. But, many other countries managed to accomplish the same goal without such a horrific bloodbath.

    I see you have an affection for salaried cranks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Art the Denialist wrote to me:

    I see you have an affection for salaried cranks.
     
    Nope, I think you and all the other Straussians should be immediately fired and denied any gainful employment in any civilized country.

    I would, however, be willing to chip in for the airfare to send you all to North Korea.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  83. @Anon
    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people? Words and philosophies are nothing more than cover, a justification, for people to follow their primal instincts. An understanding of human nature and Occam's Razor would do us well.

    Let's examine:

    The Iraq War

    Option A: some guys read the words of some other guy and suddenly thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do because, "muh democracy" - devoting years of their lives and significant effort to get it done because of these abstractions.

    Option B: the entire endeavor was motivated by ethnocentric Jews (a greatly disproportionate number of neocons involved with selling that war) who thought it was good for a country they deeply identify with, Israel. Non-Jewish Israel lobby types like Cheney went along with it because they thought either themselves or their tribe (the US) would get something from it - personal glory for themselves and oil for America. A smaller number followed those groups because they are easily deceived idiots.

    Globalism

    Option A: the left is for it because blah blah blah economic data.

    Option B: the left supports it because 1. they get a permanent voting majority out of it through immigration 2. rich leftists economically benefit from it 3. conservative whites, their enemies, don't benefit from it.

    The Cold War

    Option A: blah blah blah, economic theory almost destroyed the world with nuclear weapons.

    Option B: my tribe vs. your tribe, economic and social policy was just a cover for this uncomfortable fact.

    WW1

    Option A: it was about "making the world safe for democracy" despite the obvious contradiction of being allied with an actual, admitted empire.

    Option B: my tribe vs your tribe. Is it a coincidence we sided with the British, people who speak the same language and look similar, twice?

    Communism

    Option A: "I can wait to use this philosophy to make the lives of proletarians better - no more exploitation by greedy industrialists!"

    Option B: "I can't wait to use this as a clever excuse to steal for my personal gain; I can't believe these dumb proletarians fell for this crap!"

    So, which options here sound more likely? The ones based on philosophy or human nature? Often, words are simply cover for people's true motivations: tribe and personal benefit.

    You don't need to know a single word of last century's bloated dogma to understand what really motivates the actions of people, all you need is an understanding of primal human instincts (study evolutionary psychology) and to employ a bit of parsimony in your thinking.

    Stop worrying what Straussianism is; it's pointless. People aren't motivated by those kinds of abstract dogmas anyway. They are merely window dressing for people's true motivations.

    Do people really still believe that words and vague ideas are what really motivates people?

    That’s what gets you about these discussions, the notion that historical and social developments can be explained by sifting through people’s composed cogitations to such a degree that one need not investigate other forces influencing society. Philosophers and political theorists have hammers, see nails.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  84. @Steve Sailer
    I don’t believe for a moment that you were having trouble with the “more” function—must be some esoteric maneuvering on your part

    No, I couldn't get the More button to work. It work on comments, but not on my posts.

    Thanks for the reply. I guess I was reading too much between the lines. ;)

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  85. East Coast – West Coast sounds like a Jewish – Gentile split to me. The idea that philosophy and revelation can’t be reconciled is an atheist prejudice (because they think ‘revelation’ is prejudice and fanciful stories) (Jewish). In contrast most of the West Coasters seem like believing Christians and therefore the synthesis of philosophy and religion via someone like St Thomas Aquinas makes sense to them even if they aren’t Roman Catholics.

    Strauss’ main achievement seems to be the debating clubs he has inspired. He seems to have had a knack of presenting pretty commonplace middle age adult insights (“everything old is new again”) to young men in a way that inspires them.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  86. @Opinionator
    Thanks. I appreciate the reply. I'll grant for the sake of argument that Anton is a Straussian. However, is there anything particular in that essay that reflects Straussian ideas and thinking? (I would have in mind something other than "Flight 93 Election was written by a Straussian. Therefore it has Straussian influences.")

    Well, I’m no expert on Strauss. I’ve only read one of his own books, and have read several secondary works about him (including Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America which sees Straussians as left-wing wolves in sheep’s clothing.) As the email above indicates, so much of Strauss is really about philosophers of the distant past, not so much about nuts and bolts political policy of the present. Is there a “Straussian” position on immigration? I couldn’t say.

    Being influenced by Gottfried’s portrait of Strauss, I was assuming that Straussians would tend to be hawkish neocons, OK with open borders, the welfare state, etc. So I was surprised about the background of Michael Anton, and have been trying to read more stuff at CRB since last year, thinking there might be some good intellectual work being done that is sympathetic to the Dissident Right–despite the Straussian pedigree.

    As for the markers of Straussian influence in the essay, the biggest one would be the discussion early on of Charles Kesler’s. He writes of Kesler’s “esoteric endorsement of Trump.” The esoteric/exoteric divide is a big thing in Straussian theory. The idea is that you have to give exoteric positions to keep the demos from showing up with pitchforks, but you maintain philosophically-based esoteric positions for the good of the society. Kesler only “hints” an supporting Trump (just as Anton was hiding behind a pseudonym). Indeed in the political climate of today, the need to hide behind “exoteric” positions is a Straussian idea that now makes a lot of sense to me!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Being influenced by Gottfried’s portrait of Strauss, I was assuming that Straussians would tend to be hawkish neocons, OK with open borders, the welfare state, etc.

    There was a 2d echelon official in the Department of Defense ca. 2002 who took a couple of courses from Strauss at the University of Chicago ca. 1969. Hilton Kramer et al promoted Allan Bloom's work ca. 1987. That's the source of the 'Strauss = 'Neocon'' meme.

    Bloom was ensconced in academic institutions his whole adult life. His conception of what was wrong with the world was defined by his interaction with students and faculty.

    Harry Jaffa was a figure in good standing in the world of starboard opinion journalism when Joseph Sobran was still in high school and Thomas Fleming an undergraduate. Not sure how he's supposed to have figured in some nefarious neocon takeover of the conservative world.

    Charles Kesler is a votary of intellecual-historical method and finds in the Constitution of the United States the acme of political order. Writing on foreign policy or social policy isn't his deal (bar a general antagonism to anything 'progressive').
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  87. @Anonymous IV
    Well, I'm no expert on Strauss. I've only read one of his own books, and have read several secondary works about him (including Paul Gottfried's Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America which sees Straussians as left-wing wolves in sheep's clothing.) As the email above indicates, so much of Strauss is really about philosophers of the distant past, not so much about nuts and bolts political policy of the present. Is there a "Straussian" position on immigration? I couldn't say.

    Being influenced by Gottfried's portrait of Strauss, I was assuming that Straussians would tend to be hawkish neocons, OK with open borders, the welfare state, etc. So I was surprised about the background of Michael Anton, and have been trying to read more stuff at CRB since last year, thinking there might be some good intellectual work being done that is sympathetic to the Dissident Right--despite the Straussian pedigree.

    As for the markers of Straussian influence in the essay, the biggest one would be the discussion early on of Charles Kesler's. He writes of Kesler's "esoteric endorsement of Trump." The esoteric/exoteric divide is a big thing in Straussian theory. The idea is that you have to give exoteric positions to keep the demos from showing up with pitchforks, but you maintain philosophically-based esoteric positions for the good of the society. Kesler only "hints" an supporting Trump (just as Anton was hiding behind a pseudonym). Indeed in the political climate of today, the need to hide behind "exoteric" positions is a Straussian idea that now makes a lot of sense to me!

    Being influenced by Gottfried’s portrait of Strauss, I was assuming that Straussians would tend to be hawkish neocons, OK with open borders, the welfare state, etc.

    There was a 2d echelon official in the Department of Defense ca. 2002 who took a couple of courses from Strauss at the University of Chicago ca. 1969. Hilton Kramer et al promoted Allan Bloom’s work ca. 1987. That’s the source of the ‘Strauss = ‘Neocon” meme.

    Bloom was ensconced in academic institutions his whole adult life. His conception of what was wrong with the world was defined by his interaction with students and faculty.

    Harry Jaffa was a figure in good standing in the world of starboard opinion journalism when Joseph Sobran was still in high school and Thomas Fleming an undergraduate. Not sure how he’s supposed to have figured in some nefarious neocon takeover of the conservative world.

    Charles Kesler is a votary of intellecual-historical method and finds in the Constitution of the United States the acme of political order. Writing on foreign policy or social policy isn’t his deal (bar a general antagonism to anything ‘progressive’).

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  88. @guest
    Straussianism is no such fount, contra-Gottfried (whom I respect and admire). It is all wrapped up in neoconservatism, but you'll find that movement has different roots.

    Straussianism is simply the largest right-wing academic movement, and unfortunately that made it near-leftist, because you know Western universities these days. Also unfortunately, the Chicago milieu was thickly neoconnish, and most students who were influenced by Strauss in philosophy and Bloom in other humanities, also faced other, non-Straussian or merely Strauss-adjacent, political, economic, and other influences.

    Neoconservative globalism simply isn't what Strauss' philosophy was about. It wasn't traditional Americanism, either. It also wasn't fit for a ruling-class philosophy. It wasn't concrete enough on its own.

    Which is why his descendants went off in so many directions. The most popular tendency was for them to go in a universalist, leftist, neoconnish direction. Because--surprise!--universities are full of leftists. You don't graduate from the University of Chicago and go off to be a professor at a major university or rise up the ranks of Republican administrations if you're a paleocon or nowadays a member of the alt-right. You don't get to be on t.v., either, or get published by major houses. Or get any press at all.

    Truly rightist academic schools barely exist for a reason. It's not because none of us are smart enough. Strauss is what you might call a liberal, but in the classical sense. And I don't mean an 18th or 19th-century liberal. I mean an ancient liberal. One who thought modernity went wrong around Machiavelli. He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America. That made him unique, but it virtually guaranteed he'd be misused in practice. Because modern America has no use for him taken straight.

    Gottfried was dead right about one thing. The Strauss/Bloom thesis about America being corrupted by continental philosophy is wrong. You could almost say it was the other way around. Not that I like continental philosophy. I hate it.

    He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America.

    Norman Podhoretz isn’t the source of what’s wrong with your world.

    Read More
    • Replies: @guest
    The conservative movement in America isn't my world.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World; corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations (if there was ever any hope for them); and ruined the brand. If it wasn't Podhorertz in particular, it also wasn't Strauss.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  89. @Opinionator
    What the hell did his descendants see in him that was illuminating?

    I don’t know for certain what most attracted them, but the thing they have most in common, maybe, is their method of close reading. One of Strauss’ most influential books was Persecution and the Art of Writing, in which he argued famous philosophers stuck secret meaning “between the lines” in their writings to avoid persecution. This is “esoteric” writing. His method of analysis was meant to retrieve the secret meaning.

    Which in many cases could result in nothing more reliable than, for instance, constructionist having a field day and making up their own stories because of the Death of the Author. Indeed, there can be as many esoteric interpretations for one piece of writing as there are Straussians, and more.

    But it’s not supposed to be a free-for-all, and, contra-critics, esoteric writing isn’t a crackpot idea. We all know, I think, that philosophers usually don’t mean exactly what they say. Even when their lives aren’t on the line, but especially when they are. To modern literary theory (lit crit) in academia, it should have been non-controversial. Except that it was rightwingers doing it. Or, rather, people to the right of them. Not so far right as me.

    It’s a tempting thing, to believe you’ve found meaning in writings no one else has ever discovered. I think that explains Strauss’ acolytes more than anything else.

    Then again, maybe they followed Strauss simply because they had common enemies–commies, continental philosophers, positivists, existentialists , etc.–and Strauss was one of the only relatively conservative games in town. Beggars can’t be choosers.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  90. @Art Deco
    He does not closely resemble the neocons who sunk the conservative movement in America.

    Norman Podhoretz isn't the source of what's wrong with your world.

    The conservative movement in America isn’t my world.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World; corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations (if there was ever any hope for them); and ruined the brand. If it wasn’t Podhorertz in particular, it also wasn’t Strauss.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World;

    "Invade the World / Invite the World" is Steven Sailer's caricature of the Bush Administration. It's meant to be cute, not accurate.


    corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations

    Try mapping out in your mind an algorithm of how a modest crew of opinion journalists and academics manage to 'corrupt' three administrations. Step by step by step. (Including one led by a veteran of the oil business).
    , @Desiderius

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World
     
    Those were already baked into the cake that conservatism inherited. The question is what to do about them, but conservatism has always been more about what not to do than what to do.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  91. @guest
    The conservative movement in America isn't my world.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World; corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations (if there was ever any hope for them); and ruined the brand. If it wasn't Podhorertz in particular, it also wasn't Strauss.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World;

    “Invade the World / Invite the World” is Steven Sailer’s caricature of the Bush Administration. It’s meant to be cute, not accurate.

    corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations

    Try mapping out in your mind an algorithm of how a modest crew of opinion journalists and academics manage to ‘corrupt’ three administrations. Step by step by step. (Including one led by a veteran of the oil business).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Desiderius

    It’s meant to be cute, not accurate.
     
    It's meant to be not cute but catchy, and accuracy goes without saying - Sailer always aims at accuracy as any man of character does.

    In my mind it achieves both aims. The formulation is the principal reason why I'm here. I oppose both.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  92. Putting aside the nukes, there was never any chance the USSR could conquer the USA with conventional weapons. There was never any chance the Soviets could ideologically convince the American people to adopt Communism. Economically, scientifically, and technologically the USSR was a basket case (I speak as a physicist/engineer who followed Soviet work).

    The threat was to Europe, obviously. The Soviets put an awful lot of time, money, and effort into presenting an at least on-paper-credible threat to Europe. By the way, the Soviets were masters at stealing other people’s work. Credit where it’s due…

    The Civil War should not have happened. It was preventable. No other civilized country found a Civil War necessary to end slavery.

    America didn’t fight a civil war over slavery, either.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Svigor wrote to me:

    America didn’t fight a civil war over slavery, either.
     
    Well... almost nothing in history is monocausal. I suppose in some ultimate sense the South was fighting to prevent long-term domination by a sectional Northern-based party (the Republicans) and to preserve Southern "honor." But, the precipitating issue was slavery in the territories (Kansas-Nebraska and all that), and at least some of the secessionists did directly list slavery as an issue.

    Svigor also wrote:

    The threat was to Europe, obviously. The Soviets put an awful lot of time, money, and effort into presenting an at least on-paper-credible threat to Europe.
     
    The Germans alone held off the Soviets for four years, despite the fact that Germany was also fighting the Brits and the Yanks. The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.

    Svigor also wrote:

    By the way, the Soviets were masters at stealing other people’s work. Credit where it’s due…
     
    They were not that good even at stealing others' work: almost nothing worked in the Soviet Union. They were pathetic.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  93. “It wasn’t just that Trump was right on core issues of immigration, trade and war, though of course he was.”

    The trifecta of “immigration, trade and war,” in that order, is something of a tag in Michael Anton’s writing. See this line in “The Flight 93 Election” (http://claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/):

    “The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning.”

    I pause because “The Flight 93 Election” includes an Oxford comma and the transcribed email doesn’t have one. People who use Oxford commas would sooner be diagnosed with diabetes than omit an Oxford comma. Maybe that was inserted in “The Flight 93 Election” per Claremont style guides?

    Read More
    • Replies: @black sea

    I pause because “The Flight 93 Election” includes an Oxford comma and the transcribed email doesn’t have one.
     
    Now that's what I call close reading.
    , @guest
    I use the Oxford comma. Though I've never been diagnosed with diabetes, and therefore do not know whether my devotion to it is preferable, I am fastidious in my use.

    I actually have an emotional reaction when the Oxford comma is missing. Has science yet explained that?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  94. @Charles Pewitt

    Strauss’s most famous public (as opposed to narrowly academic) debate was the 1949-1952 exchange with Kojeve. The core issue in that debate is identical to the core issue of the 2016 U.S. presidential election: globalism versus nationalism, universalism versus particularism, leveling similarity versus genuine diversity, the “universal and homogenous state” versus a heterogeneous community of separate and distinct nations. Strauss clearly sides with the latter. Which is to say, in the context of 2016, with Trump.

     

    Globalism versus nationalism, universalism versus particularism, leveling similarity versus genuine diversity, the “universal and homogenous state” versus a heterogeneous community of separate and distinct nations.

    I say:

    Globalization vs patriotism -- not nationalism -- is the battle you want. A particular nation for a particular people. Democracy is impossible in anything larger than a nation-state. There is no such thing as a "community" of nations.

    SEND SAILER SOME BITCOIN

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Could you expound on how you are distinguishing the meaning of these two terms – nationalism and patriotism – and why one should prefer the latter?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Charles Pewitt
    Nationalism implies government in the United States.

    Patriotism suggests the country at its truest sense.

    The United States government has been hijacked by a hostile WASP / Jew ruling class. This hostile WASP / Jew ruling class is using mass immigration and other anti-White methods to attack and destroy the European Christian ancestral core of the United States. The way to dislodge the hostile ruling class of the United States is to appeal to patriotism.

    A political leader who makes explicit appeals to patriotism will be tapping into a spiritual and gut level sense of the country. This is much more powerful than an appeal to governmental structures or specific governmental actions.

    The WASP / Jew ruling class is highly vulnerable to charges of treason against the country by their actions. Mass immigration is treason; watch for patriotic GOP candidates to accuse their mass immigration supporting primary opponents of treason. Paul Nehlen has the guts to state plainly that mass immigration is treason and Paul Ryan has acted treasonously by pushing mass immigration. Paul Nehlen can be said to be a patriot, Paul Ryan is obviously a treasonite whore politician.

    PATRIOTISM is better politics than nationalism.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  95. Where does “invade the world, invite the world” fit into Straussianism?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  96. @PhysicistDave
    syonredux wrote to me:

    Southern fire-eaters were pretty crazy….
     
    Well... yeah, they were. But, Jeff Davis was not a fire-eater. And, Lincoln quite clearly knew that by reinforcing Sumter he was starting a war (see, e.g., Kenneth Stampp's And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860--1861 -- note that Stampp is no Confederate sympathizer!).

    My personal sympathies are with the radical abolitionists: I actually agree with those who believe that the free states should have seceded from the slave states as a result of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. (Of course, the radical abolitionists were also more than "pretty crazy" by the standards of their time!)

    There was plenty of blame to go around for the greatest bloodbath in American history: see, e.g., Michael Holt's The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (again, Holt is a respected mainstream historian and not a Confederate sympathizer).

    I'm happy to blame Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee, Seward and the erstwhile Northern Whigs, the Southern fire-eaters, and, yes, some of the abolitionists, as well as Lincoln.

    What I object to is the beatifying of Lincoln. He was, after all, the President, he could have prevented the bloodbath, and he didn't. People like Jaffa who worship Lincoln are just as crazy as anyone who worships Jeff Davis or Robert Barnwell Rhett.

    The Civil War should not have happened. It was preventable. No other civilized country found a Civil War necessary to end slavery.

    The "statesmen" on both sides who failed to prevent that war are not deserving of adulation.

    What I object to is the beatifying of Lincoln. He was, after all, the President, he could have prevented the bloodbath, and he didn’t.

    How could he have prevented it?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  97. Essential related essays:

    “Leo Strauss and History: The Philosopher as Conspirator,” by Claes G. Ryn

    “Claes Ryn, Allan Bloom, Leo Strauss, and Me,” by Paul Gottfried

    “Leo Stauss, Immigration, and Israel,” by Paul Gottfried

    And this book by Paul Gottfried:

    Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  98. @For what it's worth
    "It wasn’t just that Trump was right on core issues of immigration, trade and war, though of course he was."

    The trifecta of "immigration, trade and war," in that order, is something of a tag in Michael Anton's writing. See this line in "The Flight 93 Election" (http://claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/):

    "The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning."

    I pause because "The Flight 93 Election" includes an Oxford comma and the transcribed email doesn't have one. People who use Oxford commas would sooner be diagnosed with diabetes than omit an Oxford comma. Maybe that was inserted in "The Flight 93 Election" per Claremont style guides?

    I pause because “The Flight 93 Election” includes an Oxford comma and the transcribed email doesn’t have one.

    Now that’s what I call close reading.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  99. @For what it's worth
    "It wasn’t just that Trump was right on core issues of immigration, trade and war, though of course he was."

    The trifecta of "immigration, trade and war," in that order, is something of a tag in Michael Anton's writing. See this line in "The Flight 93 Election" (http://claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/):

    "The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning."

    I pause because "The Flight 93 Election" includes an Oxford comma and the transcribed email doesn't have one. People who use Oxford commas would sooner be diagnosed with diabetes than omit an Oxford comma. Maybe that was inserted in "The Flight 93 Election" per Claremont style guides?

    I use the Oxford comma. Though I’ve never been diagnosed with diabetes, and therefore do not know whether my devotion to it is preferable, I am fastidious in my use.

    I actually have an emotional reaction when the Oxford comma is missing. Has science yet explained that?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  100. Opinionator wrote to me:

    How could he [Lincoln] have prevented it [the Civil War]?

    He could have chosen not to resupply Sumter. He could have publicly announced that the Southern states had freely joined the Union and were therefore free to go (there was a great deal of sentiment in Northern papers for that view before Sumter). He could have worked out a deal — politicians are supposed to be good at that.

    He could have done nothing, as Buchanan did: at least Buchanan did not start a war.

    And, yes, I do know that the South also could have avoided the bloodbath. As I said, my sympathies are with those radical abolitionists who wanted to expel the Slavocracy from the Union.

    But, yes, simply as a matter of fact, Lincoln, quite obviously, could have avoided the war. He chose not to.

    Read More
    • Replies: @For what it's worth
    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas? There were Unionists and Confederates living side by side. How was *that* supposed to be "negotiated"? No, bloodshed was inevitable. Lincoln was correct in seeing that and in treating the Confederates as rebels.

    To quote Gen. Sherman, whose face should be on our coinage:

    "I notice in Kentucky a disposition to cry against the tyranny and oppression of our Government. Now, were it not for war you know tyranny could not exist in our Government; therefore any acts of late partaking of that aspect are the result of war; and who made this war? Already we find ourselves drifting toward new issues, and are beginning to forget the strong facts of the beginning. You know and I know that long before the North, or the Federal Government, dreamed of war the South had seized the U.S. arsenals, forts, mints, and custom-houses, and had made prisoners of war of the garrisons sent at their urgent demand to protect them 'against Indians, Mexicans, and negroes'." https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Tecumseh_Sherman#Letter_to_James_Guthrie_(August_1864)

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  101. @Svigor

    Putting aside the nukes, there was never any chance the USSR could conquer the USA with conventional weapons. There was never any chance the Soviets could ideologically convince the American people to adopt Communism. Economically, scientifically, and technologically the USSR was a basket case (I speak as a physicist/engineer who followed Soviet work).
     
    The threat was to Europe, obviously. The Soviets put an awful lot of time, money, and effort into presenting an at least on-paper-credible threat to Europe. By the way, the Soviets were masters at stealing other people's work. Credit where it's due...

    The Civil War should not have happened. It was preventable. No other civilized country found a Civil War necessary to end slavery.
     
    America didn't fight a civil war over slavery, either.

    Svigor wrote to me:

    America didn’t fight a civil war over slavery, either.

    Well… almost nothing in history is monocausal. I suppose in some ultimate sense the South was fighting to prevent long-term domination by a sectional Northern-based party (the Republicans) and to preserve Southern “honor.” But, the precipitating issue was slavery in the territories (Kansas-Nebraska and all that), and at least some of the secessionists did directly list slavery as an issue.

    Svigor also wrote:

    The threat was to Europe, obviously. The Soviets put an awful lot of time, money, and effort into presenting an at least on-paper-credible threat to Europe.

    The Germans alone held off the Soviets for four years, despite the fact that Germany was also fighting the Brits and the Yanks. The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.

    Svigor also wrote:

    By the way, the Soviets were masters at stealing other people’s work. Credit where it’s due…

    They were not that good even at stealing others’ work: almost nothing worked in the Soviet Union. They were pathetic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Johann Ricke

    The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.
     
    The Soviets had trouble holding on to Afghanistan. They had no problem holding on to the Warsaw Pact countries. And even Afghanistan was a problem only because of copious foreign aid to the rebels. Such foreign aid was unthinkable in the event a Warsaw Pact country bucked Moscow's line. Neither Eisenhower nor LBJ rendered any aid to Hungary or Czechoslovakia for fear of an uncontrolled escalation towards general war.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  102. @MB
    "What is this Athens v. Jerusalem problem about?"

    In a nutshell, how do we know what is true and good or even if there is such a thing?
    From religion/revelation, reason or sensation/empiricism.
    IOW Christ, Plato (or Aristotle).
    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  103. @Art Deco
    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World;

    "Invade the World / Invite the World" is Steven Sailer's caricature of the Bush Administration. It's meant to be cute, not accurate.


    corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations

    Try mapping out in your mind an algorithm of how a modest crew of opinion journalists and academics manage to 'corrupt' three administrations. Step by step by step. (Including one led by a veteran of the oil business).

    It’s meant to be cute, not accurate.

    It’s meant to be not cute but catchy, and accuracy goes without saying – Sailer always aims at accuracy as any man of character does.

    In my mind it achieves both aims. The formulation is the principal reason why I’m here. I oppose both.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    In my mind it achieves both aims.

    And your mind is dead wrong. Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well; Paul Ryan, OTOH, is an open-borders ideologue). And, of course, he neither invaded the world nor proposed to do so. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter country was responsible for a hideous casus belli and the former we had been in a state of belligerency with for 12 years. The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they've never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  104. @guest
    The conservative movement in America isn't my world.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World; corrupted the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II administrations (if there was ever any hope for them); and ruined the brand. If it wasn't Podhorertz in particular, it also wasn't Strauss.

    Anyway, someone turned practical conservatism into Invade the World/Invite the World/In Hoc to the World

    Those were already baked into the cake that conservatism inherited. The question is what to do about them, but conservatism has always been more about what not to do than what to do.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  105. @Desiderius

    It’s meant to be cute, not accurate.
     
    It's meant to be not cute but catchy, and accuracy goes without saying - Sailer always aims at accuracy as any man of character does.

    In my mind it achieves both aims. The formulation is the principal reason why I'm here. I oppose both.

    In my mind it achieves both aims.

    And your mind is dead wrong. Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well; Paul Ryan, OTOH, is an open-borders ideologue). And, of course, he neither invaded the world nor proposed to do so. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter country was responsible for a hideous casus belli and the former we had been in a state of belligerency with for 12 years. The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they’ve never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    Read More
    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @Johann Ricke

    The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they’ve never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).
     
    My impression is that misnamed paleos are either bigots who took a liking to liberal foreign policy, or liberals who embraced their inner bigot. Traditional conservatives have always favored a muscular stance, whether they're bigots or otherwise, on the principle that some Johnny Foreigner is always at your throat when he's not at your feet and has to be given a sound thrashing from time to time to keep him in line.
    , @Johann Ricke

    Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well
     
    Between repelling voters who want to limit illegal immigration and allowing millions of illegals to deliver future Democrat-voting anchor babies, Bush may have hobbled the GOP for decades to come. Between his LBJ-like incompetence in Afghanistan and Iraq (including his selection of Karzai and Maliki) and his middle finger on immigration matters, he's given Hoover and Nixon a good run for the title of worst Republican president.
    , @For what it's worth
    Finally, something other than an echo.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  106. What a bunch of psychobabble pseudo intellectual gobbledygook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  107. @Art Deco
    In my mind it achieves both aims.

    And your mind is dead wrong. Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well; Paul Ryan, OTOH, is an open-borders ideologue). And, of course, he neither invaded the world nor proposed to do so. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter country was responsible for a hideous casus belli and the former we had been in a state of belligerency with for 12 years. The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they've never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they’ve never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    My impression is that misnamed paleos are either bigots who took a liking to liberal foreign policy, or liberals who embraced their inner bigot. Traditional conservatives have always favored a muscular stance, whether they’re bigots or otherwise, on the principle that some Johnny Foreigner is always at your throat when he’s not at your feet and has to be given a sound thrashing from time to time to keep him in line.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  108. @Art Deco
    In my mind it achieves both aims.

    And your mind is dead wrong. Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well; Paul Ryan, OTOH, is an open-borders ideologue). And, of course, he neither invaded the world nor proposed to do so. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter country was responsible for a hideous casus belli and the former we had been in a state of belligerency with for 12 years. The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they've never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well

    Between repelling voters who want to limit illegal immigration and allowing millions of illegals to deliver future Democrat-voting anchor babies, Bush may have hobbled the GOP for decades to come. Between his LBJ-like incompetence in Afghanistan and Iraq (including his selection of Karzai and Maliki) and his middle finger on immigration matters, he’s given Hoover and Nixon a good run for the title of worst Republican president.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Between his LBJ-like incompetence in Afghanistan and Iraq (including his selection of Karzai and Maliki) and his middle finger on immigration matters, he’s given Hoover and Nixon a good run for the title of worst Republican president.

    Afghanistan and Iraq have been far less bloody than VietNam ever was. John Roche once caught LBJ hunched over his desk with an adviser selecting bombing targets in VietNam, a degree of micromanagement I doubt Bush ever exercised. Bush was also responsible for the 2007-08 surge, which pacified southern Iraq and cut the annual death toll by 2/3. LBJ had no such successes. I'm not sure why you suppose Maliki to have been 'selected' given the complicated tangle of party politics in Iraq in 2004-06. Ayad Allawi was selected, but he was only in office for a year. Nor is it clear to the laymen who would have performed better than the three prime ministers Iraq had between 2004 and 2014.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  109. @PhysicistDave
    Svigor wrote to me:

    America didn’t fight a civil war over slavery, either.
     
    Well... almost nothing in history is monocausal. I suppose in some ultimate sense the South was fighting to prevent long-term domination by a sectional Northern-based party (the Republicans) and to preserve Southern "honor." But, the precipitating issue was slavery in the territories (Kansas-Nebraska and all that), and at least some of the secessionists did directly list slavery as an issue.

    Svigor also wrote:

    The threat was to Europe, obviously. The Soviets put an awful lot of time, money, and effort into presenting an at least on-paper-credible threat to Europe.
     
    The Germans alone held off the Soviets for four years, despite the fact that Germany was also fighting the Brits and the Yanks. The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.

    Svigor also wrote:

    By the way, the Soviets were masters at stealing other people’s work. Credit where it’s due…
     
    They were not that good even at stealing others' work: almost nothing worked in the Soviet Union. They were pathetic.

    The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.

    The Soviets had trouble holding on to Afghanistan. They had no problem holding on to the Warsaw Pact countries. And even Afghanistan was a problem only because of copious foreign aid to the rebels. Such foreign aid was unthinkable in the event a Warsaw Pact country bucked Moscow’s line. Neither Eisenhower nor LBJ rendered any aid to Hungary or Czechoslovakia for fear of an uncontrolled escalation towards general war.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Johann Ricke wrote to me:

    They [the Soviets] had no problem holding on to the Warsaw Pact countries.
     
    Um... I do not want to embarrass you or anything, but, you know, the Soviets not only did have a problem holding on to their Warsaw Pact allies, they actually failed to hold on to those allies.

    This was subsequent to multiple revolts, for example, in East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, not to mention the interminable problems in Poland.

    The Soviets did hold on for about four decades, but they truly had problems galore. Their "allies" were not really allies.

    Your weird claim that they had "no problem" suggests you are too young to have lived through that history. I'm not.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  110. @PhysicistDave
    Opinionator wrote to me:

    How could he [Lincoln] have prevented it [the Civil War]?
     
    He could have chosen not to resupply Sumter. He could have publicly announced that the Southern states had freely joined the Union and were therefore free to go (there was a great deal of sentiment in Northern papers for that view before Sumter). He could have worked out a deal -- politicians are supposed to be good at that.

    He could have done nothing, as Buchanan did: at least Buchanan did not start a war.

    And, yes, I do know that the South also could have avoided the bloodbath. As I said, my sympathies are with those radical abolitionists who wanted to expel the Slavocracy from the Union.

    But, yes, simply as a matter of fact, Lincoln, quite obviously, could have avoided the war. He chose not to.

    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas? There were Unionists and Confederates living side by side. How was *that* supposed to be “negotiated”? No, bloodshed was inevitable. Lincoln was correct in seeing that and in treating the Confederates as rebels.

    To quote Gen. Sherman, whose face should be on our coinage:

    “I notice in Kentucky a disposition to cry against the tyranny and oppression of our Government. Now, were it not for war you know tyranny could not exist in our Government; therefore any acts of late partaking of that aspect are the result of war; and who made this war? Already we find ourselves drifting toward new issues, and are beginning to forget the strong facts of the beginning. You know and I know that long before the North, or the Federal Government, dreamed of war the South had seized the U.S. arsenals, forts, mints, and custom-houses, and had made prisoners of war of the garrisons sent at their urgent demand to protect them ‘against Indians, Mexicans, and negroes’.” https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Tecumseh_Sherman#Letter_to_James_Guthrie_(August_1864)

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    FWIW wrote to me:

    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas?
     
    Well, I am from the Show-Me state and know a decent amount about its history, including not just reading in books but also what was handed down through our family. I suspect Missouri would have ended up in the Confederacy. I know less about Kentucky, but I'd guess the same, and probably Maryland also. Delaware is a special case: I have no idea there.

    Frankly, I think that would have been best for the free states: why should they be tied to an unnatural marriage with slave states? As I have said many times, as someone sympathetic to the radical abolitionists, I think the free states should have seceded in 1850 over the evil Fugitive Slave Act.

    The Union could then have continued as a leaner, slimmer, more cohesive union of free states.

    If you area asking me to speculate, my guess is that the Confederacy would have fragmented after a few years: William Freehling has made the point that the South was not really a cultural or social unity. Massachusetts had a lot more in common with Wisconsin than Alabama had in common with Texas.

    And, you may well be right that bloodshed would have continued in Kansas; better a few thousand dead in Kansas than six hundred thousand dead in the actual Civil War: remember, as a fraction of the current US population, that would be about six million.

    Interesting how all of you Lincoln idolators keep ignoring the immensity of the death toll in the American Holocaust.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  111. @Art Deco
    In my mind it achieves both aims.

    And your mind is dead wrong. Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well; Paul Ryan, OTOH, is an open-borders ideologue). And, of course, he neither invaded the world nor proposed to do so. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter country was responsible for a hideous casus belli and the former we had been in a state of belligerency with for 12 years. The palaeo discourse about Iraq is composed entirely of striking attitudes and trash talk; they've never had any serious ideas about what to do about the place (or, for that matter, any other place).

    Finally, something other than an echo.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  112. @nebulafox
    I personally think Machiavelli takes far more Aristotle's beliefs-above all, that man is, by nature, a political creature-and Thucydides' realism than abstract Platonism. But YMMV-I'm hardly a philosophical expert and would be glad to be corrected here.

    Generally you are right on the money here.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  113. This whole discourse is a waste of time and effort. The proper purpose of philosophy (and theology) is guidance for one’s personal behavior. What this whole circuituous discussion revolves around is how to justify the exercise of power – imposing one’s will on others. There ain’t no there there.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  114. After a decades long silence on what is descending into an unfortunate scholastic debate on the merits of doctrinal fidelity, after reading this particular account of “West Coast Straussians Explained” I want to offer two simple reflections. The first is simply bi0graphical. As the originator of the distinguishing terms “West coast” and “east coast” Straussians, I can attest (as well as explain) why it is simply incorrect for anyone to imagine that the distinction has anything to do with doctrinal purity. The origins and intent of the distinction was to demonstrate a pathway to philosophy pure and simple, a pathway unfortunately obscured by scholastic laborers lost in constructive expression rather than thought. Secondly, it is a fundamental misunderstanding of Leo Strauss to imagine or conceive that he ever dedicated any who studied with him to a political programme per se. Not only were those students of Strauss and/or Jaffa who are typically identified as conservative of such disposition long before meeting or even hearing of Leo Strauss, but Strauss himself was simply the most impractical of human beings — yes, even more than Harry Jaffa!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  115. @Johann Ricke

    Lax enforcement of immigration laws is part of institutional lassitude generally. It was an issue for a quarter-century before Bush took office, though Bush was oddly persistent in his refusal to do anything about it (a curio you see with John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well
     
    Between repelling voters who want to limit illegal immigration and allowing millions of illegals to deliver future Democrat-voting anchor babies, Bush may have hobbled the GOP for decades to come. Between his LBJ-like incompetence in Afghanistan and Iraq (including his selection of Karzai and Maliki) and his middle finger on immigration matters, he's given Hoover and Nixon a good run for the title of worst Republican president.

    Between his LBJ-like incompetence in Afghanistan and Iraq (including his selection of Karzai and Maliki) and his middle finger on immigration matters, he’s given Hoover and Nixon a good run for the title of worst Republican president.

    Afghanistan and Iraq have been far less bloody than VietNam ever was. John Roche once caught LBJ hunched over his desk with an adviser selecting bombing targets in VietNam, a degree of micromanagement I doubt Bush ever exercised. Bush was also responsible for the 2007-08 surge, which pacified southern Iraq and cut the annual death toll by 2/3. LBJ had no such successes. I’m not sure why you suppose Maliki to have been ‘selected’ given the complicated tangle of party politics in Iraq in 2004-06. Ayad Allawi was selected, but he was only in office for a year. Nor is it clear to the laymen who would have performed better than the three prime ministers Iraq had between 2004 and 2014.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  116. I’m truly amazed people like those who actually discuss these things…can articulate thoughts in an intelligible form. I can only hope my tax dollars are in NO way being used to support people such as these. Its really best to just give them drugs to keep them calm…put them out in rocking chairs on the front porch *(during good weather days of course) and let them talk among themselves. Soon they will die off and the world will be a better place.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  117. @Anonymous
    Could you expound on how you are distinguishing the meaning of these two terms - nationalism and patriotism - and why one should prefer the latter?

    Nationalism implies government in the United States.

    Patriotism suggests the country at its truest sense.

    The United States government has been hijacked by a hostile WASP / Jew ruling class. This hostile WASP / Jew ruling class is using mass immigration and other anti-White methods to attack and destroy the European Christian ancestral core of the United States. The way to dislodge the hostile ruling class of the United States is to appeal to patriotism.

    A political leader who makes explicit appeals to patriotism will be tapping into a spiritual and gut level sense of the country. This is much more powerful than an appeal to governmental structures or specific governmental actions.

    The WASP / Jew ruling class is highly vulnerable to charges of treason against the country by their actions. Mass immigration is treason; watch for patriotic GOP candidates to accuse their mass immigration supporting primary opponents of treason. Paul Nehlen has the guts to state plainly that mass immigration is treason and Paul Ryan has acted treasonously by pushing mass immigration. Paul Nehlen can be said to be a patriot, Paul Ryan is obviously a treasonite whore politician.

    PATRIOTISM is better politics than nationalism.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  118. @Johann Ricke

    The Soviet threat to Western Europe was never credible, and the Soviets knew it: they had trouble holding on even to their own, very restive satellites.
     
    The Soviets had trouble holding on to Afghanistan. They had no problem holding on to the Warsaw Pact countries. And even Afghanistan was a problem only because of copious foreign aid to the rebels. Such foreign aid was unthinkable in the event a Warsaw Pact country bucked Moscow's line. Neither Eisenhower nor LBJ rendered any aid to Hungary or Czechoslovakia for fear of an uncontrolled escalation towards general war.

    Johann Ricke wrote to me:

    They [the Soviets] had no problem holding on to the Warsaw Pact countries.

    Um… I do not want to embarrass you or anything, but, you know, the Soviets not only did have a problem holding on to their Warsaw Pact allies, they actually failed to hold on to those allies.

    This was subsequent to multiple revolts, for example, in East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, not to mention the interminable problems in Poland.

    The Soviets did hold on for about four decades, but they truly had problems galore. Their “allies” were not really allies.

    Your weird claim that they had “no problem” suggests you are too young to have lived through that history. I’m not.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  119. @For what it's worth
    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas? There were Unionists and Confederates living side by side. How was *that* supposed to be "negotiated"? No, bloodshed was inevitable. Lincoln was correct in seeing that and in treating the Confederates as rebels.

    To quote Gen. Sherman, whose face should be on our coinage:

    "I notice in Kentucky a disposition to cry against the tyranny and oppression of our Government. Now, were it not for war you know tyranny could not exist in our Government; therefore any acts of late partaking of that aspect are the result of war; and who made this war? Already we find ourselves drifting toward new issues, and are beginning to forget the strong facts of the beginning. You know and I know that long before the North, or the Federal Government, dreamed of war the South had seized the U.S. arsenals, forts, mints, and custom-houses, and had made prisoners of war of the garrisons sent at their urgent demand to protect them 'against Indians, Mexicans, and negroes'." https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Tecumseh_Sherman#Letter_to_James_Guthrie_(August_1864)

    FWIW wrote to me:

    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas?

    Well, I am from the Show-Me state and know a decent amount about its history, including not just reading in books but also what was handed down through our family. I suspect Missouri would have ended up in the Confederacy. I know less about Kentucky, but I’d guess the same, and probably Maryland also. Delaware is a special case: I have no idea there.

    Frankly, I think that would have been best for the free states: why should they be tied to an unnatural marriage with slave states? As I have said many times, as someone sympathetic to the radical abolitionists, I think the free states should have seceded in 1850 over the evil Fugitive Slave Act.

    The Union could then have continued as a leaner, slimmer, more cohesive union of free states.

    If you area asking me to speculate, my guess is that the Confederacy would have fragmented after a few years: William Freehling has made the point that the South was not really a cultural or social unity. Massachusetts had a lot more in common with Wisconsin than Alabama had in common with Texas.

    And, you may well be right that bloodshed would have continued in Kansas; better a few thousand dead in Kansas than six hundred thousand dead in the actual Civil War: remember, as a fraction of the current US population, that would be about six million.

    Interesting how all of you Lincoln idolators keep ignoring the immensity of the death toll in the American Holocaust.

    Read More
    • Replies: @For what it's worth
    My point:

    1.) Even if the North allowed the South to secede, internal conflicts in Missouri (at least) would inevitably have led to the North and South fighting as independent countries. War was coming, no matter what.

    2.) Ditto for Kansas and the western territories.

    3.) I agree that the Confederacy would have broken up, likely over the question of expansion into Mexico and the Caribbean. Why, why, why the people in Washington would allow a gigantic failed state to be born on their doorsteps, you'll have to explain to me.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  120. @Art Deco
    I see you have an affection for salaried cranks.

    Art the Denialist wrote to me:

    I see you have an affection for salaried cranks.

    Nope, I think you and all the other Straussians should be immediately fired and denied any gainful employment in any civilized country.

    I would, however, be willing to chip in for the airfare to send you all to North Korea.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  121. Read Anne Norton? Really? Here is some of the take-down she so richly deserves. From Peter Minowitz’s “Straussophobia”: “Among the anti-Straussian excesses that tarnish the highest realms of contemporary scholarship, Anne Norton’s ‘Leo Strauss and the Politics of the American Empire’ is in a class by itself…it is disgracefully unscholarly”… “Why would one so irresponsible in textual interpretation dare to publish such inflammatory accusations without taking the trouble to document them? Norton is completely unworthy of the trust she presumes.” …[In Larry George's fawning review of her book] “George’s celebration of Norton’s virtuosic contributions to ‘anti-racist and other identity-pluralizing strategies’ is doubly ironic because of the uniquely lazy, incoherent, and presumptuous stratagems she employs in assessing Straussian identities.”…”Since the distinction between “lesser” Straussians (the right wing “disciples”) and the fuzzily described alternative specifies an axis for the entire book, which proceeds to demonize the former, Norton’s terminological shortcomings express viciousness as well as incompetence.” And so on and so on. Better stick to physics.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  122. @PhysicistDave
    FWIW wrote to me:

    Just what precisely do you think would have happened in the border states of Kentucky and Missouri and in the border territories like Kansas?
     
    Well, I am from the Show-Me state and know a decent amount about its history, including not just reading in books but also what was handed down through our family. I suspect Missouri would have ended up in the Confederacy. I know less about Kentucky, but I'd guess the same, and probably Maryland also. Delaware is a special case: I have no idea there.

    Frankly, I think that would have been best for the free states: why should they be tied to an unnatural marriage with slave states? As I have said many times, as someone sympathetic to the radical abolitionists, I think the free states should have seceded in 1850 over the evil Fugitive Slave Act.

    The Union could then have continued as a leaner, slimmer, more cohesive union of free states.

    If you area asking me to speculate, my guess is that the Confederacy would have fragmented after a few years: William Freehling has made the point that the South was not really a cultural or social unity. Massachusetts had a lot more in common with Wisconsin than Alabama had in common with Texas.

    And, you may well be right that bloodshed would have continued in Kansas; better a few thousand dead in Kansas than six hundred thousand dead in the actual Civil War: remember, as a fraction of the current US population, that would be about six million.

    Interesting how all of you Lincoln idolators keep ignoring the immensity of the death toll in the American Holocaust.

    My point:

    1.) Even if the North allowed the South to secede, internal conflicts in Missouri (at least) would inevitably have led to the North and South fighting as independent countries. War was coming, no matter what.

    2.) Ditto for Kansas and the western territories.

    3.) I agree that the Confederacy would have broken up, likely over the question of expansion into Mexico and the Caribbean. Why, why, why the people in Washington would allow a gigantic failed state to be born on their doorsteps, you’ll have to explain to me.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored