Saturday, June 26, 2004


Urged on by one of my correspondents, I spent a while last night reading about conservative philosopher Leo Strauss and his followers. I read accounts by various sorts of Straussians and anti-Straussians as a way of deciding if it seemed worthwhile to sit down and read the great man himself. He is said to be a difficult and ambiguous study so preliminary enquiry seemed needed. Two of the many accounts I read are here and here. Strauss disciples do seem to be rather prominent in the Bush administration and that does of course get the Left frothing at the mouth and trotting out their usual conspiracy theories. And for once there is a small germ of truth in what they say. Strauss was what would usually be called a "Gnostic" -- a purveyor of "hidden" knowledge or knowledge known only to initiates. Gnostics were very influential and widely followed in the ancient world both before and after the time of Christ. The best known Gnostic sects of the modern world are probably the Rosicrucians, the Scientologists and whatever is left of the old Freemasons.

I myself think that all Gnosticism is rubbish so will not be reading Strauss. The idea of any real and widely useful knowledge remaining secret for thousands of years is ludicrous. But I can see the appeal of Straussianism. Like all Gnostic sects it is both elitist and fraternal -- which is a pretty powerful combination. It both tells you that you are superior and that you have a band of similarly wise brothers on your side. No wonder it has attracted followers! I find its elitism particularly obnoxious. Elites as such are no problem for me. They exist. They become obnoxious when they see themselves as a natural ruling class who are licensed to lie, conceal, collude and deceive in order to bend "the masses" to their will -- "for their own good", of course. Yuk! Straussianism has too much in common with the Left for me. I will stick with libertarian conservatism. Many conservatives are pretty appalled at the big-government agenda of GWB and I have argued that GWB is in fact in some ways to the Left of Clinton. Maybe he really has been influenced by his Straussian advisors.

What primarily motivated Strauss was his concern that the "nihilism" or moral relativism preached by Leftist ideologues (and now accepted by many educated people) would eventually make civilization impossible. There are however many alternatives in philosophy to moral relativism and I think my version of ethical naturalism is only one of many accounts of morality which take into account the arguments for moral relativism but still show or purport to show that values and standards are important, non-arbitrary and persuasive.

The practical upshot of Straussian thought does seem to be reasonably conservative in that Strauss opposed both Communism and Nazism and supported Christianity and traditional values but his reasons for those conclusions seem to be peculiarily his own.



I think this is right: Clinton was good for America because he did so little. And he did so little because he spent most of his time defending his own repeated amoral behaviour. And I see that Monica Lewinsky has entered the fray again -- with some understandably hurt comments about his recent "60 minutes" interview. I think there is little doubt that Clinton is a psychopath -- even his much-noted charm is characteristic of psychopaths. The stupid lie about how Hillary got her name is typically psychopathic.

A crime against the poor: "John Kerry says he wants to raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour from $5.15". He wants to force the lowest rung of the workforce out of work, in other words.

Jeff Jacoby on U.N. antisemitism: "The lengths to which the UN will to go to avoid any condemnation of Jew-hatred would be comical if they weren't so contemptible. When it adopted an international convention against racial discrimination, it refused to include a reference to antisemitism. "The Soviet Union, its satellites, and its Arab allies," noted Bayefsky, "insisted that antisemitism was a question not of race but of religion." Yet when the UN later adopted a resolution on religious intolerance, the lead sponsor insisted that antisemitism should be omitted because that was a matter not of religion but of race."

Affirmative Action a noble goal? "Advocates of U-M's policies speak in collective terms about race disadvantage and gender inequities. What they don't deal with is individuals. AA admission (and other) policies do not look at the individual merits of your son or daughter at the grade average they've struggled to maintain, the volunteer organizations they've joined, the dreaming human beings they are. Instead, AA advocates see skin color and genitalia. There is nothing noble about that vision."

Attempts by UK Tories in the House of Lords to extend Blair's 'civil partnerships' act to cover non-homosexual households (eg spinsters, family carers etc) have been attacked as 'homophobic'(!)

There is an amusing attack on "Islamophobia" here -- followed by an extremely frank reply from one of my readers. One excerpt: "In other places in the Koran and in Mohammed's life and in constant Islamic practice, is revealed a "value" of persecuting, intimidating and indeed killing people for their expressing disagreement with the half-baked failed system of ideas that is Islam. In total contrast to this, Christ said "Father forgive them for what they do""

Pretend-Catholics: "Only 1 in 5 senators who claim to be Catholic actually support a bill that would enshrine marriage as the union of one man and one woman"

Ecumenical Insanity has an amusing report about a new "translation" of the Bible. The Church of England thinks you can just change what the Bible says willy-nilly. They pretend that the Bible tells you to have a "regular partner" rather than a husband or wife. The apostates have clearly taken over that church.

Carnival of the Vanities is up again, including some quiz questions about the old South.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


Leftism is more popular with young people than with older people largely because Leftism is itself juvenile: They criticize what they don't understand. Which makes it ironic that "We know best" and "It's for your own good" are the basic Leftist messages. Leftists have never got past the simplistic thinking or the arrogance that are the characteristic limitations of youth

"Created" equal in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is a religious way of saying that people are NOT equal but start out with the same rights

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