Neo-conservatism, from Carl Schmitt to Guantanamo

Leo StraussFrom the Google cache.

Neo-conservatism: from Carl Schmitt to Guantanamo

Linking: 18 Comments: 7

Date: 6/9/05 at 11:21PM

Mood: Thinking Playing: War, by Edwin Starr

From the New Statesman in Britain:

Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire

Anne Norton Yale University Press, 256pp, £16
ISBN 0300104367

Reviewed by Corey Robin

In 1949, a German-Jewish emigre by the name of Leo Strauss arrived at the University of Chicago, where for the next two decades he taught students how to read philosophy: not just Plato and Aristotle, but also Maimonides, who was Jewish, and al-Farabi, who was Muslim.

While other undergraduates ambled down the primrose path of Athens and Rome, Strauss spirited his charges through the back alleys of Baghdad and Jerusalem.

Home from their dusty tours, Strauss’s students – most famously Allan Bloom – became illustrious teachers in their own right, grooming the men who now lead the United States, or who advise the men who do.

Today, the influence of Strauss extends from Washington (Paul Wolfowitz is a Straussian) through Guantanamo (Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence, is a Straussian) to Kabul (Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan [and later to Iraq], is a Straussian, too).

At first glance, there seems something vaguely un-American about the advent of the Straussians. …

As for Strauss, Norton notes that he travelled in the orbit of Martin Heidegger [see also here] and Carl Schmitt, the twin philosophers of the Third Reich, and that their suspicions – about liberal democracy, the Enlightenment and rootless cosmopolitanism – run throughout his work.

Thus it is hard to see the Straussians as anything less than emblematic figures of the American right, which shares far more affinities with the spirit of the European counter-revolution than we might think.

US neoconservatism, by Eric Hobsbawm: here.

On Carl Schmitt: here.

Strauss and Australian Right politics: here.

Camus and Sartre: here. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Lost’ letter shows philosophers were dearest friends before their bitter falling-out: here.

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