Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Grant and Strauss: Some uninformed thoughts

Yes, yes, I know, but I like this comment from the prolific John Emerson too much not to do something with it:

At a certain point in the Italian civil wars the Guelphs and the Ghibellines had split and switched enough times that it was hard to tell who was who any more.

A lot of us left-liberal democrats here in Bushworld are actually wondering whether it's true that democracy is no damn good -- our elected President is an adventurist, Know-nothing, populist demagogue who uses the Revelation of John as a handbook for predicting the future.

But when we decide to surrender and submit ourselves to re-education, we find that our former Straussian friends are all errand-boys for Dubya now.

Another plug for George Grant -- he never became an errand-boy for Dubya!

I'm afraid I don't know the full story of Grant's relationship with the Straussians, a tale I would be delighted if someone would tell. He was obviously influenced by Strauss's writings on Xenephon's Hiero, and, generally, by the attention to classical political philosophy and the loss of the question of how the state might promote virtue.

Accroding to Grant, Strauss and the Straussians cast their lot with America -- based as it was on the British Enlightenments's narrow and egotistic view of human nature -- over the Soviet bloc -- based on the historicized eschatology of Rousseau, Hegel and Marx -- without fully rejecting Heidegger's equivalence of the two. Strauss thought that the American way left some room for philosophizing. Grant was more Heideggerian in this respect, although he rejected Heidegger's account of Plato and Christianity.

Grant interpreted Strauss as recognizing that the idea of America contained the seeds of a universal, homogenous tyranny which would make philosophy and genuine religion impossible. It is certainly interesting that the Straussians (with the exception of Fukuyama) seem now to be the ones most militant in promoting a global liberal-democratic-capitalist framework. Perhaps they think that lots of war will bring back pre-bourgeois virtues.

No comments: