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Unformatted text preview: Leo Strauss and Neo-conservatism A strain of contemporary political thought known as neo-conservatism has turned to the philosophy of Leo Strauss for its main rationale. Strauss, a refugee from Germany, mistrusted liberalism. He blamed the liberal Weimar Republic in Germany for the rise of Hitler and the destruction of the Jews that followed. He also attributed the devastation of Jews and other minorities to Stalin’s application of Marx’s allegedly liberal som in the Soviet Union. Many in neo-conservative circles in government and academia have claimed inspiration from Strauss, who taught at the University of Chicago. According to Strauss, the great minds—perhaps as few as one great thinker in each generation—become the teachers for the rest of the population. The great thinkers take society from a pre-political to a political stage. (For a general outline of these ideas, see Strauss’ book, Liberalism: Ancient and Modern, University of Chicago Press, 1968.) Strauss understood liberal education in the ancient world as the domain of a few. In a well-ordered political society the few great or wise minds teach the next generation of political leaders. Leadership in this arrangement becomes the domain of an elite group of liberally educated individuals. The leaders are selected by the previous generation of leaders, an arrangement that aims to protect the quality of the leadership line. A liberal education, according to Strauss, leads to the conclusion that God does not exist. A few educated leaders share this “esoteric” teaching among themselves. While religious belief is false, according to the esoteric teaching, such belief is necessary for the mass of people. The few instruct the masses that God exists esoteric teaching, such belief is necessary for the mass of people....
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- Fall '10
- Philosophy, Leo Strauss, Strauss, main rationale. Strauss