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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Monday, September 11

leo strauss - the neocons - jihad

you say you are a patriot
I think that you're a crock of shit

stones ~ sweet neo con

Several months ago, I mentioned -- in the usual elliptically discursive and maddeningly en passant manner that substitutes for style on this blog (see, even I know it) -- something I'd read in The New York Times Book Review about a book about Leo Strauss. As I recall, the review -- and reportedly the book -- basically said that it was weird that Leo Strauss kept being associated with the neoconservative Bush League in Washington, DC. Since then, I've read a bit more about Leo Strauss, who died 30+ years ago, and have discovered that all the neocons say the same thing about him: They respect him tremendously, he was a hell of a guy, and he really liked Plato a lot, so what could be bad? But none of that has anything to with -- are you kidding? -- politics.

Uh huh.

The only reason I even bothered reading that review was that I'd just read somewhere else that Hannah Arendt refused to go out with lovable ol' Leo because, and I quote, "she didn't date Nazis." As a matter of fact, as I later read in the NY Times ($), she did. The Times review of Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger (Yale University Press) notes...

Referring to the death of Husserl in a letter in 1946 to the philosopher Karl Jaspers, Arendt called Heidegger "a potential murderer." But almost from the moment she was reunited with Heidegger in 1950, Professor Ettinger said, Arendt forgave him everything.

Writing a tribute to Heidegger in The New York Review of Books in 1971 on the occasion of Heidegger's 80th birthday, Arendt dismissed his Nazi past humorously by likening him to Thales, the Greek philosopher who while gazing at the stars stumbled into a well.

[NYRB link added]

In other words, your usual tangled web. But as this is the web I've lately been tangling with, that's probably why Leo Strauss and the American Right recently popped up in my Amazon recommendations. It's by Shadia B. Drury, of whom I'd never heard, so I was somewhat amazed (further demonstrating my deep ignorance of these waters) to find she has a page on Wikipedia. My interest might have ended there, had I not read that she "has called Strauss himself 'a Jewish Nazi'" -- especially as some attentive Wikieditor has added the tag "citation needed." Well goodness, I should say so!

So I went haring off to find one. There's a reference to the quote on, but as that site is now defunct, the page 404s. However, the Google cache page is still there, and it mentions The Boston Globe. After paying the Globe $2.95 to read "The Philosopher" by one Jeet Heer (May 11, 2003), I kicked myself, because once I had the guy's name it was easy to find his site where the article is available gratis. Here's the relevant bit...

Clifford Orwin, a professor at the University of Toronto strongly influenced by Strauss, describes him as a wise teacher who counseled prudence and moderation. But Shadia Drury, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and the author of "Leo Strauss and the American Right," completely disagrees. For her, Strauss was nothing less than "a Jewish Nazi" whose pretense of American patriotism and piety hid a cynical and extremist antidemocratic ideology.

Still wondering where she said or wrote that, I emailed Jeet Heer. He responded with blinding speed: "The phrase came from an interview I did with Drury, conducted about a week before the article was published."

So: citation supplied.

For this and other such assessments, professor Drury has been called "the bitch of Calgary" by the neo-con-men -- a label of which she is evidently quite proud (though I forgot now where I read that). Here's an excellent audio interview with her on the subject.

However, you might want to save that one for later, because what follows is a three-hour BBC documentary about Leo Strauss, the American neoconservative movement, and "al Qaeda terrorist networks." These three segments are also available on DVD.

I can't imagine a better way to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 -- and I can't recommend these films highly enough. You'll see.

The Power of Nightmares

Part I: Baby It's Cold Outside

Part II: The Phantom Victory

Part III: The Shadows in the Cave

Further reading, as suggested by writer, producer and narrator Adam Curtis.