School of Athens Admissions dept./Memo
We come to square one. All those in favor of making George Bush an
dishonorable member of the School of Athens, raise your hands.
That's a lot of hands out there. But we see here with the article
below that Platonism could now get a bad name. Many of us who
consider ourselves Platonists have contributed to this list. Poetry,
spiritual insight and humanism all come attached with a specific
rider. Dr. Steiner has needed our participation to bring Art,
insight and cultural support to his great Grail Task of giving
humanity an alternative to Frances Bacon. The School of Athens and
the Michael School are One.
Steiner waited a long time to update the School of Athens into the
Michael School. He taught us how to raise the bar when looking into
the facts of evolution. Steiner had graduated from Gilgamesh/Enkidu;
to Ephesus and Aristotle, to St. Thomas and landed most recently on
Pauline Aristotleanism. The Great mystery School of Ephesus was also
one of the early School of Athens models. Now, as members of School
of Athens and the Michael School and not, the Academy of Gondhi
Shapur, do we allow President Bush to be an honorary Platonist?
Karl Julius Schroer had had to quietly seek cover over the
centuries. In my incarnation I think I have met him.
But the larger issue of the Neocons and the Platonist is that as we
have studied before, it was Leo Strauss who had followed in the
historical revisionism of Plato's footsteps out of Weimar. It was
Leo Strauss and those in the current camp of Bush who have brought
forward the new Collective Group Consciousness theory that we in the
Consciousness Soul, all those millions over the globe in the current
Consciousness Soul, are unable and cannot weigh up aristocratic
decisions in the political arena. Leo Strauss and Wolfowitz, not
that Leo was bad, but he defended Plato's perception that at least
something of Intellectual maturity above the Sentient Soul was
needed to address issues that concern I Am's. George Bush had not
shown a willingness to mature to the Consciousness Soul, in fact he
stubbornly refuses to.
Weimar as you know was the escape pod for Leo Strauss as Hitler
directly spat in the face of Weimar where Goethe and Steiner had
broadcast the great Ahrimanic deception and the Mephisto Waltz. It
was in Weimar on Steiner's birthday were the Platonist Leo brought
his pre-christian platonism, with no updates, no School of Athens
and no Novalis or John the Baptist or Karl Julius Schroer insights
down, like a good boy Leo only brought the dregs to Chicago. Since
then the Michael School-School of Athens-Ephesus have collected
students from all over the world.
As members of the Admission Board for the Michael School and
outstanding Platonists, shall we concede that George Bush is
dishonorarble member of our school?
You Can Make It With Plato
Bush's difficult relationship with reality.
By William Saletan
Posted Sunday, Feb. 8, 2004, at 2:19 PM PT
"The American people need to know they got a president who sees the
world the way it is."
That's the message President Bush conveyed this morning on Meet the
Press. He sees things as they are, not as liberals wish they were.
As Bush put it:
That's very important for, I think, the people to understand where
I'm coming fromto know that this is a dangerous world. I wish it
wasn't. I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval
Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind. Again, I wish
it wasn't true, but it is true. And the American people need to know
they got a president who sees the world the way it is. And I see
dangers that exist, and it's important for us to deal with them.
The policy of this administration is to be realistic about the
different threats that we face.
Realistic. Dangers that exist. The world the way it is. These are
strange words to hear from a president whose prewar descriptions of
Iraqi weapons programs are so starkly at odds with the postwar
findings of his own inspectors. A week ago, David Kay, the man
picked by Bush to supervise the inspections, told the Senate Armed
Services Committee that his team had found almost none of the
threats Bush had advertised. No chemical and biological weapons
stockpiles. No evidence of a renewed nuclear weapons program. No
evidence of illicit weapons delivered to terrorists. "We were all
wrong," said Kay.
Again and again on the Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked Bush to
explain the discrepancies. Again and again, Bush replied that such
questions had to be viewed in the "context" of a larger reality: I
see the world as it is. Threats exist. We must be realistic.
This big-picture notion of reality, existence, and the world as it
is dates back 2,400 years to the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato
believed that what's real isn't the things you can touch and see:
your computer, your desk, those empty barrels in Iraq that Bush
thought were full of chemical weapons. What's real is the general
idea of these things. The idea of a computer. The idea of a desk.
The idea of an Iraqi threat to the United States. Whether you
actually have a computer or a desk, or whether Saddam Hussein
actually had chemical weapons, is less important than the larger
truth. The abstraction is the reality.
Plato's successor, Aristotle, took a different view. He thought
reality was measured by what you could touch and see. That's the
definition of reality on which modern science was founded. It's the
definition Colin Powell used when he told the world Saddam had
weapons of mass destruction. It's the definition David Kay used when
he set out to find the weapons. Kay and Powell are dismayed by our
inability to see and touch the weapons. But Bush isn't. He isn't
going to let Aristotle's reality distract him from Plato's.
In Bush's Platonic reality, the world is dangerous, threats exist,
and the evidence of our senses must be interpreted to fit that
larger truth. On the night he launched the war, for example, Bush
told the nation, "Intelligence gathered by this and other
governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to
possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Russert asked Bush whether, in retrospect, that statement was false.
Bush replied, "I made a decision based upon that intelligence in the
context of the war against terror. In other words, we were attacked,
and therefore every threat had to be reanalyzed. Every threat had to
be looked at. Every potential harm to America had to be judged in
the context of this war on terror."
You can hear the gears turning in Bush's mind. We were attacked on
Sept. 11, 2001. That attack exposed a new reality. That new reality
changed the context for interpreting intelligence. Or, as Howard
Dean less charitably puts it, if Bush and his administration "have a
theory and a fact, and [the two] don't coincide, they get rid of the
fact instead of the theory."
The more you study Bush's responses to unpleasant facts, the clearer
this pattern becomes. A year and a half ago, the unpleasant facts
had to do with his sale of stock in Harken Energy, a company on
whose board of directors he served, shortly before the company
disclosed that its books were far worse than publicly advertised.
Bush dismissed all queries by noting that the Securities and
Exchange Commission had declined to prosecute him. "All these
questions that you're asking were looked into by the SEC," Bush
shrugged. That conclusion was his measure of reality. As to the
different version of reality suggested by the evidence, Bush scoffed
with metaphysical certainty, "There's no 'there' there."
On Meet the Press, Bush handled questions about his service in the
National Guard during Vietnam the same way. Russert reminded
Bush, "The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through
some of their records and said there's no evidence that you reported
to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of 1972." Bush
replied, "Yeah, they're just wrong. There may be no evidence, but I
did report. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been honorably discharged."
That's the Bush syllogism: The evidence says one thing; the
conclusion says another; therefore, the evidence is false.
Why did Americans elect a president who thinks this way? Because
they wanted a leader different from Bill Clinton. They liked some
things about Clinton, but they were sick of his dishonesty in the
Monica Lewinsky affair and his constant shifting in the political
winds. Bush promised that he would say what he believed and stick to
On Iraq, Bush fulfilled both promises. "What I do want to share with
you is my sentiment at the time," he told Russert. "There was no
doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a danger to America." Note
Bush's emphasis on his subjective reality: "my sentiment," "no doubt
in my mind." When Russert asked Bush about his unpopularity abroad,
Bush answered, "I'm not going to change, see? I'm not trying to
accommodate. I won't change my philosophy or my point of view. I
believe I owe it to the American people to say what I'm going to do
and do it, and to speak as clearly as I can, try to articulate as
best I can why I make decisions I make. But I'm not going to change
because of polls. That's just not my nature."
No, it isn't. Bush isn't Clinton. He doesn't change his mind for
anything, whether it's polls or facts. And he always tells the truth
about what's in his mind, whether or not what's in his mind
corresponds to what's in the visible world.
What are the consequences of such a Platonic presidency? The
immediate risk is the replacement of Saddam with a more dangerous
fundamentalist regime. Bush is certain this won't happen. "They're
not going to develop that, because right here in the Oval Office, I
sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from
different parts of [Iraq] that have made the firm commitment that
they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority
rights and freedom of religion," Bush told Russert. "I said [to Mr.
al-Hakim], 'You know, I'm a Methodist. What are my chances of
success in your country and your vision?' And he said, 'It's going
to be a free society where you can worship freely.' "
There you have it: The regime will be pluralistic, because Bush
believes it, because nice men came to the Oval Office and told him
Beyond Iraq, the risk is that the rest of the world won't believe
anything the U.S. government says. Bush explained to Russert that he
invaded Iraq in part because "when the United States says there will
be serious consequences" and those consequences don't
follow, "people look at us and say, 'They don't mean what they
say.' " True enough. But meaning what you say won't get other
nations to join you in policing the world, if what you think and say
bears no relationship to reality.
The punch line is that Bush accomplished exactly what he set out to
do in this interview: He showed you how his mind works. Republicans
used to observe derisively that Clinton had a difficult relationship
with the truth. Bush has a difficult relationship with the truth,
too. It's just a differentand perhaps more gravekind of difficulty.
William Saletan is Slate's chief political correspondent.