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Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Leo Strauss, Neoconservativism, and Plato

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  • Robert Wallace
    Hans Blumenberg also debated with Schmitt, in the latter s much later years. Schmitt was obviously very smart. What I want to know is, how could such brilliant
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 30, 2010
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      Hans Blumenberg also debated with Schmitt, in the latter's much later
      years. Schmitt was obviously very smart. What I want to know is, how
      could such brilliant people--including Blumenberg, for whom I have
      great affection--all have failed to pick up the Plato/Kant/Hegel
      ethical/metaphysical project and run with it? How could they _all_ be
      so overawed by Nietzsche's shallow critique of sometimes-hypocritical
      morality, and Heidegger's even shallower critique of Platonic value-
      metaphysics, that none of them saw the desperate need to unearth and
      deepen the original project, rather than moan around in its supposed
      ruins? So that it was left to the ungebildete Anglo-Saxons (GEM
      Anscombe, John Rawls, Terry Irwin, Lloyd Gerson...) to pick it up?

      Well, I'm a late-comer to this program myself. I shouldn't point my
      finger. But I'm not as smart as these folks, either. It seems that the
      intellect is a weak reed.

      Best, Bob

      On Nov 30, 2010, at 6:01 PM, Thomas Mether wrote:

      > I offer a suggestion. I don't know how well it will stand up to
      > criticism but I hypothesize that the debates between Strauss and
      > Schmitt (<<---note) were so intense because they were so close.
      > Taubes, maybe, is an example of that.
      >
      > --- On Tue, 11/30/10, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:
      >
      > From: Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Leo Strauss, Neoconservativism, and
      > Plato
      > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 6:37 PM
      >
      > Dear Thomas,
      >
      > You're right that people want to justify themselves. And I agree that
      > there is considerable similarity between some of Schmitt's views (note
      > the correct spelling ;-) and the neocons' positions (John Yoo's, in
      > particular) regarding executive power, the Geneva Conventions, and so
      > forth. I haven't yet seen any concrete evidence that Yoo or the others
      > were directly influenced by Schmitt. As far as I can determine, they
      > don't cite him. It's natural for intellectuals like you and me to look
      > for a line of derivation. Who knows, it may exist.
      >
      > The more important line of influence that certainly did and does exist
      > is from Leo Strauss's general "Nietzschean" dismissal of moral
      > considerations, to the actions of the neocons. It must be inspiring to
      > be told by your professor that modern liberalism is intellectually
      > decrepit, and that ancient philosophy is essentially illiberal. Such a
      > view creates great "flexibility," for those who embrace it.
      >
      > So the absence of a principled defense of liberal ethics from much
      > academic "political theory" and philosophy in the mid-twentieth
      > century (that is, prior to the recent generation of Rawls, Dworkin and
      > so on) has had some sad consequences.
      >
      > Best, Bob
      >
      > On Nov 30, 2010, at 1:23 PM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      >
      > > Bob,
      > >
      > > I would say everyone feels the need to justify themselves.
      > > Thrasymachus would have kept his month shut if such wasn't the case
      > > (so even as a fictional character he is realistic in that respect).
      > >
      > > The National Socialists were very legal. In fact, that was how it
      > > was easier to convict them of war crimes. They were sticklers for
      > > documentation and following procedure. Plus, they documented well
      > > their "justifications" as they modifed German laws and suspended the
      > > Weimar constitution (following Schmidt's idea -- The Weimar
      > > Constitution was never abolished under the Nazi's; it was suspended
      > > for four years, then another four years, due to an on-going "crisis"
      > > or "state of emergency" requiring Martial Law).
      > >
      > > Anyway, as to what is supposed to be the particulars of the neocon
      > > use of Carl Schmidt, it seems to be the following aspects of his
      > > thought.
      > >
      > > It appears the neocon use of Schmidt is involves a threefold use of
      > > his justifications for a fascist state. 1. The so-called
      > > 'democratic" legitimation of liberalism does not work because they
      > > are two different things in principle and practice (this has been
      > > revived in Europe). Legislatures are inefficient compromises between
      > > parties serving their own self-interest instead of the people unless
      > > threatened by the people to be tossed out argued Schmidt. But the
      > > people don't know what they want and cannot organize into a lasting
      > > unity. Thus, under the circumstances, the growth of the executive
      > > branch to rule and get things done is required by bypassing the
      > > legislative rock and people hardplace. The people are content with
      > > some type of social-welfare state (like Bismarckian and Nazi
      > > Germany) in exchange for sovereignty and civil revolt. Rights and
      > > social welfare-state policies must be consistent with the long-term
      > > longevity of the state which is increasingly
      > > by historical necessity the executive branch allied with the
      > > industries to defend it, arnaments industry Schmidt also argues. 2.
      > > 20th century technology and the growing power of weapons as such
      > > makes the time of conventional war between national armies
      > > increasingly a thing of the past, predicted Schmidt. Future war will
      > > either involve weapons of such destructive force there is no time
      > > for conventional mobilization of conventional forces or it will be
      > > an unconventional war of "partisans" (aka, Terrorists). Both forms
      > > of war make the Geneva Conventions irrelevant and not applicable
      > > argues Schmidt. The "unitary sovereignty" of the executive,
      > > therefore, under these "exceptional circumstances" can suspend the
      > > constitution and Geneva Conventions to address this type of warfare
      > > against "illegal combatants". Some of the articles listed claim Bush
      > > and Cheney and their legal staff drew directly from Schmidt to
      > > justify imprisonment without trial and enhanced
      > > interrogation techniques because with a terrorist enemy Geneva
      > > Conventions do not apply on their view. What others have called the
      > > "Bush-Cheney Doctrine" some have recognized as "Schmidt's Doctrine".
      > > 3. Schmidt argued that under modern conditions, historical trends
      > > will require the sovereign's suspension of the constitution to
      > > become semi-permanent as the state of war (no longer declared)
      > > against terrorism also becomes semi-permanent plus also requires an
      > > on-going and "pre-emptive" imperialism where "other potentially
      > > hostile groups" are made puppets of or extensions of the executive
      > > sovereignty in a semi-permanent state of war. Since terrorism makes
      > > national boundaries porous and insecure, internal state security
      > > surveillance will also be needed argued Schmidt. The articles listed
      > > claim that Bush and his legal advisors view of "war on terror,
      > > patriot act and regime-changing 'spreading of democracy'" is
      > > explictly drawn from the Carl Schmidt work.
      > > Oddly, Schmidt predicted it would be the US that would become this
      > > type of future world oligarchic and authoritarian state. There is an
      > > article from a conservative magazine that makes the claim (but I
      > > personally have difficulty believing this particular source) that
      > > Cheney would lecture on and have discussions about the political
      > > thought of Carl Schmidt aboard Air Force 2.
      > >
      > > Quickly reading up on this stuff while procrastinating correcting
      > > papers, that seems to be the gist of what is claimed as the debt of
      > > the neocons to the political thought of Carl Schmidt.
      > >
      > > Thomas
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- On Tue, 11/30/10, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > From: Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Leo Strauss, Neoconservativism, and
      > > Plato
      > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 11:41 AM
      > >
      > > Thanks, Thomas. I'm not sure my stomach can handle reading this
      > stuff.
      > > Couldn't one say equally that Thrasymachus is the "ideologue behind
      > > neoconservatism"? If Plato hadn't invented him, someone else would
      > > have had to. (Imagine the through-the-looking-glass mentality of
      > > someone who thinks that Plato endorses Thrasymachus and then spends
      > > 300 pages _pretending_ to refute him!) Or Thomas Hobbes? Why does
      > > "might makes right" require an "ideology"? It's the default position
      > > for fear, anger, narcissism and power hunger. These have no need to
      > > "justify" themselves intellectually. No doubt an ideology is a nice
      > > thing to have if you're a professor and need to attract students and
      > > followers. But for those who are in the corridors of real power, it
      > > seems pretty dispensable.
      > >
      > > Best, Bob
      > >
      > > On Nov 30, 2010, at 8:41 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      > >
      > > > Well, Bob, read what my quick google search dug up. Apparently,
      > > > there are others who think Schmidt is the ideologue behind
      > > > neoconservatism.
      > > >
      > > > --- On Tue, 11/30/10, Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > From: Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      > > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Leo Strauss, Neoconservativism,
      > and
      > > > Plato
      > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > > > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 9:29 AM
      > > >
      > > > Hello all,
      > > >
      > > > It's not clear to me that Realpolitik needs to be inspired by any
      > > > particular "philosopher." It's a documented fact that various
      > > > Republican managers took courses from professors who identify
      > > > themselves as admirers of Leo Strauss. But it doesn't follow from
      > > this
      > > > that Strauss's teaching had a distinctive _content_ that's at work
      > > in
      > > > Republican (or Democratic) foreign policy.
      > > >
      > > > So while Strauss's strange reading of the Republic and of the
      > > ancients
      > > > vs. the moderns deserves some attention, as (at least) an
      > > interesting
      > > > possible attitude, I doubt that criticizing it in detail will make
      > > > much difference to anyone's thinking about American foreign
      > policy.
      > > > What _might_ make such a difference is, indeed, the second
      > approach
      > > > that John U. suggested: investigating the implications of
      > 'Platonic
      > > > realism' for ethics and politics. A big subject! To which I would
      > > add:
      > > > investigating the implications of Plato's account of the soul
      > and of
      > > > eros, for ethics and politics. Because I doubt that Platonic
      > realism
      > > > about values can be effectively defended, without showing how it
      > > fits
      > > > into an understanding of our everyday thinking, which Plato
      > presents
      > > > (largely) through his accounts of the soul and eros. To the extent
      > > > that these doctrines are taken seriously, and versions of them are
      > > > presented as credible and worthy of study and elaboration, our
      > > public
      > > > ethical discourse is deepened and the influence of crude
      > conceptions
      > > > of self-interest and national interest may be (at least
      > marginally)
      > > > diminished.
      > > >
      > > > In this regard, I'm moderately encouraged (as I've said here
      > before)
      > > > by the rebirth of serious teaching of ethics, both practical
      > ethics
      > > > and ethical theory, in Anglophone universities since the 1960s.
      > > >
      > > > As for Carl Schmitt, Thomas--I agree of course that he's another
      > > > interesting and rather chilling theorist. But I hope you don't
      > > mean to
      > > > suggest that _his_ "political theology" has any influence on
      > > present-
      > > > day politics. If Strauss is obscure, Schmitt is utterly recondite.
      > > >
      > > > Best, Bob
      > > >
      > > > On Nov 30, 2010, at 7:12 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      > > >
      > > > > In a seminar on early modernity, we were involved in a close-
      > > reading
      > > > > of the Bacon-Hobbes texts (with a posited relation between them)
      > > and
      > > > > Spinoza. Our professor paused at one point, shook her head
      > > slightly
      > > > > as if to clear it, and called the break early.
      > > > >
      > > > > When she came back, we were presented with two readings on a
      > > passage
      > > > > in Spinoza. One was from a neocon. The other older one was
      > almost
      > > > > verbatim what was found in the neocon without what appeared to
      > > be a
      > > > > required attribution. It seemed the neocon was closely
      > > paraphrasing
      > > > > an older interpretation of Spinoza without giving credit to the
      > > > > source.
      > > > > The source was Leo Strauss's opponent in a debate over Hobbes
      > and
      > > > > Spinoza. The neocon was paraphrasing, without attribution, Carl
      > > > > Schmidt. They were agreeing that the weakness of a "neutral
      > > > > liberalism" without a "political theology" was to find its
      > > origin in
      > > > > Spinoza which was Schmidt's view and part of his allegiance with
      > > > > National Socialism. The state must serve a political theology
      > > and it
      > > > > must be a universal theology.
      > > > >
      > > > > Without having researched it, I suggest there might be more Carl
      > > > > Schmidt in the US neocons philosophy than Strauss.
      > > > >
      > > > > Thomas Mether
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > --- On Tue, 11/30/10, Malcolm <malcolmschosha@...> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > From: Malcolm <malcolmschosha@...>
      > > > > Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Leo Strauss, Neoconservativism, and
      > > > Plato
      > > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > > > > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 6:56 AM
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Strauss did not advocate a neoconservative foreign policy, and
      > > even
      > > > > if his writing may have been used by those who advocated
      > > > > neoconservatism, that does not make him the problem. Or, if so,
      > > one
      > > > > could then as easily try to bring discredit to Plato because
      > > > > Heidegger quoted him while being inaugurated as rector of
      > Freiburg
      > > > > University; which was done with Nazi flags flying during the
      > > > > ceremony, and Nazi officials present among the invited.
      > > > >
      > > > > Malcolm Schosha
      > > > >
      > > > > ..................................
      > > > >
      > > > > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax
      > > > > <john.uebersax@...> wrote:
      > > > > >
      > > > > > It is no secret that U.S. foreign policy is dominated by a
      > > school
      > > > > of thought commonly called Neoconservativism, and also that this
      > > > > movement is associated with the political philosophy of Leo
      > > Strauss.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Neoconservativism is a flavor of so-called foreign policy
      > > realism,
      > > > > which designates itself realistic in that it takes as a given
      > the
      > > > > apparent fact of a dog-eat-dog world where national security
      > > > > justifies and requires economic imperialism or even preemptive
      > > > > military action against potential enemies.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Strauss used Plato (and especially The Republic) to justify
      > his
      > > > > views. To do this he had to read Plato in an unusual, contrarian
      > > > > way, elevating the principle of 'Socratic irony' to the point
      > that
      > > > > Socrates is assumed to never mean what he says. For Strauss,
      > it is
      > > > > Thrasymachus in The Republic, not Socrates, who expresses
      > Plato's
      > > > > views.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > I wonder if there's much point digging into this. It might be
      > > > > fairly easy to refute Strauss' reading of The Republic, but
      > would
      > > > > anyone care, or would people just go on misinterpreting Plato?
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Another, potentially more productive possibility might be to
      > > > > consider how an accurate reading of Plato would lead to more
      > > > > benevolent foreign policy. Perhaps that could be approached by
      > > > > investigating the implications of "Platonic realism" -- in the
      > > sense
      > > > > that (1) the Forms and Virtues are more real than material
      > > reality,
      > > > > and (2) that policy should be governed more by concern for
      > eternal
      > > > > Virtues, than ephemeral, material concerns like wealth, oil,
      > > > > property, etc.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > I just thought I'd run this general topic by the group to
      > > solicit
      > > > > reactions, opinions, or reading suggestions.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Incidentally, on the ISNS links page someone has helpfully
      > > placed
      > > > > this article:
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Neil Robertson, The Platonism of Leo Strauss
      > > > > > http://www.mun.ca/animus/1999vol4/roberts4.htm
      > > > > >
      > > > > > John Uebersax
      > > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > >
      > > > Robert Wallace
      > > > website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      > > > email: bob@...
      > > > phone: 414-617-3914
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > ------------------------------------
      > > >
      > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > Robert Wallace
      > > website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      > > email: bob@...
      > > phone: 414-617-3914
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > > ------------------------------------
      > >
      > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      > Robert Wallace
      > website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      > email: bob@...
      > phone: 414-617-3914
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >

      Robert Wallace
      website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      email: bob@...
      phone: 414-617-3914










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