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View Diary: Right-wing law prof's case against early voting (148 comments)

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  •  True will of the people (2+ / 0-)
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    MPociask, happymisanthropy
    government that operates according to the true will of the people is something to be feared apparently.
    Kontorovich and his fellow right-wingers often seem to act as if they think people can't be trusted with too much democracy.

    It certainly is a strong theme in American neoconservatism from Leo Strauss onward that the people must constantly be tricked and lied to and led on like children

    1) Actually, it is the Founders who articulated the case for a democratic republic in order to mitigate the well-known problems and deficiencies of democracies. Beyond that, there is a good deal that would need to be said about what constitutes "the true will of the people," how it might be determined, and what weight it ought to be given. Here, there is just a bit of rhetoric about fear and trust, but no acknowledgment that there even could be any sort of negative issue with pure democracy. This stands in need of support.

    2) I would be very interested to see where Leo Strauss ever said that people must be lied to and tricked like children. I teach political philosophy and have read a fair amount of Strauss's writing, and have yet to run across such a statement. Have you got a Strauss citation for your statement?

    •  As anyone (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, stevemb

      who teaches political philosophy should know, Strauss argued that esoteric meanings are embedded in the writings of the classical philosophers. Only those initiated into their secret meanings can understand them properly though, because their true teachings must be kept from the masses. So you must know that Strauss would never come out directly and say such a thing as "people must be lied to and tricked like children." But it is between the lines of everything he wrote. Anyone who wants to become informed about him should start with his Persecution and the Art of Writing and then read him while keeping what he says there in mind. It becomes clear as can be what he's doing then - advancing the need to lie to and lead the masses without leaving the overt fingerprints you so innocently ask for.

      Or just read Shadia Drury's The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss or her Leo Strauss and the American Right.

      But something tells me you already know very well what he's all about.

      •  Seriously unpersuasive... (0+ / 0-)

        ...starting from the small truth that a very long line of philosophers from ancient to modern times, Plato to Nietzsche to Heidegger, understood as a matter of plain fact that there were esoteric and exoteric meanings aimed at different audiences for the same work. However, these so-called "secret meanings" had nothing to do with initiations or attempts to keep "true teachings" from the unworthy masses—we are talking about philosophy, not Rosicrucians and Dan Brown potboilers. Instead, Strauss and many others were very much aware of the difficulties attendant on needing to speak one's mind in places where doing so openly courted retaliation, anything from book bans to the gallows. Peasants with pitchforks, not so much.

        In any case, the "masses" are almost by definition both uninterested in philosophic matters and incapable of understanding them. This is just common sense, backed up by a glance at the sales figures for Harry Potter vs. copies of Al-farabi. But there is is no logic whatsoever that therefore concludes that the existence of levels of meaning and a restricted audience for subtlety constitute some kind of plot.

        So, your answer to my question is clear—you are unable to point to anything to back up your claim. What's most entertaining about your paranoic response (that's an interpretive, not a clinical verdict) is its perfectly absurd appeal to absolutely unverifiable hypothesis, e.g. lines that not only must be read between for meaning, but which are "everywhere" (thus conveniently relieving you of supplying particulars to demonstrate your assertion). Strauss, of course, set down rules for when one might reasonably suspect exoteric meanings, and then set out his rationales in scholarly detail.

        This is particularly entertaining because it is the classic rap against Strauss that he saw exotericism where none can be demonstrated. People like Drury (who is basically Dan Brown in drag, and simply not all that competent) want to argue that Strauss practiced some sui generis exotericism, yet simultaneously assert that the works he commented on cannot possibly be read along the same lines. Now, that's genuinely amusing.

        So, yes, I know very well what he's about. One of those things was his consistent insistence on a direct, unmediated attempt to understand a writer on his own terms, rather than putting some 3rd party between the reader and the text. You might consider losing the Drury and trying to work this stuff through yourself. But something tells me that you find it easier to rely on Drury's thinking instead of your own—a conclusion that took little reading between any lines.

        •  Alrighty then (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare

          You (a) asked for evidence you knew very well was not available in the form you asked for; (b) know very well the only way to deal with Strauss's approach is by close textual analysis of his close textual analysis, word by word, which ain't happening here; and (c) are a serious misogynist (the distinguished scholar Shadia Drury, member of the Royal Society of Canada, Canada's national society of arts and science, is "Dan Brown in drag").

          BTW I haven't read Drury myself, but have read quite a bit of Strauss. I recommend her work for those who just want a layman's introduction.

          For Strauss and his followers, ie the neoconservatives, the truth that is too dangerous to speak today is exactly the one we're talking about here - that democracy must be a sham, and the sheep must be kept ignorant and misdirected and carefully led. The lies they have to be fed are constant but the purpose behind them is "noble."

          So i get it - you're down with the whole pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes-of-the-masses thing.

          •  I get it (0+ / 0-)

            You got nothing, except hollow charges of misogyny and a recommendation of stuff you haven't read (really?). You may have passed some Strauss before your eyes, but it doesn't seem that it could possibly get past your preconceptions about what it is Strauss must, must have had to say about democracy and sheep and stuff—not that you can even vaguely point to anything concrete. This is simply laughable. As for what you imagine I am down with, it seems there is no need to pull wool over the eyes of the self-blinded. And I think I will just bow out here—there is clearly little point to continuing.

    •  You are cordially invited to compose a diary (0+ / 0-)

      in which you take to task the left's perception of Strauss and Straussians. Feel free to include citations. If you want to waste your time, focus on esoterica like meanings hidden in the writings of classical philosophers. If you want to accomplish something, try to explain the relationship, or lack thereof, between the practical political philosophy of supposed Straussian devotees like Dick "So What" Cheney, and whatever theoretical political philosophy you infer from Strauss's own writings.

      Alternatively, of course, you could just troll around in other people's diaries.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:02:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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