Opium For You

Billmon, on Straussians. Well worth reading, if you have time. Learn about the philosophy of the neo-cons in charge of this country. Part of the idea is to feed religion to the masses to get them to follow you… And yes, this stuff is for real. Billmon is writing about it because the neo-cons believe it.

To the Straussians, rationality does not provide an adequate basis for a stable social order. To the contrary, the Age of Enlightenment has ushered in the crisis of modernity, in which nihilism – the moral vacuum left behind by the death of God – inevitably leads to decadence, decline and, ultimately, genocide.
[. . .] What gives Straussian thought its special flavor – a bitter blend of hypocrisy and cynicism – is the fact that Strauss himself didn’t believe in the eternal “truths” he championed. He was a nihilist, in other words – but one who believed only the philosophical elite could be trusted to indulge in such a dangerous vice. In exchange for this privilege, the elite has a special obligation to uphold the “noble lies” the ignorant masses must live by if society is to survive.

[. . .] The rationale – or rationalization – for the populist ploy is that the common folk are a hell of a lot less liberal (again, using the Enlightenment definition of the word) than what the Straussians like to call America’s “parchment regime” – that is, the ideas and principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The masses want their opium, in other words, and with the right guidance, will happily sweep away the liberal elites who have been denying it to them.
This, in turn, will set the stage for a golden (or at least silver) age of religious orthodoxy, patriarchal values and a hierarchical corporate capitalism stripped of its original libertarian feistiness – all of it supervised by a moral nanny state freed from the confines of all that “parchment.”

Billmon comments on this,

[. . .] If there is a crisis of modernity, it appears to be more a function of the faithful – some whom are getting awfully violent for a bunch of opium addicts. When the 9/11 terrorists flew their planes into the World Trade Center, I can guarantee you they weren’t reciting passages from Mill’s On Liberty. The real crisis may be the lack of modernity, not a surplus of the stuff – an argument the neocons themselves are now making, at least about the religious fanatics in the Middle East.
The ones in Midwest, on the other hand, are another story. To the Straussians, it apparently doesn’t matter what kind of religious orthodoxy America has – as long as it has one. And so the highly educated followers of a Jewish refugee from demented old Europe have allied themselves with some of the most ignorant, racist and xenophobic people in modern crazy America.

That’s a little bit, to get you worked up. It got me worked up. Anyway, go read it, and learn what shocking conclusions Billmon reaches.
UpdateDigby weighs in on the subject.

3 thoughts on “Opium For You

  1. I’ve been researching the devotion of the neocons to the philosophy of Leo Strauss for a long time. If I haven’t posted anything about this here, I should have. He was a professor at the U. of Chicago, taken very seriously at the time by any number of bright young things who considered themselves intellectually elite. A lot of my friends considered themselves intellectually elite and went to the University of Chicago, which considered itself the most intellectually elite university, so this was the right place for Strauss. I wasn’t considered intellectually elite because I couldn’t afford to go there. It was a private school and very expensive. To be intellectually elite you had to be rich. Of course you also had to be a man, so I could only have become a second-class Straussian at best anyway.
    Strauss himself was, well, nuts. No other way to put it. A victim of Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews, he spent his life wasting his considerable intellect finding secrets that didn’t exist hidden in ancient philosophers, using this to reconstruct Nazi style philosophy. Maybe he suffered from the Stockholm syndrome.
    You had to be a member of the intellectual elite to be allowed to share those “secrets” and this created a vicious circle. Those who wanted to be considered elite were allowed into the inner sanctum and thus could forever consider themselves elite, and plenty of his former students are now in positions of power. I knew some of his followers. You couldn’t argue with them because, of course, they considered themselves the cream of the intellectual elite in possession of “secrets’ nobody else could grasp — or were even allowed to know about. Strauss’ writings contain their own hidden “secrets” only the initiated elite can interpret and understand. You have to have been given the Keys to the Kingdom or you can’t play. The Chosen Ones, the would-be modern Philosopher Kings. Combine this with their cynical manipulation of the Dominionists, who believe that God has appointed them to establish and rule the Kingdom of God on Earth and you’ve got as poisonously dangerous a brew as has ever existed.
    We would do well to research and understand this.

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