Fri, 28 September 2007
A Time magazine article from 1996 nominated political philosopher Leo Strauss (who died in 1973) as one of the most influential and powerful figures in Washington. Strauss was regarded as the inspiration for Newt Gingrich's steamrolling political movement. He has since been cited as the ultimate source of our war in Iraq, since former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was a student of a student of Strauss's at the University of Chicago. An article by one libertarian writer labels Strauss the "fascist godfather of the neo-cons."
What, then, to make of these recent claims by Yale political philosopher Steven B. Smith (from his 2006 book Reading Leo Strauss): "Throughout his writings, Strauss remained deeply skeptical of whether political theory had any substantive advice or direction to offer statesmen. . . . The idea that political or military action can be used to eradicate evil from the human landscape is closer to the utopian and idealistic visions of Marxism and the radical Enlightenment than anything found in the writings of Strauss."
A helpful introduction to Strauss's ideas appeared last year in an article entitled "The Secret of Straussianism," by Richard Sherlock, published in the journal Modern Age. A reading of this article is the latest MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint, available as an MP3 download from the MARS HILL AUDIO website (marshillaudio.org/catalog/reprints.asp; sorry we can't insert a clickable link here, but the server is being goofy). In addition to a survey of Strauss's method of reading classical, literary, and political-theoretical texts, Sherlock also examines his posture toward religion. Read by Ken Myers, the 36-minute reading sells for $3.
This Reprint is the tenth in a series that covers such various topics as the novels of P. D. James, the life of William Wilberforce, the penetrating insights of Leszek Kolakowski, the importance of manual labor, and the necessity of reading the classics. Audition listeners may want to expand the range of their aural fixations by downloading some of these unique Audio Reprints.