The Corner

The Anti-Straussian Conundrum

I’m begining to think that virtually all interesting critical writing about Leo Strauss must descend into conspiratorial nonsense in order to be interesting. In order to be interestingly critical of Strauss you must prove his relevance to contemporary politics. And in order to prove his relevance — beyond the usual counting of real and alleged Straussians among the conservative chattering classes — you have to assert that alleged Straussian X or supposed neocon Y committed crime Z based on his (almost never “her”) intellectual indebtedness to Strauss. The problem is that virtually all such assertions are exactly that: assertions and often rank ones reeking of b.s. For example, this letter about Strauss and Straussians (yes, yes over at Andrew Sullivan’s site) starts pretty interesting but in order to sell his case he must assert that Paul Wolfowitz lied about WMDs out of some Straussian conviction. The letter-writer even insinuates that Don Rumsfeld is arrogant for some vague reason having something or other to do with Leo Strauss. Indeed, Rumsfeld is supposedly some kind of “Nietzschean Straussian” according to this Sullivan-approved epistle. This is so sand-poundingly stupid it defies simplistic scorn.

Update: Joe Knippenberg has more useful thoughts .

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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