Modern Politics P. Schultz November 14, 2011
Some quotes from a book entitled Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography.
Commenting on Strauss’ take on Hobbes, whom he, Strauss, considered one of the founders of modern natural right and, hence, modern politics: “Will takes the place of reason in legitimizing the political order…..” [p. 107] And then again:
“Hobbes distinction between natural right and natural law is based on the emergence of this new form of individuality emancipated from the law, regardless of whether that law is imposed by a natural order external to man or by divine legislation. Now, the distinction between right and law presupposes a revolt against divine Law.” [p. 108]
“Will” not only takes the place of reason in legitimizing political order but it also takes the place of reason in legitimizing what we call “leadership.” Hence, leadership in the modern world is essentially, which is to say deeply, lawless, seen as beyond law “regardless of whether that law is imposed by a natural order external to man or by divine legislation.” And it leads to, inexorably and inevitably, the view that “Establishing a new order means overturning the old order root and branch. Only an energetic, even violent, anti-theological ire could lead men on to the desired transformation.” [p. 108]
Hence, the New Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society, and a New World Order look to uproot the old order and are, necessarily, “energetic” [NB: this is Hamilton’s word for the new executive he helped to create], “even violent.” The war in Vietnam was no aberration, it was no “mistake;” rather, it was part and parcel of the liberals’ agenda. And in this context, it should not be forgotten that the Defense Department, the Pentagon, was the created by “liberals,” not by “conservatives,” [that is, when there were still genuine conservatives around].
And is it any wonder that many can today defend torture and, what is worse, do so with a good conscience? But what is surprising is that someone who provided constitutional sanction for torture would be invited to speak at a Catholic college, that is, a college that claims to believe in divine Law and even “a natural order external to man.”
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