Equally disturbing to the conservative mind is Strauss's inattention to the pivotal role of Christianity in shaping the Anglo-American tradition. This lacuna in Strauss's hermeneutic has always perplexed me.
(Havers. Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique)
One of the reasons why I harp on so much about the Nazis is because a philosophical understanding of their position goes a long way towards understanding what is wrong with the Right and why it has been on a losing streak for the last century. One of my contentions is that the Right continually gets co-opted by other pseudo Right ideologies which ultimately subvert it and push the Overton window left. While this blog has elaborated on Nazism as an ideology with these features it isn't the only psuedo-Right ideology out there and it's worth turning our attention to the Neoconservative movement, of which Strauss was its premier theoretician.
As I've mentioned previously on this blog, what differentiates the Rightist from his pseudo variants i.e. Conservatives, Traditionalists, Natsocs and Neocons is a commitment to reality calibration. Therefore the understanding of the nature of reality is fundamental to any conception or definition of the Right. For Western man, until recently, reality was considered to consist of both a physical and "spiritual" dimension. This spiritual dimension was understood though the framework of Christian biblical revelation. It was this understanding which laid the foundation of Christian (Western) civilisation.
Implicit in this understanding of reality was the relationship between faith and reason. Aquinas was able to demonstrate that the unity of the two through the prior concept of truth. As faith was true, and reason aimed at the truth, there was a synergy between the two. In fact, the two worked together, purifying each from error. If reason led to a conclusion was contrary to the faith, then either our understanding of the faith was wrong or our reasoning was faulty. In the Christian conception of realty, faith and reason were intermeshed and constrained each other.
Christian civilisation developed upon this foundation with accretions from historical and local contingencies. Although the currents were there long before, the great turning point in Western Civilisation comes with the French Revolution, this is where the Jacobins ditch Christian understanding and go it alone with reason. While the disease first starts in France, by the end of the First World War, it has spread everywhere across European civilisation.
I think one of the great accidental disservices of Burke was to interpret the Revolution along temperamental lines. The Left being seen as innovators, imprudent and champions of novelties while the Right, their opposite. The real action was at the metaphysical level. The triumph of the Jacobins was the triumph of the secular over the Christian worldview. And what the Burkean interpretation has resulted in is the association of the Right and Left with temperamental qualities, whereas a more correct interpretation of it would be between Christian and Secular world views. The temperamental interpretation has also resulted in a conflation of Christian with Right and Secular with Left, whereas in reality, both Christian and Secular world views can have their Right and Left dispositional variants. With the near collapse of Christianity in the West and the rise of mass man politics, secularism is the only show in town, and choice for the "informed citizen" is between Right or Left secularism. If you want to know why Cthulhu always swims left it's because Cthulhu is secular.
Nevertheless, Strauss's unhappiness with the Left in the Cold War period is not tantamount to a categorical rejection of all leftist or modern thought per se. As I argue for the remainder of this chapter, Strauss and his students largely agree with the traditional leftist dismissal of Christianity as an irrational influence on the political philosophy of the West. This fundamental consensus between Strauss and the Left, which has been neglected in most of the literature on Strauss, gravely affects their understanding of Anglo-American political thought. For Strauss was compelled to read out of this tradition any sign of a serious indebtedness to Christianity. Unlike the anti-democratic Far Right, which often faults Christianity for its universalist morality (e.g. charity) that made modern democracy possible, Strauss is ultimately critical of Christianity as a foundation for Anglo-American democracy because it is not sufficiently universalist (that is, intelligible to all human beings): it is sheer historicism to hold up one faith as the principal foundation of the West. As as result of this hermeneutical rationale, the very tradition that Strauss and his students wish to preserve as a repository of rational accessible "eternal principles" is reinvented as a secular liberal artificeNeoconservative thought is ultimately based on the notion that Christianity does not matter. In fact, Strauss's understanding of European civilisation rejects the notion, first given express formulation by Aquinas, that there is no incompatibility between the Christian faith and reason. For Strauss, faith and reason were incompatible, yet influential upon each other. Whatever Strauss's view of religion, it is clear that he felt that it had no obligatory right on reason: it existed in a separate domain. Sure, religion may be an influence, an inspiration, a tradition, etc., but if reason came to a conclusion separate to religion, reason had to be given its "latitude." At its best, Straussian Neoconservatism is a secularism that is "respectful" towards religion, at worst, it plays cynical lip service to it.
Indeed, Strauss's separation of faith and reason is contra to the Christian understanding of the two. Strauss may not have said much against Christianity, but the system he espouses is inherently incompatible with Christianity. In fact the lip service given to Christianity by the Neoconservative moment disguises the fact that that the secular agenda is still given primacy, and while attacks by an openly hostile Left may be easy to spot, the undermining of the Right goes unnoticed by an agent which talks about the importance of "Athens and Jerusalem", while pushing the metaphysics of the Left. Havers, and Gottfried clearly recognise the danger;
The importance of the dualistic hermeneutic in Strauss's thought is hard to overstate, since it makes any significant attempt to spy rationality in faith almost impossible. It also throws into question Strauss's respect for the tradition of Anglo-American democracy, whose main defenders, I shall argue, mightily attempted to distinguish "true religion" from superstitious dogma. If Strauss believes that no distinction is possible, does the religious basis for this civilization fall by the wayside? And, if this is the case, does the irreligious Left score the ultimate victory over the Right?Bingo! Athenian Secularism, Jacobin Secularism, Managerial Secularism, Socialist Secularism, Natsoc Secularism, Right secularism, Left secularism.......secularist market specialisation is still secularism. Cthulhu swims left because Cthulhu is a secularist.