Straussians, Catholics, & the War on the West

If case you missed it, Paul Gottfried has an interesting article up at VDare:

Claes Ryn, Allan Bloom, Leo Strauss, And Me

And here are couple follow-ups:

Race/History/Evolution Notes: “‘Alienated’ ethno-religious minorities preferring’inclusive’ anti-majority narratives

Kevin MacDonald: “Paul Gottfried and Claes Ryn on Leo Strauss

I’ve always found it telling that American conservatives have gravitated toward Straussian thought (e.g. see popularity of the Closing of the American Mind), which is really just re-packaged extreme liberal universalism.  For instance, for Bloom, the #1 boogeyman is “historical relativism,” which translates as no ethnic identity for Westerners (although, of course, it’s allowed for Israelis), and unsurprisingly short-sighted American conservatives eat it up.  Strauss & Bloom retell Western history as a war of good (universalists) vs evil (historical particularists).  If you are a good conservative, the implication is, then you must submit yourself to the great matrix of universalism.  In short, Straussian thought is just another facet of the Cathedral.

Related:

Catholic Church declares war on West

Israel and African Immigrants

Religion 2.0: Identitarian Religion

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5 thoughts on “Straussians, Catholics, & the War on the West

  1. Conservative Catholic intellectuals really are doubling down on this crap. I don’t like where this is headed for my traditionalist Roman brothers.

    The Roman Church, wedded as they are to their Pope’s purported universal jurisdiction and “Holy Roman Empire” do not know how to be a small, national Church any more. Nothing less than sway over the whole globe will suffice, and since Christianity is ultimate Truth (and it is), then when it comes right down to it the Pope should just rule the whole fucking planet. Right? The Orthodox parted ways with this nonsense long ago.

    My thesis is that there is a deep-seated, institutional longing of the Roman Church to once again have access to the levers of sovereign power, guiding and advising the State. The old monarchs and emperors are long gone, so now the Church must deal with democratic managerial States and transnational corporations. After an initial rebuff and reluctant courtship, the engagement was announced at Vatican 2 and the wedding appears set to take place under +Francis. A generous welfare state, globalism and open borders have now been added to the Canon.

    There is another dynamic at work, and that is Europe’s depopulation and militant secularization. Europe has left the Church, so now the Church looks to the Global South, where millions of Third Worlders now have their advocate in the papacy itself. Priority one for +Francis: making sure Muslims feel welcome in formerly Christian European homelands.

    Would appreciate further comments on this.

  2. I don’t see how criticism of “historical relativism” necessarily or even pragmatically leads to a loss identity for Westerners. Can you please explain this? Do you have examples where Bloom deflates the notion of Western identity–as coherent, as venerable, or what have you? In my experience, those of us who uphold the value of Western thought are typically being critical of historical relativism. So your statement is quite confusing.

    • I think I see Gottfried’s reasoning. If we see Western values as the “end of history,” condemning slavery ex post facto, for example, we’ve adopted a universalist creed instead of a strictly “Western” one. And so, it becomes the West’s task to save the world. It’s kind of paradoxical but I think Gottfried is right.

      • The problem with this argument is that Strauss was critical of the end of history thinkers. It’s hard to fit Strauss along contemporary political spectrum, but he was a Zionist as a young man and resolutely anti-liberal throughout his whole life. It’s true that his students lustrated him as a conventional cold war US liberal, but there is nothing in Strauss’s writings that suggests anything like that. In fact, Strauss was an anti-liberal for a simple reason, liberalism is simply secularized Christianity, so for a Jew to subscribe to liberalism is tantamount to converting to Christianity.

        Here is how he put it in a letter to a friend:

        “There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of
        liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of
        the spark of the Roman thought. And even then: rather than any cross,
        I’ll take the ghetto.”

        So three alternatives: liberalism (ie, assimilation to Christian
        society), Roman alternative (whatever that is), or ghetto.

        Or in descending order: Roman, ghetto, liberalism.

        In other words: anything but liberalism.

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