March 5, 2006

Straussians and Moloch-worshippers...

I meant to blog this article a month ago. It's very funny. I Am Not a Straussian. At least, I Don't Think I Am. By Robert Kagan

I JUST WANT TO MAKE clear that I am not a Straussian. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my closest friends are Straussians, and I have long admired the work of Allan Bloom, Harry Jaffa, Harvey Mansfield, and Thomas Pangle--though not, I must say, Leo Strauss himself, since I have never understood a word the political philosopher wrote. I mean not a single word. Nor have I been very good at understanding his disciples, really, and Pangle, from whom I once took two courses, can back me up on this.

I feel the need to set the record straight because I am routinely called a Straussian by students of what is known as neoconservatism, and at the very least this is an insult to true Straussians, who presumably do understand what they're talking about. There isn't room here to list all the places where I have been called a Straussian--a Google search for "Robert Kagan" and "Leo Strauss" turns up 16,500 hits. Suffice to say that the immensely erudite Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has referred to me as a "student" of Strauss and Bloom, as has the columnist William Pfaff, and a half dozen other equally learned folk. A professor somewhere named Anne Norton has written a whole book assuming that I am a Straussian. You may ask why didn't she call me, just to confirm. But that would have been journalism, not scholarship. Then there are the followers of Lyndon LaRouche (see their "Children of Satan" pamphlets), left-wing and right-wing bloggers, as well as Arab, Asian, African, and, of course, European journalists and academics.....

The whole business of demonizing "Straussians" has always been really stupid, but hey...if people go around liberating the oppressed and spreading democracy, they gotta expect to take some flak.

Thanks for the reminding me about Kagan's article to another funny guy, Catholic blogger Jimmy Akin, who recently wrote, in response to someone's question about the morality of watching trashy television:

....It does not matter if you see (or hear or read about) someone doing something immoral as long as you are not tempted to do something immoral as a result.

For example: The Bible recounts stories in which it mentions people who burn their children to the pagan god Moloch.

Now: If you are a recovering Moloch-worshipper and could be tempted to burn your children to Moloch if you read those passages then you should not read them.

But if you are not a recovering Moloch-worshipper--if you are a person with a normal, non-Moloch-worshipping background--then you are very, very, very unlikely to be tempted to burn your children to Moloch (or anybody else) by reading such passages. As a result, they are safe for you. In fact, such passages are likely to actually strengthen your resolve not to be a Moloch-worshipper because of the fact that Moloch-worshippers do disgusting things like burn their children to him.

Same principle goes for everything else: If it tempts you such that you are likely to sin then you should avoid it. If it doesn't, then it's not a problem.....
Posted by John Weidner at March 5, 2006 4:20 PM
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