Leo Strauss, the Randian
| Nicolai Foss |
Yes, that’s right . . . well, almost: If you put together the key political ideas of neo-con idol Strauss, “we will arrive at Objectivist Libertarianism.” So says philospher Tibor Machan in the most recent issue of Philosophy Now (an excellent, bi-monthly journal written for, as they used to say, the “intelligent layman”).
Machan arrives at this conclusion by juxtaposing these passages from Strauss: 1) “[the good life is] simply the life in which the requirement of man’s natural inclinations are fulfilled in the proper order to the highest possible degree, the life of a man who is awake to the highest possible degree, the life of a man in whose soul nothing lies waste” (Natural Right and History, p. 127). 2) “. . . political freedom and especially that political freedom that justifies itself by the pursuit of human excellence . . . requires the highest degree of vigilance” (idem., p. 131). And 3) “There is no adequate solution to the problem of virtue or happiness on the political or social plane” (On Tyranny, p. 194).
Machan is a professional philosopher, and I am not; still I feel uneasy with his argument. One may agree with Machan that the thought of contemporary neocons may not be entirely Straussian (see this), but it does seem a bit farfetched to conclude on the basis of the above quotations that Strauss is an objectivist libertarian. Several strands of classical liberalism/libertarianism would seem to be consistent with them.
Furthermore, while both Strauss and Rand preferred Athens to Jerusalem, Rand preferred a smaller and rather different part of Athens than Strauss did, and this seems pretty decisive (see this). Here is an interesting discussion of what Rand may have thought of the Noble Lie.
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