Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Audio & Transcript -Check out thesecond part of Mikes amazing interview with Professor Paul Gottfried. In this clip they discuss why Straussian’s are a threat to the U.S. Readthe transcript for the entire interview!
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: A lot of people dont even know who Leo Strauss is. Some people may say, Mike, why is Leo Strauss important? Well, Leo Strauss is important because Straussian — I dont know. Ill let you tell me. Is it ideology? Is it theory? Is it theology now? It has influenced todays decision-makers, especially in the way they view the rest of the world and what we ought to do to fix it. Am I right?
Paul Gottfried: Yes, thats absolutely correct. The book, by the way, came out beginning of January. Cambridge University is the publisher. I dont know how well it is selling. It has certainly not received too many book reviews. Im counting on the liberal / neoconservative establishment to make sure it doesnt get reviewed in too many places. I had this experience many times in the past. My books are all published by prestigious presses. The publishers think theyre going to do well. Then lo and behold, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, no one will review my books because Im critical of the political establishment.
The book on Strauss is written in a very scholarly fashion. Much of it simply deals with his understanding of political text. The second half of the book shows how Straussian hermeneutic, the attempt to interpret texts and so forth, the way they interpret text, always bears on their American politics or has intended implications. Neoconservative foreign policy is clearly foreshadowed, indeed fore scribed by the way the Straussians understand America and its mission, and the way they interpret the founding of the United States.
Mike: When you say mission, you mean that there was some overt, they believe, overt quest that we were to enter on?
Mike: And they would pass this down from generation to generation, and all Americans forever have been engaged in this quest, right?
Paul: Well, or they should have been if they were consistent or loyal to the principles of the American founding, which sound remarkably similar to what the neoconservatives are now saying, that America was founded as a global democracy on the basis of a human rights ideology. This is what the Straussians believe.
Therefore, when were really being Americans, as Allan Bloom, who was Strauss most famous student points out in The Closing of The American Mind, which is mistakenly considered a conservative classic, we are spreading democratic equality all over the world. Were giving everyone an educational lesson, as we did to the Germans in World War II by bombing their country in order to turn them into American-style democrats. This is precisely what the Straussians believe. I dont take them apart throughout the book. Im actually extremely analytical and try to be dispassionate and try to understand where theyre coming from.
Mike: What do they say — Professor Paul Gottfried is on the DudeMaker Hotline with us. What do they say is this quest, this mission? What is it that we are supposed to do?
Paul: What were supposed to do is make sure the rest of the world embodies American democratic principles as supposedly understood by the founders of the United States who, by the way, are never shown to have been Christians. They were all Protestant Christians, but this is totally whited out of the Straussian account in the founding of America. They were actually global democrats. They would have felt very comfortable, had they not all owned black slaves, working for Commentary Magazine or The Weekly Standard. Im not joking. This is what they believe.
Their influence on the present conservative movement is absolutely profound. You cannot underestimate it. Its like saying that anti-Semitic racial theory was basic to German Nazism or something. This is the foundation, the theoretical foundation, of neoconservatism, which then becomes the basis of the conservative establishment in the United States.
Mike: When you hear or you see Senator McCain or Senator Graham or Senator Rubio or any of these guys talking on endlessly about how — this is not a direct quote, but itll sound like, We cannot allow this savagery to continue in Syria. We have a moral obligation as Americans to do something about it. Right?
Paul: Thats exactly — well, it is derivatively Straussian, although it has come through other sources by now as well. I agree. They all sound like the same broken record that was produced by the Straussians and then continued in neoconservative publications, in which one hears daily on Fox News. Theyre all the same.
Mike: You do hear it.
Paul: Theyre all dangerous.
Mike: Lets explain here. This is why this matters in 2012 to the listener of the Mike Church Show here. Why is it dangerous? Just explain a little bit, why is it dangerous?
Paul: Well, for one thing, theyve taken over the conservative movement, which is a large piece of property in the United States. They control the conservative media. They control the intellectual aspects, if one can call them intellectual aspects, of the Republican Party. They sort of control the heights of command. They have all the American presidential candidates sounding the same way, with the significant exception of Ron Paul. Once they get into power, it will be bombs away. They will get us into war. Im sure of that. Theyll all be sticky wars in which were embroiled and well be told were doing this in the name of democracy.
Now most Americans do not support this or vote for it. They vote for economic issues. In the case of the Republican Party, a lot of well-meaning, religious people vote for the Republicans because theyre against abortion, or say theyre against abortion. What youre going to get are wars. Someone like Romney, whos just a political revolving door, sounds exactly like the Straussians. Whenever hes asked a question about foreign policy —
Mike: He repeats the Straussian mantra. Ladies and gentlemen, one of the reasons I wanted to have Professor Gottfried on is, number one, to provide the intellectual gravitas so that if the term Straussian comes up, just to educate the populace in the audience. They will in turn hopefully investigate this on their own time and convince themselves of the authenticity of it. The second thing is just to identify that there was a turning point.
This is not always the way it was, although in reading up on the radical Republicans of the 1860s, I think they may have been Straussians before Strauss was around. This is not always the way it was. There were men that preceded Leo Strauss. Among them, will be a surprise to many people, Dwight David Eisenhower, who actually got us out of a war that was started by a Democrat. Before him, Senator Robert Taft
, Mr. Republican, and Im sure Im missing some other names. Ill let you tell a little bit more of that narrative.
Paul: The radical Republicans were a nuisance in the United States and they were vengeful toward the South. They were not global interventionists, nor was Abraham Lincoln, nor abolitionists, none of these people. They may have been impetuous, they may have contributed to the Civil War, whatever you want to say about them, but they did not want to take over other countries and convert them to American democracies. I think what you basically have is what becomes the Wilsonian grid, represented and identified with President Woodrow Wilson, his crusade for democracy. The Council on Foreign Relations takes over a milder version of what eventually becomes the Straussian neoconservative foreign policy.
I think youre absolutely right. The Republican Party, certainly in the inter-war period, and even into the 1950s, was either isolationist or very cautiously interventionist. What happens is that the neoconservatives, through the conservative movement, which they take over lock, stock and barrel in the 1980s, and I remember this quite well, are able to reconstruct the Republican Party. They provide the rhetorical ammunition and many of the policies for the Reagan administration, particularly in his second term. Theyre after a sort of clearer sailing.
They dont get along with Bush One, who seems to return to a kind of Nixonian political realism. They are absolutely in their element with Bush Two, who sounded like a dummy controlled by a neoconservative ventriloquist. Certainly John McCain would have been entirely in their corner. Any of the Republican presidential candidates were likely to see elected, if one does get elected, will sound exactly like a neoconservative with some echoes of Straussian rhetoric. I think youre right. This is not the overarching Republican foreign policy going back to the early 20th Century. What happens is the Republican Party is simply taken over, through the conservative movement, by the neoconservatives.
End Mike Church Show Transcript