[Marxism] Demonisation, or when cogent political argument is "too good for the masses"

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sun Jun 27 04:09:01 MDT 2004

Jennifer Kerr (AP) reports that "Adolf Hitler's image has surfaced again in
the White House race. President Bush's campaign contains online video,
removed from a liberal group's Web site months ago and disavowed, that
features the Nazi dictator. The Bush Internet video, which was sent
electronically to 6 million supporters, intersperses clips of speeches by
Democrats John Kerry, Al Gore and Howard Dean with the footage of Hitler."
Which reminds me of Marx's quip that "Hegel remarks somewhere that history
tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the
second time as farce". But what is really behind the farce ? One answer is:
confusion. Asia Times columnist "Spengler" commented last year: "[Leo]
Strauss is neither a Heideggerian Historicist nor a Greek rationalist, but
exactly the opposite. He was confused, but confused in a very special way.
He was a confused Jew. That is the secret that Strauss never revealed to any
of his students (how many teachers admit to confusion?). A Jewish atheist,
an old joke goes, tells God: "Look at all the terrible things you have
permitted to happen! Just for that, I refuse to believe in you - so there!"
To advance a solution to mankind's problems (in this case Socratic political
philosophy) in the full knowledge that it cannot possibly succeed is a
peculiarly Jewish gesture, a perversely stubborn statement of faith in the
face of all the known facts."
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EE13Aa01.html I vividly recall that
when I was a first year philosophy student that I walked into the office of
one of my philosophy lecturers, David Novitz, and told him, "You have
lectured on this problem of free will and determinism, but I am confused
about it". The philosophy lecturer replied, "Aha, but that's good, that
means at the very least that you are thinking", whereupon he discoursed at
length on the intricacies of my query. Replying to Spengler and disagreeing
with his contention "that one cannot find something of Leo Strauss in the
attitudes, strategies and goals of the so-called neo-conservatives driving
American politics, most predominantly in the George W Bush administration
and the major media that tolerate or promote this farce" Eric Garret says
that: "As a Jewish atheist, like Marx and Rand, perhaps [Leo] Strauss found
his salvation in reason, and perhaps an extreme rationalization of life. It
is therefore no surprise to find him returning to Athens. (...) The
democratic alternative, as described by Plato and taken up again by Strauss
and some of his followers, is equally well reasoned, to include the
characterization of types of citizens, only some of whom are fit to rule,
and the rest of which are fit to be ruled. (...) What is more at stake is
understanding the consequences of such rationalizations as Strauss helped to
impart to his students - how they have taken them up and applied them, and
for what objectives and goals. The modern American empire is built on such
rationalizations as Strauss propounded as an alternative to the breakdown of
Western values, so that the implosion of European civilization in the first
half of the 20th Century led not to an abandonment of colonial and imperial
aggression, but an extension of it by means of American power. The global
scope of that power has enabled the furtherance, into our own time, of the
unrelenting assault of Western culture upon a world of human and natural
diversity, and to this we can accredit, to a great extent, the appalling
chaos in front of us now. (...)  To state that "Strauss [has] no relevance
whatever to the problem which American foreign policy now proposes to
address, namely, how to respond to the hundreds of millions of Muslims who
want no part of the modern world", is to either ignore or marginalize the
underlying relationships between Strauss's neo-classical conceptualizations
of an "orderly" world, the degree to which this has informed the
neo-liberal/neo-conservative agenda (hence, the neo-imperial agenda) and the
enormous cultural and environmental wreckage that follows in the wake of the
imposition of Western standards on a world of necessary differences. (...)
Not only Muslims are aware of the protracted, systematic effort to
assimilate them into the abstract sterility or frenzy of a Western
perspective: thousands of peoples have already perished. There is no one
template for human existence, and the key to preserving ourselves is to
unmask and overcome the ideas that suggest otherwise."


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