Are the neocons believers in virtue, and therefore conservative?
In 2006 Edward Skidelsky writing at the liberal British web magazine Prospect argued that Leo Strauss was a non-liberal believer in virtue, and thus bad from a liberal point of view; and that the neocons are non-liberal believers in virtue, and thus bad from a liberal point of view. I wrote at the time: “The argument doesn’t hold up. Today’s neocons have gone so far off in a strange direction of their own that nothing useful or true is gained by trying to connect them to Strauss.”
[L]et us accept as true Skidelsky’s statement that the neocons believe in the use of American power to advance a moral purpose in the world, namely universal liberal democracy, and that they hope in the process to reinvigorate American public morality and self-confidence. I don’t see what this has to do with Leo Strauss. The argument comes down to saying that Strauss believed in virtue, and the neocons believe in virtue, and therefore the neocons are followers of Strauss. This is like saying that Charles Martel believed in armies, and the neocons believe in armies, and therefore the neocons are followers of Charles Martel. Some important distinctions have been lost. Charles Martel believed in the use of armies to defend European Christendom from Moslem invasion and conquest. The neocons believe in the use of armies to spread liberal democracy to all humanity, with the aim of creating a single mankind unified under a single global ideology. The neocons are not conservatives. They are liberal—even leftist—revolutionaries.Here is the rest of my article.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 03, 2011 07:44 AM | Send