Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Joy of dKosopedia

During one of my frequent Daily Kos scuttles, I stumbled upon the Kos crowd’s very own wiki for all things political. dKosopedia, is described as “a collaborative project of the DailyKos community to build a political encyclopedia. The dKosopedia is written from a left/progressive/liberal/Democratic point of view while also attempting to fairly acknowledge the other side's take.” I quickly found out that their interpretation of "fair" is nothing of the sort, and the unsubstantiated claims made throughout the project only shows how unversed these activists really are. Here are some definitions form dKosopedia.

Neoconservatism: “In his semi-autobiographic book, Neo-conservatism, Irving Kristol cites a number of influences on his own thought, including not only Max Shachtman and Leo Strauss but also the skeptical liberal literary critic Lionel Trilling. The influence of Leo Strauss has left key neoconservatives adopting a Machiavellian view of politics.”

So the democracy promotion most neo-conservatives advance is now a Machiavellian principle? I need to re-read my Machiavelli apparently.

And this fascination with Leo Strauss that leftists have is truly bizarre. Catherine and Michael Zuckert wrote an excellent book on Strauss that correctly debunks a lot of the nonsense swirling about concerning his philosophy and its links to Neoconservatism. In The Truth about Leo Strauss, they state:
“Straus earned a bemused, if not irate, contempt of many in the scholarly world when he opened his book on Machiavelli by pronouncing the old verdict on the Florentine as a “teacher of evil” to be, in his judgement, more sound than the newer, intellectually sophisticated characterizations that absolve Machiavelli of that opprobrium. In one of the supreme ironies of intellectual history, that charge, considered by many scholars to be too harsh for Machiavelli, too reflective of a moralistic outlook on the part of Strauss, is now being turned on Strauss himself. Strauss is now called a Machiavellian, or Nietzschean, or a follower of the Nazi apologist Carl Schmitt.”

We can all thank Shadia Drury and her piss poor book “The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss” for this misconception and it’s her work that is sourced and sited in a perpetual circle jerk by those who claim he is a fascist and clandestine grandfather to the neoconservative persuasion. So when I saw the article on Leo Strauss built primarily out of her work, I wasn’t surprised.

“Neo-conservatives prefer a ramped up defense budget (and no wonder, many of them have high level friendships in the defense industry.)”

Huh? Even if this were true, you wouldn’t need to have friends in the defense industry to advocate a strong, fit, and developing military. Having s similar worldview may very well lead to a friendship, but that doesn’t fit into the “evil military” narrative the Kos kids have going.

Project for the New American Century: “Their policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination.”

That devious Bill Kristol and his plans for world domination! I knew that nerd was up to something.

: “Contrary to the name National Socialism(a.k.a. Nazism) is not socialist it's technically a variant of fascism, the word socialism is there purely for propaganda.

Oh my old leftist brethren, how naïve you sound when you make such statements. While you would have to be a loon to think democratic socialists are the same as Nazis, to deny the roots fascism has in socialism is to the detriment of the socialist movement and its adherents. The National Socialists didn’t call themselves that to smear the socialist movement: they did so because they were a type of socialist competing in a pool of many. The Socialist movement produced many positive gains last century, but it can’t be divorced form its murderous, collectivist characteristics.

I am sure there are plenty of pseudo-intellectual gold throughout dKosopedia, but that’s all I can stomach tonight.


Daniel Stark said...

It's odd how the strongest proponents of Fairness Doctrine of that crowd, when in fact, they don't use it.

Roland Dodds said...

Very true Daniel. There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine; if we think the media is bad right now, it would be unbearable if that foolish program was implemented.

The New Centrist said...


Strauss was not a Machiavellian. He would have cringed at the designation. Strauss was a political *philosopher* and an advocate of the ancient political tradition. He was critical of the modern political tradition of political *science* that started with Machiavelli and found further expression in Hobbes.

The great significance of Strauss for mainstream conservatives is he constructed a deep philosophical analysis of what is wrong with liberalism. Strauss believed that liberalism was a logical outcome of modernity. Unfortunately, liberalism, as practiced in the advanced nations of the West in the 20th century, contains within it an intrinsic tendency towards relativism, which leads to nihilism. Strauss first experienced this crisis in his native Germany’s Weimar Republic of the 1920s, in which the liberal state was so ultra-tolerant that it tolerated the Communists and Nazis who eventually destroyed it.

Strauss believed that the U.S. was founded on an uneasy mixture of classical (Greco-Roman), Biblical, and modern political philosophy. Many conservatives--the traditionalists of Strauss’ day and contemporary social conservatives--focus on this biblical element. Strauss’ primary intellectual contribution was identifying that Americans had abandoned this classical element. His key contribution to fighting the crisis of modernity was to restore the intellectual legitimacy of classical political philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle.

In “What is Political Philosophy?”, Strauss laid out his famous division between modern political science and ancient political philosophy. For Strauss, the study of modern politics had moved away from philosophy and into the realm of science. As such, politics became instrumentalist, a means to achieve some sort of material end. According to Strauss, this was not the function of politics in the ancient world, in particular ancient Greece. For the ancients, the function of politics was to attain virtue. Similarly, in the modern system of jurisprudence the end desired was equality, whereas in the past the law was established to ensure justice. These are not simply semantic differences.

As far as the fascist-socialist connection, many people fail to recognize that there were a variety of rivaling radical ideologies contesting for the political loyalty of the Italian working class in the early/mid twentieth century. There were anarchists, socialists, communists, fascists, nationalists, syndicalists, clericals, etc. etc. etc. In some cases the boundaries were blurred both on an organizational and individual level. In the first case, the workers councils of the biennio rosso (1919-1920) contained anarchists, communists and others jockeying for influence among the workers. In the second, you have Mussolini who wrote for the socialist newspaper "Avanti" and was secretary of the local socialist party.