Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empireby Anne Norton
The teachings of political theorist Leo Strauss (18991973) have recently received new attention, as political observers have become aware of the influence Strauss’s students have had in shaping conservative agendas of the Bush administrationincluding the war on Iraq. This provocative book examines Strauss’s ideas and the ways in which they
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Anne Norton¿s book, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire is an interesting and well written commentary on a school of political theory (philosophy) that greatly influenced conservative political thinkers and public officials in each of the administrations since Ronald Reagan,especially Republicans. Unfortunately, it is the most intellectually dishonest book I have ever read! For starters, there is not a single footnote in the entire text. The reason this is such a serious flaw is that it makes quoting out of context easy to do and difficult to challenge. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a student of Leo Strauss,or his students, nor am I a Straussian. But I am a friend of one of the authors that Norton quotes and misrepresents, Carnes Lord. On page 137 she says, ¿There are, Lord tells us, no small number of leftists, `lunatic and sinister¿ professors, and not all of them are visible.¿ She then uses the phrase, ¿lunatic and sinister¿ again (on the same page), implying that Lord advocates monitoring professorial opinion for political purposes. What Carnes Lord actually says in a discussion of American university education on page 139 of his book, The Modern Prince, is, ¿The alternately lunatic and sinister pursuit of the agenda of political correctness that pervades contemporary university life in America raises fundamental issues, including ones of legal due process.¿ One does not have to agree with Lord to recognize Norton¿s dishonest attempt to use Lord¿s words taken out of context to vilify a position with which she disagrees but which he did not espouse. If one of my undergraduate students were to do what Norton has done, that student would fail the assignment. If it were done by one of my graduate students, I would argue for that individual¿s termination as a student in the program. What, then, are we to say about such behavior by a tenured Associate Professor in one of the nation¿s premier universities? Read the book (but get it from the library) to see the sad, polemical, and academically dishonest state of some modern American political theory.
Ms. Norton's effort is baised, dishonest and saddest of all..trivial. If you wnat to understand Strauss and his impact on curent conservative thought, look elsewhere.