sábado, 18 de abril de 2015

Voegelin fulminated against fascism, communism, nazism, and progressivism, but he regarded classical liberalism and American conservatism as ideologies too

Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, and American Conservatism

by David Corey

For more than fifty years, American conservatives have treated Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss as fellow travellers. But for various reasons, that relationship and its contemporary legacy has been fraught with problems. What, then, are the points of continuity and discontinuity between the American conservative movement and these two political philosophers? Reflection on this question is fruitful not only for understanding conservatism, but also for understanding its ambiguous relationship to political philosophy as an intellectual discipline.

A number of reasonable considerations led conservatives to adopt Voegelin as one of their own. They loved his combination of erudition and righteous indignation—the scholar and the warrior. Most conservatives will remember his arcane but powerful “Don’t let them immanentize the eschaton!” (That’s actually the bumper sticker version, but it captures the spirit.) Consider another example of his spirited prose from his review of Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism:

The putrefaction of Western civilization, as it were, has released a cadaveric poison spreading its infection through the body of humanity. What no religious leader, no philosopher, no imperial conqueror of the past has achieved—to create a community of mankind by creating a common concern for all men—has now been realized through the community of suffering under the earth-wide expansion of Western foulness.

This was a thinker who didn’t pull his punches. He referred to modern universities as “brothels of opinion.” He referred to modern intellectuals as “pimps.” And I’m told that when he returned to Germany after the war to offer a course on “Hitler and the Germans” at Munich, he used to walk down the street greeting the Germans who never left as follows: Und was haben Wir hier: Guten Tag, Swine!”


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