Neoconservatism pervades our politics. Why else does Obama appoint the discredited Iraq war planner Stephen Hadley, who as a Bush aide put the lie about Niger yellowcake into the State of the Union speech in '02, on his Middle East braintrust? Well there is some pushback. Three items. First, Seymour Hersh tries to get out from under the cloud of the neocons, in a speech in Qatar. You have to travel that far to get out from under their cloud, I mean it's not like you write about this in the New Yorker:
[Hersh] said that he was keeping a "checklist" of aggressive U.S. policies that remained in place, including torture and "rendition" of terrorist suspects to allied countries, which he alleged was ongoing.
He also charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative "crusaders" in the former vice president's office and now in the special operations community.
"What I'm really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over," he said of his forthcoming book. "It's not only that the neocons took it over but how easily they did it -- how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced."
The problem is not military metaphors. It's not Glenn Beck joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi's wine or Paul Krugman hanging Joe Lieberman in effigy at a party. The problem is, rather, the construction of paranoid narratives that might justify violence to a violent-minded person. When scruffy protesters drew swastikas on photographs of President George W. Bush, that was obnoxious. It was not likely to incite anyone. But when eminent persons argued on the public airwaves that the United States had been lied into a frustrating war in Iraq by a cabal of Jewish conspirators? That’s a very different matter.
Here's Slavoj Zizek in the London Review of Books. I think this will be my thumbnail Leo Strauss understanding for some time to come. Thus do members of a cabal rationalize the efficacy of a cabal.
Consider too the renewed popularity of Leo Strauss: the aspect of his political thought that is so relevant today is his elitist notion of democracy, the idea of the ‘necessary lie’. Elites should rule, aware of the actual state of things (the materialist logic of power), and feed the people fables to keep them happy in their blessed ignorance. For Strauss, Socrates was guilty as charged: philosophy is a threat to society. Questioning the gods and the ethos of the city undermines the citizens’ loyalty, and thus the basis of normal social life. Yet philosophy is also the highest, the worthiest, of human endeavours. The solution proposed was that philosophers keep their teachings secret, as in fact they did, passing them on by writing ‘between the lines’. The true, hidden message contained in the ‘great tradition’ of philosophy from Plato to Hobbes and Locke is that there are no gods, that morality is merely prejudice, and that society is not grounded in nature.