Monday, June 26, 2006

Are You Sure?

Warning: I'm about to discuss "neocons." All such discussions are suspect since the word may not mean anything.

Robert Alter reviews Reading Leo Strauss by Steven B. Smith in The New York Times Sunday Book Review. The book is an attempt to clarify the politics and influence of Strauss. But Alter can't resist the opportunity to take some cheap shots at the neocons.

Alter notes Strauss "argued against the very idea of political certitude that has been embraced by certain neoconservatives." I'm guessing he means the certain neoconservatives who support the war in Iraq, or this sentence has no point. Yet, neocons, including those in the Bush administration, are no more certain of their ideas than the average politically engaged person in this country. If anything, neocons, who support universal freedom of speech and freedom of religion, are more open to uncertainty than most. What angers Alter, and others like him, is that the neocons have heard his ideas and disagreed.

Alter bemoans how polarized politics has become. He also wonders why the neocons have turned to the right, since Strauss was not political. My answer is the neocons haven't turned right, they're old-style liberals who remained true to their beliefs while many of their compatriots decided being left meant being anti-war and against the influence of America. If the left would come home, maybe there wouldn't be so much polarization.

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