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Speaking Truth to Power

March 25, 2017

As yesterday’s failed effort to repeal Obamacare reveals, divisions in the United States were not resolved by the election of Donald Trump. We are a nation in crisis, seemingly absent of leadership, and administered by a government too big for its britches.

Many scholars who accept the title “conservative,” recognize this and have engaged in a variety of attempts to voice their concerns. Many hearken back to two scholars of mid-Century America, Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin.

Students of Strauss are probably the most influential and successfully navigated Academe to make careers as political philosophers, Constitutional scholars and influential journalists. Voegelinians are scattered hither and yon, but meet annually in meetings of the Voegelin Society and are represented in the online forum called Voegelin view.

We are now 67 years past mid-twentieth century when Voegelin and Strauss were most influential, but the intellectual substance of Strauss and Voegelin continue to be formulated in discussions about America’s place in history and the crisis that we Americans face.

A principal voice of the Straussian School is the Claremont Institute that publishes The Claremont Review..

And here’s a statement of principle published by the editors of American Greatness, also students of the Straussian school:

We hold that America—much like movement conservatism—has lost her way. The nation has succumbed to  division and faction, infected by the insidious and  foreign virus of identity politics which has robbed Americans of our true identity as one people. We’re undermined further by an ever-growing centralized administrative state, which robs us daily of the opportunity to participate in governing our own lives as free and equal citizens under the rule of law.

Government has grown remote, unresponsive, and increasingly unaccountable. While many movement conservatives acknowledge these problems, they have failed to persuade a majority of American voters. What’s more, movement conservatives remain stubbornly unpersuaded by voters’ plain rejection of their solutions.  To their credit, the American people have, through common sense and hard experience, rejected the lie that their opinions about their interests and the laws that govern their lives are irrelevant. Likewise, most rank and file conservatives are unimpressed by the half-measures offered by a conservative movement that is more about conserving itself than conserving the people’s sovereignty.

The Voegelinians have a voice online at Voegelin View.

VoegelinView is an interdisciplinary and international website dedicated to the thought of Eric Voegelin as well as to political philosophy as public commentary that includes all aspects of culture, including philosophy, religion, politics, society, science, education, and literature. It is also a resource for those who wish to learn more about Eric Voegelin’s own political thought. 

Whether these two schools of thought can guide America through the present crisis is, if the history of ancient Greece is an example, not likely. But their ideas will have value over the long term of the life of the nation–if, somehow, America can get through the present crisis.



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