How do myth making, policy, and the Univeristy of Chicago contribute to diplomacy and international affairs via the political philosopher Leo Strauss? We revisit the neoconservative legacy thanks to a new book by Robert Howse (Cambridge UP):
Since liberalism, with its ethical relativism and its glorification of public opinion, has permanently undermined the ancient truths of philosophy and religion, as Nietzsche realized, there is nothing standing between modernity and the abyss of nihilism. Thus, in order to cohere, modern societies require “noble lies” or political myths. At the very least, they demand a diabolical enemy capable of uniting citizens in a shared antipathy. As Strauss declared in The City and Man: “The good city is not possible without a fundamental falsehood; it cannot exist in the element of truth.” Also: “Untrue stories are needed not only for little children but also for the grown-up citizens of the good city [and] it is probably best if they are imbued with these stories from the earliest possible moment.”
Strauss incorporate Machiavelli’s approach to human nature as well as “Thucydides’ ambivalence concerning the moral costs of unbridles imperial expansion” according to Richard Wolin, writing in the Chronicle Review. He also had something to say about Hugo Grotius and Immanuel Kant.