I used one of my favorite Strauss quotes today ... "If all values are relative, then cannibalism is a matter of taste", so I did some looking on which of his many books and articles I really need to read. I haven't picked yet -- surprisingly my reading list remains very long, but this column is an EXCELLENT synopsis of why he is so important and so reviled in the modern left wing only academy.
He is mentioned a good deal in "Closing of the American Mind" and many other conservative works. Modern "liberalism" demands the ending of dialogue and fealty to power -- as in, they will demonize you, slur your good name, etc, but they generally will not engage in intellectual and reasonable debate with a man of Strauss stature because they deny that "truth" even exists.
A quote from the article, but it is short and WELL worth just reading.
In article after article and book after book, he argued that contemporary scholars were enthralled to “historicism” and “positivism.” Historicism holds that ideas and principles are nothing more than an expression of their time and cannot transcend the historical era in which they arose. Positivism decrees that the natural sciences offer the only legitimate form of knowledge and adds that since the natural sciences cannot distinguish between good and evil, all value judgments are subjective. (Postmodernism radicalized this sensibility by denying that science itself yielded objective knowledge.)
In much of the academy, historicism and positivism came to be taken as self-evident truths. That both imply moral relativism, which means that there is no rational basis for judgments about right and wrong, was seen by many of Strauss’s colleagues in the university world as an important contribution to progress.
Left-liberals regarded the supposed discovery of moral relativism as a blessing because they believed it bolstered pluralism and toleration. If there is no truth about the moral life, then custom and tradition lack authority, individuals are freer than ever to make their own choices, and society can dedicate itself to letting a thousand flowers bloom.Indeed, and in a completely relative world with no objective truth, how does one identify "progress", or a blooming "flower" from a blooming "weed"?
As readers of this blog know, and is evident from the article, BY POWER! In this case academic power "97% of Political Scientists say Strauss is "wrong, dangerous, anti-intellectual, etc" and DEMAND that nobody read or teach his material!
The base "liberal" argument -- shut up!
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