Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Barbecue Republic: the Oligarchs

From Merriam Webster Online :

Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

From an AlterNet article by Jim Lobe:
Many neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz are disciples of a philosopher who believed that the elite should use deception, religious fervor and perpetual war to control the ignorant masses.

The philosopher Lobe refers to is the late Leo Strauss, a professor who taught at several leading universities, including Wolfowitz's alma mater Chicago University.
Strauss [had] few qualms about using deception in politics, he saw it as a necessity. While professing deep respect for American democracy, Strauss believed that societies should be hierarchical – divided between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow. But unlike fellow elitists like Plato, he was less concerned with the moral character of these leaders. According to Shadia Drury, who teaches politics at the University of Calgary, Strauss believed that "those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior."

Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control... At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were "a pious fraud."

Strauss believed that the inherently aggressive nature of human beings could only be restrained by a powerful nationalistic state. "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed," he once wrote. "Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united – and they can only be united against other people."

Not surprisingly, Strauss' attitude toward foreign policy was distinctly Machiavellian. "Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat," Drury wrote in her book. "Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured."

"Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in," says Drury. The idea easily translates into, in her words, an "aggressive, belligerent foreign policy," of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars – not to mention Wolfowitz and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power.


And so it has come to pass--a ruling elite backed by religious conservatives and an ever expanding "Axis of Evil."

It's time for a new kind of American politics, a kind that isn't the private possession of the one percent of the population that owns 40 percent of the country's wealth.

I liked Mark Twain's concept of a Mugwump Party, a "company made up of the unenslaved of both parties." Twain's Mugwumps ran no candidates and had no party platform. They were in fact, a non-party voting bloc intended to affect the behavior of the major parties and to abolish the practice of partisan politics.

What do you think? Let's start a new party--call ourselves the "neo-Mugwumps."


  1. "those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior."

    This is different from the views of Adolph Hitler exactly how again?

    NeoCon = NeoNAZI

  2. You got me, Bob. Except maybe that Americans will go along with so much and no more. Here's hoping we've reached the "no more" point.


  3. I like the Mugwump idea. Drop the 'neo' altogether; too many bad associations. Neo-Con, Neolithic, Keanu Reeves . . .

  4. We probably need a whole new name. Something that conveys "fed up."


  5. i like mugwumps. I'm in.

  6. Your membership package is on its way, Kristie.


  7. Oddly enough, "mugwump" was a nickname that my father used to call my brother and me. I feel like I'm home.

  8. LOL. I believe a mugwump is a bird that sits on fences--hence Twain's use of the term.