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Title: Morality and political modernity : the relationship between the political philosophy of Leo Strauss and the cultural politics of neoconservatism
Author: Hancock, David
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the relationship between the political philosophy of Leo Strauss and neoconservative cultural politics. Arguing against claims that Straussian philosophy explicitly informs neoconservatism, I instead suggest that both Strauss and the neoconservatives share a common intellectual lineage that is a response to a pessimistic conception of modernity. Strauss is a neoconservative, but neoconservatives should not necessarily be considered Straussians. Both Strauss and the neoconservatives became notorious in the aftermath of the US led invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. Contra to the narrative that suggests that Strauss inspired the invasion or that neoconservative foreign policy presents a radical break in US history, I argue that the neoconservative project of the Bush era should be understood as a continuation of US expansionism as an inevitable effect of capitalist growth. Beyond foreign policy, my research considers the neoconservative understanding of cultural politics in particular relation to the social changes of the post war era. This thesis details the neoconservative attempt to move beyond the contradiction surrounding a distrust of modernity and the embrace of virulently nihilist capitalism. This is read through the Straussian idea that it is essential to practice care when speaking publicly. This thesis concludes that neoconservatism is an explicitly moral discourse and not a particular set of policies or strategies. Neoconservatism recognises the necessity of moral discourse and the importance of the construction of such discourses for the establishment of the community. It is argued that the neoconservative attempt to re-impose discredited moral orders has led to the exacerbation of America's contradictions and to decline in American power. Beyond this, it is also argued that Strauss does make a contribution to political philosophy in terms of the relationship between city and man; this contribution to political philosophy is used to interpret elements of post-war American history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy ; Politics and international studies