Adi Armon

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From Weimar to America. The political thought of Leo Strauss 

During the Weimar years, Strauss was intellectually and spiritually close to streams of thought that were averse to liberalism, enlightenment, and democracy. Specifically, he was mostly influenced by Nietzsche, Schmitt, and Heidegger. However, with the rise of Nazism, as Germany faded from his mind and his exile continued, Strauss, as a refugee in England and then in America, began a retreat from the ideas that had influenced him during the twenties and from his own previous attitude toward certain elements of modern civilization. This retreat was not clear, absolute, or complete, but complicated, vague, tortuous, and most importantly, partial. The partiality of this retreat was a consequence of an ambivalence, both an attraction and a recoiling, that emerged in his thought during the thirties and forties.
Under the influence of Nietzsche, the young Strauss developed an extreme loathing toward socialism and Marxism. The Marxist ideal was perceived by Strauss as a manifestation of «the last man» and as an absolute destruction of philosophy and the political. With Strauss’s exile, the aversion of Marxism did not fade, but merged in his philosophical teaching in the United States. Thus, while Strauss’s attitude toward liberalism grew into ambivalence, his critique of Marxism advanced linearly with his emigration from Europe to the new world of America