The Straussian Moment: Summary and Review

The Straussian Moment by Peter Thiel

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This essay is now out of print. It’s short, about 30 pages. It describes the theory of liberalism in a post-9/11 world.

Thiel tries to answer the question of why the enlightenment gave way to the 21st century values of liberalism and globalism, only to fail spectacularly again after 9/11?

Enlightenment views of warfare presume economically rational actors, but “those who seek glory in the name of God or country appear odd; but if such odd people are commonplace and capable of asserting themselves with explosive force, then the account of politics that pretends they do not exist needs to be reexamined.”

Does globalization ironically destroy enough communities that people growing up without economic opportunity become irrational actors?

One may define a “liberal” as someone who knows nothing of the past and of this history of violence, and still holds to the Enlightenment view of the natural goodness of humanity. And one may define a “conservative” as someone who knows nothing of the future and of the global world that is destined to be, and therefore still believes that the nation-state or other institutions rooted in sacred violence can contain unlimited human violence.

Thiel addresses the founding myth of liberalism, predicated upon violence, yet refusing to acknowledge the centrality of violence in its core philosophy.

For liberalism to succeed, it must grapple with a world where “all boundaries on violence are abolished”, inflicted either by terrorism or by nuclear weapons.

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