Leo Strauss on the Theology of Political Rage

While there is little use in speculating what the great German Jewish political theorist Leo Strauss would have said about today’s campus unrest, it’s worth considering what he wrote about political rage more generally. Glenn Ellmers, reviewing a newly published volume of Strauss’s essays, observes:

Strauss connects the psychological to the political (and the philosophic). Those who can only scream about cosmic injustice behave as if they are in hell, and for them, Strauss notes, hell is “life in the United States.” They act as if they are rebelling against “a holy law; but of this they appeared to be wholly unconscious.”

Strauss’s reference here to law, and especially holy law, is critical. Human beings, when not deranged by ideology, do in fact find their purpose in and through a community that sees itself as holy. Every premodern society was grounded in a sacred law that insisted, as Strauss explains, that “not everything is permitted.” (This sacred community could well be, by the way, a polity deriving its authority from “the laws of nature and nature’s god.”) It is the confrontation with these divine codes, which define all premodern regimes, that first made political philosophy possible. Strauss famously referred to this as “the theological-political problem.”

Read more at New Criterion

More about: Leo Strauss, Liberalism, Political philosophy, Religion and politics

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security