L. Joseph Herbert Reviews Tyranny: A New Interpretation
April 16, 2018
Tyranny in recent times has presented students of philosophy and history with a new problem: in an age of Enlightenment, when reason, security, and prosperity were thought to be advancing ineluctably against their opposites, modern man has subjected himself to systematic persecutions and slaughters on an unprecedented scale, while the very sciences said to guarantee our progress have long since taught us, à la Thomas Hobbes, that tyranny is merely a disapproving word concocted by those “discontented” under a given regime. How can one account for—and thus effectively oppose—the evils we have witnessed, when their very source is said to be a figment of the imagination? Responding to this stark failure of modern thought, figures such as Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin sought to revive interest in the contemporary relevance of the classical political philosophy whose rejection uderlay those intellectual, moral, and political revolutions apparently responsible for leading us to this dead end. The success of their efforts to reopen the Western mind can be measured in part by the scope, quality, and influence of their own work and of that inspired by their teaching.