So I haven’t said anything since my return about my excursion to Charlottesville and the ISI conference I attended there.  Fear not–I will have some more remarks before too long.  Until my pen ran out of ink, I was taking fairly detailed notes on each talk, so I hope to be able to sketch out at least a couple of the ones that I found most striking.  Prof. Deneen’s talk was one of these, since it seemed on first hearing to agree with the thrust of something I had written a little over a year ago.  Amusingly, this was the piece that dragged me into the rather tiresome skirmishes with the West Coast Straussians during the Crunchy Wars, which was then followed by an even more tiresome argument with those people after I mentioned that Claes Ryn had figuratively given the Jaffa-style Straussian reading of “the Founding” a good swift kick to the ribs in a speech at last year’s Philadelphia Society meeting. 

When Prof. Deneen remarked in his talk, as I remember it, “Sometimes, I think I am the only Straussian left,” I thought to myself: “If only that were true!”  But, no, that’s not quite fair, and that wasn’t the whole of my reaction.  I later thought: “If this is real Straussianism, it isn’t anything like what those people at Claremont have said that it is and it isn’t that bad after all.”  How refreshing!  The delight of apparently finding a Straussian using Strauss to argue for a position that I, non-Straussian that I am, had previously made from an entirely different perspective and one that the self-appointed successors of Strauss had vehemently attacked was considerable.  

Present at the Charlottesville conference were some of my TAC/Chronicles colleagues and partners in blogging thought crime, Dan McCarthy (who says he disagrees with a “great deal” in the talk) and Clark Stooksbury, as well as the fun, witty James Poulos, IMP, those champions of prairie populism and prairie populists, Caleb Stegall and Jeff Taylor, plus many, many more.  I had a very good time at the conference, and I believe the talks were well worth the trip (which unfortunately involved getting stuck in the Philadelphia airport for eight hours thanks to US Airways, whose motto ought to be, “Just try to fly with us if you dare”). 

While you’re waiting for my remarks on the conference talks, I will point you to another source for your edification and entertainment: Prof. Deneen of Georgetown has the beginnings of his remarks that he delivered at the conference up on his blog (via Dan McCarthy). 

Update: Prof. Deneen posts the rest of the talk here.