For Strauss as for Nietzsche, the truth of mimesis and of the founding murder is so shocking that most people, in all times and places, simply will not believe it.

The world of the Enlightenment may have been based on certain misconceptions about the nature of humanity, but the full knowledge of these misconceptions can remain the province of a philosophical elite. The successful popularization of such knowledge would be the only thing to fear and it was in this context that the Straussian, Pierre Manent, launched a ferocious attack on Girard’s theory: “If human ‘culture’ is essentially founded on violence, then [Girard] can bring nothing other than the destruction of humanity in the fallacious guise of non-violence.”

Girard, in turn, would counter that salvation is no longer to be found in philosophical reticence, because there will come a day when there is no esoteric knowledge left:

I do think it is necessary for us to engage in the discourse we have been pursuing here. But if we had chosen otherwise, others would have taken up this discourse. And there will be others, in any case, who will repeat what we are in the process of saying and who will advance matters beyond what we have been able to do.

Yet books themselves will have no more than minor importance; the events within which such books emerge will be infinitely more eloquent than whatever we write and will establish truths we have difficulty describing and describe poorly, even in simple and banal instances. They are already very simple, indeed too simple to interest our current Byzantium, but these truths will become simpler still; they will soon be accessible to anyone.

For Girard, the knowledge of the founding murder is driven by the historical working of the Judeo-Western revelation. The revelation may be slow (because it contains a message that humans do not wish to hear), but it is not reversible. For this reason, the decisive difference between Girard and Strauss (or Nietzsche) centers on the question of historicism.

[Peter Thiel]
‘The Straussian Moment’

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