Democracy and Dissent: Strauss, Arendt, and Voegelin in America

28 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2015

Date Written: October 1, 2012


During the 1930s, American democratic government underwent a paradigmatic transformation from republican to pluralist democracy -- a movement away from relying on white Anglo-Saxon male values of the common good and toward a more open and inclusive form of democracy. Pluralist democracy achieved hegemony during the post-World War II era as the correct theory and practice of government, but it did not go unchallenged. European emigres such as Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, and Eric Voegelin, all of whom had escaped from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, raised the most persistent oppositional views. This Article is about those contemporaries who experienced and perceived the paradigm change but nonetheless opposed it. Part I explores the views of Strauss, Arendt, and Voegelin as they dissented from pluralist democracy. Part II discusses their influences on politics, political theory, and law. Given how Strauss, Arendt, and Voegelin will influence subsequent political and theoretical development, their contemporaneous reactions to the emergence of pluralist democracy provide an unparalleled and invaluable glimpse inside a paradigm shift central to the American future.

Keywords: Republican democracy, Pluralist democracy, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Eric Voegelin, American political development

Suggested Citation

Feldman, Stephen Matthew, Democracy and Dissent: Strauss, Arendt, and Voegelin in America (October 1, 2012). Denver University Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 3, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Stephen Matthew Feldman (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 3035
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

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