Wednesday, June 1


Oh, this is rich. The right-wing Human Events Online has come up with one of those goofy lists we all enjoy, this one entitled "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries." Some of the choices may have some validity, but some beg the question, "Harmful to Whom?" It's unclear to me whether or not the judges actually READ any of these books, but go on, pick your faves:

1. The Communist Manifesto (Marx & Engels)

2. Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler)

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong)

4. The Kinsey Report (Alfred Kinsey)
Well, if old Alfred hadn't reported that people were having sex, the rest of us wouldn't have had to join in. It was an especially low blow to suggest that women could enjoy sex, since that meant husbands had no more excuses.

5. Democracy and Education (John Dewey)
In Democracy and Education Dewey emphasizes the associational and communal aspects of democracy, and finds that conscious, directed education is necessary to establish these conditions and form democratic character in children. Growth, experience, and activity are the preferred terms by Dewey to describe the tying of learning to social, communicative activity that allows for the flourishing of democratic community. I suppose Dewey was just too fond of words like "freedom," "social" and "communal" for the wingers.

6. Das Kapital (Karl Marx)

7. The Feminine Mystique (Betty Friedan)
Betty Friedan blew the lid off the top of the Big Secret: that women in Post-WWII America were unhappy with their lives, victims of "a false belief system that require(d) them to find identity and meaning in their lives through their husbands and children." Now THAT was a big blow to the little castle-rulers. They'll never forgive her for telling their women what other women were privately confiding to Friedan.

8. The Course of Positive Philosophy (Auguste Comte)
The founder of sociology and advocate of the technocrats, "(t)he dominant motive of Comte’s positivism was not speculative but practical. His purpose was for him, most clear -- the reformation of the social order. 'The object of all my labor,' Comte wrote, 'has been to re-establish in society something spiritual that is capable of counter-balancing the influence of the ignoble materialism in which we are at present submerged.' With this statement in mind, Comte continues the 18th and 19th century preoccupation with human liberation -- whether the Church, tyranny, materialism or government, man must liberate himself." That should be enough to clue you into why Comte landed on the list.

9. Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche)

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (John Maynard Keynes)
The Classical tradition assumed that in a recession, wages and prices would decline to restore full employment. Keynes argued that the opposite was true. Falling prices and wages, by depressing people's incomes, would retard a recovery from the economic disease by preventing a revival of spending. Instead government had to focus on the factors determining total spending. He insisted that direct government intervention was necessary to increase total spending. Government would stimulate spending and decrease taxes when private spending was insufficient and threatened a recession. In the same way, it would reduce spending and increase taxes when private spending was too great and threatened inflation. More here.

Honorable Mention:

The Population Bomb (Paul Ehrlich) Eek! Sounds like birth control!
What Is To Be Done (Lenin)
Authoritarian Personality (Theodor Adorno)
On Liberty (John Stuart Mill) Eek! There's that phrase again -- "the tyranny of the majority!" We LIKE tyranny -- when we're in the majority!
Beyond Freedom and Dignity (B.F. Skinner) Eek! Skinner suggests that the social environment has an impact upon personal freedom and dignity! He was a behavioral psychologist!
Origin of the Species (Charles Darwin) Eek! Anti-creationism!
Coming of Age in Samoa (Margaret Mead) Eek! Sex among the pygmies!
Unsafe at Any Speed (Ralph Nader) Eek! Challenging U.S. automakers with safety standards!
Second Sex (Simone de Beauvoir) Eek! More women's lib crap!
Silent Spring (Rachel Carson) Eek! The environment, written by a rational, plausible advocate!
Wretched of the Earth (Frantz Fanon) Eek! Anti-materialism!
Introduction to Psychoanalysis (Freud) Eek! Sex again!
Descent of Man (Darwin) Eek! More monkey business!
The Promise of American Life (Herbert Croly)
Reflections on Violence (Georges Sorel)
Madness and Civilization (Michel Foucault)
Soviet Communism: A New Civilization (Sidney and Beatrice Webb)

If some of the choices sound nutty, consider the panel of judges, which included Arnold Beichman of the Hoover Institution (named for good old Herbert); the executive editor of Regnery Publishing (home of the Swift Boat Vets and other wingnut writers); Prof. Brad Birzerr of Hillsdale College (the "family values" college, scene of the notorious incest scandal); the Second Vice Chairman of the American Conservative Union; Prof. Robert George of Princeton, member of the President's Council on Bioethics (that should tell you a lot) and Terri Schiavo expert; Prof. William Anthony Hay of Mississippi State U., fellow at one of the oldest right-wing think tanks, the Foreign Policy Research Institute; the president of the Hudson Institute, another right-wing think tank; Prof. Mark Malvasi of southern Randolph-Macon College; the associate rector of the Witherspoon Fellowships; and Phyllis Schafly, president of Eagle Forum. A real blue-chip panel of objective thinkers, eh?

Hat tip to Demagogue.


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