Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Wow. Just... wow.

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Hyper-conservative online magazine Human Events Online created a list of the ten most harmful books of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I can't even begin to describe how outrageous the list is, so I will put it here.
  1. The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  2. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
  3. Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong
  4. The Kinsey Report, Alfred Kinsey
  5. Democracy and Education, John Dewey
  6. Das Kapital, Karl Marx
  7. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
  8. Introduction to Positive Philosophy, Auguste Comte
  9. Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzche
  10. General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes
Seriously, the Communist Manifesto as number one? I know it's because the Soviet Union was the "evil empire," but that's far more the result of Stalin or even Lenin than anything Marx wrote. I likewise find it funny that Das Kapital would be considered "harmful." Especially amusing is this line regarding Marx: "He could not have predicted 21st Century America: a free, affluent society based on capitalism and representative government that people the world over envy and seek to emulate." Not only would Marx have no problem with representative government that I can think of, he would certainly note that paranoid America is far from free and that while the total amount of money makes us ostensibly affluent, the distribution thereof is even further from equitable than it was in his time.

You'll get no complaint from me on Mein Kampf and the Mao book.

The Kinsey Report? What's that all about? Oh, right, finding out that people aren't a homogeneous, missionary-position-loving assemblage of procreative machines is pretty shocking if you're such a boring person yourself. Jealousy will get you nowhere.

That The Feminine Mystique is on the list is, frankly, appalling. You'd think these people wanted women to stay in the home cooking and cleaning like good little slave-whores. Wait, they do. No surprise that only one of the sixteen judges was a woman.

John Dewey makes the list because, "in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking 'skills' instead." Yes, giving children the ability to use their own minds to discover what they choose to discover instead of force-feeding them useless facts and imposing an outdated morality on them is just horrible.

They hate Comte for coining the term sociology, for being an atheist, and for suggesting that humanity can determine how things ought to be through reason. I'm no great fan of Nietzche, but here the conservatives again make the childish suggestion that because bad people did bad things with a person's ideas, that person is responsible. Don't even ask about Keynes, because I couldn't care less.

[via AlterNet Blog: Peek]

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  1. Hey, my summer reading list!

    Books don't kill people, people...

  2. Great post as usual. And yeah, it's like gene said. When I first saw this list I thought "Hmmm, I better be sure I read those!" (minus the hitler shit and the mao shit).

    Anyway, good stuff.

  3. Uh oh, I own one of those books, and #1 at that! I'll expect the police shortly...

  4. It really is shocking that Darwin's Origin of the Species isn't on the list, no? It did make the runner-up list... Darwin's on there twice!

    Among the others are Ralph Nader, Margaret Mead, and John Stuart Mill, all notorious for their evil ways.

  5. People who sit around writing up blacklists and pass it off as morally or intellectually useful are pretty screwed up.

    The Commie Manifesto is just beautiful. Regardless of the validity of Marxism (and remember Marx said he was not a "Marxist"), The C.M. solidifies his stature as an economic thinker. It's funny how right-wingers hate what they deny (b/c they can't argue against it, they just blacklist it). One of Marx's most revolutionary ideas was that growth is not inevitable under capitalism. Even beyond boom-bust cycles, much worse things can and do happen. But don't tell that to rosy-glasses-wearing conservatives! The market is perfect and needs no interference...

    Speaking of "market interference", conservatives hate Keynes because he basically said it's okay, in fact neccessary, for governments to spend more money than they have frequently to ameliorate the harsher effects of economy. Funny thing is, although the right still says the same thing, who is out there spending billions and billions of dollars we don't have on a war against the whole world, a new "Homeland" Security Dept, and a magical missile-defense system?