Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dangerous Books

The Conservative Weekly Human Events has asked a group of scholars to rank the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's noteworthy that these professors have nothing better to do than make up a list of books to avoid. It's as if liberals are opposed to conservatives and conservatives are opposed to everyone. Andrew Sullivan correctly called these sort of lists "morbid". I might also add that there's something profoundly nihilistic and even Stalinist about listing off books that are innately "harmful".

So, here's the list, for the curious.
1) The Communist Manifesto (No surprise there really)
2) Mein Kampf (Because it's impossible to read without inevitably forming a 1,000 year reich)
3) Quotations of Chairman Mao (Very harmful towards insomnia)
4) The Kinsey Report ("The reports were designed to give a scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy." Yes. Or this list is designed to give a "deviant" gloss to science)
5) Democracy and Education (By John Dewey. For being humanist and secular. Also advocating "skills" education. Apparently, skills are deviant as well.)
6) Das Kapital (Of course, if you can make it through 3 volumnes of Marx's turgid prose, you're probably already a bit unhinged.)
7) The Feminine Mystique (What "problem"? There is no "problem"!)
8) The Course of Positive Philosophy (Yep, Comte was very dangerous. As was "positivism", and actually all optimism.)
9) Beyond Good and Evil ("What?! There is nothing beyond good and evil! Ignore the man behind the curtain! I am the great and powerful Oz!" As if Dick Cheney hasn't boned up on the will to power.)
10) General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (Keynes is "harmful" because : "When the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, he argued, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending money to spur economic activity." Uh... yeah. No, uh, Conservative government would ever do that...)

"Honorable Mentions"
The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich (As if overpopulation is a bad thing!)
What Is To Be Done? by V.I. Lenin (Well, not reading! That's for sure!)
Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno (Probably hit a little close to home)
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (Free will? What kind of Communist shit is that?!)
Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B.F. Skinner (For spawning all those 'behaviorist' dictatorships)
Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Holy fucking shit indeed! Why is it that the biggest opponents of evolution are those people who you look at and start to wonder if the laws of evolution shouldn't be a bit more strongly enforced.)
Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault (Well, harmful to grad students mostly)
Soviet Communism: A New Civilization by Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Yeah, there never would have been a USSR without this book. No, seriously. Really.)
Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead (Because if kids read this book, they're quite likely to return to a tribal gift economy and stop wearing pants.)
Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader (Yep, they really do think that seatbelts are harmful.)
Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (For arguing that there are two sexes instead of the Ralph Reed approved: "Men and sub-men".)
Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci (For suggesting that hegemony might have a downside)
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (Yes. They also really do feel that getting pesticides removed from sources of drinking water was a "harmful" thing to do as well. I'm guessing that they're also against "Mr. Yuck" stickers because they discriminate against poison.)
Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon (Lord knows everybody was a lot happier with colonialism and slavery before this book)
Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud (For suggesting that what's bugging these professors is not really gamma rays that are projected into their skull by left-wing Martians.)
The Greening of America by Charles Reich (Actually, just anything with the word "green" in it)
The Limits to Growth by Club of Rome (There are limits to growth!? I say Good day Sir!)
Descent of Man by Charles Darwin (Why is it that the biggest opponents of... oh, wait.)

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