Preposterous Universe

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Dangerous reading

Brad DeLong (after artfully denying that he would ever read Wonkette) points to an enlightening list at Human Events Online -- the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. As voted on by leading conservative thinkers!
  • The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
  • Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
  • Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong
  • The Kinsey Report, Alfred Kinsey
  • Democracy and Education, John Dewey
  • Das Kapital, Karl Marx
  • The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
  • The Course of Positive Philosophy, August Comte
  • Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche
  • General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes
I love it. Mein Kampf snuggling right up there with The Feminine Mystique and The General Theory. (Because it's Keynes, you know, who is responsible for our huge budget deficit. Those damned liberals, always running budget deficits.)

But the list of runners-up is where it really gets good.
  • The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich
  • What Is To Be Done, V.I. Lenin
  • Authoritarian Personality, Theodor Adorno
  • On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
  • Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B.F. Skinner
  • Reflections on Violence, Georges Sorel
  • The Promise of American Life, Herbert Croly
  • Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin
  • Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault
  • Soviet Communism: A New Civilization, Sidney and Beatrice Webb
  • Coming of Age in Samoa, Margaret Mead
  • Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader
  • Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  • Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci
  • Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
  • Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
  • Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud
  • The Greening of America, Charles Reich
  • The Limits to Growth, Club of Rome
  • Descent of Man, Charles Darwin
Some of it is just amusing -- I mean, you might not be happy with Unsafe at Any Speed or Silent Spring, but "the most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries"? And what's up with John Stuart Mill, anyway?

But it's Darwin's appearance that is most telling. If this really does represent mainstream conservatism, its intellectual bankruptcy is showing.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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