Nunc Scio
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
  Strong anti-intellectual tendency, anyone?
I think if it were possible to distill 'intelligence' into some kind of gelatinous compound, and if this compound were placed in the same room with many conservatives, there would be some kind of a violent explosion.

Human Events, the oh-so-enlightened conservative weekly, has released its list of "The 10 Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Century". I should say first off I agree wholeheartedly with their number two pick - Hitler's Mein Kampf. Not so much because of its discreet impact, but because it was the literary manifestation of the most viruently evil individuals and movements the world has ever known. I could also see my way to agreeing with the selection of Mao's little red book...but again, it's deleterious effects are more tied to the man than to his words.

Beyond that, the rest of the list is a train wreck. Calling the works of J.S. Mill, Nietzsche, Adorno, Darwin, de Beauvoir, Rachel Carson, Friedan, Gramsci and Dewey betrays a paleolithic understanding of the world of ideas. True, many of this books are now somewhat obsolete. But they are vital stepping stones in humanity's long march to...well, humanity. Human Events seems to be marching in the other direction.

As a side note, Marx's Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto made the list. While I'm not saying I advocate his political program, his materialist critique remains relevant today and should be read by anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of capitalism in its formative stages.

All of this begs the question, "Who are these books 'harmful' to"? And once again, I exclude Mein Kampf and The Little Red Book from this humble analysis.

The short list:

-Men who like subjagating women
-People who accept the impoverishment of others as a means to their own gain
-People who endager the lives of others to enrich themselves
-People who sacrifice environmental sustainability for profit
-People who reject man's ability to understand the world through any means besides a creator-god.
-People who don't believe in science.
-People who believe in magic (see also: creationists)
-Authoritarians, and those who aspire to be authoritarians
-Up-tight social conservatives, evangelical Christians and moral dogmatists
-The selfishly rich

I imagine if you fall into one or more of the above categories, you'd really agree with Human Events' list. And probably be dumb enough to enjoy that rag, too.
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Jack of all trades, master of none, Graeme is many things to many people. Unfortunately, none of them find him very life-affirming in any capacity. He is a freelance writer, broadcaster, amateur cryptozoologist and occasional political commentator late of London, England and now based in Toronto. Most of the time, he's confused. And a little hungry. But mostly just confused and somewhat uncomfortable writing in the third person.

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