|I agree with Scott that the most disturbing thing about the list is that it was even drawn up. I mean you can go to any bookstore -- especialy any used bookstore -- and find 100 or 1000 books of stupid assertions and groundless philosophies. |
How could they have missed Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski or Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums and On the Road?
None of the books on this list would be differentiable from those anonymous others except that a large number of people apparently made it so. In other words, you can write anything, but if your work does not resonate with the reader, it carries no further. Did Mein Kampf tell anyone anything that they did not already claim to know? Even those who disagreed with it found it intelligible on its own terms. Agatha Christie one-lined Hercule Poirot as having the clever mind typical of the Belgian race. So, Mein Kampf would have been unread, except that it was understood quite well, even by those who claimed to disagree with it. The point is that we bookish types tend to overestimate the power of books and so we miss the true origins of common, popular ideas.
Roll over, Beethoven, and give Tschaikovsky the news! Consider this report in light of the "Dome Improvement" article showing that video games have intelligence-increasing potentials. So, these conservatives fall farther and farther behind as the rest of us evolve. Of course, since they do not value Darwin, they probably will not be able to frame the problem. Millions of people get ideas from music. The Marriage of Figaro was revolutionary in its time. From the Beatles to whoever is on the popcharts at this moment, popular ideas circulate in media not perceived by the conservatives. Consider all the discussions here about cinema.
I agree with Barbara that Kinsey, Friedan, Darwin, and Freud all provided important new insights. We have a more objective understanding of human nature as a result.
Max wrote: "I would have voted the same top 3 books, but from then on it gets a bit difficult for me to comprehend the list and reconcile it with the prime ideas of conservativism."
Well, I have not read Mein Kampf, I confess, but I have read the Communist Manifesto several times and I have Red Books in several languages. Mao ZeDong is not much different than Macchiavelli on politics or Sun Tzu on war. In fact, being an assortment of aphorisms, Quotations from the Chairman can often be used to prove any point in a political argument.
Max wrote: "The core negative ideas to their definition of being conservative are presented here: equal rights to women, atheism, communism, self-reliance and scepticism."
Well, not all of that would be endorsed by all of the participants here, but I do agree with the general sentiment. If you consider Galt's Gulch from a leftwing perspective, it is just another trotskyite utopia where the workers enjoyed the full value of their labor. Have you ever heard of Bob Black? He claimed that capitalism and socialism share a basic premise that your work (usually for others) defines your life. "Skepticism" (so-called) is often misused and misapplied, but it is defining of them that conservatives fear questions.
Neil Parille wrote: "The 2 disputed books would be Kinsey and Friedan. I don't know much about these works, but I assume Friedan's is a version of left-liberalism."
You can attack Kinsey's statistics, but only on statistical grounds. His reports simply stated the facts as gathered. Walk down any crowded lunchtime business district and consider that one man in 40 is wearing women's underwear. Is that a crisis in public education or national defense or what? I think it is silly myself. I mean you don't have to jump off a cliff to know that the clothing is not going to fit. But, hey, I'm a utilitarian -- and I noticed that John Stuart Mill's On Liberty is on the list of books to be burned.
Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was highly recommended by Ayn Rand and was sold by the NBI book service. I just read an old essay from Friedan, ("Are Women Wasting Their Time in College?") written a few years earlier and killed first by McCall's and then by Redbook. Friedan's concern was that in 1960 women at the Seven Sister Schools felt that education was useless to their future roles as wives and mothers. Friedan's thesis was that being a wife and mother requires intelligence and once the kids are gone, then what?
Neil Parille wrote: "And Freud's determinism has been attacked by, among others, Peikoff in The Ominous Parallels."
Yes, and Aristotle claimed that a heavy object falls faster than a light one, and he justified slavery as a natural condition -- but that did not make the final cut in Ominous Parallels for some reason. What Freud did was take the lid off the neuroses, the compulsions, the evasions, and projections that drove certainly the western world of the later19th century if not most of human history. Much has been done since, but it could not have been done without Freud -- or Wilhelm Wundt, for that matter.
All in all, though, the bottom line for me is that if you give Human Events credence, then you commit the same intellectual error. It is amusing, but, really, who cares what they think?