Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Diseased Minds

It appears (via Hit & Run) that Human Events has compiled a list of the "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries" (and why not the 18th and 17th as well? I'd say it's because of this phenomenon). The full list as well as the honorable mentions (The Origin of Species and On Liberty get honorable mentions) are in limbo between horrifying and hilarious. They are also a treasure trove of insight into the minds of theocons who have received a certain amount of education in philosophy.

The HE staff helpfully included the cumulative scores that produced their top-ten ranking; I find this detail particularly shocking: The Communist Manifesto, which is, unsurprisingly, #1, scores 74 points. The remaining nine books range from 41 (Mein Kampf) to 23 (Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money). The gap in negative utility (of whatever sort HE has in mind) between the Communist Manifesto and every other book of the last 200 years (at minimum 33) is almost (at minimum) twice as great as the entire range (18) of negative utility values of the remaining nine contenders, which do happen to include the founding document of Nazism. The situation doesn't improve when you move on to the honorable mentions. Origin of Species, at 17, is only 24 points less "harmful" than Mein Kampf, or a bit more than 25% less harmful relative to MK than MK is to the Manifesto.

I doubt very much that intellects capable of producing such a result are also capable of shame or embarrasment, but that result is evidence of a moral psychopathy on their parts.

MORE: Numerical evaluations aside [what a weird model for anti-sociology Luddites--ed.], the captions summarizing and disparaging each "harmful" work contain some real gems. E.g., "The Nazis loved Nietzsche," an insight that blinds me either with its brilliance or its logical fallaciousness. David Horowitz, former Stalinist and current right-wing Bolshevik, is quoted attacking Betty Friedan on the grounds that "[she] was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column." HE's favorite philosopher after Aquinas, by which I mean Jesus Christ, had some words to say about who is in a position to cast the first stone.


At 5:48 PM, Blogger Evan said...

For some reason I cannot even begin to articulate, the addition of the cover images -- all from recent paperback editions, I note -- strikes me as hilarious. Why didn't they just set it up as an Amazon Listmania entry and be done with it?

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Evan said...

But I spoke too soon....

At 11:22 AM, Blogger anonyMoses said...

Further proof that dull minds think alike...

I notice there are no great institutes of learning connected with the judges. Just a bunch of stupid hicks in dire need of autocensorship.

-Anonymoses (a name drawn from Finnegans Wake)

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Johan said...

I particularly like the listing of Comte, with the cover image of the 70-page introduction work, the only available image on Amazon. Having tried to hunt down a more complete work for a decent shilling last spring, I am quite firmiliar with this dangerous summary text.

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