Buy These Harmful Books!

Via Radley Balko comes this amusing link. The very right wing newspaper Human Events took a poll of prominent conservatives to get a list of the most harmful books ever written. The list was pretty much what you'd expect, with Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto in the top ten. I was disappointed to see that two of my favorites, On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin only made honorable mention (but got a good chuckle out of the rather predictable fact that they got the name wrong on the second one, calling it Origin of the Species). But here's the punchline. While compiling this list of books that they don't think people should read lest they be harmed in some way, they link to the Amazon pages of all of them using their code to get a cut if anyone buys them. Ah, the age old clash between free market conservatives and social conservatives finally resolved - yes, these books are evil, but we don't mind profiting from them.

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I like how Keynes made the list, and how they blame him for our current burgeoning deficits and debt. Hmm, let's see, under which presidents did our debt increase the most, and which economic theory did they subscribe to?

I like how Keynes made the list, and how they blame him for our current burgeoning deficits and debt. Hmm, let's see, under which presidents did our debt increase the most, and which economic theory did they subscribe to?

Thank you Steve! Nothing in Keynes' theory required that government spending during a recession be unending. In fact, unemployment insurance is a classic Keynesian devise - the government's revenue increases to pay these benefits during down times, and automatically reduces when employment picks back up.

I thought the honorable mentions were more telling than actual top ten. Mill's On Liberty with Carson's Silent Spring and Nader's Unsafe at any Speed seems to prove the long held impression that the conservative definition of freedom is no regulation of business but regulation of people's personal lives. Whether or not Detroit makes safe cars or if a pesticide harms the environment are issues that can be left to the free market, but flag burning and sodomy laws need to be vigorously enforced.

...yes, these books are evil, but we don't mind profiting from them.

A capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with!

(Ok, that's a silly commie cliche, but it was what popped into my head when I read this.)

"Capitalists selling the rope to hang them" is not really a commie cliche. It's more of a right-wing anticommunist cliche. It's one of numerous quotes, usually attributed to Lenin, used by the far right though there's no proof that Lenin ever said it. "Useful idiots" is another.

i particularly liked the critiques that were offered by the esteemed reviewers. This one is classic:
"He(Dewey) disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking "skills" instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education--particularly in public schools--and helped nurture the Clinton generation."

Now Dewey's educational efforts, for the most part, were undertaken during the 30's reorganization of public education(see Joel H. Spring's various books on the subject) and it is pretty striking to connect some of the children of the 60's as nurtured directly by that period of time. If it was so pervasive and powerful, wouldn't more of that generation been more supportive of those policies? Or was that impeachment thing just an aberration?

I'm so proud! I own half the books on the list, and have even read them. Okay, except for Kapital, which I own but haven't read. But then again, I don't even know anyone who's made it all the way through Kapital.

I also have read a fair number of the honorable mentions. My brain is now a threat to Western civilization, democracy, and Christianity itself. I wonder if I could undermine electoral politics just by rubbing my head on a voting booth? The possibilities are endless.

I've got to run off now and go reread A Sand County Almanac. Maybe after finishing that, the corruption of my brain will have reached critical mass, and I'll be able to shoot anticapitalist laser beams out of my eyes.