"Most Harmful Books," Right-wing Edition

Human Events, the right-wing weekly, has posted its list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries, as chosen by "a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders," many of them associated with mainstream institutions.

There are a bunch of the usual suspect-authors here: Marx, Hitler, Mao, John Maynard Keynes, etc. However, congratulations go out to John Stuart Mill (On Liberty got an Honorable Mention!), John Dewey (why is Democracy and Education the fifth Most Harmful Book? Because it "helped nurture the Clinton generation"), and Charles Darwin (two separate Honorable Mentions for writing two different Most Harmful Books). And yes, Auguste Comte positively made the list.

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  • ||

    This is stunning. I guess Newton wasn't in the right time frame, but what about Einstein and his "theory" of relativity?

  • gaius marius||

    i find it hilarious that these people, with a straight face, list comte right next to nietzsche.

  • ||

    I nominate The Davinci Code.

    Because, the next idiot that tells me how great it is will be in grave danger of getting harmed.

    Honorable mention: Anything by John Grisham.

  • ||

    I see they can't resist the Nietzsche/Nazi comparision. "The Nazies loved Nietzsche." Perhaps, but they also didn't understand him.

  • ||

    Ralphus- Dan Brown is Umberto Eco for semi-literates.

  • ||

    "Ralphus- Dan Brown is Umberto Eco for semi-literates."

    -exactly.

  • ||

    Number 6,

    Agreed.

    Besides, I liked the story better when it was in the hands of conspiracy cranks.

  • kgsam||

    Can I nominate "Das Bibel"?

  • ||

    What, no Ayn Rand?

  • kgsam||

    I guess I shouldn't leave out the Quran.
    Hope I won't be assasinated for that.

  • ||

    The "Best of Reason" didn't make it?

  • ||

    �Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and weaker, suppression, severity, imposition of one�s own forms, incorporation and, at the least and mildest, exploitation,� he wrote.

    Sounds like life under the Republicans.

    I would say the cheap shot about Nazis and Nietsche shows how intellectually stupid the publication is. It also qualifies as an invocation of Godwin's Law.

    And On Liberty???? Harmful? That qualifies for a big, fat, WWWWWWWWTTTTTTTTTFFFFFFFFFFFFF????????

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    Can I nominate "Das Bibel"?

    "...of the last 200 years..."


    Let's see...Darwin, Freud, Comte, Kinsey....remember kids, science is BAD.

  • ||

    I think the entire notion of "harmful books" to be more harmful than the books themselves. This notion contributed more to the creation of the Soviet and Nazi states than their ideological sources.

  • ||

    Uh, Mr. Charles Libertarian Freund, sir, many's the homeschooler who would rank Dewey's book higher:


    Exactly what John Dewey heralded at the onset of the twentieth century has indeed happened. Our once highly individualized nation has evolved into a centrally managed village, an agora made up of huge special interests which regard individual voices as irrelevant. The masquerade is managed by having collective agencies speak through particular human beings. Dewey said this would mark a great advance in human affairs, but the net effect is to reduce men and women to the status of functions in whatever subsystem they are placed. Public opinion is turned on and off in laboratory fashion. All this in the name of social efficiency, one of the two main goals of forced schooling.



    Dewey called this transformation "the new individualism." When I stepped into the job of schoolteacher in 1961, the new individualism was sitting in the driver's seat all over urban America, a far cry from my own school days on the Monongahela when the Lone Ranger, not Sesame Street, was our nation's teacher, and school things weren't nearly so oppressive. But gradually they became something else in the euphoric times following WWII. Easy money and easy travel provided welcome relief from wartime austerity, the advent of television, the new nonstop theater, offered easy laughs, effortless entertainment. Thus preoccupied, Americans failed to notice the deliberate conversion of formal education that was taking place, a transformation that would turn school into an instrument of the leviathan state. Who made that happen and why is part of the story I have to tell.

  • ||

    They make a few valid points, but after they run out of mass-murderers they seem to fall back on ad hominem attacks a little too quickly. The point about Nietzsche has already been made, and they don't even provide any direct harm that Betty Friedan caused, instead merely pointing out the company she kept was less than sterling. I agree with Blammo, with the addition that putting the ideas of murderers on par with those of people you disagree with is the worst of all. The whole thing smacks of the worst kind of paternalism.

    Which I suppose would be any kind of paternalism, since, now that I think about it, they're all pretty much the same...

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I might not be remembering right but didn't Dewey model his ideas about public education on the Prussian model? If so, that would easily put him in the top 10.

  • Jeff||

    How many people have suffered unquenchable frustration or, even worse, eye damage trying to peer into those Magic Eye books?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Tom, science?

    Kinsey's work wasn't exactly, er, untainted (to be generous), Freud was a nutcase who bequeathed us subsequent generations of McShrinks who change prevailing theories every decade or so, and the jury is still out on evolution (Ron Bailey's insistence that it isn't notwithstanding).

    Coach, theory of relativity? Is that: Everything is Relative--Like Incest?

    Personally, I would have put Silent Spring and the Population Bomb in the top 10.

  • ||

    I wish I knew how Darwin made the cut. Do they not believe in evolution? Or, even worse, do they believe it but feel that evolution is a "Bad truth" for weakening religion or the idea that humans are the center of creation?

  • ||

    Keynes ought to have been number one, or at least tied with Marx. Bad economics has killed more people in the last two centuries than anything else.

    I notice the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was left out. Just goes to show you, Schicklgruber ruined normal, respectable anti-semitism for the goyim.

  • ||

    I wish they would tell us which scholars listed Darwin. Opposition to Darwin has become an incredibly embarassing stain on the conservative movement - if you don't want to be mocked as an ignorant yokel than try not to act like one.

    Anyone else suspect that in any year other than the one right after a major Hollywood biopic Kinsey would not have made this list? Both his supporters and detractors give the man far too much credit. Between the car, the pill, and rapidly increasing numbers of unsupervised kids going off to college in the 50s and 60s the sexual revolution was unstoppable.

  • ||

    Just remember, Human Events was launched by Ann Coulter. Don't act surprised when you see intellectual rigor take a back seat to sensationalism.

    Anyway, I suppose Nietzsche and Darwin were to be expected, but John Stuart Mill? That says everything that you need to know about the direction popular modern conservatism has been heading in. Maybe something from Hayek will make such a list in a few years.

  • ||

    "science is BAD"

    Among the 15 judges:

    Fred Smith
    President
    Competitive Enterprise Institute

    Guess that explains the inclusion of Ehrlich, Club of Rome, & c. But it's hard to imagine an advocate of "sound science" putting his name to much of the rest.

    (Especially Darwin. By the way, if a theory is disproven, is it then automatically deemed to have been "harmful"?)

  • ||

    If they're so harmful why is each title linked to amazon.com?

  • kgsam||

    Sorry, i forgot the time limitation.

  • Brian Hawkins||

    I think it's pretty telling that they don't even get the title of "The Origin of Species" correct, referring to it instead as "Origin of THE Species", a common mistake among those who think that the book talks about how men are descended from monkeys.

  • ||

    Jennifer -

    Yes, don't believe in evolution. They're proponents of intelligent design quackery.

  • ||

    Number 6 nails it.

    Brown = Eco - The Whole Point - Literary Merit

    Maybe they could put that on the jacket.

    This is a wild ass list. How stupid is it to put On Liberty in the mix? Not Mill, you boneheads. If you want to make the utilitarianism argument, go after Rawls for chrissake.

  • ||

    Oops. I just returned to my desk and hit "post". Just so no one thinks I was being intentionally rude to Bill.

    Concerning Bill's comment, when I think of On Liberty, I think of the 'harm principle'. Maybe the public vs. private distinction has had more ramifications, but I don't think Mill gets credit for being the first to argue on behalf of the public welfare.

  • ||

    Brown = Eco - The Whole Point - Literary Merit

    You forgot "as viewed through the template of the Lifetime Network."

  • ||

    Wasn't Mills a classical liberal?

  • ||

    Silent Spring led directly to the ban on DDT and an estimated 50 million deaths from malaria and climbing which may mean her good intentions have killed more than Hitler and Stalin combined.

    The real injustice here is that they didn't even give Harry Potter an honorable mention. They dare call themselves theocrats?

  • ||

    Books don't kill people -- people do!

  • ||

    WHERE'S ALL THE FUCKING HARRY POTTER?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • ||

    Jon-
    The medieval peasant revolts had DEFINITE strains of what we would now call Communism (except the anti-religion parts). This is understandable; if you're a fourteenth-century peasant and the only governmental and economic system you've ever known or known about is feudalism, where a few people own almost everything and the rest of the people are their servants and serfs, and furthermore in this economic system the only real breaks you've ever gotten were from communistic elements (common grazing land, for instance), it's really not surprising that most folks who wanted an improvement foresaw it as a communist one. The whole free-market capitalism thing didn't get its start because it wasplanned in advance; it just sort of happened. Maybe it wouldn't have worked any other way.

  • ||

    So what's on their Best list? The Way Things Ought To Be? Gordon Liddy's Will? The latest piece of shit by Coulter/Malkin/Hannity/Ingraham?

    No surprise that so many sociocons oppose Darwin - they've never evolved!

  • Varangy||

    The commie shit I get...but Origin of the Species????

  • ||

    For the last time, Monty Python movies are NOT historical documents!

    You mean to tell me that British monarchs were never selected by strange women lying in ponds distributing swords?

  • ||

    i caught some bob grant this weekend while stuck coming back from a wedding; i bet he's got a whole lotta books on his dangerous book list.

  • Lyndon||

    The best comment here is from the person who said that the concept of "harmful books" is more harmful than any book could be by itself. I couldn't agree more.

    One commenter mentioned that the "Human Events" list links to Amazon.com, encouraging the purchase of these "harmful" books. If you take a look at the URL (on the IE "status bar" at the bottom of the screen) that is used to send you over to Amazon, it's apparent that the full truth is actually worse - "Human Events" is going to get an Amazon.com referral bonus for every purchase of "The Communist Manifesto" or "Mein Kampf" that results from someone clicking through from the list.

    I note that this illustrious group of "scholars and public policy leaders" remembered to throw in Chairman Mao, but they didn't think to include any works by Lenin or Stalin in the top-10 list (Lenin's "What Is to Be Done" gets only an honorable mention). Probably they would suggest that the tens of millions of people killed by the Soviet experiment were "harmed" principally by the works of Marx, and indeed the blurb under "The Communist Manifesto" states that "The Evil Empire of the Soviet Union put the Manifesto into practice." I'm no Marxist, but that statement is flat-out wrong - the USSR was a monstrous and cynical perversion of Marx's ideas, rather than an actual attempt to follow them.

    Furthermore, it is ridiculous that these people found legitimate works of philosophy (I'm not referring to the books by Marx but to others on the list) and science to be more "harmful" than the writings by Lenin and Stalin which underpinned 70 years of Soviet rule. This suggests just how little actual thought (as opposed to reflexive, knee-jerk accusations of "harmfulness") went into coming up with this list.

    Finally, a question - the title of this post is "'Most Harmful Books,' Right-wing Edition." This suggests there might be a "Left-wing Edition" out there somewhere. I would be surprised if that were the case, but maybe someone could post a link if there is such a thing?

  • ||

    Can I nominate "Das Bibel"?

    Why not...the "goddamn Bible" (as Penn & Teller call it) is probably responsible for more atrocities in history than all the others put together.

  • ||

    Wow - the "intellectual" equivalent to a book burning. Human Events, be proud!

  • Damian P.||

    What about that handbook for aspiring neo-Nazis everywhere, The Turner Diaries?

  • ||

    Silent Spring led directly to the ban on DDT and an estimated 50 million deaths from malaria and climbing which may mean her good intentions have killed more than Hitler and Stalin combined.

    Actually, no. DDT can be used, and is used, for disease prevention -- the WHO recommends it -- but it's banned for agricultural use. Some countries have stopped using DDT for disease prevention because malaria has been eradicated and other insecticides are sufficient to control the occasional outbreak (e.g., the US) or because the mosquito population has become DDT-resistant (e.g., Sri Lanka).

  • ||

    Hitler has such a bad rap. Everyone professes hatred towards him, even those who follow in his footsteps.

  • ||

    Did they forget "It takes a Villiage"?

  • ||

    Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.

  • Rodney||

    Where's "Heather Has Two Mommies"?

  • ||

    FDR adopted the idea as U.S. policy, and the U.S. government now has a $2.6-trillion annual budget and an $8-trillion dollar debt.

    Wow. I didn't realize that our deficit was leftover from FDR. Here I was thinking that the current administration had something to do with it.
    Why is anyone taking this thing at all seriously?

  • ||

    What is the Clinton Generation? The generation that Clinton grew up with (baby boomers) or the generation that grew up with Clinton as president (generation y?)?

    A silly question, I know.

  • ||

    What about the Harlan Ellison-edited anthology, "Dangerous Visions"? I read that when I was 12 or so and I'm still seriously screwed up.

    I mean, come on, it even has "Dangerous" in the title.

  • ||

    You ever drop and OED on your toe?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Sounds like somebody(s) dropped the OED on their head.

    I nominate anything written by Wallace Stegner or Danielle Steele.

    The former makes me a heretic and a book burner (by definitions outlined in the foregoing). Doubt there'll be much resistance to adding Steele's body of work to the pyre though.

  • ||

    It's amazing how small minded some of you are in your attacks. There is nothing inherently harmful in this list. It is a point of view. If it were TOP 10 books that need to be banned, that would be a different story. But to suggest that because it's a book, that it can't or won't do damage is naive. For example, Population Bomb has influenced countless people with nonsense and created all sorts of politics masquarading as science. Did it add a single positive thing to the debate? It's hard for me to say yes.

    While I don't see the harm in Darwin, it's important to point out that neither of his books were in the top 10, so only a minority, and maybe a small one didn't like the books, yet some of you brand the whole group. Just like there are nuts on th left, you have them on the right and to get a good cross-section for this list, you'd need a few, right?

  • gaius marius||

    That says everything that you need to know about the direction popular modern conservatism has been heading in.

    amen, mr eric. they'll be rehabilitating nietzsche soon enough in the service of reagan and dubya. as soon as they read some, anyway. :)

    The medieval peasant revolts had DEFINITE strains of what we would now call Communism (except the anti-religion parts).

    fwiw, ms jennifer, i think its wrong to deduce communism in anabaptists or the jacquerie. they shared some utopian aims -- that's an association i agree with. but they differ radically beyond that.

  • ||

    Gaius-
    I was more referring to the common ownership of property. However, I was also thinking specifically of England; I haven't read much about other European medieval societies, but have a more-than-average knowledge of medieval England. Yippee for grad school.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    RTL, like I said, looks like somebody or many somebody(s) dropped the OED on their head. Good observations.

  • ||

    Conservative scholars read books?

  • ||

    Jennifer wrote: " This is understandable; if you're a fourteenth-century peasant and the only governmental and economic system you've ever known or known about is feudalism, where a few people own almost everything and the rest of the people are their servants and serfs, and furthermore in this economic system the only real breaks you've ever gotten were from communistic elements (common grazing land, for instance), it's really not surprising that most folks who wanted an improvement foresaw it as a communist one."

    Quite so. That's basically what I was getting at. There is a communist impulse, I think, which is common among certain kinds of societies.

    Peasants in such societies have so little private property anyway, that a utopian dream of communal property is nothing to be feared.

    When your social betters own everything you have, or can take anything you have, then you're halfway to communism anyway. It's just that in communism, you would be sharing with your peers, not the bastard in the manor. (And you and your peers would be divvying up the bastard's property for use.)

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