…but Not Too Harmful to Take a Cut!


Commenter scape and Radley Balko both point out that the list of eeeeevil books compiled by a conservative panel, which Chuck Freund linked below, all carry links to Amazon with the Human Events associates tag. I wonder how much they make off each sale of Mein Kampf?

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  1. Are you passing judgement Julian? Can’t blame them for making money off of the books. Besides these books only caused harm in the 19th and 20th centuries its the 21st century now.

  2. Looks like only 4-7.5%. Ah, the delicious irony of profiting from Communism …

  3. Well, if yer gonna burn books, you should be able to get them delivered to you with free shipping.

  4. On Liberty
    by John Stuart Mill
    Score: 18″


  5. I also suspect that no liberal website has the spine to confront or respond to this list.
    That would require book learnin’, y’know.

  6. “I also suspect that no liberal website has the spine to confront or respond to this list.”

    Maybe a classic liberal site will?

    …I’ll volunteer to hold my breath.

    “That would require book learnin’, y’know.”

    I disagree with liberals on a lot of things. Of the things I disagree with them about, I’ve come to think of them as being wrong rather than stupid.

    …and I know a few that have some book learnin’, believe it or not.

    P.S. You were being facetious, weren’t you?

  7. To include Darwin and Kinsey in a list with Hitler, Mao, and Marx makes the list kind of like a…I don’t know…joke, maybe?

  8. Ah, wrong thread. Sorry.

  9. Ken: Yes, I was being facetious, but I do blame the rubbish passed as education for the last twenty years on the curricula written by liberal acedmia. They may not be ignorant, but they’re partly responsible for ignorance in others.

    Like someone said about Reagan “He doesn’t suffer from sleeping sickness, but he is a carrier.”

    Les: It’s a list from a conservative website with a pretty clear anti-science record. Pretty sure it’s not a joke.

  10. Sorry if I’m snippy here. Just pissed. The idea that the Right can outright claim that books documenting and celebrating the accumulation of knowledge and advancement of science is dangerous and harmful is psychotic. The Left’s legendary inabilty to respond to this stuff just makes me laugh. The most cohesive comeback to this vapid shit that we’ll get from a liberal is an unfunny skit on Air America.

  11. I dream of a race that’s part Klingon and part Vulcan: When they encounter someone illogical, they slay them.

  12. I’ll take the outermost point on the bad taste continuum and say that Mein Kampf wasn’t really that harmful a book. All the other ones are harmful (depending on your perspective) because the ideas therein caught on with a broad worldwide audience. But Mein Kampf was incidental to the Nazis’ power. The success of Nazism was responsible for the big sales Human Events notes, not the other way around. In fact, the Nazis made some effort to prevent the book’s ideas from getting a lot of exposure-only allowing expurgated translations to be published abroad. Alan Cranston always bragged on having sounded an early alarm about Hitler by getting a complete version published in the US before the war.

    The best discussion of Mein Kampf is the exchange between Reginald Owen and Charles Boyer in Cluny Brown:

    “Now about this fellow you’re always talking about-what’s his name?”


    “All this talk of war’s a lot of poppycock, isn’t it?”

    “I’m afraid not, Sir Henry. I know Hitler.”

    “I’m sure. Written a book, hasn’t he?”


    “Was it a big success?”

    “Very big.”

    “What more does he want then? Why doesn’t he lie down and keep quiet?”

    “Well if you really want to know, read the book.”

    “Hmm. Outdoor book, is it? ‘My Camp’?”

  13. I think I agree with Tim on this.

    I’m concerned that the importance we project onto “Mein Kampf” may needlessly lend legitimacy to the book in the minds of potential Nazi sympathizers.

    …legitimacy it wouldn’t enjoy otherwise.

  14. Tim-
    Nah, I’d found myself thinking that same thing about several of the books on the list–same is true of the Mao book. They picked books associated with evil regimes as a way of expressing their hostility to those regimes, when (unlike, say, the case of the Communist Manifesto) the objectionable stuff almost certainly would’ve happened without the book.

  15. It would be tough to have a left wing version of this list. The ideas underlying the evil done by the right didn’t come out of books, but go back to the beginning of humanity.

  16. I remain skeptical as to whether anyone in history has actually read something like Capital. I got about 10 pages in in college. I think a lot of those 1000 page marxist sleeping pills were the coffee table books of their day. They sure could crank out the verbiage back then. Nothing else to do I guess.

  17. “The ideas underlying the evil done by the right didn’t come out of books, but go back to the beginning of humanity.”

    When you say somethin’ that funny joe, you’re supposed to tag some kinda smiley face on the end, like this, ; )

  18. Jeff,

    Yes, I meant the worst kind of joke, the unintentional kind. But I must learn to say what I mean!

  19. Nothing by Ayn Rand? How dare they!

  20. How about Combat Conditioning and the other books Matt Furey is shilling…

    That BEWARE THE DANGERS OF WEIGHT CONDITIONING ad stabs me in the eye everytime the page loads. Seriously. If it’s not the red & blue gif flashing annoying text, it’s the half-naked, compressed images of one ugly dude stretching in gross ways.

    Come on, Reason, you guys are supposed to be savvy.

    Cut them shits out. No one needs dude pictures loading in their blog.

  21. I’d note that magazine it isn’t calling for the books to be banned, it just called them harmful. I don’t agree with some of the choices, some I do.

    But what disturbs me is the holier-than-thou “HOW DARE YOU THINK THAT BOOK IS HARMFUL” response on all the so-called Libertarian blogs.

  22. Maybe we should renormalize this hierarchy by multiplying the point ratings by a guesstimate of sales – or Mao’s case, distribution- a Billion Chinese being really wrong surely outweighs 10% of the left bank agonising over Adorno.

    But the statisic to die for would be how may books from the list each of the judges will own to never having read,

  23. Yes, I meant the worst kind of joke, the unintentional kind.

    Unintentional jokes are the best jokes of all.

  24. I just bought all ten – but not thru the Human Events amazon links.

    fuck them.

  25. Stormy,

    I don’t get it. Do you object to the fact that many Libertarians disagree with the list, or do you object to the tone of their disagreement? I haven’t seen too much “holier-than-thou” in the response, but then, I think it’s a stupid list, too. I mean, Kinsey right behind Marx, Hitler and Mao?

  26. Not to mention Kinsey rated worse than Rachel Carson. When did Kinsey help kill any third-worlders in the name of songbirds?


  27. Hey did they make movies of these books? I’d love to know what the hell y’all are talking about.

  28. this is my blogged response to the list, and i would say i am actually pretty liberal. (excuse the lack of spelling, the slang, and the use of the word fag–its self aware)–i have also mentioned books i think are more dangerous–not saying that dangerous is a bad thing, it often shocks into something greater.

    Communist Mannifesto

    it apparently is worse then the one below it, because communism killed more people then anythinf else, well the old trope is true, that would be the case if anyone bothered reading the fucking thing–reading it again, certain contemparary critics have noticed the explicit similarties b/w this text and adam smith–and consdering tht he was correct about the abuses of unfettered capitalism, im assuming its on the list becuase of residual guilt that victorian sweatshops

    More Dangerous: Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations; any of Stalins foreign policy papers.

    Mein Kampfh

    If Hitler depended entirely on this book, it would not have gone very far, its a unreadable mess. (though no. 2 in Turkey right now. It is about his use of mass media, spectacle, and his genius at scape goating jews–he just finished the job western eeurope had been t rying to do for 1900 years.

    More Dangerous: Protocols of the Elders of Zion, anything by Leni Refienstahl

    Little Red Book

    Actually this one is pretty fucking dangerous, might make it into my top ten, esp. for the excurtaingly stupid naievetee of post 68 radicals having it in every house in the west.

    Kinseys Report on Human SExuality

    The problem with Kinsey is that he spoke out of school–shit like this happened from the beginning of time, it will continue until the end of time. It happens in the wild, it happens in civilazation–people fuck goats, children, other humans; people rape and people kill. He had a v. explicit, almost priggish, sexual morality, concerned with consent—that is all we can do to control our urges, make sure it is done w. safe and sane consent–and it is better to be informed then not to be.

    More Dangerous (well Raebalis comes to mind, but thats too early)–the fantagraphics collection of Tijunana Bible Reprints from the 1900s to the mid60s.

    Dewys Democracy and Educaton

    The most famous of a series of texts making education a series of social rather then pedalogical goals–actually encouraged open discourse, communication, intelligent and well constructed dissent and a certian pragmatism. All of the values the founding fathers had, w/o the nasty racism. the org is scared because it encouraged clinton.

    More Dangerous–Summerhill, giving kids power and democracy on top of that, was read and written on from everyone in the time that clinton went to oxford–if you demand an american, go to margaret fuller or william james, they wil ltell you the same thing.

    Das Kapital

    see my entry on the communist manifesto.

    More Dangerous: Edward Baines, The History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain–almost unread now, at the time of marx’s printing, it was the best selling apologia for the free market, and has sections in favour of things like kiddie labour, gives a solid example of what marx was working against.

    Femmine Mystique

    she went a little heavy on the rhetoric, but she was still nice and from the suburbs, no danger of revoultion, no worry about anything but her sharp tounge–the list blames her for the end of the glorius housewife. They obv. havent read the real ball busters.

    More Dangerous–Dworkin-Sexual Intercourse, Valerie Solonas–SCUM Manifesto, Ti Grace Atkinson, Angela Davis, Germaine Greer–Femmine Eunuch (which sold better and told more then Friedan), Monique Wittig, Judith Butler (theory head, but both on the vangaurd of destroying essentalist gender–something friedan never attempted.)

    Comtes Positive Philosophy

    havent actually read it.

    Beyond Good and Evil

    i think more and more that neitze was less of a fascist, then a radical empiricist w. an bdsm realtionship towards personal autonomy and the state. thats why uncle michel loved him so much.

    More Dangerous–Of his time–Rosseou(sp)

    Employment, Interest and Money

    the reason why the social democroatic left in the west is failing is that they have abonded (sp) things like state ownership of utlities, using their power for massive growth projects, geniunely progressive taxation esp. copretaly, etc. Keynes was right–he saved America at least twice (40s and the 70s). The recent homophobic gut punching (fags dont care about families, fags will ruin the economy, keynes was a fag–runs the line) forges something v. basic, because fags dont have families, and because the poor cant depend of family money, and because family is so deeply defined and redefined, we cannot expect anything but a communitarian ethic–keynes fagness meant that he believed that family could not take care of its self–and personal work meant that the larger community was nto taken care of–the thing that is dangerous about keynes is that he deeply underestimated the states natuaral tendeices towards authortian control, and its losign communitarian ethics v. quickly.

    More Dangerous–Fuykama and The End of History–Keynes had a wide ranging, historical, and liberal education, which centered on an understanding of the cyclical history of history, and the larger boom and bust that comes from empires. Fuykama is an arrogant apologist for the new kings.

    The Population Bomb

    not dangerous, because it is mostly wrong–underestimates the presence of diease as a control mechancism. bad pop pysch-recent emographic suggests the population is actually levelling off.

    What Is To Be Done
    actually fairly dangerous–if you are going to plan a small and badly contained revoultion, actually make sure that you can pull if off to the end of history, or you get free healthcare but no medicine.

    The Authoritarian Personality
    Adorno–I actually dont like this, and think he tends to be wrong, and there were better writers at the same time, saying the same thing, with out the heavy and kind of silly marxism–and i think his refusal to find subversion in domineint (sp) texts dishearting–i do think that conseratives find it scary because it either a) tells their secrets b) hits too close to hoome.

    More Dangerous–Hannah Arendt could actually write what most people could read, has an astute pyschologicla profile, and is v. good at the implications of all sorts of statecraft–but is not really a culture worker. Try her Banality o f Evil anyways.

    On Liberty

    I am assuming they have a problem with utlitarationism, which seems to be a fairly conserative philisophy–only consider the impt stuff, make sure the most happiness can happen to the most people for the most effiecent resources, a calvinist taste for thrift…

    if you want a real radical–read about the Diggers, or the LEvellers, or even Bentham–Miller was too comfortable to do anything really dangerous.

    Beyond Freedom and Dignity

    i am suprised to find skinner on this list–his tendency towards social control seems to be the exact thing that these folks would be into–creepy little motherfucker who refused to tell the difference b/w a rat and a man-the most dangerous book on this list.

    Reflections on Violence
    The Promise of American Life

    havent actually read either of these

    Origin of the Species

    the death of god, though he was a theist. the rise of mans animal nature, though he was a pafcfist.. a carefully considered theory, placed gently, and with much doubt–the ideas that were mentioned here are really not that dangerous–unless you think young earth creationism is legitmate. (gould wrote that darwin made everyone equal, everyone had the possiblity of coming form the same source, and sectraian violence would be absurd otherwise.

    Madness and Civilization
    for being the most dominant thinking in the last half of the 20th century, you would figure uncle michel would be closer, and this one–against the authortian state, towards personal autonomy, viewing civilazation at the end of the 20th century, may seem nihillist–but it is a deeply hopeful work, trying to perserve something, a decade after the second world war ended everything.

    More Dangerous–these folks tend to hate posties–because it tells us that langauge and ideas are not innately connected, and that we have to work for things to have meaning–but this book doesnt really say that–birth of the clinic, history of sexuality, discipline and punish all say it better–as do derrida, lyotard and buidlallard (who makes fun of america besides)–i am suprised more didnt make it onto the list and this work wasnt higher

    Soviet Communism: A New Civilization

    exceptionally stupid book from the mid 50s, that presents the ussr as a utopia, the progressive left believed it–which might have something to say about the eligous nature of utopias or the drunk donkey approach of the left. actaully would put it on my list.

    Coming of Age in Samoa

    continued the idea of the noble savage, continued the idea of a perfect idyliic wilderness, continued the idea of conalism as intergration, silly enough to not know when she is being laughed at, badly written, badly constructed, gave birth to a million hoaxes, forgets the history of western interferencei n samoa since cook, hated book in certain athropolgoical circles–dangerous for all of the reasons above. why is it on this list.

    Unsafe at Any Speed
    back when nader wasnt crazy, the car blew people up when bumped in minor fender benders–encorouged companies to be responsible for their prducts, hated among the right for inciting a flury of law suits–most convenient some not.

    more dangerous: the telephone book (the ad on he back page since my child hood has been for an ambulance chaser)

    Second Sex

    we will know if the work is as dangerous as we think it is when it is translated into an edition that vaguely resmebles her orginal work–ghost wrote large chunks of sarte, who like most stalinists was deeply boring, and horribly self important.

    Prison Notebooks
    have not actually read it.

    Silent Spring
    the only reason why we do not have three dicks and no robins is that this work was written, creating the epa, and encourgaging some vague work on not fuckign up the world as quickly as we had.
    more dangerous–jane jacobs, i am convinced the recent destruction of brooklyn for a football stadium is delayed revenge for not getting an expressway.

    Wretched of the Earth
    havent read it.
    Introduction to Psychoanalysis
    even this freudian doesnt have the energy to defend freud–but try william reich or jaques lacan.
    The Greening of America
    havent read it
    The Limits to Growth
    havent read it.
    Descent of Man
    the more dangerous, and more explicit of the two darwin books on the list–reading edward o wilson puts the dread

  29. If the above is blogged somewhere, why didn’t you just provide a link?

  30. If the books mentioned are as hard to read as Anthony Easton’s post, then I am really not going to read any of them.

  31. Just Wondering:

    Methinks that Anthony Easton was just doing us a favor by exercising our scrolly-wheel fingers. Y’know, get a little cardiovascualr action goin’ on… Because, god knows, no one actually sits around and reads a blog comment that long.

  32. That’s actually pretty clever. So whenever some young turk says “pfah, I’ll show them! I’ll go read this book instead of taking their word it’s evil!”, or the smartaleck Marxist says “ha! the dumb fucks! I’ll buy the book courtesy of the very link they provide!”, they get a little cut.

  33. Ken,

    “When you say somethin’ that funny joe, you’re supposed to tag some kinda smiley face on the end, like this, ; )”

    Racism. Sexism. Militarism. Xenophobia. Religious persecution. Slavery/serfdom/peonage. None of these were theories that were put forth in the manner of Marxism or Maoism, and they are the motivations for most of the damage done by right wingers throughout history.

  34. Racism. Sexism. Militarism. Xenophobia. Religious persecution.

    Gee, joe – sounds the SOP for the Soviet Union. One could even argue that its citizens were nothing more than slaves of the State, too.

  35. As I said, those are universals of the human experience. They’re like dandilions; you either expend a lot of energy to wipe them out, or they pop up all over the place.

    And no, the metaphor “slaves of the state” is not the same thing as historical slavery.

  36. And no, the metaphor “slaves of the state” is not the same thing as historical slavery.

    Possibly, but you might want to ask the people involved as to the validity of that metaphor.

  37. You know, if you replaced the noun for every bad system on the planet with “baddiness,” you could make the same vapid point even more often.

  38. People, let Joe be. Just go with what he’s said.

    Right-wingers work with the stuff of primordial evil. All ancient sins are typical of them.

    Left-wingers work with the most (historically) modern and novel sorts of evil, and came up with all the stuff that the right-wingers missed.

    Give both sides credit! 😀

  39. Of course, the same can be said of both sides’ virtues as well.

  40. >Do you object to the fact that many
    >Libertarians disagree with the list, or do you
    >object to the tone of their disagreement?

    If they were arguing over what books should or shouldn’t be on the list, I wouldn’t have the problem. What I’m objecting to is that many of them are ridiculing the idea of such a list in and of itself, and doing so in a very condescending way.

  41. and doing so in a very condescending way.

    oh, boo hoo!

    also, did you actually read the responses, or did you just sort of infer that they must be “holier than thou”? Because frankly, i didn’t see any of what you described.

    Or maybe you just downloaded the wrong talking points email? Or copy-pasted them into the wrong newsgroup?

  42. “What I’m objecting to is that many of them are ridiculing the idea of such a list in and of itself, and doing so in a very condescending way.”

    well, it *is* a deeply stupid idea.

  43. Stormdragon, don’t you think that a list which includes Darwin and Kinsey along with Hitler, Marx, and Mao deserves to be ridiculed? And aren’t the people who would create such a ridiculous list doing it in a “holier-than-thou” attitude (literally, in some cases)?

  44. “Right-wingers work with the stuff of primordial evil. All ancient sins are typical of them.

    Left-wingers work with the most (historically) modern and novel sorts of evil, and came up with all the stuff that the right-wingers missed.

    Give both sides credit! :D”

    Eric, that’s a phenomenally accurate statement. It’s going in my little list of great quotes. It’s funny as hell, it’s deadly accurate, and it’s got a beat that you can dance to! Uh, iambic pentameter, more or less, I think.

    Anyway, I give it a 10!

    Wow… does joe really believe that right-wingers are EVIL? I kind of think that there are very few people who AREN’T to the right of joe. Hmmm… if anyone to the right of him is truly evil, then that means that pretty much ALL of us who post here are going to Hell.

    (Who’s bringing the crushed ice? I’ve got plenty of margarita mix!)

  45. I don’t think all right wingers are evil, rob. Some are just mistaken.

    But in all seriousness, as I mentioned above, their philosophy has its virtues and vices, like any other.

  46. There’s no such thing as a dangerous book. The real danger is people who have poor reading skills, and who take themselves far too seriously.


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