Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Recommended Reading

A bunch of right-wing dipwads have put together what they claim to be the "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries". Looking at the list, as well as the "Honorable Mentions", I'm thinking it would make a pretty good reading list (with one exception):
1. The Communist Manifesto
Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels

2. Mein Kampf
Author: Adolf Hitler

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao
Author: Mao Zedong

4. The Kinsey Report
Author: Alfred Kinsey

5. Democracy and Education
Author: John Dewey

6. Das Kapital
Author: Karl Marx

7. The Feminine Mystique
Author: Betty Friedan

8. The Course of Positive Philosophy
Author: Auguste Comte

9. Beyond Good and Evil
Author: Freidrich Nietzsche

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
Author: John Maynard Keynes

Honorable Mention

These books won votes from two or more judges:

The Population Bomb
by Paul Ehrlich

What Is To Be Done
by V.I. Lenin

Authoritarian Personality
by Theodor Adorno

On Liberty
by John Stuart Mill

Beyond Freedom and Dignity
by B.F. Skinner

Reflections on Violence
by Georges Sorel

The Promise of American Life
by Herbert Croly

Origin of the Species
by Charles Darwin

Madness and Civilization
by Michel Foucault

Soviet Communism: A New Civilization
by Sidney and Beatrice Webb

Coming of Age in Samoa
by Margaret Mead

Unsafe at Any Speed
by Ralph Nader

Second Sex
by Simone de Beauvoir

Prison Notebooks
by Antonio Gramsci

Silent Spring
by Rachel Carson

Wretched of the Earth
by Frantz Fanon

Introduction to Psychoanalysis
by Sigmund Freud

The Greening of America
by Charles Reich

The Limits to Growth
by Club of Rome

Descent of Man
by Charles Darwin
The exception, of course, would be Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

I've omitted the commentary and the scores--click on the link above for those. Some of them are pretty amusing, such as this one for Keynes' "General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money":
When the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, he argued, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending money to spur economic activity. 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.
What's rather sad about this is that several of the people who came up with this list are actual professors at actual universities--people who should know full well that the majority of the current federal deficit was run up under the current incompetent administration, which follows a policy bearing virtually no resemblance to what Keynes wrote. In fact, the only president in recent history to attempt to implement Keynes' theories was Bill Clinton--who, it so happens, was also the only president in recent history to actually make some progress in getting the federal debt under control. I guess these professors also forgot that FDR actually did manage to get the country out of the depression, and that key elements of his success stemmed from the use of government programs and funds--but then again, who can expect important people like university professors to remember that kind of trivia, anyway?


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