Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Index librorum prohibitorum (novo)

So Human Events Online, a conservative journal that often makes National Review read like The Nation , has issued a list of the top ten most damaging books of the past 200 years, plus several honorable mentions. Among the authors are some that should not be surprising: Marx and Engels, Hitler, Nietzsche, Mao...and of course Friedan, Comte, Dewey, and Kinsey, with John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin, and Ralph Nader (among others) getting honorable mentions. The good folks at the libertarian blog Hit and Run link to the article without comment, though it is pointed out that the folks at Human Events have an link to each book. Huh. Guess they aren't all bad then.
Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon has a pretty good take on the list here; I wish I had half of her humor.
In the spirit of the list and in all seriousness, I would like to present my own version of the top ten most damaging works of all time.

1. Protocols of the Elders of Zion: A book which helped spread the myth of Jewish cabals and reinforce the idea that anti-Semitism is simply a reaction to Jewish plots. It remains in print and heavily read throughout the world, particularly the Middle East.

2. Mein Kampf: Hitler's ponderous vision of a pure, expansionist Germany was ignored until he rose to power in 1932-1933. Even then, few outside Germany cared to read it until it was too late.

3. Triumph of the Will: Leni Riefenstahl's classic, fascinating, and frightening documentary covering the 1934 Nazi Party rally at Nuremberg. It captivated a nation and painted the Party as the restorer of German pride and glorified (to understate things) the militarism, nationalism, and anti-intellectualism of the Third Reich. But damn, it's a good movie to watch. I show parts to my World History classes.

4. The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital: I put these books here simply because it was used by so-called 'Communists' to justify murder and economic disaster. The book itself was certainly misread and misapplied; the Communist Revolution was supposed to occur in an industrialized society with a strong bourgeois class; it instead took place in two societies that were primarily agrarian and with a tiny bourgeois class, and both societies also experienced their revolutions in part due to the chaos of a horrific war (WWI on the part of Russia, WWII on the part of China). Marx and Engels were reacting to the harshness of the early Industrial Revolution; they would, I think, be horrified at what their works were used to justify.

5. What is To Be Done: The Bolshevik manifesto, it is perhaps more responsible for the horrors of the Soviet System than even The Communist Manifesto. Lenin's plan for the Revolution led to the end of the kulaks and forced collectivization and Stalin's later 5 year plans.

6. Quotations from Chairman Mao, or The Little Red Book: I actually agree with the folks over at Human Events on this one. The basis for China's Cultural Revolution, it led to the deaths of millions. Again, not true Communism, but a sick perversion.

7. Birth of a Nation: The film that made the KKK seem like heroes, Griffith's 'classic' helped the Klan in its rebirth in the first half of the twentieth century. While a cinematic masterpiece, it is one of the most racist and revisionist films of all time.

8. The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry: Written about 30 years after the end of WWII, Arthur Butz's 'debunking' of the Holocaust is often considered the seminal work of Holocaust Revisionism, and is often used by Revisionists and Deniers in claiming the Holocaust was a Jewish lie. Certainly, it influenced the 'research' of 'famed' fascist historian David Irving.

9. The Confederate Declarations of secession and the Confederate Constitution: Certainly as a Yankee, I am biased, but these documents stand as a rejection of freedom and liberty that have never been equalled, and stand by themselves as a rejection of the idea that the American South betrayed the Union soley due to so-called 'state's rights' rather than a fear of the eventual loss of the 'peculiar institution.'

10. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935: Disgusting. These laws stripped Jews of their rights as German citizens and attempted to codify into law just who was and was not Jewish. They could perhaps be higher.

Certainly, these works are my own personal views, and are subject to change as I read more. They are, obviously, not all books, but films and constitutions and laws can be just as influential as books, if not moreso. I would appreciate your thoughts, and your own ideas on the most damaging works of the past 200 years.
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