Monday, May 19, 2008

10 most Dangerous books...

Conservatives and Fundamentalists love making lists of things that people should avoid. Whenever I read stuff like like this, it burns my biscuits, because not only do these people literally tell people not to read books (advocating a type of book banning), they usually put books on the list just for their own political propaganda point, rather than sticking to some actual criteria to guide their selection.

In this Bozo's list, you will see that he added "The Kinsey Report". Now, unfortunately, there is no such book. The books that Kinsey put out are "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" and "Sexual Behavior In the Human Female", which are often referred to as the Kinsey reports. What harm did Kinsey's book do? I guess it must be a dangerous book because it showed facts that conservatives don't like to talk about -- like the fact that homosexuals and lesbians exist, or the fact that most people have sex before marriage. I'm pretty sure that nobody died as a result of reading Kinsey's books, and I'm pretty sure that it was not used as a tool of opression by any political regime.

Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mistique" is on the list, probably because the author is a stuck up conservative old fart who doesn't like the idea of women holding jobs, being independant, and voting. Friedan's book was an inspiration to generations of American women who realized that traditional lifestyles, which had women staying home and raising kids while men worked, was not the only option available. The book is clearly on his list because like most conservatives, he can't stand uppity women who have minds of their own.

Neitzsche's book, "Beyond Good And Evil" is most likely on the list merely because it's an atheist book. The concept of "beyond Good and Evil" is rarely presented accurately, either because of poor translation from German, or because Religious nuts with an agenda rely on "what they heard about it", rather than actually reading it. Neitzsche's book was not an inspiration to the Nazis at all, which is a typical conservative myth.

I saw other lists from similar conservative sites that put Darwin's book, "Origin Of Species", and we know why that's there. Apparently Nazis got inspired by it, which isn't obvious, since it was on their list of banned books, and it was forbidden to mention Darwin's theories in schools.

So I decided to compile my own list to act as a kind of opposing position to these conservative lists. The difference, of course, is that I used the following criteria to judge the books by:

(1) Did people die as a result of others getting inspiration from the book?
(2) Was the book used as a tool of opression by a government?
(3) Did the book have a large impact on the world?

Malleus Maleficarum (Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, 1487) -- Led to the torture and killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Europe.

On The Jews and Their Lies (Martin Luther, 1543) -- This book still inspires antisemitism today. The nazis reprinted and distributed the book in WW2.

The Protocols of the Learned Elders Of Zion (1903) -- This forgery inspired antisemitism in Russia, Germany, and the United States. There are still people who claim that the book is an actual document of a global Jewish Conspiracy, despite the clear documentary evidence that it was written by one of Tzar Alexander's Generals just before the Russian Revolution.

The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, 1848), and The Wealth Of Nations (Adam Smith, 1776) -- These two books are the inspiration for the two competing economic systems of the world that molded the 20th century. The conflict between advocates of capitalism and communism killed millions in the 20th century, and will likely continue to affect us well into the next century.

Mein Kampf (Adolph Hitler, 1925) -- What else needs to be said for the book that defined the Nazis?

The Bible, The Qu'Ran, and The Book Of Mormon -- These 3 religious texts all claim to be peaceful inspirational works, but the worldviews in these books have created great conflict in the world, especially between Christianity and Islam. The body count for the Book Of Mormon is small by comparison, but think of how large the Mormon church has become. It's beliefs are opressive, and cult-like, and women are definitely not equal.

The Prince (Niccolo Machiavelli, 1532) -- This book inspired many dictators, and was a personal guide to Joseph Stalin.


GamingAsshole said...

I can see why the Communist manifesto would be perceived as dangerous, but I still think it's a good book that got a lot of things right.

David W. Irish said...

I agree with you -- it is the fight between advocates of communism and advocates of capitalism that cause the trouble, though, as well as dumbasses reading these books, who get the wrong idea of what the authors meant. Marx's version of communism, for example, bears no resemblence to Stalinism, Leninism, or Maoism. Those 3 men read Marx, and got totally different ideas (not to mention were under circumstances that were not anticipated).

GamingAsshole said...

You're right. Both Smith and Marx's writing were viewed very differently than from what the authors intended, especially regarding the circumstances in the societies in which people tried to mold their entire society around. Unlike religious text, they really were taken out of context. However, like religion, they were treated as holy text and used as excuses to do a lot of damage. I'm not against Communism or Capitalism, I think both need to be understood and implemented in correct ways and you would get a better society.