Monday, March 8, 2010

Noted Review: Body Count Edition

Wiker, Benjamin. 10 Books that Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2008. 260 Pages. Cloth. $18.45. (N)

The written word is a powerful thing. I mean no disrespect, and don't want to sound insensitive, but sometimes, a crude phrase like "body count" is in order. Some ideas are just plain deadly. They can have disasterous consequences. That's why this book by Benjamin Wiker is so important and relevant.

"TV, video games, the Internet—many people blame technology for the violence, narcissism, and secularism in society today. But Professor Benjamin Wiker argues technology isn't to blame—philosophy is. In his controversial new book, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World (And 5 Others That Didn't Help), Wiker proves that some of Western civilization's most "respected" books are really the root of many modern-day destructive ideas and cultural vices.

"Taking aim at such books as Machiavelli's The Prince and Hitler's Mein Kampf, Wiker shows how these authors' perverse ideologies not only have led to past atrocities like war and genocide, but also how their philosophies are still popular and damaging today. Their ideas might influence your own thinking and you don't even realize it! In this intelligent and provocative exposé, you'll learn:

•How Hobbes's Leviathan promotes the belief that we have a "right" to have and do whatever we want.
•How Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil promotes atheism and paved the way for popular atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
•How Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa promotes promiscuity and divorce.

"Witty, shocking, and instructive, Wiker seizes each of these evil books by its malignant heart and exposes it to the light of day, offering a quick education on the worst ideas in human history—and how we can combat them in the future" (publisher's website).

According to the author, the "Preliminary Screw-Ups" are:
  • The Prince (Being good is naiive)
  • Discourse on Method (Doubt is a virtue)
  • Leviathan (Desire is a good thing)
  • Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men (Go ahead, live like a 19-year-old man wants to live...)
The previous books downplay traditional, Bible-based Christianity and the morality it teaches. Some reject the very concepts of evil, sin, and righteousness. All have those results as a consequence. (My summaries appear in parentheses.) Thosse four pave the way for the big "10" in the title:

  1. The Manifesto of the Communist Party (Do I even need to explain why this is bad? Today, Yes! QBR)
  2. Utilitarianism (Avoid pain, seek pleasure)
  3. The Descent of Man (Enter mass genocide, eugenics, abortion...)
  4. Beyond Good and Evil (God is dead)
  5. The State and Revolution (Lenin on how to run a barbaric, terroristic, communist state)
  6. The Pivot of Civilization (Sex as god-from the founder of Planned Parenthood, an embarrassment to them today and subsequently out-of-print)
  7. Mein Kampf (Hitler's blueprint for the Third Reich-don't say he didn't warn the world)
  8. The Future of an Illusion (Embrace reason for we have outgrown the idea of God)
  9. Coming of Age in Samoa (Mead's sexual eisegesis, encouraging her own immorality)
  10. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Or, what happens when a pervert writes a "scientific" book instead of an autobiography)
And as a concluding "Dishonorable Mention,"
  • The Feminine Mystique (which is quite a Mistake!)
These fifteen works (and others by their authors) have had such a pervasive and perverse impact on Western and world civilization, that some of their ideas are assumed by culture, media, and politics, not to mention liberal versions of Christianity, secular humanism, and atheism.

These books are so bad that we must read and explain them to ourselves and the next generations to warn them that ideas have consequences. Socialism is a preparatory step for Communism. No, Hitler wasn't on the extreme political right, the S in the Nazi's NSDAP stood for Socialist. His problem with the communists wasn't politically ideological, but racial, and that they were rivals for power. We need to re-examine the death toll, the body count, to see how dangerous, disastrous, and monstrous these ideas are when put into practice.
Thank you, Benjamin Wiker and Regnery Publishing for reminding us of the Worst Books Ever Written.


The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.