[Paleopsych] American Spectator: Another Perspective: The Liberty Reader
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Another Perspective: The Liberty Reader
By Ralph R. Reiland
Published 6/16/2005 12:08:53 AM
The idea of liberty never seemed especially scary to me. That was what
we were all about as Americans -- people fleeing despotism. "Where
liberty dwells, there is my country," declared Benjamin Franklin. I
write for Liberty magazine. The Statue of Liberty is the American
symbol, a salute to freedom, not to caution or obedience.
I was surprised, consequently, to see John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, a
classic defense of freedom and individual sovereignty, getting an
honorable mention on a list published by Human Events of the "Ten
Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries."
Human [Ad2_255x66.gif] Events, "The National Conservative Weekly,"
asked a panel of 15 top conservatives to compile a list of books that
have done the most damage to the human condition over the past 200
There was no surprise about the books that placed first, second, third
and sixth -- The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, Quotations from
Chairman Mao and Das Kapital. All four inspired purification drives
that resulted in the mass murder of millions of people by the state.
The other six spots on the Top 10 list are more contentious. In the
fourth slot, outranking Marx's Das Kapital in its hazard to humanity,
is a 1948 study called Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, commonly
known as "The Kinsey Report." Human Events claims that this report by
Indiana University zoologist Alfred Kinsey was "designed to give a
scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy."
Kinsey's report, said the conservative Washington Times last year,
"stunned the nation by saying that American men were so sexually wild
that 95 percent of them could be accused of some kind of sexual
offense under 1940s laws." One could argue that it's the state that is
out of control when 95 percent of a population is classified as sexual
It was 13 years after the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human
Male that Estelle Griswold, the wife of an Episcopal minister, and Dr.
Lee Buxton, a licensed physician and a professor at the Yale Medical
School, were dragged into court and convicted of providing medical
information on contraception to married couples. It wasn't until four
years later -- on June 7, 1965 -- that the Supreme Court reversed the
conviction, maintaining that the outlawing of counseling about or the
use of contraception was a violation of the constitutional right to
Next on the list of dangerous ideas, coming in at No. 5, is John
Dewey's Democracy and Education. Mr. Dewey "signed the 'Humanist
Manifesto,'" says Human Events, and encouraged the teaching of
"thinking skills" instead of "traditional character development," and
thereby "helped nurture the Clinton generation."
The seventh most harmful book is The Feminine Mystique by Betty
Friedan, published in 1963. Traditional stay-at-home motherhood was
like "a comfortable concentration camp," wrote Friedan. Human Events
reports that this founding president of the National Organization for
Women was a longtime "Stalinst Marxist" who was "for a time even the
lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects
in Berkeley's radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer." We're lucky
these well-connected hot bodies didn't nuke the Republican National
Dangerous book No. 8 is The Course of Positive Philosophy by Auguste
Comte. He's the one who coined the term "sociology" and said man could
figure out things better through science than theology.
Book No. 9 is Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. He argued, correctly I
think, that the world isn't run by moral rules; instead, "Life itself
is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of the strange and
weaker, suppression, severity, imposition of one's own forms,
incorporation and, at the least and mildest, exploitation."
And finally, the danger of bad economics comes in at No. 10, with the
General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard
Keynes, published during the depths of the Great Depression. "The book
is a recipe for ever-expanding government," says Human Events,
referring to the Keynesian idea that governments could reverse
downward economic cycles by means of deficits, borrowing and higher
levels of state spending.
There's cause for disagreement about the animus against Keynes,
Nietzsche, Comte, Friedan, Dewey and Kinsey. But when it comes to the
defense of liberty and individual freedom, it seems that conservatives
should see that John Stuart Mill provided a wise caution. "Whatever
crushes individuality is despotism," he wrote in "On Liberty,"
"whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the
injunctions of men."
For the next Top 10 contest, some good conservative editor should ask
for a list of the most damage done when conservatives abandoned their
principles and pushed for a bigger and more intrusive state.
Ralph R. Reiland (rrreiland at aol.com) is the B. Kenneth Simon professor
of free enterprise at Robert Morris University and a columnist with
the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
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