I checked this book out from my library, and I read it over the space of about four hours. It’s a quick, fairly easy read. Atheists will, no doubt, hate it because philosophically it is opposed to atheism.
He quotes directly from the books and authors he critiques (except in the case of Kinsey because the Kinsey institute refused to grant permission for any quoting) and provides plenty of footnotes.
It’s not intended to be comprehensive or even the last word about these authors, books, and the ideas they promoted.
In fact, in the introduction, Wiker says:
“Shall we have a book burning? Indeed not! Such a course of action is indefensible, if only for environmental reasons. As I learned long ago, the best cure- the only cure, once the really harmful books have multiplied like viruses through endless editions- is to *read* them. Know them forward and backward. Seize each one by its malignant heart and expose it to the light of day.”
That is what he has attempted to do. It’s a short, readable book with only a chapter per book/author, so of course it’s merely an overview, an introduction, a brief synopsis of what he thinks is wrong with the book in question and the author’s worldview. I don’t think he intended that his readers should let his descriptions suffice. Rather, unlike the negative reviewers here, it appears to me he expects (and hopes) that you will read his book and then go ahead and *read* the books he is talking about.
It was fascinating to me to see the source of many of the ideas that have gained acceptance and are now taken for granted by our culture. I particularly appreciate the point that rather than merely being ‘products of their time,’ these people were the architects of their time, the movers and shakers, the creators of the very objectionable points of view we dismiss as ‘products of their time.’ No, their times (and ours) are the consequences of their ideas.
Here are the authors he covers (this is by necessity a grossly incomplete and shallow rendering of the text and should not be taken as representative of the whole, this is more about what I got from the reading):
1. Machiavelli’s the Prince – I particularly love how he points out the disconnect between those who defend The Prince on the basis that Machiavelli gives lip service to religion, uses religious catch phrases, and pious expressions, we should give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he actually was religious- which is exactly what we should not do, since Machiavelli himself tells those who would lead that they must dissemble and feign religious interest if they hope to sway the public.
2. Descartes: Personally, I thought this was the weakest chapter, yet still I was impressed with evidences of just how much Descartes influences current thinking even among those who have never heard of him (this was true for most of the people in the book, showing how accurately Wiker has gauged their influence)
.99 version of The Works of Rene Descartes at Amazon containing A Discourse on Method
Principles of Philosophy
3. Hobbes, Leviathan: Much of what we think about our ‘rights’ flows from Hobbes. When we say “I have the right to….” we usually mean “I have a desire to…” and in Hobbesian thinking, the two are pretty much the same thing. There is no natural duty, no objective right or wrong, but only a sort of deterrence of mutual destruction- I won’t do X to you because I don’t want you to do X to me. Free download at Gutenberg
4. Rousseau’s ‘noble savage’ idea which diminishes our view of love, family, and parenthood and produces a sexually promiscuous society promoting sex without responsibility and legalizing the disposal of children, or ‘products of conception.’ The Works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Social Contract, Confessions, Emile, and Other Essays (Halcyon Classics)
5. The Communist Manifesto and Marx and Engels- reduces human beings to merely material manifestations of blood, bone, and animal instincts. Fails to recognize our spiritual reality. Download at Gutenberg
6. John Stuart Mill (and by relation, Jeremy Bentham)- utilitarianism- devised by Victorian atheists who ‘wanted all the moral benefits of Christianity’ without the Christian part, ‘took the fruits of centuries of Christian moral formation for granted even as they chopped down the tree that had born them.” they assumed that because most of the Englishmen they knew were morally solid and decent folk, that the same moral decency was standard human equipment and could be taken for granted. Download his books from Gutenberg
7. Darwin’s Descent of Man- people would like to excuse Darwinian evolution from any responsibility for eugenics or social Darwinism, but of course, those are people who either never read Descent of Man or dishonestly hope you haven’t. On the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man by Charles Darwin (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics) includes an active table of contents.
8. Nietzsche: might makes right, opposed to utilitarianism, there is a morality suitable for masters, and one for the serving class or slaves (much like The Prince), Christian morality is for the slaves and has actually weakened the European races- and while it is true that had he lived and maintained his sanity, it is quite likely he would have disapproved of Hitler, it is also true that Hitler answered the trumpet that Nietzsche blew. (NIETZSCHE COMPLETE WORKS COLLECTION 20+ BOOKS and BIOGRAPHY – Including Zarathustra, Wagner, Twilight, Gay Science, Morals, Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil, Birth of Tragedy, Ecce Homo)
9. Lenin: more class warfare, the history of mankind is a history of class struggle only; all capitalism (and capitalists) must be destroyed if Marxism is to prosper, if you disagree with that destruction you must be a capitalist and therefore should be destroyed. He isn’t ‘gentler’ than Stalin, he just died younger so had less time to murder and destroy.Amazon’s Lenin titles for Kindle
10. Margaret Sanger’s Pivot of Civilization- her masterpiece of eugenics, published three years before Mein Kampf. Planned Parenthood would like to sanitize her work, of course, and they’ve tried for years to dismiss criticisms that recognize the connection between her eugenics and her birth control work as taken out of context- but now her famous, or infamous, Pivot of Civilization is available online and you can read it for yourself. All Wiker does is quote from it and point out the logical conclusions of Sanger’s own work, indeed, her own conclusions- that clear thinking and far seeing Eugenicists recognize that birth control is the best and most necessary means to ‘racial health.’ Morons or the feeble minded must be either isolated or forcibly sterilized so they cannot reproduce, and she put this class at about half the population of the US. She wanted to separate sex from reproduction in order to lead us to a new world of self-expression and self-realization, and if we could only separate reproduction from sex, then our I.Q. would increase as well. Really.
The Pivot of Civilization
11. Mein Kampf- Hitler- Nietzsche and Darwin’s love child, with Sanger as the wicked fairy at the cradle. He rejected Marx because he rejected the idea that history was about economics, rather, in Hitler’s view, it’s about race.
“There is in Hitler the morbid culmination of an essentially modern immoderation: the desire to fix everything once and for all according to some utopian plan. ….He is a case study in the infernal end to which immoderate good intentions continually lead.”
12. Freud: His atheism informed his ‘science’ and his world view rather than otherwise. After rejecting all religion he searched for a satisfactory (for him) origin of religion and decided it was all based on ancient practices of patricide and incest. Quote: “.. for all the claims of Freud’s originality, he is ultimately indebted to Hobbes for his assumptions and also to those who followed Hobbes’s lead. (And to be fair to Freud, he realized that what he was saying had already been proclaimed by “other and better men” who stated it “in a much more complete, forcible, and impressive manner. We are also not surprised, given the length of the pedigree of this view and the centuries it had to seep into the soil of the West and poison it, that the notions of the holy criminal and anti-social hero would eventually take hold of the intelligentsia and hence the popular imagination. (P. 169) ” Full disclosure- I have never been able to take Freud seriously since I learned about his theory of penis envy, a theory only a man could think up. Every woman I have ever known thinks this is a prime, and laughable, example of extreme male ego. Sorry, guys.
Amazon’s Freud Titles for Kindle
13. Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa: bad science devised for the purpose of titillating and encouraging promiscuity, eagerly absorbed and promoted by academics and Madison Ave. because it is what they wanted to hear (and do): “According to Orans, himself a practicing anthropologist, “From its inception, its practice has often been profoundly unscientific and positively cavalier in its willingness to accept generalizations without empirical substantiation.” Anthropology was thus the perfect scientific cover for cultural analysis that was no more scientific than the state of nature imagined by Hobbes and Rousseau. (p. 191) ”
Coming of age in Samoa; a psychological study of primitive youth for western civilisation
14. Kinsey’s book about sex- a disgraceful fraud perpetrated by a deviant of the worst order, who raped or witnessed the rape of children for the purpose of ‘science’ and should have been in jail. ” Even without the full light of day shining on Kinsey’s private darkness, we should have known better. His Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (or, for short, the Kinsey Report ) is a scientific sham that could have been exposed on its first release. In fact, many of its obvious defects were pointed out at the time. But the truth is that, as with Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, too many people were eager to hear the sexual sermon preached by Kinsey, and the pseudo-scientific trappings simply helped to ease their consciences. (p. 197) ”
Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences: The Red Queen and the Grand Scheme
Kinsey, Sex, and Lies: What They Didn’t Teach You In Sex Ed Class (a free article)
The Children of Table 34
15. The Feminine Mystique: Marxist first and foremost (for years before writing the Feminine Mystique), Betty Friedan tried to keep her Marxist roots and motivations hidden from the public. Quote: “As even her sympathetic biographer Daniel Horowitz notes, Friedan presented a distorted view of the real situation and feelings of suburban housewives in the 1950s, reporting anything that was negative and suppressing anything that was positive, kneading the data to fit her need for a crisis and ignoring (as Marx did) anything that contradicted her grand, abstract thesis. (p. 222) ”
The Feminine Mystique
Ideas have consequences, and Wiker’s book is about about the bad consequences of some bad ideas. It’s an enjoyable read, and you should go ahead and read it, and then read the books he talks about.
Listed at Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Books