If ideas have consequences, it follows that very bad ideas have very bad consequences. These ideas and their consequences spread and spawn new ideas and consequences. The cultural air we breath has been so polluted by these ideas for so long, that most of the time we have no idea of their worldview shaping effects on society.
It is almost universally agreed that Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a book with some very bad ideas, which resulted in some very bad consequences (the book is still banned in Germany since WWII). However, what one must realize, and what Benjamin Wiker (A Roman Catholic with a Ph.D. In ethics from Vanderbilt University) tries to demonstrate, is that Hitler’s bad ideas were not merely the ramblings of a mad man, but that they sprang up from other bad philosophies that had grown over the centuries.
With each of the books Wiker shows that their authors each first needed to replace the Judeo Christian account of our origins with one that rejects the notion of a holy God and replace it with a story to fit their particular desires and wishes. After all, if there is no God, there is no moral authority, and the shackles of societies moral rules should be thrown off as arbitrary and unnecessary.
Wiker exposes not only the fundamental belief and flaw of each book, but also the more seedy beliefs behind modern liberal secular humanism’s heroes. For example, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who is lauded as a champion for women’s rights, while ignoring her racist eugenic emphasis (she believed inferior races were a major cause of the world’s problems).
A quick perusal of Amazon.com’s reviews of this book will show that this is a very polarizing book. It seems that the majority of 1 star reviews take issue with Wiker’s Christian worldview and proceed with ad hominem attacks on the author. Rather than repeating the mantra, “atheists can be moral too!”, in my opinion, these reviewers would do better to actually engage the arguments and conclusions Wiker draws from these books and the consequences of their ideas (or at least suggest other books or resources that do so).
My only regret is that I have only listened to the audio version of this book (thus, the lack of quotes from the book). I will be purchasing a hardcover copy to use as a reference for years to come.
In order, here are the books and corresponding chapters of the book:
- Machiavelli – The Prince (1513)
- Descartes – Discourse on Method (1637)
- Hobbs – Leviathan (1651)
- Rousseau – Discourse on Inequality (1755)
- Marx – Communist Manifesto (1848)
- Mill – Utilitarianism (1863)
- Darwin – The Descent of Man (1871)
- Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
- Lenin – The State and Revolution (1917)
- Sanger – The Pivot of Civilization (1922)
- Hitler – Mein Kampf (1925)
- Freud – Future of an Illusion (1927)
- Mead – Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)
- Kinsey – Sexual Behavior in Human Male (1948)
- Friedan – The Feminine Mystique (1963)