The Books that Change Us

Yesterday, in Part 1 of this article, I explained the difference between hard and soft indoctrination and expressed a hope that the latter could be combated if students had the knowledge and the courage to bring non-Marxist texts into their classroom discussions.

Any journey from Left to Right is going to follow two related, parallel paths. One is based on experiences and life events which challenge the “progressive” world view. The second is formed by way of an intellectual journey through key texts which provide for more accurate explanations of reality.

Reading through David Horowitz’s autobiography Radical Son we can see this both in his personal experiences with the Black Panthers, the AIDS crisis, and the Vietnam War and his engagement with books by thinkers like Leszek Kolakowski and Friedrich Hayek.

My own journey follows a similar dual path of experiences and books though is not as dramatic as Horowitz’s.

Many of the texts which would be instrumental in changing me I encountered while in college in  my political science classrooms, English courses, and independently. Most of these books could hardly be accurately described as “conservative” yet neither were they Marxist. In my defense policy course taught by Dr. Dan Reagan we analyzed and debated The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas P.M. Barnett. It was with Barnett’s book that I first began to doubt my anti-globalization dogmas. The Pentagon’s New Map makes a compelling case that as countries are knit together economically war will be decreased. Global Capitalism is a force for peacemaking, greater prosperity, and increased human rights.

I took deeply seriously my father’s suggestion to “take the professor, not the course” — sound advice for any college student. In my literary courses I made a conscious decision to take every class I could taught by Dr. Pat Collier, a specialist in British Modernism — the works of T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and other authors from 1890-1940. The principle lesson that I formulated from my engagement with this literature was this: life is complicated, multiple perspectives on the world are vital, no one knows everything. Joyce’s Ulysses, the magnum opus of Modernism, is written not with a single all-knowing narrator but with dozens (hundreds?) of voices. We see how overwhelmingly complex just a single day in Dublin on June 16, 1904 can be. The universe is too big for us to truly grasp. In Woolf’s novels the view peered inward into the infinity of individual minds. Yet we think we can effectively legislate a better world into existence? We think we’re able to plan utopia in a world of limitless variables?

On my own I discovered the novels and stories of gay Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas. In his memoir Before Night Falls, filmed in 2000, the Castro brothers and Che Guevara‘s crimes against humanity are laid out beyond dispute. I could never forgive Castro for the tortures inflicted on an artist as brilliant and sensitive as Arenas. Arenas was amazingly prolific for having to live in a police state. Imagine how great he could have been if he could have spent his entire career in a capitalist country that rewarded and nourished his literary genius. And so even as a leftist I could never have any sympathy for Stalinism.

It was when I emerged from college and began living in the “Real World” that the life events kicked in. After graduating in the summer of 2006 I gradually sought to disengage from politics. I’d grown weary of the “nasty tone” whose purpose I could never grasp. The only political job I ever applied for was as a researcher for “progressive” media “watchdog” Media Matters. I never heard back from them after submitting my resume and cover letter bragging about my 90-page Horowitz take-down thesis. So I resigned myself to call center jobs to pay the bills, freelance journalism on the side, and the hope of a novel.

My first call center position was setting up repairs of cell phones and computers. After a year of this I had grown disgusted with the corporations for which I worked. Products were shoddy and poorly serviced. Customers received inadequate care. Government intervention was necessary to step in and correct big business’s excesses. Or was it? I tried to figure out how some legislation or government agency could fix things. And the conclusion I came to was that any government solution would be endlessly byzantine and in the end probably wouldn’t work. I also stumbled up against the idea of economic freedom. As a social libertarian I loathed the idea of government trying to impose the right way to live morally. Why then would I tolerate government dictating ethical business practices to a company? I did not have an answer. Perhaps a better solution might be another company doing a better job?

My second call center position was as a debt collector — and later assistant manager — for federally-insured student loans. It was here where my love affair with capitalism began. What is the primary factor in getting people to work? Paying them. The collecting call center is a microcosm of the economy. And I could see how those who worked hard and developed their skills could succeed and earn enormous bonuses while those who were lazy would fail.

In other words, capitalism works. Those who work hard and develop themselves have the potential to succeed. And history demonstrated this on a massive scale time and again. One of the essays form Horowitz’s Hating Whitey drew on the research of Stephen and Abigail Thernstrom’s America in Black and White to demonstrate that from 1940 to the present poverty in the African-American community fell more than 50 percent — and mostly before and in spite of Great Society and affirmative action programs.

It was also as a collector that I began to seriously understand the single most important difference between leftists and conservatives: the reality of human nature. Through my interactions with both those on the other side of the phone and my colleagues and bosses within the call center I realized the reality of how people actually are: we are evil, lazy, cruel, self-interested, and stupid. In other words we are broken. And we — people with our human nature — are the root cause of all social problems. It doesn’t matter if you pass laws, elect new politicians, or change to a new system of government. Our problems will still remain because we will still be here.

This grasp of human nature has a corresponding economic philosophy: free market capitalism. Understand human nature in this fashion and it immediately becomes apparent why socialist policies fail. Create a system where people can take out more than they have to put in and the government will go bankrupt. (For a more sophisticated take on the folly of socialism read Horowitz’s The Politics of Bad Faith, his single most important book.)

Understand human nature and capitalism’s intrinsic worth and an individual can succeed — and so can a country. These were the founding fathers’ ideas. And they based our government on them.

W. Cleon Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap, while somewhat hokey in its tone, is an effective summary of the founders’ philosophy which was institutionalized in our founding documents. (And when you get it on Kindle it comes with free copies of Alexis de Tocqueville and the Federalist Papers.) Horowitz’s Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery also focuses on the American Idea and articulates a compelling argument on its behalf.

Driving toward this understanding of human nature (and the great value of the sole country on the planet that is built on this intellectual foundation) the emotional turning point on foreign policy could come. In the fall of 2008 Horowitz was staging another Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week at colleges across the country. At this point he and I had been dialoguing and debating about politics and Academic Freedom for about six months but I was not yet a genuine supporter of his work. As the promotions of the week came and Horowitz flew off to give his speeches I had a realization: it was not out of the realm of possibility that my friend could be killed for what he was doing. Theo Van Gogh. Salman Rushdie. It struck me at an emotional level and I called David to urge him to be careful. It was that emotional kick that could shatter my progressive illusions about the nature of Islamo-fascism.

And so I began a study of the nature of the enemy facing us. I read Robert Spencer’s books on Islam, specifically The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (see my review here) and Stealth Jihad. I learned about Sharia law. I read what the great Dr. Phyllis Chesler had to say about Islamic misogyny. I watched the rise of Islam in Europe and the folly of the continent’s multicultural tolerance. I studied what Horowitz and Dr. Jamie Glazov had to say about the Left’s embrace of Islamists. (See Unholy Alliance and United in Hate.) And it became clear that the threat was not just a few “extremists” “misinterpreting Islam” in some caves in Afghanistan while righteously responding to American “imperialism.” Islamo-fascism is far bigger and more dangerous as a problem than the vast majority of Americans are prepared to face.

Throughout much of my leftist period I had cowardly avoided the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, though, I investigated further — Natan Sharansky’s Defending Identity was a crucial text — and came to understood how Israel was the victim and had reached out for peace only to be rebuffed many times. They were under assault by a totalitarian enemy. And I came to see that the reason to support Israel was this: it was a nation that shared our values of freedom, capitalism, and individual rights. Supporting Israel in its battle with Islamofascism was essential. As goes Israel so goes the Middle East so goes the world.

And there you have it. A peace-loving, “progressive” college student is corrupted into a cynical, warmongering, “corporatist,” racist Neo-Con. He’s brainwashed by some evil books. And he’s more than happy to sell out his principles and “flip-flop” in exchange for a career in professional red-baiting. He is an intellectual whore for sale to the highest bidder. So many of my college fellow travellers are forced to conclude (so as not to have to challenge their own political faith.)

Or not.

Maybe with this new political understanding I just want to fix the world differently. Maybe I remain every bit as radical and committed to a better, more prosperous, more peaceful, more just civilization. From Horowitz’s Cracking of the Heart I’ve imbibed the spirit of his daughter Sarah Horowitz. (Read my review here.) The lesson of her life was that we must fix the world one person at a time. From Howard Bloom’s The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism I understand the boom and bust cycle of economics as an expression of nature going back to the formation of the universe. And capitalism reveals itself as a system which results in continual improvement to the human condition, both increasing the quality and the quantity of our lives. And from Douglas Rushkoff’s Life, Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back (see my review here) I can see the shortcomings of the corporate order — which I witnessed firsthand in my own 3 year employment odyssey — but seek to improve it not through a change in government and a restriction of freedom, but in a transition of culture to rebalance economies so that both local and international commerce can thrive.

And that’s how you fix the world: shift the culture, protect freedom, help the individual, focus on your own community. And it’s with that attitude that Academia too can be restored to what it once was and will be again.

  • rokel

    hey nice post

  • 9-11 Infidel

    And what are you? An astroturf coffee klatch troll? I take it you've been subsumed by your buddies in the Borg. Oh, and the only real teabagger is Anderson Cooper.

  • http://pharewellphil.com benrush

    Excellent and inspiring article! Thank you!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/FBastiat FBastiat

        Indeed — most thought-provoking.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/temarch temarch

    Ahhhhh, another intellectual argument from the left to give balance to this article.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Cardilover Cardilover

      Missed the post, can only imagine – they do a good job of making themselves look stupid!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

        You didn't miss much. If it was at least a creative ad hominem against me I might've left it standing.

  • LivingFree

    Very interesting acticle. My thinking has always been with the Founding Fathers but I can see your point. I have worked very hard to make sure my son is not a leftist as this would under mind all that my family has died for through the 200 + short hears of this county. My people came here as indentured servants and freedom is everything to us. Teaching the truth is very hard in this day and age of on the rise socialism and I can not understand why these thoughts continue to gain ground when they are proven wrong over and over again by the deaths of millions of people.

  • Ludwik Kowalski

    You wrote: "Any journey from Left to Right is going to follow two related, parallel paths. One is based on experiences and life events which challenge the “progressive” world view. The second is formed by way of an intellectual journey through key texts which provide for more accurate explanations of reality. . . . "

    Each such journey is likely to be different. Why is it so? because people are different and prompting circumstances are different.

    Ludwik Kowalski
    whose new book–”Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist,” and its reviews, are now available at

    www [dot] amazon [dot] com

    THIS IS NOT A COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING. 100% ROYALTIES AUTOMATICALLY GO TO A SCHOLARSHIP FUND.

    Comments will be appreciated, either at the above website or in private. Thank you in advance.

    kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu

    P.S.
    The first chapter is online at

    http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/chapter1.html

  • EllieB

    Thank you for your courageous and deep probe into the intellectual side of capitalism! Am going to encourage my college age grandchildren to read your story. Thanks again

  • Aslans Servant

    Might I suggest "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterson. This is the author who helped C.S. Lewis become C.S. Lewis. He wrote while the Regressives were getting started and he exposes the roots of their lies and how what we call Conservatism is the best way to secure the happiness, and liberty of mankind. Regressivism turns us into slaves.

  • MaryJo

    Dear David Thank you for an excellent article. I first came to read D Horowitz and knew him to be true and brave because we shared some similar experiences (mine were far more wimpy but the tone was the same) I would like to add the books which changed my life: W. Chamber's book, "Witness" and "Conflict of Visions" by Sowell. all the best, MaryJo

  • Saneperson

    Great article. I found that real life kept contradicting the leftist attitudes I was taught. I was watching Fox News and it seemed to reflect reality. For the first time in my life, I began reading political/economic books such as 'The Road to Serfdom'. Right now, I'm reading 'The Vision of the Anointed' by Thomas Sowell.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Cardilover Cardilover

      Two excellent books to start with – you're following the same path I took in my education and rehabilitation!

  • http://davids-home-now.blogspot.com David Thomas

    "The principle lesson that I formulated from my engagement with this literature was this…."
    Principal?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      Principal is the head of a school. Principle is primary, important, etc.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lorben Lorben

    "The collecting call center is a microcosm of the economy. And I could see how those who worked hard and developed their skills could succeed and earn enormous bonuses while those who were lazy would fail."

    It is amazing what a few years in the working world can do to some indoctrinated students. Especially if they are naturally critical thinkers. I love the description of "the collecting call center as a microcosm of the economy." There is deep truth in that sentence and many young folks just entering the work world begin to see that as they start their journey in their careers, especially if they have a strong work ethic. Social Justice begins to take on a whole different meaning when you realize that your tax dollars are going to the inefficiencies of government programs. Add a spouse and a few children into the mix and it goes even deeper.
    " …Through my interactions with both those on the other side of the phone and my colleagues and bosses within the call center I realized the reality of how people actually are: we are evil, lazy, cruel, self-interested, and stupid. In other words we are broken. And we — people with our human nature — are the root cause of all social problems…"

    Once again another statement about the dose of reality a job brings to our lives. By the time we are out of the academic circles and begin to put into action our education, we realize that it does not fit into the mold easily….and we begin to shed the excess baggage that was placed upon us. There is nothing like the education of the real work world, I believe it is extremely underrated and a college education is often overrated. IMHO

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      Thank you so much for your support!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lorben Lorben

        ;^) My pleasure!

  • connie

    Now this is a column worth re-reading and again! It takes courage and dignity and great intelligence to move from left to right. And at the same time David discovered the truth about Islam. Would that every American whose head is still in the sand could read this illuminating account.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Slveryder Slveryder

    As a college student who has always been Right, I appreciate reading about the transitions for those who belonged to the left. Because I was never on that end of the political spectrum, I tend to be baffled by those who embrace it so thoroughly and getting inside the minds of those who are no longer progressives is extremely helpful.
    I'll have to put off your reading list until summer break but I will get around to them. Thanks!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Cardilover Cardilover

    I just bookmarked this article – I want to share it with my grandkids. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I took a similar journey back in the early 90s. Bill Clinton was my impetus, Rush Limbaugh and Ken Hamblin, my early guides!

  • Pete_from_CA

    Be careful what you take away from first jobs…. my first job was as a file clerk in the freight claims department of a major rail carrier. I was amazed at the number, type, and cost of damaged merchandise that was being shipped. I (initially) concluded that if you ship something, it will get broken. That image stayed with me a long time.

    Years later, I had advanced to managerial positions in the marketing and sales department. By then, I'd come to realize that only a very small percentage of shipments got damaged — and poor packing was a major contributor to the problem. Instead of it being an uncaring corporation smashing shipments willy nilly — it was a corporation that was very concerned about damages (and theft) of shipments and that it did very well in keeping losses to well under 1% — but the massive volume of business made that 1% seem like "everything" to a kid in his first job.

    However, the message sticks. To this day, whenever I mail a package or ship something with FedEx/UPS, I'm very careful to pack it properly, pad everything as best I can, and use lots of tape to keep everything in the box.

  • Supertx

    "Perhaps a better solution might be another company doing a better job?" That really sums it up as far as why capitalism just works better, if allowed to. No one claims it is a perfect system, as there is no such thing, but it's free and I think it works itself out when it is not overly manipulated.
    Very good piece! I wish more people would form their opinions based on exploring all kinds of materials as you did. Unfortunately, many will never read anything but that which reinforces what they have already chosen to believe.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

    The Founding Fathers designed a government for the way humans are by their nature. It will thrive and prosper until enough voters forget or never know what makes it work, or are unwilling to accept the personal responsibility that comes with liberty.

    Marx and his followers designed a government for the way they wished humans to be, and then tried to mold humans into the new soviet man to fit it. It has failed horribly everywhere it’s been tried.

    Human nature can be suppressed, or channeled, to an extent, but it can’t be changed.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      Human nature will only be changed when nature changes it.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

      Give it time. It will either happen or not without regard to what you or I think. Whatever the case, it may take a lot longer than we been able to yet observe. The Soviet Union collapsed. Does anybody realize that's a timetable occurence in Marxism? The dictatorship of the proletariat followed by the dissolution of it along with reasserted broad freedoms was part of the predicted outcome. I think Marx called it historic inevitability.
      By the way, good to see you Rifleman.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

      Human nature is an unuseful term that may not even be valid. Human beings are subject to a few basic drives from birth but no true instinctive behaviors like other animals–who I concede have a 'nature'. Even animal instincts and animal nature at lower levels is much less locked in than previously thought. Look at birds' songs, beavers' constructivity and even the foraging routines marine mollusks' [like octopi].

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

        Read a few more books on the subject.

  • Warner

    Brilliant! ; it took many decades for some of us to arrive at the same conclusions.
    What the western world desparately needs is a definitive book on the Frankfurt School’s fundamental role in the unmaking of our society.
    If such a book already exist I am unaware of it.
    David Swindle, you are just such a sorely needed author.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      Thanks. I'm working on several books.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

    David~__Really impressive all around. Well reasoned and well written. Believe it or not, I had given some thoughht to exchange and was going to ask you:__ "how did you come to hold conservative beliefs? Was it experiential? Based on readiing and research? Or was it the result of influential mentors?"__Unbelievably, you've answered this question to perfection!__I see you're familiar with the authors I mentioned regarding Islamo-fascism. You should try Walid Shoebat

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      I'm familiar with Shoebat and Trikovic but haven't gotten to their books yet. I will.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

    David~ (part 2/continuing comment)
    A point that occured to me. You enthusiastically recommend allowing free market capitalism the time and patience to grow an enterprise into a more effective, functional entity. Why aren't you willing to grant a government run operation the same experimental courtesy? Another point. What if it was possible to reconfigure the human motivational palette so that laboring for the collective good of the community was an apex value? What if personal wealth was demoted in the hierarchy of desirable goals–still there of course but deemphasized by concensus? Why not a hybrid where some things are in the arena of private, free market competition and others, those enterprises producing universal essentials, were exempted from the profit motive? Don't we already use this model in a limited way? Finally, I ask this. Has this ubiquitous force known as the 'free market' ever proved itself beyond doubt? In other words, like a scientific hypothesis, can it be experimentally replicated with predictable outcomes–all the time, for everyone, everywhere? Otherwise, capitalism asks a lot on trust. Doesn't it?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

      Thanks Larry.

      1. No, I'm not willing to grant a "government enterprise" time because I've studied the history of such enterprises to know how and why they don't work.

      2. When human nature changes then our politics can change. But human nature probably isn't going to change because what we are is the result of our evolution. We do the same things that chimps, mice, and bacteria do. And these things we do serve a purpose in our continued evolution. Read Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle."

      3. One potential game-changer is technology. If the human race evolves to the point where we can create unlimited energy very cheaply or limitless food for nothing then we're operating under different circumstances than now. A world like Star Trek would be different.

      4. Nothing can prove itself beyond doubt. But no system of channeling human nature has come anywhere near capitalism. Yes, capitalism can be tested with the scientific method. Look at where capitalism goes and how it improves lives around the globe and throughout history. Compare that to the alternative of socialism.

      5. Accepting that we are unable to achieve utopia — at least not quickly — is an important philosophical step.

      6. In terms of changing human nature that's what Timothy Leary was trying to do with LSD in the '60s. I don't see much practicality in it on a mass scale.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

        Responses to:
        #1. [-] Fair answer but not objective. Mao once replied when asked if he thought the Peoples' Cultural Revolution was a success said, "It's way too early to tell. I'll need another 75-100 years."
        #2.[ ++] Excellent. This is your strongest and best point along with #6 which is a spinoff of the same. I'm prepared to agree with this point. But I have a counter which I'll offer at the end of my comment.
        #3 [+] Good. Technology IS a variant of human evolution as is culture. Note reference above. Mao always conceded that the revolution (evolution) was cultural .
        #4.[-] Fair but unsupported by objective data. You're telling me to just 'look' and I'm asking you to 'test' and then measure outcomes. Results are skewed to the biases of the questions. If the parameters (the values) were different, the questions posed by the hypothesis would change. ~cont

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

          ~ cont part 2~
          #5. [+] Agreed.
          #6. Same as #2.
          Summary. With respect to #2, I think that the idea of 'human nature' is not a useful one. This might be the sticking point upon which we differ in our over-arching views of politics. I take man to be pretty much a tabula rasa. So this idea that we compelled to follow certain unpatterned instincts is flawed. I am believe that our drives and motivations are shaped from birth and are seemingly quite elastic. And this is the core of my belief in the forward direction of mankind's progressive march through history– by way of the formidable power of culture and its evolution. I look to the past and I see it. If it was otherwise, I think we'd still be feudal serfs. Really this might be the fork in the road where we part ways.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

            I have a hard time taking your response seriously when you quote and reference a totalitarian mass murderer like Chairman Mao. You might as well be quoting Jeffrey Dahmer or the Unabomber. It's repugnant.

            "I take man to be pretty much a tabula rasa." Where do you get this from?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

          Ref. mao quote~
          [I looked up the Mao quote. The translation reads:"It's too early to tell. Ask me again in another century or two."]

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

            On Mao~
            I didn't say I wanted him to marry my daughter, I was just quoting a well known historical personage whose familiarity with gradually evolving social movements exceeds most. I can't help it he said it. If Churchill had said it I would've preferred to use Winnie. OK?
            On Tabula Rasa~
            Clean slate. A concept in classic philosophy. I used it as shorthand to mean I regard man as pretty much an undetermined being whose consciousness is shaped more by culture than by instincts or behaviors given by OEM.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

            It's still distasteful to try and cast history's greatest mass murderer as though he's just another philosopher. But we can move on from that point.

            I know what tabula rasa means and I'm familiar with the line of thinking. I was asking you what books you've read and which thinkers have caused you to embrace this understanding of human nature.

            The view you have of human nature — as basically being malleable depending on culture and how one is raised — is one championed by the Left. I don't share it at all. You should read some Howard Bloom.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

            "I know what tabula rasa means and I'm familiar with the line of thinking. I was asking you what books you've read and which thinkers have caused you to embrace this understanding of human nature."
            ~I thought so, But why didn't you ask me that clearly? Instead you asked:
            ""… tabula rasa." Where do you get this from? "
            If I may make an observation. You can be transparently condescending sometimes. Your arguments are much more effective to me when you're not being didactic. This is the real world not Stanford..
            Anyhow, it has been a while since I was held to the strict footnoting policies of academic research, So I really don't have a handy bibliography for this view. But Rutgers sociologist Peter Berger stands out with his 'The Social Construction of Reality'which pretty much argues convincingly that many assumptions we make about how the world works are negotiated and taught by cultural induction.. I agree with the ideas in this seminal work. But, more importantly, it's a conclusion I've reached on my own. I have experienced it in myself and seen it operating irrefutably in others

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

            ~cont. comment to D. Swindle part 2~
            So I suppose this idea really derives from my undergrad minor in sociology/anthropology. In fact I've actually written two papers supporting the idea which, I recall, were well received. That's no guarantee that my conclusions were valid. I'll defer to Berger.
            ~Is it Harold or Howard? I've read someone named Bloom–about the dumbing down of university curricula.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

            ~David~
            PS: [Now that you know that I am a wise old sage, please act with appropriate deference around me from now on.]

          • Jerry K

            The BBC's biography of Mao, "Mao: A Life" by Philip Short says that Mao is far behind Stalin/Hitler and others in the "mass murderer" contest because most of the people who died under Mao's rule died because of economic mistakes, not a purposeful desire to see dozens of millions of people die. People starved to death because of a horrible understanding of economics. Perhaps you should say Mao is history's greatest mass manslaughterer..

          • Jerry K

            The BBC's biography of Mao, "Mao: A Life" by Philip Short says that Mao is far behind Stalin/Hitler and others in the "mass murderer" contest because most of the people who died under Mao's rule died because of economic mistakes, not a purposeful desire to see dozens of millions of people die. People starved to death because of a horrible understanding of economics. Perhaps you should say Mao is history's greatest mass manslaughterer..

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

            I'm sure the families of Mao's victims would take comfort in that distinction.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lary9 Lary9

      Ouch! It wasn't meant as an insult, but rather a candid observation. Certainly, it was not meant maliciously at all. If you had said that to me, I wouldn't take my ball and leave. At least I'd think about it first. Perhaps I'm guilty of overly encouraging candor, so I apologize for any offense given–none was intended, honestly. I probably went to too many Unitarian-Universalist Kumbaya sharefests in my youth.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DavidSwindle DavidSwindle

    "If I may make an observation. You can be transparently condescending sometimes."

    If you're going to insult me then I'm going to disengage in dialogue from you. Have a nice life, Larry.