Having finally finished off Polanyi’s escrable The Great Transformation and a few smaller works (will wrap up reviews of William Torrey Harris’s 7-page long “book” of his lectures on the nature of education in the next day or two) I’m on to a couple other things, two general and one education-specific:
Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read this. About 20% through. Echos of the Party’s turns of phrase and habits of thought are evident in the way the Bern and AOC and other adolescent Marxists (but I repeat myself) talk today. The imperviousness to information, the dismissal of all objections, the crusading zeal, the willingness to criminalize all dissent – yep, that’s what we find in Solzhenitsyn’s account of the people who murdered 25+ million people and tortured and imprisoned without trial many millions more. The bug-eyed smirking is perhaps reserved for our particular hell, maybe not.
Rousseau, Emile. There’d better be time off in Purgatory for reading this so you don’t have to. About 10% in, and, oh! my eyes! Emile is a profoundly influential work, mentioned and cited everywhere I look – Torrey Harris, for example – and, upon a few pages reading, a profoundly stupid book. And verbose and poorly written to boot. The post-revolution French are said to have set up their schools according to this book, but since the very idea of a school is denounced within a few pages, not sure what that could mean. Noble savage, civilization corrupts, blank slate – all that crap.
Billington, The Protestant Crusade. Another book that gets mentioned in older books – it was first published in 1936, seems to have enjoyed a few decades of relative prominence, then went down the memory hole. Billington chronicles the anti-Catholic fervor in America, and how it reached a sustained high level from 1800 to 1860. About the only thing that has united our Protestant brothers and sisters over the years has been their hatred of Rome; not clear if the general Protestant dissolution we’re seeing now is a cause or effect of a reduction in anti-Catholic fervor on the part of mainline Protestant sects? (I could quip that what’s for a Protestant to hate in the new Catholic Church we’ve been singing into being over the last 50 years – but that would be mean.)
Anyway, time to get on it.