On My Desk…

Some days, nothing but the latest coloring book from Sean Hannity arrives on my desk. Today, though, there’s a bumper crop of good reading, including Robert Higgs’s Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy, Darryl Hart’s A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, and a new book by Ralph de Toledano, Cry Havoc: The Great Bring-down and How It Happened, which looks at the influence of the Frankfurt School, Wilhelm Reich, and other radical thinkers who made a quiet (sometimes not-so-quiet) revolution in this country last century.

Hart’s book is especially noteworthy: the author is both a conservative and a Christian, one who following J. Gresham Machen objects to politicizing the faith for causes either left or right. The book promises a more nuanced (not to say interesting) take on Church and State than what’s found in most (if not all) the other recent volumes on the subject.

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9 thoughts on “On My Desk…

  1. Jeff Taylor October 10, 2006 / 8:18 pm

    The Hart book sounds interesting. One of my favorite books on the subject of Christianity and politics is The Revenge of Conscience by J. Budziszewski. The perspective of the book is wonderful…and unusual for our time and place.

  2. Tim October 11, 2006 / 1:46 am

    One interesting titbit on the current whereabouts of the long march of Frankfurtism is John Dean’s recent use of Frankfurt Marxist Theodor Adorno’s “Authoritarian Personality” studies as a weapon to hit the Bushies over the head with.

    Certainly there are legitimate concerns here, and these have been expressed by Lew Rockwell in his piece “Red State Fascism” and, even better, Claes Ryn’s discussion of populist versions of neo-jacobinism, that are worthwhile.

    Unfortunately the whole Adorno school approach is inherently rigged against conservatives and economic liberals, but those who support the most authoritarian statist measures designed to advance leftist goals gets a free pass.

    And of course the Authoritarian Personality research fails to come within a bull’s roar of the bohemian / romantic types who, as Peter Viereck has demonstrated in his 1941 “Metapolitics : The Roots of the Nazi Mind” (revisited in 2003 here [PDF]), laid the cultural and spiritual foundations for Nazism.

    Australian psychologist and sociologist Dr John Ray has written an entertaining first person commentary piece on the leftist bias of Authoritarian Personality research here. He has a more technical paper on the subject, originally published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, available in HTML format here.

  3. Scott Lahti October 12, 2006 / 9:41 am

    Tim’s notes on Frankfurt and Adorno recalled to me the following pasage from
    The Making of a Counter Culture by Theodore Roszak:

    “One of Marcuse’s most widely read essays, especially among the European young, is ‘Repressive Tolerance,’ which appears in Robert Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr., and H. Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965). The unhappy thesis of this piece seems to be that tolerance ought to be withdrawn from repressive right‑wing spokesmen and extended to progressive left‑wing spokesmen—if necessary (and how else?) by invoking the ‘natural right’ of ‘oppressed and overpowered minorities to use extralegal means … ‘ Ideas of this vintage hardly require the heady philosophical justification Marcuse offers them. Their legitimacy tends to be generated spontaneously whenever righteous indignation and revolutionary power are compounded. I am more inclined to agree with Tolstoy, who, when asked if he did not see a difference between reactionary repression and revolutionary repression, replied that there was, of course, a difference: ‘the difference between cat shit and dog shit.'”

    Anyone drawn to the ideas of, e.g., Roszak, Tolstoy, Thoreau, Gandhi, Ortega, Blake, Wendell Berry, E.F. Schumacher, Albert Jay Nock, Dwight Macdonald, Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, Joseph Wood Krutch, Plato, or Maslow (for starters), would do well to bookmark for lifelong inspiration the free online archive of the best-kept secret in American postwar intellectual journalism, the humanist weekly MANAS (1948-1988), edited and largely written over forty-one years by a California Theosophist, Henry Geiger. I hope to write and shop around soon a 3000-word essay on this journal, whose subscribers were described by Robert Maynard Hutchins as ‘the 2500 most interesting people in America.'”

  4. Tim October 14, 2006 / 1:21 pm

    Scott’s reference to MANAS is interesting. I had never heard of Manas before. One item of coincidental interest, is that Manas has a prominent reference to the E F Schumacher Society on it’s front page. Schumacher is a thinker who is a lot closer to ‘tory anarchism’ than he may first appear. Especially in the trajectory he has taken over the last few decades. There is an interesting article at “GodSpy” magazine here. The “Late Schumacher” has not so much become a catholic as a fellow traveller of Aquinas / Augustine and the whole Chestertonian distributist movement.

    His views on the pursuit of the Good Society sound as if they may have come from C S Lewis.

    ‘It is when we come to politics,’ Schumacher insisted, ‘that we can no longer postpone or avoid the question regarding man’s ultimate aim and purpose.’ If one believes in God one will pursue politics ‘mindful of the eternal destiny of man and of the truths of the Gospel’. However, if one believes ‘that there are no higher obligations’, it becomes impossible to resist the appeal of Machiavellianism—’politics as the art of gaining and maintaining power so that you and your friends can order the world as they like it’.

    “There is no supportable middle position. Those who want the Good Society, without believing in God, cannot face the temptations of Machiavellianism; they become either disheartened or muddleheaded, fabulating about the goodness of human nature and the vileness of one or another adversary … Optimistic ‘Humanism’ by ‘concentrating sin on a few people’ instead of admitting its universal presence throughout the human race, leads to the utmost cruelty.”

    The Godspy article also discusses his views on the erosion of the ethic of individual responsibility within the 20th Century west.

    For Schumacher there were three main culprits who should bear the blame for modern man’s refusal to accept or recognize individual responsibility. These were Freud, Marx and Einstein. Dubbing them the ‘devilish trio’, he considered that they had all been corrosive agents in a world which had lost its way. Freud, through his teaching that perception was subject to the complex interplay of the ego and the id, both of which in turn were subject to sexually based imperatives, had subjectivized perception, literally rendering it self-centred. This led inevitably to a change of attitude in human relations where self-fulfillment took precedence over the needs of others, Marx, by seeking a scapegoat in the bourgeoisie, had replaced personal responsibility with a hatred for others. If something was wrong with society someone else was to blame. Einstein had undermined belief in absolutes with his insistence on the relativity of everything. The application of ‘relativity’ in the field of morals led logically to a rejection of all morality except that which was personally convenient.

    Here in Australia in the early 1980s one of our more iconoclastic art critics and part time pundits was Max Harris. Harris played a major role in the distribution of Friedman’s “Free To Choose” in Australia. I remember back then Harris arguing that ‘what we needed’ was a merger of the ideas of E.F.Schumacher and Milton Friedman. We probably still do.

  5. Sam Clayton January 29, 2007 / 12:15 am

    Hello—

    I am trying to purchase Ralph de Toledano, Cry Havoc: The Great Bring-down and How It Happened.

    Thanks…any help you can give is appreciated…
    Sam Clayton
    src14@psu.edu

  6. Daniel McCarthy January 29, 2007 / 2:37 am

    I had hoped that Ralph’s book would be available from Amazon.com before too long, but it looks like it isn’t. You can write to the publisher, Anthem Books, at Anthem Books, Suite 1010, 500 23rd Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037 — that looks to be the best, and maybe only, way to get a copy right now.

  7. David Holmes February 5, 2007 / 9:00 pm

    Re: Anthem Books
    They don’t live on the internet and there is no phone for them in Wash DC

    Any hope of finding this book?

  8. Sal Daher February 13, 2007 / 1:59 pm

    Thanks to Daniel McCarthy for the address of the publisher of the late Ralph de Toledano’s last book. Daniel, you have done your bit to expose the critical theorists. Sal Daher

  9. Michaela Steinberg March 19, 2007 / 10:57 pm

    For all those interested in ordering Cry Havoc:The Great American Bringdown and How it Happened by Ralph de Toledano, you can order the book at

    Anthem Books
    P.O. Box 20153
    Washington, D.C. 20041

    and contact the publisher by email at anthemeditions@yahoo.com, or by phone at 703-501-6423.

    A recent review of the book: http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/vernon/061127

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