Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute. He is a professor of Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, and Contracts at the National Paralegal College, a counselor at the American College of Education, and a founding board member of Salt and Light Global. Washington is a co-host of "Joshua's Trial," a radio show of Christian conservative thought. A graduate of JohnMore ↓Less ↑
Socrates (470-399 B.C.) – a renowned Greek philosopher from Athens who taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Socrates used a method of teaching by asking leading questions. The Greeks called this form dialectic – starting from a thesis or question, then discussing ideas and moving back and forth between points of view to determine how well ideas stand up to critical review with the ultimate principle of the dialogue being Veritas – Truth.
John Maynard Keynes
Karl Marx/Freidrich Engels
Socrates: We are gathered here today at this Symposium to discuss the battle of ideas. What is the difference between ideas that uplifts society and those that damn society? We will discuss 10 famous writers and their most influential books and how these books have either elevated society to ascend the steps of Parnassus or condemned society into the pit of Tartarus.
We will begin in reverse order with the 10 books, which over the past 200 years have collectively caused the damnation of modern society.
10. J.M. Keynes: It was I who in 1936 wrote “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in the midst of the Great Depression. Every socialist government in pre and post-war Europe, in America, South America and eventually in the Soviet Union, China and Africa, used the ideas in my book as a formula for reckless Leviathan government expansionism. My false but beguiling argument was when the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending of money to stimulate economic growth.
Socrates: Indeed, in 1936 FDR integrated Keynesian ideas into U.S. policy. Eighty years later, under President Obama, the U.S. government in FY 2012 will have a $4 trillion annual budget and a $16 trillion dollar debt: more than all 43 previous U.S. presidents combined.
9. Nietzsche: It was I who began an atheistic revolution in my 1882 book “The Gay Science,” by boldly professing that “God is dead.” I refused to repent but elevated my narcissistic blasphemy as the fundamental theme of my greatest work, “Beyond Good and Evil” (1886). In that opus I argued that men are driven by an amoral “Will to Power” and that inevitably superior men will triumph over Christianity, over religiously inspired moral rules, which I judged as “slave morality” and as artificial as every other moral rule. Therefore, it is the primary concern of the Ubermenchen (Supermen) to force, to dictate all laws necessary to secure their domination of the world over the inferior nations and races in their midst.
Socrates: Nietzsche, your brilliant but insanely evil ideas would served as the blueprint a generation later for the apotheosis of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis who worshipped your philosophy and fanatically implemented your ideas on a genocidal scale, causing World War II, the Holocaust and the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people.
Thus, Nietzsche, it was fitting for such a despicable man as yourself to suffer an 11-year Sisyphus-like existence until your death in 1900; as your brain rotted from within due to dementia you would rant and rave all night long your own epithet – I am dead because I am stupid. I am stupid because I am dead.
8. Auguste Comte: I was born of a royalist Catholic family that survived the French Revolution, yet I betrayed my political and cultural heritage, announcing as a teenager, “I have naturally ceased to believe in God.” My 1830 book “The Course of Positive Philosophy,” theorized that the human mind had developed beyond “theology,” through “metaphysics,” to “positivism,” in which mankind without appeal to God, and solely through scientific observation, could decide the way things ought to be.
7. Jean-Paul Sartre: My most important writing on philosophy is “Being and Nothingness.” In it, I described and defined as the two types of being: pour soi (for itself) and en soi (in itself). It was Hegel’s Marxist terminology that inspired much of my philosophy. It was in this work where I termed “nothingness” or “non-being” to summarize some of the main points of existentialism.
The fundamental idea of his thinking was that “existence precedes essence,” by which I meant that we in reality create ourselves. What we ultimately become is a construct, built and rebuilt out of experience and conduct. Becoming aware of one’s own freedom led to anxiety and acting in “bad faith” (mauvaise foi). Therefore, I believed that we, and we alone, are responsible for ourselves and our actions. “We are condemned to be free.” “The destiny of man is placed within himself.”
Socrates: In February 2008, nine months before Election Day, when Barack Obama arrogantly declared, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” in reality, he was proclaiming the triumph of Sartre’s existential philosophy over America’s Christian founding; a diabolical idea rooted in narcissism, Marxism and failed delusions.
6. Karl Marx: I wrote “Das Kapital” in 1867. Engels, my benefactor, posthumously published volumes II (1885) and III (1894) from notes I left behind. “Das Kapital” forces the round peg of capitalism into the square hole of my atheistic, materialistic theory of history. To me capitalism was the most contemptible word in the human language because I believed that all capitalists inevitably and amorally exploit labor by paying the cheapest possible wages to the working class to reap the highest possible profits for themselves.
Socrates: When conservative Newt Gingrich can spend several millions of dollars on ads in South Carolina and Florida against “moderate” Mitt Romney for his role as head of Bain Capital by shamelessly speaking against capitalism as a demagogue, it is the triumph of Marxist ideas first promulgated in “Das Kapital.”
What is the anti-intellectual foundation and primary premise of each of these books? They all began with the humanist premise that mankind (not God) is the center of all things and the final arbiter of good and evil, reality and irrelevance and Darwinian evolution’s survival of the fittest.
Dear authors, let us collectively examine Gustave Doré’s magnificent etching of Satan above and the downfall of Adam. Who else but the “father of lies” could ever conceive and popularize this litany of diabolical ideas and damnable books that have caused America and the world to descend into the abyss of what Sartre aptly called “being and nothingness”?
At our next Symposium we will discuss the remaining five books that have caused the downfall of society and contributed to the damnation of ideas.