During the eight years I have written this column for WND, I have received numerous requests for reading recommendations. And in eight years of receiving critical e-mails and blog comments, I have also discovered how poorly read most people who consider themselves to be informed and well-educated actually are. It seems that at some point, "education" became confused with "formal schooling" in the popular vernacular, which is a little bizarre when one considers that more than a few of man's best-educated, most accomplished intellectuals spent very little time in anything that would be recognizable today as a school.
One of the unfortunate results of this confusion is the way that many people believe their education ceases once they receive a piece of paper from one of the various paper-selling institutions known as universities. The term "adult education" is somewhat of a misnomer that illustrates this confusion. How is "adult education" inherently different than "child education" when regardless of age, the desired knowledge is not possessed? The truth is that one's education continues so long as one chooses to expand one's knowledge base, and while it may be harder to learn a language in middle age or to memorize historical dates in old age than it is in childhood, it can still be done. And, as numerous studies of the brain and its aging have confirmed, it is well worth doing.
After completing a book last summer, I decided it was time to finish reading a historical masterwork that I'd never managed to complete, "The History of the Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides. Landmark published a beautiful edition, complete with copious maps and notes, so surmising that I might not be the only one interested in reading it, I suggested the idea of a group study to the regular readers of my blog, Vox Popoli. Each week, we read one section and I wrote a 10-question online quiz that anyone who happened to be interested may take. The quizzes weren't intended for grading purposes, but rather to help fix the information in the reader's mind and confirm his correct understanding of the issues involved. The 25-question final that wrapped up the study was taken by 139 people; it was popular enough that the choice of the book for the second study became the subject of animated debate.
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The merits of everything from Herodotus to "Godel, Escher, Bach" were discussed, but in the end, we went with what turned out to be a timely selection of "America's Great Depression" by Murray Rothbard. This time, nearly 1,000 participants took the final of a study which began in November; one reader remarked it was rather like having the world as a giant PowerPoint demonstration thanks to the financial crisis unfolding at the time.
For the third study, we are reading a book that I suspect will be nearly as timely and as relevant as its immediate predecessor. Longtime readers of this column will be aware that I thought highly of Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" when it was first published in 2007, an opinion subsequently confirmed by many other reviewers of the book. However, like many best-selling non-fiction works, I suspect it is often more purchased than read; it is not the polemic that many Democrats believe it to be, nor is it the blanket indictment of the Left that many Republicans assume it is. It is, instead, a serious explication of the intellectual and historical links between the left-wing progressivism of the early 20th century and the soft totalitarianism that pervades both – yes, both – of America's major political parties today.
"Liberal Fascism" is not only an important book, it is arguably a necessary book for anyone who wishes to understand the hope to which the Obama administration is appealing and the change that it is promising. Voxiversity III begins this weekend with the first quiz posted at Vox Popoli on Saturday, June 13. If you are interested in participating, I encourage you to order a copy of the book, which is newly released in paperback, and read the first 24 pages of the introduction, "Everything You Know about Fascism is Wrong."
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