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Intellectual Morons Unknown Binding

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ISBN-10: 1400082692
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400082698
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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101 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Bunker on September 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Unlike many who have "reviewed" this book, I've actually read it. Some have called it a right-wing screed and taken Flynn to task for not denouncing people like McVeigh. Understand that Flynn is explaining why some will grasp onto an idea, regardless of its factual integrity, and promote it. These are not ignorant folks, but well-educated professionals and educators. "Ideology trumps all" is his thesis.

I'm sure someone else could take some right-wing ideological tenets and do the same thing, but they haven't.

If you read this with an open mind, and disregard your own biases, it may allow you to take a fresh look at some of your own opinions. In the chapters dealing with Animal Rights and Environmentalism, Flynn makes a good argument that people blinded by ideology have actually caused more pernicious problems by "solving" a simpler one through their efforts. What he points out is how ideology becomes an overpowering force in some people's lives, and that is something we should all consider.
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178 of 214 people found the following review helpful By D. Friedman on October 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ideology is at odds with logic and consistency because logic and consistency require that, occasionally, a sacred cow must perish. Ideology and its adherents require that those loyal to the cause never stray; fundamentalist religion and followers of a particular ideology can be said to suffer from the same myopic affliction. Thus, what we have in Daniel Flynn's Intellectual Morons is an exploration of how otherwise intelligent people-mainly Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and other intellectual luminaries of the left-have jettisoned the principles of logic and intellectual rigor in favor of chicanery, deceit, and manipulation to further their political agendas.

The premise for the book is promising, and, in some of the chapters (each of which chapter is devoted to a particular `intellectual moron' and his or her adherents) Flynn succeeds at this admittedly ambitious goal. For instance, the first chapter on Herbert Marcuse is generally excellent (though it too has its flaws); Lynn eviscerates the idea that Marcuse's obscurantist prose contained worthwhile ideas. Rather he compares Marcuse's often contradictory and perplexing phrases to that of Orwell's Newspeak in 1984 ("Ignorance is Strength," etc.) Unfortunately, this effort is inconsistent throughout the book, and some of the claims Flynn makes are bizarre, unsubstantiated, or just plain vicious in their nature.

Flynn believes that Marcuse's writing leads to the logical consequence of courts' upholding gay marriage, Clinton's lechery, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears (page 21 of the hardcover edition). It is not clear how this follows; certainly, if we are to adduce causes for these pop culture phenomena we can point to many strains of thought over the past 100 years that have allowed vapidity to flourish.
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72 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on December 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Unlike other "reviewers" I did read the book. Flynn, through several vignettes, tries to explain modern American culture through the prism of "intellectuals" whose ideas affected our society. The author makes 3 salient points that bear repeating: With the decline of religion, intellectuals increasingly turned to ideology for meaning, the core of ideology is political and, most importantly, ideology values ideas over people.

The first chapter brilliantly summarizes Marcuse and "Cultural" Marxism wherein every facet of human existence is politicized. His ideas permeated our culture - from "diversity" wherein the Left was supported and the Right silenced, to identify politics (gay/ethnic/gender group rights) to victimization to anti-Western bias to a redefinition of education. He had particular disdain for old-fashioned liberals like Hubert Humphrey. He was astute, though, in recognizing that the common worker would never accept his ideas and therefore must be "forced" to be free.

Elements of violence and authoritarianism are present in all these groups; the "truth" must prevail and violence is necessary for the greater good. This explains the perplexing notion of "liberals" praising despots whole first act would be silencing them or of commentators praising Arafat while condemning Israel. Each ideology seeks Utopia - from an (ir)rational Randian world to Strauss's American Empire to a primitive garden of Eden where humans live in peace with nature and its creatures and have sex without consequences or emotion.

The article on Chomsky and his continual excuses/espousing of various events (to this day he denies the Kymer Rouge killed millions of Cambodians) was another tour de force. He emphasizes that the mjority of those in non-academic studies (identity politics) drift into three major areas: Academia, politics and the media.
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Format: Hardcover
Flynn writes well and unlike many other polemicists, bases his arguments on stacks of verifiable facts. This hooked me early on and I read the whole book in one go.

The introduction alone is worth the price of admission. To an alarming extent people do believe what they read in the papers, and, worse, they believe demagogues and gurus. People love to find heroes and to give up the effort of thinking for themselves.

The chapters on Kinsey and Sanger were particularly powerful. In parts they were actually hard to read because of extent of the misdeeds of these people. It's really important that more of this stuff is in the public domain because of the glib treatment afforded many of these types.

Two caveats.

First, Flynn often moves from fact-based, reasonable argument to more fanciful hypotheses, but states these as fact without really backing them up. According to Flynn, Kinsey is responsible for initiating the largely damaging changes in sexual behavior following his reports and the remarkably fawning coverage by much of the press. That might be an idea worth exploring, but there isn't much to go on in the book itself.

Second, it's a terrible pity that a writer with a mind as acute as Flynn's cannot turn his scrutiny on conservative ideologues. I wonder if he is a bit torn here. On pages 82-83 of the book he describes the recent civil war in Guatemala at some length. This began with a US-backed military coup which replaced a democratically-elected left winger with links to communism, with a brutal military dictator ("the man the Americans helped install"). Large-scale atrocities ensued, committed by the guerrillas but also by the US-backed government.
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