Friday, November 18, 2011

Five best books on fanaticism

Alan Charles Kors is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (Oxford). In 2008 he named five essential works about fanaticism for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
Moral Panic
by John Fekete

In 1993, the "Final Report of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women" set off what John Fekete, a man of the left and a major figure in academic cultural studies, compellingly termed a "moral panic," a fanaticism that led to willful bad science, to callous indifference to truth and criticism, to zealous bad law and policy, and to efforts to transform coercively the freedoms and dignities of an entire people. How else to save Canadian women from the violence of the warlocks except by creating a yet larger political state to infantilize both sexes and to effect a moral regeneration of men across the barbarism that is Canada? Fekete, a professor at Trent University in Ontario, offers a deeply disturbing account of the treacherous union of modern political superstitions with the totalizing exercise of power that sanctimonious passion invariably demands. His trenchant analysis of statistical fraud in the service of political aims is itself worth the reading. "Moral Panic" is an indispensable guide to the fanaticism of our times.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue