Influential and Important Books That We Have Read - EC171

From Pocket College
Jump to: navigation, search

The media player is loading...

Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Influential and Important Books That We Have Read
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 16
Length: 1:00:41
TapeCode: ec171
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 171, June 7th, 1988.

In this hour Otto Scott and I are going to discuss some of the reading we have done of late, books that have impressed us and which we feel are important for you to know about.

Now I am going to begin with a book that is a series of essays in 17th century history {?} presented to Christopher Hill, the great English historian. It is edited by Donald Pennington and Keith Thomas and the title is Puritans and Revolutionaries, published at the Clarendon Press in Oxford in... first in 1978 and reprinted as a paperback in 1982.

Now the various writers here are all experts in their particular area, but I am not going to attempt to deal more than with a particular idea in one of the essays, an essay that is written by Peter Clark entitled “The Ale House and the Alternative Society.”

The point that is made in this essay is that among the non Puritans, there was an erosion of the traditional sense of the community focus on the local church. And the ale house or, we would say, beer parlor—although there is a difference between ale and beer—the beer parlor or ale house became the new center. Now this was a very, very important transition because it indicated the beginning of the secularization of society. The same trend was taking place in other areas of European life and the ale house meant that life no longer had the same religious focus. The parish church had previously been the center of community life. It was where everything took place. But the church now was no longer the center. And, as a result, life began to proceed into secularization and Humanism. [00:03:01]

Another one of the essays...[edit]

Another one of the essays—and I won’t go into it—goes into the fact that the lead in this was taken by lawyers. Lawyers were the supreme secularizers, we are told, because the art of law and the law of God, as Wilfred R. Press calls his essay, differed. And the state was becoming secular. The lawyers caught on to this before anyone else and as a result they secularized society as rapidly as possible, because they were, in their day, the avant garde.

Otto, do you want to discuss one of the books now?

[Scott] Well, yes. I didn’t quite understand that we were going to talk about recent books.

[Rushdoony] No, it isn’t necessarily recent.

[Scott] Not necessarily.

[Rushdoony] All mine are not recent.

[Scott] Good.

Well, I will talk about some of the books that had an impact upon me.

[Rushdoony] Good.

[Scott] And there were two, neither of them new books. One was The Spy by Fennimore Cooper when I was a very young boy. [00:04:20]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes. That was marvelous. I recall reading it.

[Scott] And the thing about The Spy that got me was that throughout you were encouraged to look down on him until at the very end when he was captured, you remember, and he was hanged by the British.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] There was a note in his pocket from George Washington thanking him for his faithful services to the cause.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And that hit me from when I was very young with a realization that things are not always what they seem.

And the second book along the same lines only more important to me was Fortitude by Hugh Walpole. Fortitude... Hugh Walpole, as you know, was a very popular novelist in Great Britain and I think his time past with the 30s. I am not sure. Fortitude was one of his first books and it was really his masterwork. It was semi autobiographical. Somerset Maugham stole a part of the plot and made himself famous with it when he wrote A View in Bondage and he hated Walpole ever afterwards because Walpole was a man from whom he stole.

Now I read Fortitude when I was about 19 and I was alone in the world and I was on my own. And at that time I had a habit of going out and having a few drinks and picking a fight with somebody and beating him up. And I took great pleasure in this because I ... it was very deceptive. I would pick on fellows that were bigger than I was, but they didn’t know how to fight. I kept them in the alley and it would be very quick work. And I felt a great satisfaction. And then I read Fortitude because I also spent a lot of time in those days in the library. And the protagonist of Fortitude was a boy who was sent away to school, as they do in England, and he was afraid of his father. His mother had died young, when he was young. And his father seemed austere and hard and impervious and invulnerable and so forth. [00:06:43]

However, toward the end of his school years, he began...[edit]

However, toward the end of his school years, he began to see some softening in his father and his father had a house keeper. In the interim the boy in school got involved in rugby and took great pleasure hurting the other fellow in the game. And finally when he reached about the time of graduation he realized that his father was not strong at all. His father was a secret drinker and had several other vices. And he realized that that harsh façade that was just exactly that. And he began to realize, too, that hurting the other boys in ruby was not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness because he was allowing himself to give way to the temptation, you might say, to hurt. And for the first time reading this I caught the point that I would have to watch this business of picking a fight with some poor fellow who didn’t know how to handle himself, because it was really giving way to a sadistic impulse. And Sadism, as you know, is one of the great temptations for men, as I suppose Masochism might be for women.

And that afterwards the protagonist in the book—and it was a very complex and long book—went to London and got involved in London with a girl of a lower class. This is where Somerset Maugham stole the whole theme. And he married, the protagonist married and the girl ran away with his best friend. And at the end of the novel he was walking into the furniture in his room, but he was making up his mind that he was going to pick up the pieces of his life and continue.

The most powerful effect of that book—because I never again picked a fight—it caused me for the first time in my life to sit down and to examine myself in terms of strengths and weaknesses. [00:08:58]

Now toward the end of his career Walpole was greatly...[edit]

Now toward the end of his career Walpole was greatly distressed by the fact that Somerset Maugham wrote a book making fun of him. But he never succeeded in ridiculing him in my eyes.

[Rushdoony] You know, your mention of James Fennimore Cooper and his writings, of course, I was brought up on Sir Walter Scott and Cooper, Hawthorne, Dickens. I read them omnivorously.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ...from cover to cover.

[Scott] So did I.

[Rushdoony] ... and again and again in some instances.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] I also read many of the novelists of the earlier years of this century. One of them whom I read—well, I read everything he wrote—was H. G. Wells.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And he was something of a scoundrel.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] He was on the wrong side of most issues. But the thing that stands out—and I have never forgotten—was this, that in spite of his Socialism and his bad character, Wells still belonged to a world where you respected character. You respected virtue. You respected things that belong to a godly order. And there was a sentence in one of his novels. I think it was in Mr. Britling Sees it Through and the sentence as like a bell ringing. I have never forgotten it and it was this. [00:10:50]

“Brave men are men who do the things they are afraid...[edit]

“Brave men are men who do the things they are afraid to do.”

A tremendous sentence.

Well, that was the kind of thing you got out of the older novels. But in recent years—and it began in the 30s and has been in command since World War II—novels are degrading reading.

[Scott] Well, yes, because... and this is not so much because of the writers. This is because of the change in the ruling class and what the ruling class will allow.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Now don’t forget that in, for instance, the 80s and the 90s or the 70s and the 80s and the 90s women ruled the world of publishing... or let me put it a better way. Publishing catered to the women, because men were too busy to read. And, in fact, reading for a while was considered almost effeminate. So, therefore, we had all this milk and water novel stuff in which there was no sex. There was very little violence and so forth. Stephen Crane and writers like that were people who broke the barrier.

Today in the post war period the publishers began to cater to the Liberals so they had a new kind of hero who was a dissenter in Vietnam or a black unjustly accused as though no black is ever justly accused and so forth.

So these taboos got to be enormous and there was, incidentally, no taboo against sex. In the name of liberty of expression sexual license was permitted, but noble sentiments were scorned. [00:12:49]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And you know that the... the one novelist or the one effort at a novel—and it is a [?]—is Tom Wolfe’s recent Bonfire of the Vanities. Now I think that everyone should read it because although as a novel it has defects, as a piece of social satire and, you know, all satire has to have a substratum of truthful observation upon which the satire is based. And Bonfire of the Vanities exaggerates but nevertheless parts the veil on the seething pit of racial and ethnic hatred and dissension that constitutes New York City today. It is all... it is known to be a Rome and a Clay in the sense that the major characters are based upon actual people in New York and the New Yorkers are having a lot of fun identifying them.

It is, in many ways, an unpleasant dirty book, but on the other hand, the basis of the book is the writer’s indignation at the low level of the people and it has broken taboo. The first four months it sold over 700,000 copies without any advertising. And the reviewers are afraid to get too deeply into the book because the taboos are inhibiting everyone except Mr. Wolfe who broke the taboos with the greatest of ease.

I have to admire that sort of courage. The Wall Street Journal in one of its editorials talked about some of the people in that book as sort of prototypes that Dickens created, recognizable characters in a contemporary society.

So there is hope that the novel may return and do for the next group what it did for us in our youth.

[Rushdoony] Well, that would be a wonderful thing, but meanwhile many of the books that we grew up on have disappeared. [00:14:57]

[Scott] Well, they have been remaindered...[edit]

[Scott] Well, they have been remaindered. They have been destroyed.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Some of the popular writers, good story tellers...

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... of the teens and 20s—Booth Tarkington, Peter Vikind, Clarence Budding, Dick Keland and others like them...

[Scott] Do you remember Queeg by Harrison?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Yes. Can still recall it.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] He was... he was a wimp and he wound up with muscles and straightened out and so forth.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

It was fun reading then.

[Scott] Yes, it was. Yes, it was.

[Rushdoony] And...

[Scott] It... it was more than that. It was inspiring.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] I mean, you looked at life in the world with hope and pleasure.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

I recall some years ago when James Joyce’s Ulysses was being banned and the issue was taken to court on the grounds that it would cater to prurient sexual interests. And the judge ruled in favor of the book saying it would not cater to such an interest because it was more likely to make someone throw up. He didn’t put it that baldly, but that is what he said. And in that respect he was right. [00:16:24]

[Scott] A mass of impenetrable jargon...[edit]

[Scott] A mass of impenetrable jargon.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

But at the time I recall students were carrying it around as though it were a Bible.

[Scott] Well, yes, they were showing off...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...because I don’t... I don’t think one out of 100,000 could get through it.

Well, there are serious books. I find that when I think about books that have affected me beyond those two Spy and Fortitude, I have read, I guess, several thousand much lighter and trashier books which had no effect on me. But occasionally one will stick that you are not aware of. Out of the Perelandra series by C. S. Lewis the last one in the series, His Hideous Strengths...

[Rushdoony] Oh, tremendous.

[Scott] Great book, because it portrays evil in the modern world posing as virtue. And I read that with the same sense of recognition.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Well, now to go on to something else. One of the interesting current books is by I F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates, published by Little Brown and Company in 1988.

I. F. Stone has written a book that is both very good and very bad. [00:18:00]

[Scott] Well, so was he...[edit]

[Scott] Well, so was he.

[Rushdoony] Yes. It is very bad because he is a worshipper of the Greeks. And for him Aristotle is the man and Greek society was the freest and the finest in all of history. And...

[Scott] Slaves and all.

[Rushdoony] Oh, he doesn’t even refer to that. But he has a problem. He, of course, hates things in our country like Joseph McCarthy and the House Un American Activities Committee. He cannot resist taking swipes at those things even when he writing about Socrates.

[Scott] [?] Fifth century Athens [?] appears.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[Scott] King Charles’ head.

[Rushdoony] But the interesting thing is he both feels that they had good reason for executing Socrates and yet he has to excuse them or to explain why so free a place executed a man for his ideas. Of course, Socrates, as he points out, was a radical cynic, an egoist who said, “I am the only statesman in Athens.” Under Socrates no criminal justice would have been possible and that the result of Socrates teaching was tyranny: two reigns of terror in Athens under the 30 tyrants who were his pupils. Socrates was a Totalitarian. And Plato, of course, was 100 percent agreeable to it.

As a result, he says, Socrates because they were living under the fear of another reign of terror and Socrates was close to the men who were responsible to it. He was their teacher. Everything he advocated and Plato advocated pointed to a totalitarian state and a reign of terror. That is why after the trial of Socrates Plato hurriedly left Athens and stayed away from... for some years.

Now the interesting thing is that he is ready to see danger in Athens. [00:20:50]

[Scott] ... but not here.

[Rushdoony] ...but not here. It is as though nothing could threaten the freedom of the United States.

[Scott] Isn’t that remarkable?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] How these people who hate us so much are so sure of our invulnerability.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

He idealizes Athens. He gives no consideration to its slave basis. It was a marvelous democracy and there is no real treatment of the homosexual theme which was basic to Plato and Socrates and to their pupils.

So the tyranny was something that came out of a homosexual inner circle.

[Scott] Well, yes. It was the equivalent of the chains, whips and leathers group.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

These were men who had an inner circle, who believed in elitism, who believed that they were bound to rule, destined to rule and anyone who opposed them should be eliminated.

[Scott] Isn’t it interesting that he would go to such a source? Now in this context, the context of great books, I would recommend anyone today Plutarch’s Lives, most {?} fabulous, fabulous. There was the ancient world at its best. I will never forget the description of Mark Antony with his troops up in the Alps and the snow, short of wood because they were too high up so that there was hardly any fires at all. And the soldiers were out there trembling and complaining. And Antony finally left his tent and stripped naked and walked around to the centuries in the snow naked and said to each one of them, “Soldier, are you cold?” [00:22:48]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And they didn’t dare say yes.

[Rushdoony] Yes, I read Plutarch as though it were another novel. It was so highly readable.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And tremendously vivid glimpse of the pagan world in all its evil and in all its strength.

[Scott] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Very, very interesting work.

[Scott] I. F. Stone could not, I don’t think, follow that.

[Rushdoony] No, no.

[Scott] Because there is something decadent about his choice.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[Scott] It is interesting.

[Rushdoony] Well, Werner Fight back in the late 20s or early 30s wrote a book on Socrates in which he pointed out what a menace Socrates was and Plato and how their whole perspective was totalitarian. I believe the title of the book was The Platonic Myth.

[Scott] I am not sure that I have read that, but it has a ring.

Well, McCauley’s Essays which had... I still refer to, one of McCauley’s essays on Lord Bacon and do you recall that? He had admiration for Bacon’s general scientific approach in which Bacon argued, in effect, that the role of proper science is to bring improvement to the human race and not simply to show off your brain. And he said somewhere in the course in that essay on Bacon whom later on, of course, he put down for being a corrupt judge and for a torturer, which he was and so a man of no character, but of great intelligence. Somewhere in the course of that McCauley made the observation that the world would have been much better improved by Socrates if he had been a shoe make. [00:24:57]

[Rushdoony] Good, yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Good, yes.

[Scott] He would have been...

[Rushdoony] I didn’t remember that at all.

[Scott] Yes. And ...and the whole McCauley approach is so fresh.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Not too many years ago they found an unfinished manuscript of McCauley’s which I have. It was printed up and it was going to be a narrative or history of the restoration after Napoleon and he got so disgusted with the Bourbons when they came back that he couldn’t complete it and he just left it unfinished.

[Rushdoony] Well, his History of England is a classic, a gem. Dorothy read it a couple of years ago with delight, marvelous writing.

[Scott] Well, just think of what he had to say about the disappearance of slavery in Britain. The Normans enslaved the Saxons. They put an iron collar around their neck and they welded it so that it couldn’t be removed and on it they stamped their coat of arms of the owner. That was... imagine wearing those iron collars like a dog.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And that was all throughout England. And yet a couple of generations late there were no slaves and McCauley said, “What happened?” There was no ... there was no argument. There was no demonstration. There were no speeches about liberty. It was the effect of Christian teaching which automatically made the whole institution insupportable and it was silently and subtly abandoned. And this would have happened here. [00:26:41]

[Rushdoony] Yes and although McCauley was not friendly...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes and although McCauley was not friendly to the Puritan regime nor to Cromwell, perhaps as good an account, if not equal to any written on that era is by McCauley. And he calls attention to he high character of the new model army.

[Scott] Yes, he does.

[Rushdoony] Points out how over night after the army was demobilized they disappeared into the general population as useful citizens.

[Scott] That is right, only army that ever did.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And he says whether they were crippled or whatever, they quickly found a place where they were useful and...

[Scott] You know that home schoolers would be very well advised to read McCauley aloud.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ... to the children.

[Rushdoony] Right.

[Scott] ... to get some feeling of what is really important to know.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

He points out that in those days especially armies were feared by the home population.

[Scott] Well, they lived off the people. [00:27:24]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

The minute they demobilized there was terror in the country, but not so with Cromwell’s army. A remarkable tribute. And that was McCauley.

[Scott] Yes and he... he didn’t... he didn’t like the Puritans.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] ... at all.

[Rushdoony] No. Yes.

[Scott] He said they were against bear baiting not because it hurt the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the onlookers.

[Rushdoony] Yes, even when he made fun of them, though, he was on the whole fair.

[Scott] Yes, he was.

[Rushdoony] Quite a writer.

[Scott] Brilliant and no footnotes, as you pointed out.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] But nevertheless I have never found him in an error.

[Rushdoony] No.

Another great scholar, historian was a man who was a philosopher was terrible. Hume.

[Scott] Hume.

[Rushdoony] Hume’s History of England is, again, a gem so that it makes marvelous reading to this day.

[Scott] I haven’t read Hume. I read and I am very fond of Prude, as you know.

[Rushdoony] Yes, he was great.

[Scott] He was... he was very, very good. He is very hard to find. His books are out of print.

[Rushdoony] I just ran across an interesting statement by Prude. He said, “It is a serious error to be tolerant of that which is intolerant towards you.” [00:29:13]

[Scott] Yes, yes...[edit]

[Scott] Yes, yes.

[Rushdoony] He saw it as suicidal.

[Scott] Right. It is suicidal.

[Rushdoony] Well, it is curious that Hume, perhaps the most radical philosopher of all history should write one of the most conservative histories.

[Scott] Well, of course, if a man is honest, he has to write truth.

[Rushdoony] Well, Hume was very much a rascal and his philosophy reeks of his contempt for Christianity and the truth. But as an historian he was a very different person. So he is very popular with the left as far as philosophy is concerned and popular with conservatives as an historian.

Would you like to add something, Otto, to what we were discussing a minute ago?

[Scott] Well, yes. In the break Grace brought up the question of fiction. Why fiction, in effect? And, of course, from a writing point of view or a teaching point of view or even an illustrative point of view, in fiction you can get into the mind of your characters. But, in fact, you cannot get into the mind of anyone, because everyone’s mind is a closed territory. If you are going to write history, for instance, you can repeat what you know men have said in their letters or in conversations with one another that is recorded, but you cannot invent their discussion, nor their motives, because their motives can only be surmised through their action. But in fiction you can get into the whole thing and you can then illustrate themes and types and events much better than at any other way. And, of course, you can also do it so winningly, you might say, that you leave an indelible impression upon the reader. [00:31:25]

Now sometimes you find...[edit]

Now sometimes you find... and unusually you find a combination. I was thinking of The Captive Mind and I was looking for a copy of it before we started, but I couldn’t find it in my library. It is written by the Czech poet who won an Nobel prize and I don’t know how to even pronounce his name, Milosz, I think it is. And The Captive Mind is a book that he wrote about how it felt to live under Communism. And it originally came out in the 50s, I think around 52 or 53 and I recall reading it. It had a tremendous impact upon me. And it started off with the idea of the happy pill where a foreign power sent its merchants through a country selling at a very low price happiness pills. And everybody took these pills and suddenly their cares dropped away and they became happy. And then they were all perfectly happy when the conqueror appeared. And, of course, it was a metaphor and it was beautifully done, because he is a poet and his use of language was precise and brilliant. And it was a combination of fact and fiction because, of course, the happiness pill is fiction but the fact of Czechoslovakian subjugation is a fact.

Now there is, really, I think, he is a genius and, of course, he received a Nobel prize. I don’t often agree with the Nobel prize awards, but in this case I thought it was well deserved.

But fiction, you might say, is part of our everyday life. It is almost impossible to think from speculating. You cannot go around tied to the world, to the earth. You have to... you mind has to travel farther than that and fiction is one of the means of traveling.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And that is why good, sound fiction with a healthy perspective on the world God has made is basic to a good society.

[Scott] Yeah, a recent writer even wrote some essays on what he said was the necessity for moral fiction.

[Rushdoony] Well, I am going to go to a different type of book now. One of the kinds of books that I have been trying to pick up and they are not easy to find, are books dealing with what Christians have done in the way of charity over the centuries. I have a few gems in the field. I am not going to discuss the best, but I have a couple of samples here. [00:34:21]

One is volume I of several hundred pages by the Reverend...[edit]

One is volume I of several hundred pages by the Reverend Daniel T. McColgan, A Century of Charity: The First 100 Years of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in the United States. This was published some years ago in 51.

And it is about the work of charity done by Catholics under the impetus given by Saint Vincent de Paul. Just quoting briefly from the book, “Vincent believed that solid spirituality must be evidenced in a quickening of religious fervor which issues forth in good deeds, love of God manifesting itself in love for one’s fellows. ‘He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how could he love God whom he hath not seen?’” unquote.

I have more than one book on the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and others on other areas of Catholic work over the centuries.

Another book in the same general field, again, out of print, unfortunately, a more recent one published in 1980 is Edward H. McKinley, Marching to Glory: The History of the Salvation Army in the United States of America, 1880-1980. The first 100 years of Salvation Army work in this country. An excellent history on what the army has been doing.

Very few people have any awareness of the very many areas of charitable work, of reclaiming people, of dealing with alcoholics, of helping girls who are pregnant and so on and on that the Salvation Army is engaged in all over the world. [00:36:46]

Within a few years of General Booth’s first days they...[edit]

Within a few years of General Booth’s first days they were in remote places like Japan and India and doing an amazing work. It would take volumes to survey all that they have done.

General Booth was one of the great Christian Reconstructionists of his history, because he believed that if you are a Christian you are going to show it in practical work. It is going to have an effect on your daily life. And his ideas, the Salvation Army with all that it has done has not yet fully implemented.

It is too bad that one of the great men of history, General William Booth, is not better known. But what I want to say just citing these two books—and they are a drop in the bucket of all that has been done and is being done—is that the great work has been done by Christians.

[Scott] Oh, yes.

[Rushdoony] And Christians are doing more today by far than the federal government, but no one says anything about it.

I have another book here that I picked up recently, used, published in 1969, 1977 by Anthony M. Platt and published by the University of Chicago Press entitled The Child Savors the Invention of Delinquency.

[Scott] Oh.

[Rushdoony] And it is a biting account of the stupidity and evil of our child experts and our delinquency experts and all.

In the introduction, in fact, the introduction to the second edition he calls attention in passing how in an earlier era it was largely religiously motivated people who saw needs and met the needs. And he says the main outline of their program which included mild discipline, academic and moral education, vocational training, the utilization of surrogate parents and probationary surveillance have stood the test of time. [00:39:36]

In other words, the only adequate and successful work...[edit]

In other words, the only adequate and successful work in the area of dealing with delinquents has been by Christians.

[Scott] Well, I agree with that and as you touched a very tender nerve, because I will never forget the official from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children who recommended that I be put in a reformed school until I was 21 for playing hooky. And Judge Levy of New York who said, “If you ever bring in such a recommendation again in such a case, I will see to it that you lose your position.”

[Rushdoony] Good for him.

[Scott] But, you know, you bring up a very important topic. The one of the books that helped me in my turn into conversion was The Formation of Christendom by Christopher Dawson in which Dawson talks about the Roman intellectuals and the Roman aristocrats because the intellectuals, the aristocrats, the well to do were the ones who found the empire most disheartening and pessimistic. Everyone else, you know, was too busy to earning a living or trying to get their freedom or just simply survive in that terrible cesspool known as Rome. But the ones on top who had time and money and leisure were the ones who found that their lives were empty. And they were the ones who converted and they were the ones who converted to pagan tribes. And suddenly the whole narrative of how Christianity emerged in the form, in the way that Dawson put it was something like your observations on how much good Christianity does in a societal sense, in a human sense.

Christians of all people, of all groups are practically speaking the most ignorant. And I speak as one who came upon this information quite late. [00:41:45]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes. Christians do not realize how much they have governed in the past, how much they have taken care of all the needs of society. And now they assume that the only function of a Christian is to go to church.

[Scott] Would that that were so. I mean, that would be pretty easy service, wouldn’t it?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Well, before I forget it or overlook it, Rush, I shouldn’t overlook your Institutes. Your Institutes which really went a long way to tip the scales. I went from Dawson and Lewis to the gospels. And after the gospels I went to the Institutes. And they were tremendous.

[Rushdoony] Well, thank you, Otto. I was just about to bring up the fact that your book The Secret Six has been reprinted. And it is available through Ross House Books. And I feel that the fact of revolution as developed there and continuing in our society today is very, very important and, therefore the book is one that people should read. It is about John Brown of Harper’s Ferry and it is also about Washington, DC today. It tells us of the revolution that is underway in our time in the name of human rights.

[Scott] Well, yes. It was a great turning point in American history. And what puzzled me was, first of all, why these six New England wealthy men, wealthy and educated men of New England would put up the money and the guns for a murderer like John Brown. What could ever lead them to such an activity?

Yet, you know, to suborn murder and to encourage him to continue. And that set me into looking at the background of the secret six. And it took me all the way back down to the 1830s and to the swing from Calvinism into Unitarianism, the swing away from Christianity. You know, that the Reverend Ralph Waldo Emerson left the pulpit and finally stopped going to church all together, didn’t believe in the miracles. He didn’t believe in communion and he wound up believing in the Hindu idea that good and evil were equal, equal. [00:44:32]

And Thoreau with all his talk of civil disobedience...[edit]

And Thoreau with all his talk of civil disobedience while he went home for lunch every day with mother. All the three miles from Walden Pond to the heart of town.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Walden Pond which was on Emerson’s estate, by the way.

All these people are very recognizable types because they are the individuals who are telling us now about how to get along with one another. They are against discrimination. And yet since they have been propounded pushing and promoting their regulations governing interpersonal relations, we have never been plagued with so much hatred as there is today.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Thoreau has always been a particular dislike of mine, because when I went to school his works were something of a Bible.

[Scott] Oh, indeed.

[Rushdoony] And here was Thoreau the great nature lover who had a little cabin on Emerson’s property and spent as little time there as possible. He would go home to momma for his meals. Then he would spend the day at the village store talking with all the ne’er-do-wells. He was a no account bum. [00:46:11]

[Scott] Well, he was a great ...[edit]

[Scott] Well, he was a great {?} hypocrite and a group of hypocrites and the result of all their good will and their efforts to help the blacks was a war in which 600,000 men were dead.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Not counting the casualties which were well over a million in a nation of 35 million. The worst war we have ever had these people brought to us.

[Rushdoony] And the point you have made so emphatically in your book that we were the only country that had to fight a war to free slaves. It was because these people who were Abolitionists did not want a peaceful resolution. They wanted conflict. They wanted a war and they worked for it.

[Scott] They worked hard for it and they got it. And then they wound up being heralded and so forth.

As far as I know I am the first writer and the first time it has ever been written that has ever put them down to where they belong including the Reverend Emerson and Mr. Thoreau and the rest. And the New York Times, the superiors of the New York Times book company, Sidney Gruesome and the Times Corporation was very upset with that book, because, of course, it goes against the tea of modern cant.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] But I think it will outlast me.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:47:28]

[Scott] And I think it will be around for a long time...[edit]

[Scott] And I think it will be around for a long time to come.

[Rushdoony] I think it will take people who have lived beyond our time to fully appreciate how important that book is.

[Scott] Truly American.

[Rushdoony] ... in pinpointing the false turn of history.

[Scott] Where we got off the track.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And we haven’t got back onto it, but at least we are now beginning to find our way back.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[Scott] Well, there are a number of better books, more important, I think, The Revolt of the Masses, for instance.

[Rushdoony] A great one.

[Scott] ...which talks about and I remember Ortega said, “Our forbearers worried about the barbarian outside the gates and our problem is the barbarian who resides... who rises from within.”

[Rushdoony] Yes. And he spoke of the modern scientist as the ultimate barbarian, because, he said, “He leads our culture in taking for granted all the centuries of Christian achievement as though they were like the atmosphere, the air we breathe.”

[Scott] Yeah, they came and well. [00:48:36]

I lucked across this phrase inviting about Klaus Fuchs...[edit]

I lucked across this phrase inviting about Klaus Fuchs recently for the report that Klaus Fuchs was intelligent, but not cultured. Scientists have to be intelligent but they don’t have to be cultured. And without culture what is a man?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Well, since Ortega’s day we have seen the things they took for granted, 20 centuries of Christianity and their moral impact on society disappear. We are seeing crime in the streets.

[Scott] Oh, I ran into a young man just as I was coming out of the post office today and he was somewhat bearded and he was wearing a starched hat and was wearing casual clothes. That wasn’t the thing that struck me. The thing that struck me was his face. He actually looked like a primitive, a genuine primitive.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Somebody who ... to whom civilization is something foreign.

[Rushdoony] Exactly. I think you put your finger on it. You can go anywhere in the country and there are so many now who are beginning to appear to be primitive men. Twenty centuries of Christianity, all the impact of civilization...

[Scott] And suddenly...

[Rushdoony] ... is gone.

[Scott] And... and the it is... you know, Ortega might have exaggerated because he belonged to our father’s generation. He began to talk about the decline of the culture when men stopped wearing gloves. [00:50:13]

[Rushdoony] That is interesting...[edit]

[Rushdoony] That is interesting. I recall ... it reminds me of something vividly. I believe it was Craig Flanagan’s grandfather, a minister who was in Germany and on a trolley and his hat blew off, went into a stream or something. They could unto recover it. And he was profoundly embarrassed and people looked at him and laughed...

[Scott] ... because he had no hat.

[Rushdoony] ... because he had no hat. What kind of a gentleman was he to have no hat? A gentleman would have a hat. A working man would have a cap.

[Scott] ... a cap. Yes.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] There were forms you maintained in civilization.

[Scott] Absolutely. Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] Like the English dressing for dinner in Africa.

[Scott] Well, that came after and I have... I used to know the writer’s name. I think it was W. O. Carpenter, I am not positive, who traveled around the world in the 1860s and 70s and wrote a series of travel books. And he was very interesting. And then he made another tour in the 18... well, later on. At any rate, I have forgotten what year. And at first when he read Kipling and where the Englishmen dressed in the tropics, he laughed, because he said he had been in the tropics and he had talked to fellow Englishmen and they did not dress.

But after Kipling he mad the same trip and they were dressing. They were dressing all by themselves. And it was the terrible shock to him to see the effect of art upon life. [00:52:01]

[Rushdoony] Well, we are seeing the same effect in...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Well, we are seeing the same effect in the reverse sense.

[Scott] Undressing.

[Rushdoony] Undressing, yes.

Well, speaking of Ortega and Gossett, I would like to bring up a book which may still be in print. I read it last December. It is one of the most horrifying books I have read and unfortunately true. Jenna Corea, C O R E A, The Mother Machine: Reproductive Technologies from Artificial Insemination to Artificial Wombs, published by Harper and Rowe.

Now what the author—who is a Feminist and dedicates her book to Sandra Elkin and Andrea Devorkin—has done is to say, “Let’s stand back. Do we want to be a part of this brave new world? Are we joining the wrong wagon train?”

And she goes into the experiments in artificial insemination, into tampering with women, test tube babies, man made ovulation and she points out the deadly effects of these things, how destructive they are of women, how dangerous they are for society and how so many of these result in monstrous births that have to be put away.

And she says, “All of this is hidden, because they are determined to play God. They are determined to use women as though they were nothing more than experimental animals.”

[Scott] Breed sows.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And she points out that this is the ultimate degradation of women. And the Feminists, her fellow Feminists are not looking at the scientists. They are looking at old fashioned people and damning patriarchal society. [00:54:22]

Now she doesn’t agree with us on anything, but she...[edit]

Now she doesn’t agree with us on anything, but she is seeing where the real danger is.

[Scott] It is interesting you should mention Brave New World, because that was one of the features of that novel.

[Rushdoony] Exactly.

[Scott] Remember the vat?

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes.

[Scott] And... and... and all the embryos were being raised by machinery, kettles and whatever it was.

You know that I was looking in the unabridged dictionary that I have the other day for something and I ran across by accident, totally by accident, the French phrase meaning in his mother’s womb. I won’t try to reproduce the French because my accent is too bad. In his mother’s womb was part of French law. And it was a beneficial law to protect infants, children in their mother’s womb. And there was a whole body of law protecting the pregnant woman and the child in her womb.

Who would have ever believed that the child in the womb could no longer be protected from his own mother?

[Rushdoony] That law, of course, goes back to Exodus and abortion is a part of the anti Christianity of our time.

[Scott] They have... they are proceeding step by step to dismantle the tenets of Christianity in this civilization. [00:56:06]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And it is too, too cunningly devised to be accidental.

[Rushdoony] That is right. That is right.

Well, ...

[Scott] That...

[Rushdoony] You remember Shelby Sharpe’s reference.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... to the fact that the legal authorities were planning this dismantling, discussing it...

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... a generation ago.

[Scott] Yes.

Well, that carries me to the last writer that I am going to mention and that is Jacob Burkhart. Burkhart had a considerable effect upon me. His Civilization of the Renaissance in particular.

[Rushdoony] A remarkable work.

[Scott] And there, again, he couples the rise of a living standard with the decline of the moral standard.

[Rushdoony] Our problem today.

[Scott] That is exactly our problem today. And the whole anti Christian, anti Church swing into the living despot, into the living state of God, the prince, as it called him. And I will never forget that phase. He said, “In the end all... on all is lost except revenge.” That was the only thing left.

And if you go to Hollywood, if you look at the products of Hollywood, time and time and time again the movie shows you revenge. [00:57:41]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ... as the motive, the only motive.

[Rushdoony] Right.

[Scott] ... worth depicting. And the audience now it laughs at the exercise of revenge. It laughs in pleasure.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] So as going back to your business on abortion, I read an article in the paper the other day extolling the fact that they could now determine in advance if the child would have a defect and aborting the child to avoid further difficulties.

[Rushdoony] Well, there is a case now of a Chinese foreign student from Red China here and trying to get sanctuary because the wife is about to give birth to the second child and that is illegal in Red China. Only one child. We are refusing to give asylum and the child will be destroyed if they return.

[Scott] It will be sent back by our humanitarians in the state department.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And the child will be aborted.

Well, what a play that would make. What a book it would make. You know that Carlos {?} the American Italian composer put on a very good and very moving opera and I believe... I have forgotten what it was called, a counsel or something of that sort. I ... I remember seeing it, but I don’t remember the name, where this poor woman was caught in the throes of European red tape and couldn’t get the proper papers to get out and in the end committed suicide. And it was a tremendously moving thing. And, of course, I didn’t realize when I saw that and it must have been in the late 40s, early 50s that this civilization would become as entangled in monetary regulations as it is. And I wonder at our younger writers who see these tremendous themes and who don’t pick them up.

[Rushdoony] Well, our time is running out, Otto. I this been a delight for us to discuss some of these books and to realize that in harking back to some of the older ones how much our society has lost today.

Thank you and God bless you all.