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A Social Sciences Reading List

Apr 24, 2006
Michael Hogan

The following list was compiled in reaction to a local New Jersey BOE Trustee and a local lawyer who recently disparaged the social sciences. Those who use the social sciences to guide their lives are disparaged in modern media as "secular humanists." If you go to you may view a video entitled: Confessions of a secular humanist. The attack on the social sciences is part of the dumbing down of America necessary for propaganda to flourish and spread. How so you say?

Without an understanding of the social sciences, the people and society are without any hope of having a weltanschauung. This is a German word meaning something close to perspective. Without the perspective of the social sciences and humanities individuals are unable to grapple with the ever present propaganda in our lives. Propaganda is illusion, plain and simple. We are caught in a web of illusion and the antidote for illusion is the finest minds in the history of ideas. What follows are a few of the worthwhile minds I encountered as I tried to build my weltanschauung:

1. The Neurotic Personality

 In her book "The Neurotic Personality," psychiatrist Karen Horney informs us we can address our problems if we recognize what they are. Those who believe the social sciences are bull--it will never have the perspectives needed to bring problems out of the shadows of denial. 

What is the great American neurosis? Victimhood! Our zeitgeist trains Americans to think of ourselves as victims. Victimhood allows American bullies to be eternally angry at all those the cultural screen tells us are victimizing us. Bullyboy Bush has a long list of countries he claims are victimizing us. 

The American neurotic personality of victimhood accepts the president’s propaganda and, as a result of America's mass neurosis, America makes war on the world in an effort to mass murder those who we are told are victimizing us. This is straight out of the Goebbels/Hitler propaganda playbook. 

Unfortunately, Americans are without the social sciences needed to analyze their society and themselves. Without these much needed tools of analysis, uneducated Americans accept the lies of leaders who are uneducated fools themselves. Why? Americans lack the perspective of the history of ideas. Without history Americans are unable to independently analyze the motivations of our leadership class. 

And so, the neurotic personality remains a victim of this leadership class while remaining in denial about the motivations of the Power Elite ( a phrase coined by sociologist C. Wright Mills).
2. Anti-Intellectualism In American Life 

Many have their favorite historian. To my mind, Richard Hofstader remains America's preeminent historian36 years after his passing. His book entitled: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life is on time for our time. 

BOE types and teachers are anti-intellectual to the core. They suppress valid inquiry. Students are stifled. 
3. The Lonely Crowd
In his book, The Lonely Crowd, sociologist David Reisman describes three phases of the history of man - Tradition Directed, Self Directed and Other Directed. Social scientists agree man is now Other Directed. The zeitgeist is directing us. George Orwell's Big Brother is directing us. 

In fact, MIT's Professor Noam Chomsky claims we are the most propagandized people to have ever lived - more then the German people under Hitler & Goebbels or the Russian people under Stalin. Chomsky makes this claim in his book: "Manufacturing Consent" 1989 Pantheon Press. 

4. The Status Seekers
Newspapers claim folks move to the suburbs to achieve housing and good schools. Meanwhile a sociologist named Vance Packard wrote a book called The Status Seekers. It seems folks come here to achieve higher status. 

In fact, Packard observes folks move 6 times in life on average. Each time a move is made it is to what is perceived as a higher status portion of town or a higher status town. The real estate sales agent industry very much depends on a steady flow of status seekers. Each time a status seeker moves to higher status, the status seeker makes a capital gain allowing him to buy more status - and a real estate agent earns a commission. High turnover is the key to real estate agents making money. It's in their interest and they encourage our transitory nomadic America. 

The status seeker simply assumes education in the suburbs is excellent. After all, real estate agents tell them so. Few see cannon fodder in the form of Hitler Youth as the product of education.

5. Socialization & Fascism 

The psychologists view of socialization is the preparation of a person for a variety of new challenging experiences. 

Parents often feel their children are being socialized by the schools. Some parents tell me socialization is the main function of education. 

Meanwhile my thesis or analysis is quite different. You see, I am a member of The Church of What's Happening Now. Those who lived through the 1960's will recognize the church as Flip Wilson's old church. What's happening in the schools, government, corporations, the military and religion itself, is not the socialization envisioned by psychologists a half century ago. 

All institutions of American life are dominated by the bully syndrome (BS). The BS begins in school where bullies dominate and the rest learn to adjust, submit, deny, etc.; there are many reactions. Once learned in school ones role in the BS is adapted to each institution or phase of life. 

The BS in American life is so great that we act out the BS on the worldwide stage. Several authors who worked for Bush describes him as a bully. Specifically, the former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, has labeled Bush a bully in a recent book. A former national security advisor named Clarke has also labeled Bush a bully in his recent book. Now, 7 generals have called Rumsfeld a bully who wants it “his way or the highway”. 

The BS will end in Armageddon. Then we will be truly socialized.
6. Agent Provocateur? 

Vocabulary seems to be another aspect of education lacking in Robin. He claims I am an "agent provocateur." I had to go to my mother's dictionary and look up the words. Allow me to save readers the trouble of looking up the provocative phrase.

According to Webster’s, an agent provocateur is a person hired to join or become friendly with others, as with members of a labor union, a political party, etc. in order to incite them to do things that will make them or their organization liable to penalty.

In fact, agent provocateurs are G-men. Is Robin a G-man projecting himself onto me? Is psychology another area of education unknown to the right reverend? 

7. The Word Fascist and What It Means

In his rant Robin objects to the word "fascist." What is it about the word that so bothers our man? If one is to study the history of ideas, one needs to use the word fascist as a tool of analysis. Is this another area of knowledge the peddler objects to - history? 

This may be why America keeps repeating major strategic mistakes. Those who are without a knowledge of history are doomed to repeat it. 

Let's begin by defining fascism. This is simple and should appeal to the American mind. There is democracy and all else is fascism. Those whose actions are anti-democratic are fascists. 

The WW Schools BOE ran essentially the same referendum four times in a short period of time. What can one call a governing body that ignores the will of the people in 3 elections on exactly the same subject? Such behavior is anti-democratic in the extreme. What is another word for anti-democratic behavior? It's as simple as that. Your children's education is managed by fascists (i.e. the BOE)? These are the folks who did not listen to the majority 3 times in a row. 

8. Much Like All Americans 

Today I took lunch with a lawyer. This is the state of my life. I am reduced to socializing with lawyers. Who else lives in the suburbs but lawyers? 

In any case, the shyster explained to me the social sciences are "bull--it." He preferred the so-called hard sciences where a thesis is tested by critics. When I asked if he had read any social scientists, the goniff said no. I tried to explain that social scientists also have their thesis' tested by their peers, but to no avail. 

The lawyer intends to retire in a European country he will visit for the first time this year. Europeans will laugh at the mouth piece and tell him Americans have no culture, sense of history or education. When Europeans told me this for 8 years in Holland, I defended America and its culture. Now that I have returned and crossed the Hudson River, it is clear to me Americans are without culture, a sense of history or education. 

9. One Dimensional Man

A thinker who taught at the University of California in the 1960's named Herbert Marcuse wrote a book called "One Dimensional Man." All those interested in how Robin and the rest of us became one dimensional people, must read "One Dimensional Man." 

When a society gives up the social sciences only one dimension remains. Commodification is all about reducing man to interchangeable parts on an assembly line. This is what a commodity is - all are the same. When C. Wright Mills wrote "Americans are cheerful robots" it was in the 1950's. Now, the Robots aren't cheerful anymore. Why is that? 

10. My Old Street Corner - Broadway & 189th St

The only intellectual life I ever experienced in America was on my old street corner in upper Manhattan. One day Tony Guida came home from CCNY and he was very enthusiastic about a book his professor had him read. The book is entitled "The Lonely Crowd" by a sociologist named David Reisman. 

Other sociological milestones are "The pursuit of Loneliness" by Phillip Slater and "The Urban Villagers" by Herbert Gans. Gans was the president of the American Sociological Assn. 

Without the social sciences Americans become commodifidied and alienated from themselves. In extreme cases alienation becomes schizophrenia. The only understandable book on schizophrenia is mercifully short and is entitled: "The Divided Self," by the English psychiatrist R.D. Laing 

The attack on the social sciences is a half century old. In the mid 1960's R.D. Laing observed knowledge was being systematically obfuscated. In modern media this referred to as the Dumbing Down of America. Robin is inadvertently or intentionally part of the process. In fact, all public education is about dumbing down and propagandizing kids who become commodified adults. 

President Bush has just recently eliminated Pell Grants for the social sciences. It's always fun to watch the super rich autocrats and oligarchs deny education to others not so fortunate. They do it with a sense of Noblesse Oblige. 

Soon our leaders will be engineers rather then lawyers and other lowlifes. Then we will be like a country whose top 9 leaders are engineers - China. But, isn't China a dictatorship? Is America a dictatorship? 

If you ever need amusement, attend a WW Schools BOE meeting and listen to Robin Robinson explain BOE democracy. Robin gives an uplifting sermon. Could Robinson be related to the Reverend William Robinson leader of the Puritans in Leiden Holland before the Pilgrims came to America? 

I have spoken with and studied descendents of the Reverend Robinson and Robin has that same high tone. Our Dutch uncle informs us all how to behave. This is the way it is with Calvinists. To study Calvinists, one needs to read Max Weber study entitled: "The Protestant Work Ethic." 

11. What Can I Say? 

It's great to see Robin has been such a faithful follower of Allow me to observe Robin is inadvertently projecting himself onto the other. 

He thinks the word peddler is a "pejorative." I learned the word at the IBM Company. We were told to think of ourselves as peddlers so we would not forget our mission. The IBM Co required all peddlers to have account control in terms of a relationship with the president and all top executives of the Fortune 500 companies we sold to. While Robin prefers euphemisms, I prefer authenticity. 

Robin accuses me of "pseudo-sociological rants." Although economics was my major interest in college, I have spent a lifetime reading the 3 fathers of sociology: Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx. I also recommend the foremost American sociologist: C, Wright mills who taught at Columbia in the 1950's. I recommend Mills' book: "A Sociological Imagination." 

There is nothing "pseudo" about my study of the social sciences. It took a lifetime and it is very real. Unfortunately, Americans are without a sociological imagination and any respect for the social sciences. Jean Paul Sartre said hell is people. 

Robin refers to the social sciences as “pet peeve subjects, i.e. education, economics, sociology, authority in general." Those who use the social sciences to perform critical analysis are categorized as offering "self righteous judgment," by Robin.

Although he offers ZERO examples, Robin claims I am: "thin skinned", "uninformed, Half considered", "mean spirited", and an "agent provocateur." In fact, Robin never offers examples or provides the reader with references.
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