Image: Kensington, Maryland, marked World Book Day with its own annual International Book Day Festival this past weekend.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Beijing (China), Kensington (Maryland), and Washington, D.C., April 26 – This past weekend was a worldwide World Book Day celebration. The town of Kensington, Maryland, led the American celebration at its annual International Book Day Festival on both Saturday and Sunday.
What was particularly disconcerting about this important celebration of books was the silence of the Biden White House. How difficult would it have been for the President to issue a press release announcing his love for books and, perhaps, even recommending a book or two? Not surprisingly, a complete lack of leadership of even the simplest sort overwhelmed the Biden administration.
Several leaders of European nations recommended their favorite books. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, offered a few suggestions of his own.
The most interesting comments about World Book Day came from Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and arguably the most powerful man in the world, who recommended a long list of books he encourages everyone to read and who issued a strong endorsement for reading books generally. Xi announced, “Reading is my life-long hobby.”
Xi offered a list of sixty-three (63) of his favorite books, from which he regularly quotes during his speeches and writings. It’s a fascinating list, which reflects a very different quality of leadership in the Chinese leader than what Americans suffer at present.
Some of the titles on Xi’s recommended reading list are not surprising, such as Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto or several ancient Chinese classics. What is surprising, however, are the numerous western treatises, such as John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
The inclusion of those core works of western philosophy and free-market capitalist thought in the reading list, which China’s leader has recommended for all of his countrymen to read, reveals a desire to understand the thoughts of others, which goes far beyond the narrow-mindedness of Americans in 2022.
Not since President John F. Kennedy has an American president recommended reading The Communist Manifesto. The only other American president to do so, by the way, was his predecessor President Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the most ardent anti-Communist presidents in American history.
That both Eisenhower and Kennedy recommended that all Americans read Marx’s classic work reflects a different era in American society, when educators actually educated children in critical analysis rather than merely indoctrinated. Fifty-nine (59) years after Kennedy’s death, Americans would feel enraged if Biden or any other political leader suggested that their children should read Mark’s The Communist Manifesto. Rather than learning about other ideologies, Americans would accuse the recommending political leader of attempted indoctrination.
It reflects how far we have fallen as a civilization. Our educational apparatus – and the teaching by parents of critical thinking skills – has fallen so far that we no longer feel comfortable allowing our children, or even other adults, to read any philosophy different from our own.
Xi’s list truly is remarkable. Every American, from teenage years into mature adult life, should read every book on Xi’s list and others, which would challenge and expand their minds. The Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper has very strong pro-free market and anti-Communist beliefs. If you want to get a sense of his beliefs, please read Locke’s Two Treatises of Government or Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Nevertheless, he counts among his favorite books such society-challenging works as Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Tom Wolfe’s Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catcher and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback.
One doesn’t have to accept everything one reads in a book, newspaper, or magazine to learn from it. The Golden Hammer and its companion news program, “NewsReal,” may provide the most objective reporting. Nevertheless, other sources of news are important, so that the reader and viewer may understand the beliefs of others: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The Global Times, Russia Times, and Al Jazeera. The writers of those newspapers write well, even if a lot of what they write is highly opinionated and slanted. They have profound influence upon world beliefs, so it’s helpful to know what appears in those publications, if you have any substantial interaction with the rest of the world.
Education includes analyzing ideas and using the processes of deduction, inference, and logic to determine which ideas have merit and which don’t. Apparently, those skills are ones which Americans no longer trust educators or parents to instill in the minds of our young people.