We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"The purpose of a college education is to teach you how to think". Regardless of your current opinions, this book is going to make you think. If you are not afraid to check your values and judgements, read the book.
P.xi "Historians who think it the highest calling of their profession to resurrect the 'daily life of ordinary people' can find little evidence in the daily life of ordinary Germans of the overwhelming fact of life-and of death-for millions of Jews; those who look for the 'long-term' processes and impersonal 'structures' in history tend to explain this 'short-term event' in such a way as to explain it away; and those seeking to 'deconstruct' the history of the Holocaust as they deconstruct all of history come perilously close to the 'revisionists' who deny the reality of the Holocaust. And so with philosophers and literary critics for whom there is no reality but only language, no philosophy but only a play of mind, no morality but only rhetoric and aesthetics."
P.6 "The beasts of modernism have mutated into the beasts of postmodernism-relativism into nihilism, amorality into immorality, irrationality into insanity, sexual deviancy into polymorphous perversity. And since then, generations of intelligent students under the guidance of their enlightened professors have looked into the abyss, have contemplated those beasts, and have said, 'How interesting how exciting.' Today, students in some of the most distinguished departments of literature are all too often reading books about how to read books. Literary theory has replaced literature itself as the fashionable subject of study. Structuralism and deconstruction, gender theory and the new historicism, reader-response and speech-act theory-these are more hotly debated than the content and style of particular novels or poems."
P.17 "This is the intention behind some of the most fashionable schools of history: that which explains everything in terms of race, class, and gender; that which focuses entirely upon the daily lives of ordinary people; that which structuralizes history, displacing individuals, events, and ideas by impersonal structures, forces, and institutions. The effect in each case is to mute the drama of history, to void it of moral content, to mitigate evil and belittle greatness. Looking into the most fearsome abysses of modern times, these historians see not beasts but faceless bureaucrats, not corpses but statistics."
There is a whole chapter on Marx and his writings. Also a chapter on the significance in the long story of history of nationalism and post modernism.
I personally feel a good portion of the problem is the lack of individual public shame. When a society no long considers an act "shameful", individuals in that society feel free to act. Without a feeling of public shame, anything is possible. Even mass murder.
In my last semester of history graduate school (1995), what happened had been replaced by how certain historians researched and wrote about history. The focus was on specific theories of what history was, rather than those boring facts from hundreds and thousands of years ago. That teaching resulted in "historians" being able to talk to other "historians," but none knowing little of history itself. Like news people and politicians, those new historians talked to each other, but knew little or nothing of American society.
Himmelfarb was on the right track but Leonard Peikoff explained in his book how the most advanced culture of it's day could end up giving the world the horrors of Nazism. The Ominous Parallels. Note that the subtitle is "The End of Freedom in America". Just a snippet:
We dare not brush aside unexplained a horror such as Nazism.
Many writers have noted similarities between America today and Germany before Hitler, then have shrugged off their own observations—succumbing to the notion, spread by today's intellectuals, that it is bad history to compare two different countries. This notion, itself a symptom of our current crisis, means that there are no principles governing human action, and that it is bad history to learn from history.
The similarities, however, cannot be shrugged off. Our crisis is real. The crisis is the fact that our country, the United States of America—the freest, the most productive, and the most moral country in the world—is now moving in Hitler's direction.
America is moving toward a Nazi form of totalitarianism. It has been doing this for decades. It has been doing so gradually, by default, and for the most part unknowingly, but it is doing so systematically and without significant opposition. In every cultural area—from science and education to art and religion to politics and economics—the trend is now unmistakable.