Since the subtitle of my book is about reconsideration, I believe we should reconsider—and broaden—the list of people who might be called upon to write a review. The list should include the author, who understands the book better than most of its other readers. Consequently, here is my autoreview, my review of my own book.
The book opens with several essays about China, some of which are autobiographical. My experience of teaching and living in China, first in 1984 and then during Beijing Spring and the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, led me to do some reconsideration myself. The autobiographical aspect of the essays is, among other things, the story of my own political discovery. The first and essential thing I learned was that Marxism comes from Marx. When Marx said that after socialism came there would be no more differences among people, he rejected human variety. It followed that there would be thought control, so that all people could be taught how they really are the same as everybody else. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were bad guys, but they understood Marx perfectly. They knew they had to control thought, and they did.
They also created famines. There has never been a worse famine in human history than the one that took place in China between 1959 and 1961. Chairman Mao forced farmers to melt their tools in backyard furnaces so that the nation would have more steel. Without tools, crops couldn’t be cared for. Millions died. But since the human race has to be remodeled, it really isn’t so bad to get rid of the old-fashioned selfish types, thought Mao and Stalin and the Kim Dynasty in Korea. Let them starve.
When I saw that Marx wanted everybody to think the same way, I suddenly understood that Jesus had called for the same abandonment of individuality. Jesus said that faith was necessary in order to achieve salvation. Those without faith would go to Hell. If you don’t have faith in something you can’t really learn for sure, you don’t find out that you have made a mistake until you are already in Hell and there is no way out. Jesus Marx and Karl Christ (did I get something wrong?) both wanted us to believe, despite the fact that one faith was secular and the other religious.
So let’s start thinking and exploring. Are all of Shakespeare’s plays great? Some of them, all comedies, are among the worst plays ever written. Others really are great, but even the great ones have a flaw: hardly any of the characters can ever tell the truth. Lying is a rejection of reality, just as faith is. Shakespeare has become an idol. We need to become iconoclasts and smash those idols that need smashing.
I talk about other forms of idolatry in my book: going wild over professional sports, eating in restaurants which are too dark for you to see your companions, etc. I could go on, but why don’t you just read the book? It is available from Hamilton Books, an imprint of University Press of America. You can buy it on line, univpress.com. It’s great fun. When you read it, you will start doing your own reconsiderations. You may even decide to reconsider and reject everything I wrote.