Monday, August 22, 2016

Devil's Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh (Guest Review by JTB)

The Devil's Pleasure Palace :
The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Encounter Books ()
ISBN-13: 978-1594037689
Kindle: 2936 KB
Publisher: Encounter Books (August 11, 2015)

Available on Amazon

Two Centuries of Unacknowledged War

I've mentioned The Devil's Pleasure Palace before as a reader rec and it was selected as our Goodreads group read this month. Reader and AOSHQ regular JTB likes it a lot and, happily for me, agreed to do a review. Here's what he thinks of the book:

This is a book about an enemy whose roots reach back over two centuries and a war it has waged almost as long. The purpose of the war is to undermine and destroy Western civilization. And that war has led to the death of tens of millions, has almost completely ruined one continent, and threatens to subvert the qualities of this country that made it a beacon of hope and prosperity. If this sounds dire and extreme, it is not. The author describes how all of this came about and more.

In "The Devil's Pleasure Palace" Michael Walsh gives an overview of the rise of atheistic communism and its offspring, Critical Theory. In brief (very brief), the founders and current practioners believe they can replace God the Creater with man the creater. In their arrogance they are convinced they can create perfection from their own imperfection. That they are God. But since they cannot simply say "Let there be light" and have it happen, they must use other means to achieve their goals: deceit, subversion of standards and reality , and ultimately violence.

One of the Left's most potent weapons is to control language, both as a means of accurate expression and as a way to perceive our world. If the individual cannot express and defend their morality or even trust their senses, they are open to the lies and manipulation of evil. They have lost the means to evaluate or even question anything. Whether that comes in the form of Satan's temptation of Eve, Mephistopholes' deceit of Faust, or the claims about global warming (whatever they are at the moment), the common element is to use language to subvert and ruin. If that isn't enough, the Left will turn to threats ("Want to keep your job? Better stop asking questions."), scorn ("Are you really that stupid?"), and violence ("I keyed your car because your bumper sticker offended me." "I need some muscle over here.").

I have no problem with Walsh's examples or conclusions. They are timely and accurate. But he weakens his own book in several ways. His references to classic literature and myths are on target but they go on too long. That distracts from the message of the book. He spends way too much time dealing with opera and other music, his area of expertise, as a means of demonstrating how the culture has been subverted. I happen to be familiar with his examples and agree with them, but, again, they distract more than illustrate.

Walsh is a devout Catholic and ascribes many of the evils to a literal Satan which will lessen his insights to some readers. I am not formally religious in any way but had no problem with his interpretation. If it bothers the reader, treat it as a metaphor. The source of the evil may vary but the motivations and results are the same. The one area I wish Walsh had emphasized more is the importance of the individual in society. Possibly the greatest benefit of the Bible, the Enlightenment, and the US Constitution is to extol the importance of individuals in a society. That's why the 'rugged individualism' of this country is targeted by the Left ("It takes a village". "You didn't build that".) to be subsumed by a governmental socialist leviathan.

I hope people will read "The Devil's Pleasure Palace". Walsh's description of the motivations of the Left and the tragedies that have resulted are accurate. His examples are timely, pertinent and understandable. For those points alone, it is worth the time.

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