A review of Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misconduct.

By E. Michael Jones.
Ignatius Press, 1993.

In 1988 Paul Johnson wrote Intellectuals. In it he looked at the moral lives of a number of leading intellectuals, such as Rousseau, Marx and Sartre. He found that these individuals, while keen to offer advice to humanity, could have used some advice themselves. Moral and intellectual poverty characterised their lives.

Jones takes Intellectuals a step further. He makes a stronger case, as the subtitle indicates, that people’s sexual lives are often reflected in their philosophies. Sexually deviant lifestyles can result in warped philosophies. The corruption of sexual sin, argues Jones, leads to the corruption of the mind: “There are ultimately two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire.”

Truth and morality are one, argues Jones. Living a moral life is a prerequisite for the grasping of truth. Conversely, living an immoral life will lead one into error, deception and intellectual perversity. The nine case studies found in Degenerate Moderns press home this point persuasively in the cases of Freud, Kinsey, Keynes, Mead, Picasso and others.

The life of Alfred Kinsey is a good example. His two major works on sexuality are the basis of our modern approach to sex education. Many experts now know that much of his work was fraudulent and misleading. It was Kinsey who first suggested – wrongly – that homosexuals make up 10 per cent of the adult population. We now know they only make up 1 to 2 per cent. But Kinsey’s sample group was over-represented by prostitutes, prisoners and pedophiles.

We also know that Kinsey relied on the testimony of pedophiles to gain information on childhood sexuality – not exactly a sound scientific method or source. Especially disconcerting is Table 34 in his 1948 Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male. It sought to show that even “the youngest males, as young as 5 months in age, are capable of such repeated reactions (orgasms).” In the table, four-year-old boys, for example, were sexually stimulated for 24 uninterrupted hours.

The book also examines some of the subjects’ reactions to such “experimentation.” These ranged from “extreme tension with violent convulsion … gasping, eyes staring [to] extreme trembling, collapse, loss of colour, and sometimes fainting … of subject.” These reactions, recorded with cold, clinical precision, are simply descriptions of criminal child abuse.

And yet Kinsey – who claims among other things that all types of sexuality, including bestiality, are good and healthy; that child-adult sexuality is a good thing; and that sexual promiscuity in all forms is perfectly acceptable – is regarded as an authority for mainstream sex education programs.

In fact, an investigation into Kinsey’s personal life reveals a sordid picture. Kinsey may well have been homosexual himself, having an absorbing interest in sexual deviancy of all forms, and possessing a massive collection of pornography. Writes Jones: “Beneath all the highsounding ideas, one detects the unsavoury odour of hypocrisy and mendacity and beneath that, sexual compulsion masquerading as scientific interest.”

Kinsey’s moral bankruptcy, it appears, was also sustained by a deep anti-religious stance. As one biographer put it, “Kinsey had an abiding animus against Catholics.”

The lives of Kinsey and the other “Degenerate Moderns” which Jones analyses make for gloomy reading. But their stories have to be told. They make clear that personal vices can be converted into theories and philosophies which in turn can exercise a pernicious influence over a society. This book reminds us that rebellion against moral law can only lead to rebellion against truth.

I conclude with one cautionary note, however. Protestants, while gaining great value from this book, may not care to see Martin Luther included in this rogue’s gallery. However, Jones’ Catholic viewpoint does not detract from the book’s overall importance.

[622 words]

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