The Great Books are more damaging than helpful when taught outside the traditions that produced most of them. I hate to admit this, as I love the classics, but if they are read as just a bunch of interesting books whose ideas are merely a smorgasbord from which everybody gets to pick what they want and interpret it as they see fit, the Great Books become little more than an excuse for unearned elitism, a closed mind, and the false belief that one is educated simply by having skimmed a bunch of old books.
In context, which is Christendom and the ancient civilizations it saved, the books have something worthy to tell us. This knowledge leads to humility rather than elitism, and destroys the canard that people nowadays are just so much more enlightened and intelligent than those old dead guys. Out of this context, the Great Books are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
(See also “The Sign of the Broken Sword.”)
Every day a Western leader publicly frets about civil unrest over food and energy shortages, despite the fact that the people have shown no signs of revolt. The reason the politicians keep talking about potential revolts is the same reason Washington is obsessing over fictional insurrections. These are people who think they deserve a revolution.