T Nation

Best Books on Politics

[quote]Mikeyali wrote:

I must also add that Heinlein is fantastic in the way he puts good political theory into novels. I just finished Citizen of the Galaxy a few days ago.

mike[/quote]

I’m going to go ahead and agree with this. I disagree with a lot of Heinlein’s philosophies, but he’s great at weaving things into his stories. And a fantastic writer with a great imagination.

Also, CotG is perhaps my favorite Heinlein book ever, outside of Stranger in a Strange Land. God that book was mindblowing, I loved just about every second of it until the very end, and I wished he’d kept writing it so I’d have more to read.

Didn’t like the ending personally, but the rest of the book is so good I can’t really complain.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
orion wrote:
GDollars37 wrote:
orion wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:

That being said, fiction influenced my politics more than anything. Nothing makes on become a Democrat quicker than the heart shaking depictions of the poverty that unbridled capitalism leads to.

The poverty that capitalism made visible and then overcame in mere decades.

You know why all the poor people fled to the cities with their factories, right?

Because they knew they would find a better live there - and they did.

That’s all well and good - if materialism is the be all and end all of our existence.

That is such a noble sentiment.

And without capitalism you would be digging for worms with your fingernails.

How does it feel to be beyond “materialism”, when one is washed, fed and and sufficiently sheltered?

And would you advise the 80% of humanity that are not, to take a more “enlightened” approach?

Agreed, it was a flippant remark. It is very easy to question materialism from a position of great material wealth.

I do have a fundamental problem with libertarians who worship at the altar of capitalism, however.[/quote]

We worship at the altar of freedom.

Capitalism is just the expression of freedom and the refusal to initiate violence.

[quote]orion wrote:
GDollars37 wrote:
orion wrote:
GDollars37 wrote:
orion wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:

That being said, fiction influenced my politics more than anything. Nothing makes on become a Democrat quicker than the heart shaking depictions of the poverty that unbridled capitalism leads to.

The poverty that capitalism made visible and then overcame in mere decades.

You know why all the poor people fled to the cities with their factories, right?

Because they knew they would find a better live there - and they did.

That’s all well and good - if materialism is the be all and end all of our existence.

That is such a noble sentiment.

And without capitalism you would be digging for worms with your fingernails.

How does it feel to be beyond “materialism”, when one is washed, fed and and sufficiently sheltered?

And would you advise the 80% of humanity that are not, to take a more “enlightened” approach?

Agreed, it was a flippant remark. It is very easy to question materialism from a position of great material wealth.

I do have a fundamental problem with libertarians who worship at the altar of capitalism, however.

We worship at the altar of freedom.

Capitalism is just the expression of freedom and the refusal to initiate violence.

[/quote]
Indeed! The refusal to initiate violence is the only way to bring about peace. There can be no freedom without peace and there can be no capital accumulation without freedom. Capitalism cannot exist in a world of violence, destruction, and slavery. It requires peace and freedom first and foremost.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

Didn’t like the ending personally, but the rest of the book is so good I can’t really complain. [/quote]

Funny, the book’s ending served as kind of a salve for my continued depression with not going back into the Corps as I’d like. I loved it.

mike

Here is a few suggestions from my library:

Escape from Reason - Francis Schaeffer
Victory of Reason- Rodney Stark
Time for Truth - Os Guiness
Political Thinking - Glen Tinder
Socrates Meet Jesus- Peter Kreeft
Prevailing Worldviews - Glenn Martin
Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt
Setting the Record Straight - American History in Black and White - David Barton
How Capitalism Saved America - Thomas DiLorenzo
Lives of the Most Noble Grecians and Romans - Plutarch
Anthem - Ayn Rand
The Iliad - Homer
The History of Peloponessian War - Thucydides
The Aenid - Virgil
Second treatise of Government - John Locke
On Liberty - John Stuart Mill

Mike, LIFTI - should have known you were Bastiat fans - good stuff . . .

[quote]IrishSteel wrote:
Here is a few suggestions from my library: [/quote]

Excellent selections, Irish. [quote]

Socrates Meet Jesus- Peter Kreeft[/quote]

Hmmm. I’ve read something along those lines. The conversation is probably a different one from in your book, though.

http://www.jameshartforcongress.com/prometheus/socvsjes.htm

Tocquevill is so precise in his depection of North America, even today, it’s downright scary.

Some fine books in this thread, even from Headhunter.

I don’t own a current ideology, in fact, I cannot stand ideology (perhaps it has only a bad rep in Germany, the goodly twin called “weltanschauung” is more popular), but I think these books may be missing:

Marcus Aurelius - Meditations
Gunnar Heinsohn - Soehne und Weltmacht (not sure if there is a translation yet)
Utopia or Republic, as food for thought and to supplement the rather depressive dystopic rip-offs
Age of Reason
Gulag Archipelago - Solchehoweveryouspellthatguynyzin, and perhaps also Hobsbawm - Age of Extremism

What also might be missing here are books that further define the nature of men, like some evolutionary stuff (Jared Diamond’s “rise and fall of the third chimpanzee”), warfare (Delbruck, Clausewitz), perhaps even psychology (no clue here).

[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:

What also might be missing here are books that further define the nature of men, like some evolutionary stuff (Jared Diamond’s “rise and fall of the third chimpanzee”), warfare (Delbruck, Clausewitz), perhaps even psychology (no clue here).

[/quote]

Holy shit. How I could have neglected mentioning On War is beyond me.

I did read Guns, Germs and Steel (how could I not, with a title like that?), but haven’t got around to Third Chimpanzee. I prefer Colinvaux to Diamond, who seems a bit preachy at times. Also Victor Davis Hanson is another favorite for warfare and its implications on Western Civilization. For psychology, I highly recommend Robert Cialdini.

[quote]IrishSteel wrote:
Here is a few suggestions from my library:

Victory of Reason- Rodney Stark
…/quote]

and The Suicide of Reason, Lee Harris

[quote]IrishSteel wrote:
Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt[/quote]

This is another of those classics everyone should read. It’s so easy to read yet covers so much ground. Mine is dogeared all to hell from all the people I’ve lent it to. It’s funny, back in my Republican days I went to a Leadership Institute conference. I later found out that these guys are all a bunch of hacks who talk a good game about conservatism, then abandon it and choose party over country. These best example of this is the guy running their show, Morton Blackwell.

That said, I’m seriously indebted to them. In that one conference I aquired Conscience of a Conservative, The Law, Economics in One Lesson and Dedication and Leadership. These books helped me found my way out of the Republican party.

mike

[quote]DrSkeptix wrote:
IrishSteel wrote:
Here is a few suggestions from my library:

Victory of Reason- Rodney Stark
…/quote]

and The Suicide of Reason, Lee Harris[/quote]

Thanks for the recommend - its still on my “to buy” list (have been put on a book budget by the wife)

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Schwarzfahrer wrote:

What also might be missing here are books that further define the nature of men, like some evolutionary stuff (Jared Diamond’s “rise and fall of the third chimpanzee”), warfare (Delbruck, Clausewitz), perhaps even psychology (no clue here).

Holy shit. How I could have neglected mentioning On War is beyond me.

I did read Guns, Germs and Steel (how could I not, with a title like that?), but haven’t got around to Third Chimpanzee. I prefer Colinvaux to Diamond, who seems a bit preachy at times. Also Victor Davis Hanson is another favorite for warfare and its implications on Western Civilization. For psychology, I highly recommend Robert Cialdini.
[/quote]

VDH rocks! I also have quite a collection of excellent essays from the National Defense University on global geo-political and military issues - if you can get your hands on them - i would highly recommend it!

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Schwarzfahrer wrote:

What also might be missing here are books that further define the nature of men, like some evolutionary stuff (Jared Diamond’s “rise and fall of the third chimpanzee”), warfare (Delbruck, Clausewitz), perhaps even psychology (no clue here).

Holy shit. How I could have neglected mentioning On War is beyond me.

I did read Guns, Germs and Steel (how could I not, with a title like that?), but haven’t got around to Third Chimpanzee. I prefer Colinvaux to Diamond, who seems a bit preachy at times. Also Victor Davis Hanson is another favorite for warfare and its implications on Western Civilization.
[/quote]

Hanson is the worst kind of historian, someone who goes digging into the past looking for evidence to fit a narrative he has already created. Read John Lynn’s “Battle” when you have a chance, he thoroughly rebuts Hanson’s thesis.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:

Hanson is the worst kind of historian, someone who goes digging into the past looking for evidence to fit a narrative he has already created. Read John Lynn’s “Battle” when you have a chance, he thoroughly rebuts Hanson’s thesis.

http://www.amazon.com/Battle-History-Culture-John-Lynn/dp/0813333725/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242747468&sr=1-5 [/quote]

Worst kind of historian? - I’ve read Lynn (he had some interesting ideas) - Have you read Hanson? Have you read Thucydides? Have you read Clausewitz? VDH is one of the most evenhanded historical writers today. He’s respected at Stanford and UC Berkley for crying out loud . . . and one writer, who offers a different perspective, is enough proof for you to discount all of his writings and lectures?

All Lynn did was offer his own interpretation of historic events as has Hanson and myriad of other writers - if you are going to start discounting the worth of historians in providing fresh perspective or new ways of understanding an ancient civilization you might as well get rid of all history books.

You will find most everyone on this thread more than willing to read authors of every type and to balance and reason them for themselves - what about you?

I have to admit, I promptly deleted my pdf version of “carnage and culture” after reading a good part of it. I don’t think it deserves to be on such a list.

Since the thread is definitely more leaning towards conservatism (whatever that is), let me recommend, as a counterweight:
Emmanuel Todd
“After the Empire”
-as well as-
his works and theory on family structure mirroring social structures (various works)

@Varqanir
Prof Diamond IS preachy and often not very enjoyable. Feels a bit like homework. Yet still, he’s good.
I’ll definitely check out Cialdini and Colinvaux.

Surprised not to see Freedom and Capitalism or even Free to Choose on here. No Friedman fans among all the Libertarians here?

@ Schwarzfahrer, I think it’s a lot harder to create a respectable liberal literary political canon than a conservative one for some reason. At least I’ve found it so.

[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:Prof Diamond IS preachy and often not very enjoyable. Feels a bit

[/quote]

I listened to the audiobook for Guns, Germs, and Steel. It seemed like he made an unsupported thesis, then gave an anthropology lesson.

mike

Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future

[quote]Mikeyali wrote:
Schwarzfahrer wrote:Prof Diamond IS preachy and often not very enjoyable. Feels a bit

I listened to the audiobook for Guns, Germs, and Steel. It seemed like he made an unsupported thesis, then gave an anthropology lesson.

mike[/quote]

exactly.