Requested: Conservative Book Recommendations


#1

I read a lot of books on politics and social studies, but because of my own political leanings, and the newspapers and websites I read, most (read: all) of the book I read in that category tend to be fairly left leaning: The American Way of Poverty, Two Dollars a Day, Dark Money, The New Jim Crow, &c. After the recent election, I have come to realize that I don’t understand the opposing point of view, and I would like to. It does me no good to continue reading arguments with which I already agree. Can anyone here recommend some good, preferably recent, books that explain conservative philosophy or approaches?

Thanks in advance,
Ike


#2

I’m a die hard liberal, but I have found that Glenn Beck has become a decently reasonable voice for the hard right. He is now a fan of listening to each other and forming an understanding of others.

George Will also comes to mind.

It’s amazing how a nutjob like Trump can make you want to know more about the reasonable people on the opposition.


#3

Thomas Sowell is a good place to start. He’s part of the the more Hayekian school of conservative thought. The Forgotten Man on Calvin Coolidge is another book that might work.

Conservative thought is fairly broad, bridging a ton of different schools. I’d recommend tackling a school or maybe two at at a time.


#4

Most of the politicos I follow are people like Bruce Bartlett, David Frum, Andrew Sullivan, etc., none of whom are hard right, but more of what I like to think of as the apparently shrinking realitiy-oriented slice of American conservatism.


#5

More of a classic suggestion, but the road to serfdom by Hayek isn’t bad to read. More because the book is not like the idiots these days that proclaim it as gospel.


#6

If you are going to read Hayek I would suggest his Nobel lecture “Pretense of Knowledge”.

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1974/hayek-lecture.html

Or his “Use of Knowledge in Society”.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html

Both capture his thesis on the limitations on acquiring, and using, knowledge and what it means for governing society.


#7

Given the tilt of conservative thought recently, Ayn Rand comes to mind, though it’s fiction.

You could also try the Bill O’Reilly “Killing” series.


#8

Honestly there may not be a lot to learn regarding today’s core Republican doctrines. Keep in mind I’m speaking of those in power right now vs. those Conservatives who would actually be good leaders like a Jon Huntsman. Moderate, decent Republicans seem to be dinosaurs as current Repubism is deeply rooted in anti-intellectualism, manipulation, and propaganda. The things we know are emotional issues. Abortion, brown people, non-Christians, gun laws, the public good. For every economic policy they claim to have they are 100% hypocritical about it. Example they claim competition, de-regulation, and small business are the future of America. Yet they go and push major monopolies to cripple smaller business in favor of anti-consumer giants like Verizon/Comcast/AT&T by legislating new regulations and laws to limit broadband competition and choice (mostly Southern states). They want to lower the minimum wage, eliminate worker rights, eliminate the social safety net, yet they want CEO’s to be unhinged and able to consolidate as much of America’s wealth as they want even if it kills the country. They claim to be the protectors of life, but only if they’re unborn. Once you’re born you have no human rights to affordable healthcare, and of course death and torture are just fine whether you’re innocent or guilty ( once again a mostly Southern state mandate).

To understand what’s going on I actual recommend reading more about Joseph Goebbels and Hitler’s rise to power. Xenophobia and jobs programs are what led so many to join the Nazi party (with the critical aid of media). The parallels to Trump’s campaign are startling. It’s interesting how many Nazi’s claimed “they only voted for Hitler because he promised jobs and better prosperity - we were so surprised when he followed through on his violent deeds.” Trump supporters are the same way. I’ve seen so many tweets of Veterans that supported Trump are so surprised when he starts dismantling or stalling their social services, or marginal home owners confused why he’s cutting their ability to make mortgage payments. Jobless middle America voted a Republican when Obama and Democrats tried to cover them when they lost their jobs via unemployment extensions. I mean, talk about voting yourself into destitution, Republican voters have been doing that for years. The trick is Republicans use Goebbels techniques masterfully, while at the same time covering its obvious parallels. Fox News, Hannity, Breitbart, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh - they’re all part of the same machine. It might be decentralized but it’s the same. The more this country crumbles and destroys itself the more powerful their voices become. 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to help boost their careers. A peaceful and “equally” prosperous America doesn’t need to live off hate thus they wouldn’t have the ratings numbers nor the income they have vs. a country in conflict.

So I guess I don’t have any concrete suggestions as I think every right-wing core leader writes stuff full of contradictions that normal people see right through. About the only policies that don’t drown in their own hypocrocies are intolerance, guns, and consolidating wealth at the top. I think Reagan and Bush Sr. were the last powerful Republicans who were trying to do the right thing and weren’t spending most of their time on media manipulation. But then again, Reagan had his own very bad stuff with Iran-Contra. Reality just doesn’t have a field in current Conservatism. Is that 300 lb mud-trucking redneck really going to go work on the assembly line at an Apple factory? Heck no. He doesn’t have the dexterity, speed and small fingers of a 100 lb. Chinese woman to work with tiny, cramped, electronics. But don’t let that reality change the thought that Apple being forced to abandon China will fix America and bring them wealth. If it was really just about work they’d be out picking crops instead of us bringing in a million Hispanics to do the job. If they didn’t support Republicans maybe those jobs could pay a decent wage, but they will continue to not see how their representatives work against them and manipulate their lives. For those on the far right, it’s really a mind-boggling display of evil(?), and I don’t think it has anything to do with “values”, “philosophy”, nor “solid policy.” It’s about wealth, control, and power. In all irony pretty darn close to the ruling classes of China and Russia. Except China actively invests in public infrastructure and housing.


#9

Yay to see the junk of politics and religion infest another forum…


#10

I would recommend Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. It has sold more than one million copies and was on the NYT best seller list for 38 weeks back in 2009 when it came out. Here’s part of a review of the book by americanthinker.com:

Liberty and Tyranny artfully presents a harmonious marriage of the timeless with the timely. On the one hand, the book is a thorough yet compact briefing on the major political issues of this era. On the other hand, the author brings to bear the principles of the American Founders and Framers of the Constitution (and the great thinkers who guided them), illustrating, dissecting, and explaining our current political arguments, while enlightening the reader with the genuine wisdom bequeathed to all of us – the sacred trust of the Founders, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Federalist Papers, all of which are quoted and applied with insight and precision.


#11

One of the problems with conservatism is the lack of a coherent philosophy (especially for anything rather than against most things). There aren’t any good classic books. The modern movement is built on issues of National Review.

You could go back to try to find something from the Old Right before it was co-opted by neoconservatives. I don’t know if anything exists, and it’s irrelevant now anyway.

Speaking of which, I guess you could go read Strauss.


#12

Kasparov’s political stuff could work, though it’s more about authoritarianism, he’s a staunch Reaganesqe-conservative.

Then there obvious people like Buckley and George Will.


#13

Thanks everyone for the suggestions, and sorry for sullying the forum with real life politics. For the record, I’m not asking about how our current political system fell into such dysfunction. There have been a lot of books, some of which I listed in the OP, from a liberal perspective. I’m looking for something like those - descriptions of current societal problems, e.g., unemployment, poverty, racial disparity - and how a conservative approach would address them. I will look through some of the books that have been suggested.


#14

Then you definitely want Will and Buckley. American Conservatism’s foundation is basically those guys and Reagan.

Probably some Goldwater as well in there.


#15

The problem with this suggestion is some of what is written is in opposition to what’s going on. Our founding fathers wanted a triumvirate of checks and balances. They saw and feared what happened when one small group became too powerful ie. kingly or dictatorly. Republicans are currently trying to destroy the checks and balances by overthrowing the judiciary, the last vestige of balance left on the Federal level. Republicans cry “Constitution” and “Founding Fathers” but truly don’t have any intent on carrying through their edicts as it undermines their power.’

ShivaX has good recommendations, but I honestly think you’d be better served reading the books written by Grover Norquist. He has much more in common with current Republican thought that Will, Buckley, or Goldwater.


#16

I would argue that it is just that opposition that makes this book all the more appropriate for what the OP requested. The Republican party today is in many ways in opposition to true conservatism. While the Democrats want Big (and ever Bigger) Government, the Republicans want Just Slightly Smaller Government than do the Democrats, but it’s still huge. True conservatism is more about returning to the vision of the Founding Fathers, which is a vision of limited government, which in many ways means vastly smaller government than exists today. This particular book of Mr. Levin’s, along with all of his other books in fact, speaks from a conservative perspective, not a particular political party. The OP asked for recommendations for conservative books, not Republican books, and IMO fits the request to a tee.

And regarding your comment about the judiciary, you or the OP may want to read one of Mr. Levin’s other books, Men In Black. It may enlighten you.

And to the OP, I applaud you for at least attempting to be open-minded, which cannot be said for most liberals. Good luck.


#17

Great suggestions RayRayK, I skimmed but looked forward to finishing those, at the least just to see a different perspective on Hayek.


#18

I honestly think Ike wanted to understand what drove people to vote for Trump, not those that voted for Reagan. Real Conservatives that have critical thinking skills and are decent people understand the need for compromise. That’s what this country was built on. That is not the “Republican Party” we have today. With the rise of the Tea Party, moderate Conservatives were trampled over. I used to be a Republican myself. I worked fervently on Reagan’s re-election campaign and Bush Sr’s first and second run. I have awards from Republican legislatures for my work. Once I started to realize how silly some of the trickle down economics were I started to think for myself and realized I didn’t like watching the middle class collapse while the wealthiest consolidated America’s wealth. Today’s Republicans in power are a second-cousin to those of yesteryear. The downsizing of government is simply to make it easier to destroy, pollute, and increase their own power. It’s the Koch brothers type dream to cut their expenses and dump/pollute poor districts to increase their own wealth. Read up on Environmental racism.


#19

Thanks Jeff. Klattu has got it closer to what I’m looking for. I’m more interested in policy than politics, if you get my meaning.


#20

My mistake. Sorry for speaking for you.