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Monday, 13 April 2015

The Conservative Reading List Part 1

This article was original published as a standalone, however it will now be expanded to include a number of additional pages, and they will be expanded as time goes on so that I can provided a diverse and satisfactory reading list to aid the individual in developing and understanding their own conservative disposition. 

1. Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart

 A fantastic book I found at the university library. Arnhart makes the case for a conservatism based on the immutable truths of biological human nature. He establishes firm criteria in which we can evaluate the desirability and justice of a society. The book is short and can easily be read in a day. Darwinian Conservatism affirmed my conservative temperament in relation to my lack of religious faith, and helped me in understanding that a secular right is possible without contradictions. Some may disagree, but I doubt it after reading this phenomenal book.

2. The Rage against God by Peter Hitchens

I admit some bias in this recommendation. As a public figure I admire Hitchens vitriol and outspoken nature. He refuses to let serious conservative issues die in public discourse, and he was my first introduction into so called Paleo-Conservatism. Rage Against God was as interesting in Form as in substance. The book was written as polemic against his late brother, and world-renowned liberal, socialist, and atheist thinker Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens constructed the book as a partial historical analysis, a short biography, and an polemic against his brother. Each segment is unique in focus, but forms an easy to read whole which paints a picture of how a young man can find his way back into faith.

3. The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek

Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek published the Road to Serfdom in the pivotal year of 1944.  The book changed the way I thought about government intervention and planning on a visceral level. Though not technically a conservative tract it still merits reading. Hayek does much to make connections between National Socialism in Germany and Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union. Finally, he discusses how and why democracy and the utmost liberalization and localization are paramount if a nation is to prevent the devolution of the modern welfare state and Keynesian economy into a draconian statist system. A must read.

4. Conservatism an Anthology from David Hume to Present by Jerry Z. Muller

This book is hard to find but phenomenal. It is a compendium of political writings from numerous sources, obviously David Hume to Present, but also includes Burke, Kristol, Maistre, Choate, Churchill, Madison and dozens of others. What sets this anthology apart is the fact that it is neatly divide by topic and the footnoting is phenomenal. Each page has thorough discourse precisely where it is needed, and no arguments seem anachronistic, everything is timeless. Muller has written excellent introductory essays for each work, which always contextualize and ensure that you completely understand the background to any of the pieces in the collection.

5. The Meaning of Conservatism by Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton is possibly the best known of British philosophers in the 21st century and a brilliant mind that is likely best known for his take on Green Conservatism. Roger advocates for conservatism and love of place or Oikophilia as the answer to our growing environmental disaster, but his book the Meaning of Conservatism is the one that put him into iconoclast territory among his peers in the academy.  Much of the Meaning of Conservatism focuses on our modern understanding of the individual and the state and the way in which the individual is the conclusion of our modern nation state and the rights and responsibilities granted by the nation state. The Meaning of Conservatism places conservatism in its unique context among other philosophies and provides a strong argument about how conservatism fits in relation to the state, society and the free market. If you read one book by Roger Scruton you cannot go wrong with the Meaning of Conservatism.