As traditionalism, conservatism, the alt-right, libertarianism, and “classical liberalism” have been gaining footing around internet communities and college-aged kids these days, disenfranchised young right-wingers may find themselves awash in a culture of lies and contradictions without any stable footing. What is the right wing, and is it for me? How do I escape this leftist nonsense? How can I even identify the things that are wrong when the whole system seems wrong? If these questions sound familiar, then you’ve come to the right place. If they don’t sound familiar, that’s fine; you’re in the right place anyway.
I have written the beginnings of a recommended reading list already; however, that list will forever be in progress and lacks any easily-navigable structure for complete newcomers to this whole “reading” thing. If you’re a college student, I’m assuming that you probably haven’t actually read a book in your life, having been bright enough to simply assume the contents of your assigned reading by the conversations about it in class. That’s fine. This book guide is designed with you in mind. It’s oriented toward navigating the vast library of political, social, and philosophical thought that is the birthright of Western Civilization. This is not, however, intended to be an exegesis on the Western canon; these guides will serve to help you learn the failings of modern liberal and leftist thought while being able to defend the traditionalist foundations from which the West sprang into being. Consider these books apologia of Western culture.
Part one of this reading list is intended to cover some basic, entry-level works easily accessible in both reading level, language, and the general ideas that they bring to the table. Most of these books will have been published in the last ten years or so, and for the most part, be on the topic of pointing out modern liberalism’s abject moral poverty and philosophical bankruptcy.
Part two will move on toward offering alternative worldviews to the liberal agenda. Libertarianism and conservatism will be represented in greater force as positive goods, Christianity will be brought into the conversation, and more sophisticated texts on political, economic, and social theory will be introduced. These books are likely to have a higher reading level than the books of part one, and they maybe longer. They should not present too much of a challenge, however.
Part three will include works that begin to critique liberalism at its foundations, attacking not only modern liberalism and it’s socialist background, but even classical liberalism and the general foundations of libertarianism. Conservatism may even be caught in the crossfire. The struggle between the right and the left will be made clearer than the somewhat vague definitions that pervade the modern argument. Classical texts and thinkers will be greater represented here, as the reader should be ready to dive into their work, and some basic intros to neo-Scholastic thought will be covered.
Part four will, for now, be the last stop on this train. Critiques on the concept of freedom and liberty, deconstructions of enlightenment thought, strong defenses of the Christian worldview, Christian apologetics, and more sophisticated defenses of the traditionalist ethos will be presented. Some of these texts may seem pretty boring to read, being academic works written for dusty old professors living out of the nursing homes called Philosophy departments, but that’s fine. This is, after all, a recommended reading guide. Nobody’s going to test you on this stuff until you end up in a debate.
Sprinkled throughout each part of this guide will be various books written by staunch leftists, such as Alinsky, Jameson, Derrida, Marx, etc. There are two reasons for this: 1) it is important to know your enemy, and 2) every once in a while, in spite of themselves, they periodically have some good points and are worth being reminded of.
Try to keep an open mind. If you find yourself getting bored with one book, don’t get discouraged. Set it aside and move onto the next one, maybe come back to it in a month or two, or six. If a book seems insurmountably long, just set yourself some basic goals and read, say, a chapter a night before you go to bed. Reading this stuff is easier than you probably think it is.
A Brief Book Guide, Part I: Killing Your Liberalism
Liberalism, in its current form, has become an increasingly alienating set of ideals. Under the banner of progressivism, sometimes referred to as the “regressive left” by conservative pundits, and broadly defined as ‘leftism’, modern liberals are finding themselves either disenchanted with their fellow progressives’ behaviors, or—as is becoming more the case—unable to defend their platforms from internet trolls, alt-righters, and young conservatives.
And true, there are indeed many forms of liberalism, though they all spring from the same or similar presuppositions about human nature. That being said, there is enough of an ideological difference between the New York limousine liberal and the Midwestern libertarian to warrant some pause. Many of the books listed in this section will be attacks on the former: modern liberalism as we know it today, with its distinctly socialist, anti-liberal themes and its links to communism.
I realize that most people, especially disenchanted college kids, probably don’t read many books anymore. For that reason, this book guide will have a bit of a learning curve; part one’s recommendations are all pretty easy to read and, for the most part, pretty short. In other words, if you want to get into right-wing, this is a decent place to start, and you have no excuse.
So, first up:
Vox Day – SJWs Always Lie
Written not long after Gamergate, when the SJW phenomenon really broke into the mainstream of popular culture, Vox Day’s breakdown of the ‘movement’ functions as a general guide on how to deal with the morally bankrupt useful idiots known as social justice warriors. It’s easy to read and written by one of the internet’s more noteworthy provocateurs. Definitely a good place to start if you’ve just felt the sting of the left’s young hornets.
Jonah Goldberg – Liberal Fascism
A common name around the more elitist conservative circles, Goldberg’s work at National Review is worthy of some attention, even in spite of some of his present stances on certain political figures. This book in particular serves as a quick crash course on the modern liberal ideology and its roots in political fascism, tracing fascism proper through the regimes of Mussolini, Stalin, Wilson and FDR, up through contemporary political figures like Hillary Clinton. Sounds provocative but it hardly reads like it.
Friedrich Hayek – The Road to Serfdom
The only ‘classic’ work I’ve decided to include for Part One is Hayek’s prophetic opus, which remains even more relevant today than it was when it was published some seventy years ago. Drawing direct parallels between the communism of Soviet Russia and the modern liberal agenda (what was, at the time he wrote it, the more radical leftism embodied by FDR’s campaigns), Hayek’s work remains one of the best in its field, without being encumbered by difficult prose or a demanding reading level.
Ilana Mercer – Into the Cannibal’s Pot
Mercer, a libertarian by affiliation, offers up her own contribution to the deconstruction of liberal narcissism with a book on her country of origin: South Africa. She details how the Soviet and Marxist influence upon the revolutionaries in both South Africa and its neighbor, Zimbabwe, led to suffering even worse and more widespread than the Apartheid regime ever had. Check my review for more info.
Ben Shapiro – Bullies
Another crash course on how the contemporary left enjoys sabotaging their opponents, focusing this time on the mainstream journalism and political spheres than online and at the grassroots level. Largely an indictment of the Obama-era liberal media more than anything else.
Mark Steyn – After America
If Steyn’s reputation as an alarmist was cemented with his 2006 book, America Alone, then his 2011 follow-up After America encased that reputation in granite. Chilling and apocalyptic, this work brings together the numbers and articles of Western Civilization’s decline. Following somewhat in the footsteps of Pat Buchanan (you’ll have to read him at some point, too), Steyn articulates his premises and themes with such wit and alacrity that his doomsday predictions end up coming across somewhat entertainingly.
These books are mostly reiterations of the above, but with slightly different takes or alternative information thrown in. While certainly not essential reading material, they’re good for expounding upon elements of liberalism that may be unclear.
Ben Shapiro – Primetime Propaganda
Hardly imperative but certainly informative, Shapiro’s book on the gradual takeover of the evening airwaves by the leftist narrative is one of the best catalogues on the subject to date.
Sir Roger Scruton – Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands
It’s at a higher reading level than the ones listed before it, but for any student of philosophy or liberal arts who was condemned to study, say, Habermas, Marcuse, Sartre, Gramsci, et al, this book is a goldmine as far as polemics go. Sir Scruton’s analysis of these thinkers remains one of the best succinct rundowns on the philosophical foundations of leftist thought to date.
Stay tuned for part two. In the mean, track down copies of a couple of these books and get cracking!