Freedom to read...
So, now that I have an "elite" readership I thought I should have some elite topics of conversation. This means no more moaning about my flat situation (GRRRR...). I want to talk to you about the future of socialism. Or rather "The Future Of Socialism".
Since I have been very vigorously not doing a degree for most of the past 6 years,I have read very little of what I would call politics for pleasure.
Obviously I have had *some* time for casual reading - it's just that it was only by convincing myself that i couldn't possibly have the the time or energy to read anything remotely serious that I persuaded myself it was ok to ignore my degree.
A prime example of a book I really feel I should have read, but haven't since it wasn't directly relevant to cramming my entire degree into 5 months, is "The Future of Socialism" by Tony Crosland. Since everyone always cites it as Old-New-Labour writ large and since that's what I sometimes think I would identify as, it's a bit of glaring omission.
Now, I'm not someone who thinks that the answer to the world's problems is in books. I've always believed that, to paraphrase, "politics isn't played on paper".
But the fact is that most of the people you're dealing with have probably read some or most of it, and sadly, far too many of them think they've found the answer in one or other book they picked up along the way. It makes it easier to spot them (and tell them to shut up) if you've read it too.
And there are always ideas, thoughts and views about the world that you may have, and which it is inspiring to read that others share, and to gain new insights into them.
So, what I want from you, dear "elite" readership, is this;
Tell me the books that inspired you. Those political tomes, biographies, pamphlets or other, in history, theory, philosophy or policy that you find yourself automatically paraphrasing whenever someone asks a difficult question. The one that gives you the metaphors and similes you use in everyday life. The one that you think about when you're wondering if it's all worth it. Or the one that makes you angry.
I don't want an obscure academic debate about some turgid theoretical text on a sub-set of postmodernist verbiage. I want real tub-thumpers and appeals from the heart. But they also have to actually say something concrete about the real world.
A few samples of things I have read which I would recommend, but not necessarily agree with, were I you and you were reading my blog;
- The Open Society and It's enemies, by Karl Popper
- Confessions of a Philosopher, by Brian Magee
- The Affluent Society & The Culture of Contentment, by JK Galbraith
- LBJ's three volumes(so far) biography, by Robert Caro
- Intellectual Impostures, By Alain Sokal and Jean Bricmont
- The Gnostic Gospels, By Elaine Pagels
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
- Tony Benn's diaries
- Any of Goldthorpe & Lockwood's studies on "the Affluent worker" in the 1950s & 1960s
- Robert Skidelsky's 3 voume biography of J.M. Keynes
- Friends & Rivals, by Giles Radice
- One Of Us, Hugo Young's biography of Thatcher
- Why I am not a Conservative, article by F.A. Hayek
- Rationalism in politics, article by Michael Oakeshott
- Reflections on the revolution in France, by Edmund Burke
Post any responses in the comments - a good argument might be all the more illuminating.