Post-Election Reading

Here are some essential texts to understand our current situation.

Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus.

Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Jean Raspail, The Camp of the Saints.

We would need a contemporary Nietzsche to describe the psychology of our condition. No new Nietzsche is available, so the old one will have to do. I recommend Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a start.

  1. Joan of Ark La Tex

    Thanks, I shall read all of them. 

  2. Richard Russell

    I took John Podhoretz’ suggestion from the last podcast and downloaded Carry On Jeeves from Turned off the TV and the internet, and had my frayed nerves soothed. 

  3. John Grant

    It is hard to beat Wodehouse for a pleasant diversion from the contemporary scene!

    The books I recommend are all unfortunately bleak. (Raspail’s book is especially hard to take if one is frazzled or down in the dumps.)

    My most recent diversions from the contemporary scene have been Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise and a particularly interesting conversation about the metaphysics of Plato’s Republic with one of my colleagues.

    I have also enjoyed watching the Branagh version of Wallander, although I would not describe it as uplifting.

  4. Arahant

    “Et tu, Brutë?”

  5. lostingotham

    Winston Churchill, The History of the Second World War


    “Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

  6. Ross C

    Titus Andronicus – Are you suggesting anyone’s children be cooked in a pie as were Tamara’s?  Careful on this one as the Secret Service takes these things seriously.

    Decline and Fall – The D&F took centuries to occur (Augustus died in AD 19 and Alaric sacked Rome around AD 410).  I fear it will take far less time for us.

    The Camp of Saints – Never heard of it.

    Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Is God Dead?  Obama the Ubermensch?

    I don’t know that you are cheering me up.

  7. William McClain

    I second John on a hearty dose of Jeeves and Wooster to sooth the soul a bit.

    Also Schopenhauer’s “The Art of Controversy” would be good to hone up on argumentation and find ways to break apart the post-Modern “narrative” theory.

    Finally, I have to suggest something most of us wouldn’t pick up, “Basic Issues of the Social Question” by Rudolf Steiner – not only because Steiner isn’t a thinker associated with conservatism, but because he’s not a thinker associated with anyone knowing him. Still,  if it’s getting left to conservatives to put together what this society is going to be after the 20th century neo-Liberal model fails, we should read up on some alternatives. And he focuses on a thriving spiritual life and culture over the reduction of our spirit to political ends, which conservatives should find right on. Also, he’s a follower of Nietzsche without all the depression!

  8. BJRR

    Coriolanus more apt than TA?

  9. IowaLutheran

    the prophet Jeremiah and his Lamentations, The Bible

    Derek Williams, Romans and Barbarians: Four Views from the Empire’s Edge

    C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

    James Burnham, Suicide of the West: The Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism

    Carl F.H. Henry, Twighlight of a Great Civilization: The Drift Toward Neo-Paganism

    Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society

    John W. Whitehead, The End of Man

    Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

    Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

  10. Casey

    I’m re-reading the Republic and have Thus Spoke waiting for me at the library.  Good to know I’m on the right track… I guess.

  11. Quinn the Eskimo

    If you are going to read Gibbon, be sure to translate the Greek and Latin in the footnotes.

    There is a lot of good stuff that was “unsuitable” for publication in English in those days.

  12. ChrisZ

    John: I was about to add a comment on how the Wallander TV series fits the bleak vision of the books you listed — but I see you’ve mentioned it yourself!  ”Titus A” is critical to read anytime the world ends; and Raspail is  an inspired recommendation, if only because we’ll be seeing it enacted sometime before 2016.

    But despite all this agreement with you, I have to differ on the general tenor of your list.  By all means let’s be conversant with the bleak in history and nature — that’s our specialty as conservatives.  But this is also a time for immersion in the “eternal verities” that stand the test of time and seasons of politics.  Last night, instead of wasting time watching election returns, my family and I took in the final episodes of the “Pride and Prejudice” TV adaptation.  And the past week I started reading the Dr. Syn series of books, which at bottom is about the manly individual’s resistance against the state. Having leavened the bleak vision with beauty and virtue, I find myself facing the reality of today with relative equanimity.

  13. Eleanor

    Good suggestions! And worth re-reading.

    And thanks IowaLutheran as well.

  14. Misthiocracy

    Post-Election Viewing:

    Street Fight, the documentary about Cory Booker’s first, unsuccessful, campaign to become the mayor of Newark, now finally available in its entirety on YouTube.

    If you want to know how the Obama community organization machine is able to win the support of so many low-information voters, this is the documentary for you.

    In the film, Booker is the candidate who tries to win with better ideas and well-reasoned arguments.  He loses.  That’s the point.

  15. Misthiocracy
    Richard Russell: I took John Podhoretz’ suggestion from the last podcast and downloaded Carry On Jeeves from Turned off the TV and the internet, and had my frayed nerves soothed.

    Right now I’m reading Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.  Similar style as Wodehouse, but published much earlier in 1889.  Very soothing.

    There’s probably a free audiobook of it somewhere.

  16. Misthiocracy
    lostingotham: Winston Churchill,The History of the Second World War. 

    Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples is currently what I’m listening to on my iPod during my walks to and from work.

  17. Misthiocracy
    Ross Conatser: 

    Decline and Fall – The D&F took centuries to occur (Augustus died in AD 19 and Alaric sacked Rome around AD 410).  I fear it will take far less time for us.

    That is the conventional wisdom, it’s true, but I tend to agree with Niall Ferguson that this is a problematic way of framing Rome’s decline and fall.

    At what point do we say that Rome’s “decline” began? Gibbons certainly didn’t think the decline started with the death of Augustus.

    I tend to subscribe to the thesis that Rome’s decline and fall was relatively quick, and unexpected.  Those 400 or so years between Augustus and Alaric shouldn’t be interpreted as “decline”, but rather as a pretty good track record, ackshully!

    If Canada is to last until 2267 (Confederation in 1867 + 400 years), that’s a pretty good track record even if future historians label it a “decline”.

  18. Frank Soto

    Glad someone else was in the exact same frame of mind as I was last night.  The History of the decline and fall of the roman empire and Nietzsche were among my first thoughts yesterday as the results were sinking in.

  19. Misthiocracy

    The Myth of the Rational Voter – Bryan Caplan

    How To Win An Election – Marcus Tullius Cicero

    One will find it amazing (and perhaps disturbing) how these two books, published 2,071 years apart, dovetail so nicely together.