Conservatism isn’t something that was invented by Reagan or the Tea Party. It has roots that stretch back into history, predating the establishment of the United States itself. Please take some time to investigate the books below. They offer fresh perspectives on old convictions.
Jennifer recommends the following:
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell
A must read for a well-rounded understanding, presented as simple concepts in everyday language, beginning with the definition of economics: the study of the use and distribution of scarce resources, which have alternative uses. Sowell demonstates how long-established economic theories apply across ALL economic systems, and how the success of free markets, in providing for the greatest number of people in the most efficient manner, comes from allowing these theories to function. He further highlights the unintended consquences of systems that refuse to acknowledge those theories for the sake of perceived short-term gain.
The Vision of the Annointed: Self Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell
Need I say more? Sowell, former Marxist turned premier conservative advocate, explores the skewed justifications for, and uninteded consequences of, liberal social and economic policies; policies which allow voters and policy-makers to feel good about themselves and pat each other on the back, while ultimately causing more harm than good, especially for those they proclaim will benefit from them.
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
While his economic colleagues beat the drum for socialism, pursuing Hitler’s ends, even if they abhorred his means, Hayek recognized that communism, socialism, and fascism were distant cousins, and that Nazi Germany demonstrated how none of them could be sustained without a powerful state and the gradual erosion of individual liberty. A rare beacon for free markets among his comtemporaries in post-war Europe, his Austrian-based theories embody the original intent of the classical “liberal” label.
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt
Hazlitt doesn’t beat around the bush in this relatively short book, elaborating the essential difference between liberal and conservative economic policy in the first chapter: the pursuit of policies that affect short-term outcomes at the expense of long-term stability and prosperity. Remaining chapters expound with real world examples.
The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds by Tammy Bruce
A lesbian, gun-totin’, talk radio host, and former liberal (President of NOW’s Los Angeles chapter), Bruce offers insight on the tactics of the self-described “tolerant” Left to squelch politically incorrect speech and oppress opposing thought. Bruce also reminds us that there’s a critical distinction, never to be obscured, between acts which physically violate another person’s liberty, and the 1st Amendment right to free speech and freedom of conscience, even unpopular speech or thought.
Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg
The most common and blantantly illogical misconception of liberals, and the one they cling to for dear life, is the idea that fascism is an extreme version of capitalism, also setting up the left/right paradigm that justifies the notion of adopting a “moderate” stance. Forget that fascism is a controlled market, not free. Forget that corporatism and capitalism are not the same thing. Forget that, aside from that part about killing Jews and invading Poland, progressive policies align quite nicely with Hitler’s, Mussolini’s, and Marx’s. Those things are so inconvenient, but Goldberg makes them hard to forget.
A couple of Matt’s recommendations are:
The 5,000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen
Skousen takes his time in presenting conservative principles in a clear, concise manner. The book is laid out like a high school text, really. He traces the early roots of representative government back to the tribes of Israel, shows how the concept of Natural Law played such an important part in creating the Constitution, and describes the proper balance between the branches of our government. As you read through the book, it’s easy to see how far away the country has drifted from the fundamental principles laid down by the founders.
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
I heard somewhere that economists are more political than politicians. Friedman helps to prove that point in this classic. He argues that merits of a free-market economy using logic and common sense, things profoundly lacking in liberal theology. I didn’t know that liberals had co-opted the “liberal” label from what would know call conservatives until I read this.