There’s an interesting thing going round the Greens with people listing their formative political works.
JimJay on the Daily Maybe started it off with a list which he observes to be dry but whose Rees, ISJ, Cliff and Callinicos gave me unpleasant pavlovians – I first came to them in the context of their aggressive perspectives on Israel. Matt Sellwood’s list looks intriguing.
Mine? Thinking about it. With some concern I realise I haven’t read a single book of social or economic theory any of the more recent fix-it manuals or paradigmatic works of the left (or right or centre for that matter). This might explain and also justify my lack of political thrust.
Among others I am suddenly very curious about, I would very much like to know Bob’s, Sonti’s, Marko Attila Hoare’s, Yish’s, Barkingside 21’s, the AWL’s, David Hirsh’s, Norm’s, Eve Garrard’s, Snoopy The Goon’s, Peter Tatchell’s, Mod’s, Max Dunbar’s and Harry’s Place’s.
There is no political theory under my belt. My most politically formative works coincide with my most formative personal works:
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harpur Lee (but that’s fiction)
- Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (fiction)
- Paradise Lost by John Milton (fiction).(This is where I’m going wrong.)
- Arthur Koestler’s two volume autobiography (aha – fact, garnished with Koestlery spin)
- The writings of Orwell.
- Crossland’s (ed) The God That Failed (ex-communists fire the opening salvos of the cultural Cold War)
- Triomf by Marlene Van Niekirk (fiction)
- The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (poetry)
- The various writings of the Eusties – particularly David Hirsh, Eve Garrard, Norman Geras, Anthony Julius, David T, Marko Attila Hoare.
- Nietzsche’s Will to Power (his bad reaction to cosmic upheaval of modernity)
- Joyce Da Silva’s work on animal sentience.
- And of course, Nick Cohen’s What’s Left.
I know, because I have heard plenty of recorded lectures, that I am influenced by Mill, Paine, Locke, and (particularly because he understood that being a good citizen is a consuming pursuit) Rousseau, but I have not yet thoroughly read a work of theirs. I am a poor political reader in general – I read a lot but my political reading is short and journalistic.
So, here we are. I sympathise with the people who turn decisively from the Stalinists. My domestic and international politics progressive, egalitarian and democratic. My economics are socialist – but baselessly so.