My Literary Journey: 5 Books That Changed My Life
Which also happen to be overwhelmingly pro-freedom/anti-government…
By: Madeline Deneen
The following 5 books have had a profound impact on my political identity, or simply my identity in general, considering Aristotle’s claim “man is a political animal.” I encourage all of you to read them to enhance your understanding of political structures and policies that have failed miserably, but are still being attempted all over the world, even in our very own America. I guarantee these amazing works of both fiction and nonfiction will solidify your own beliefs from not just a political standpoint but a moral one as well. If not to gain insight on varying political philosophies, etc. then at least read to debunk the leftist assumption that we’re all idiots, since they have academia in the bag. You know what? Forget these books specifically, just read damn it! But seriously…each book on this list will either articulate what you already know is true in a way you never could or open your eyes. So what are you waiting for?!
1. Witness by Whittaker Chambers
Witness earned the first spot on my list because it possessed the potency to change my life in the most irreversible and monumental way. I am eternally indebted to Mr. Chambers for publishing his enthralling autobiography, which reintroduced me to reading, my new love. Before Witness, I was resigned to “the fact” that I was a right-brainer, attracted to math and more “practical” subjects in lieu of reading and writing. The only books I had given the time of day prior to reading Witness the summer before my freshman year of college were entertaining, but somewhat empty rockstars’ autobiographies, the books assigned in public school (which let’s face it, are mostly garbage since their agenda is not to enlighten, but drown students in artificial diversity), and the incessantly dull “classics” my mother punished me with out of disappointment since she’s an avid reader, which only inspired more rebellion, opting to waste away hours of free time with online Sudoku, chess and poker instead. But that all changed when I read an article about President Reagan’s political conversion. He credited Chambers’ life story with this immense event in his life, which obviously came to affect the entire nation, thus affecting the entire world. Reagan even awarded Chambers posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984, sparking my curiosity in the man. What the hell was in this book that was so instrumental in persuading PRESIDENT REAGAN against COMMUNISM, who famously went on to lead a movement, nearly a revolution, and the country on that very foundation?? I finally opened a book because I wanted to. I wasn’t being graded, I wasn’t pleasing mommy. I sought to expand my mind and did I ever! Witness is a detailed account of Chambers’ involvement with Soviet Marxists and U.S. government officials acting as spies when he worked underground for the Communist Party USA. Chambers describes why he was a communist, and why he abandoned the philosophy and eventually the party…with peril. He amazingly lived to see his day in court for America’s trial of the century in which he most notably asserted Alger Hiss, a full-standing member of the political establishment, was a Soviet spy. Witness is part philosophical treatise, part espionage novel, and part trial drama. It’s an absolute “page-turner.” You may think communism is wrong and you may think you know why communism is wrong, but I assure you, you don’t truly grasp why until you read this unbelievable man’s story of triumph against the beast he once served.
2. The Law by Frederic Bastiat
This book, or shall I say essay is only 75 pages! Good news for the majority of us millennials plagued with the attention span of a hyperactive weasel. However, what Bastiat was able to pack in to 75 pages is remarkable. I had an inkling law school was in my future, but this book sealed the deal. Bastiat passionately and systematically criticizes Socialism, the political and economic structure that demands more laws, regulations through manipulating the law, disregarding its nature. The most invaluable lesson I learned from Bastiat’s timeless piece is when the law becomes a means of plunder it has lost its character of genuine law, thus raising many questions regarding the power of the State, like how to discern when a law is unjust or when the law maker has become a source of law breaking? I now know my mission in life is to use the genuine intent of the law to fight off the perpetual regulators, (whom of course are always lefties) who insist on bending the law and sometimes even breaking it in order to restrict our freedoms.
3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
This novel is undoubtedly Rand’s magnum opus. The libertarian philosopher hammers in her philosophy “objectivism” every chance she gets, which is certainly welcome! However, I’ll admit it starts off quite slow, but I implore you all, stick with it! Atlas is so worth it. It’s got everything: sex, love, politics, mystery, intrigue, danger, but most of all, sweet, sweet freedom. In short, it’s every capitalist’s wet dream. Let me put it this way…I’ve been called many things, but a “sap” is not one of them, yet this book extracted tears of joy and sorrow three times throughout my literary journey. Yes, journey. The novel closes in at a staggering 1,100 pages, but it’s not as intimidating as it sounds, since the author strategically separated it into three riveting parts. Plus, this gigantic ode to the free market is all too relevant, for I was able to draw a disturbing amount of parallels between the fictitious tyrannical State in the book and our very own and very real Obama Administration (AKA “Obamination”). The bottom line is Atlas Shrugged is a rite of passage for libertarians and it appeals to our most basic desire to be free, which anyone who sees the government for what it is can relate to. So all I have left to say is…”who is John Galt?” If you wish to know the answer to the question of the 20th century, read the book!
4. Losing Ground by Charles Murray
I wasn’t raised in a very political household. My single mother boasts of a scattered voting record, so I had absolutely no inclinations upon entering Global Relations class my sophomore year of high school. Although, the teacher was a flaming lib, I graciously attribute my political awakening to him. The most influential homework he assigned was to watch Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address and write about it. I realized I didn’t like this guy. I didn’t like a single thing he had to say. I was angry, in disbelief over how “un-American” I felt his sentiments were towards my loose concept of the American Dream. How could a man who was so utterly negative about the hope and freedom synonymous with America be the effing President?! This guy was not a winner. Winners had winning attitudes. Winners believe if you set your sights on something and work hard you will achieve it, right? Well this guy repeatedly declared he’s helpless, the people are helpless, this nation is helpless, wealthy people are the enemy, wealthy people somehow owe the world a favor for their fortune, etc. The sentiments of a loser, I thought. Obummer proceeded to rant about the necessity of welfare as if it were a civic responsibility, which made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t know why I disagreed with him, but I did, even my stomach rejected him and his cruddy welfare. So thanks to Mr. M and Obama I dedicated the rest of my high school career to challenging this destructive social policy, and the most successful weapon of choice proved to be the compelling arguments exhibited in Charles Murray’s revolutionary Losing Ground. My instincts exhorted me welfare was wrong and I was familiar with all the common debate bullet points as to why, but Murray methodically tears apart the Left’s bullshit reasoning behind social policy that harms rather than helps in such a clear and philosophical manner. He not only undermines the welfare state with facts, but also from a moral angle, on behalf of the taxpayers carrying those who don’t contribute, as well as demonstrating how it is in the best interest for those receiving assistance to do away with welfare.
5. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
This book is not only revered as a classic, but is also French snobbery at its finest. The French aristocrat traveled through America for almost a year, journaling his observations of the life and institutions of the evolving nation, analyzing the democratic system in America to serve as a possible model for post-revolutionary France. The conclusion…America is royally fucked and it doesn’t have a clue. This book is painfully pertinent, considering de Tocqueville’s keen insight into our political system, which is most likely destined for disaster if we don’t do something about it. His predictions are certainly alive in the Obama era. The French political thinker forecasted the young nation’s demise as a result of our obsession with equality. The pursuit of equality is an enemy to freedom, for it encourages dependence on the government, since equality does not transpire naturally. The more we depend on it, the more it grows. The more government grows, the less freedom we have. And obviously, freedom is a crucial ingredient to democracy. Democracy in America is a must-read for those seeking to wrap their minds around our current state in avoidance of the death of Land of the Free!