Friday, August 18, 2006

Books I'm reading or have read recently

Conservatives without Conscience - by John W. Dean

Yes, that John Dean of Watergate fame. This is a very convincing explanation of the right-wing personality type. Ultra-short version: they're followers. I saw Mr. Dean on CSPAN talking about his book at a book-tour event, I'm guessing. I was fascinated by his analysis of authoritarianism in modern conservatism. Conservatism has come a very long way from Goldwater and even Nixon. Google "John Dean conservative conscience" and you should find a link to an NPR interview on WBUR a month or so back, which is very entertaining. One thought that Dean brings out early in the book that I find very compelling is that if it were 1776, the neocons and right-wingers would all be on the side of King George. Revolution is anathema to the authoritarian mind set.

Although the right-wingers are notoriously immune to facts, truth and reason, I can only hope that there are a couple of percent of the voters that can still think, see what's going on and switch their vote. This is a good book with very insightful message and, I think, a lever to apply.

What's the Matter with Kansas? - by Thomas Frank

This is less a theoretical explanation of how conservatives have managed to get such a stranglehold on our government than it is a practical or empirical look at the strategies and techniques. Frank analyzes how the Right has been able to take a place like Kansas, once famous for fringe left-wing and crackpot political movements, and make it into a place where low-income people vote to cut the taxes of millionaires at the expense of their children's education. F'ing amazing, isn't it? All the Republicans have to do is trot out the same-sex marriage, or evolution, or abortion boogeyman, and these folks flock to the polls like lemmings to elect people that send their jobs offsore, close their factories, and make cannon fodder of their sons and daughters in Iraq. It really ties in quite nicely with Dean's authoritarian theory, I think.

Reason - by Robert Reich - Just started it, opinions later. My wife just finished it and liked it a lot.

I can highly recommend both of the first two titles. Throwing some light on the "whys" of the conservative take-over of the country is the first step toward reversing it. I dearly hope so, anyway!!


Blogger AJ said...

John Dean's book is very informative and ought to be high on the reading list of everyone who is trying to understand why the wheels have come off the vehicle of Federal government in America.

His most important point is that our government has become authoritarian due to the character of our elected leaders and that keeping this authoritarian influence in check is critical to the future of our country.

The preface to this book is available online (I can't find the link) which is what hooked me to get it.

Fri Aug 18, 02:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Kaitlyn Patia said...

I recently read 'Reason' as well, and found it very informative. It doesn't get too dry, or try to keep you constantly incensed with petty name-calling to get readership (I'm looking at you, Ann Coulter). It's a very patient, well-laid-out argument, and a pretty good read as well.

Sun Aug 20, 04:20:00 PM PDT  

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