I have heard told that conservatives are the only real romantics since we are far more disposed toward hanging on to the things that were, those things that matter to us as individuals and as members of a shared culture.
Despite flowery appeals to peace, love and “we are all the world” tripe, progressivism is marked by a disturbing trend of flattening and eliminating meaningful cultural differences while simultaneously consolidating power with psychopathic busybodies who cannot live if they cannot tell others how to.
Conservatives ultimately just want to be let alone to tend, foster and enjoy the things that are important to them.
That is quite the trick to pull off in this era of increasingly invasive government interference as well as punitive social consequences for wrongthink thanks to the popularity of cancel culture.
If you feel an itch in your mind that you just can’t scratch and find yourself having trouble articulating your thoughts about matters of conservatism, it is time to sharpen your saw!
Deep reading of classic works of conservatism that are full of meaning, cultural value, objective virtues and historical markers will do that for you.
The words of those who came before and paved the way to where we are today and are an excellent way to improve your rhetoric, broaden your intellectual horizons, and foster a deep appreciation for both what we have, where we came from, and where we are heading.
It is up to us, today, to carry the fire that our ancestors paid so much for. Below is my selection of some of the books that every conservative thinker and citizen should read.
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
The private writings and musings of Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome from A.D.161 to A.D. 180 remain one of the most accessible and greatest works of ethical reflection and practical advice for good living ever written, and deserves a spot on every conservative’s bookshelf.
Aurelius wrote often about such topics as overcoming adversity, dealing with outcomes and situations that you cannot change with grace and dignity, interacting correctly with family and strangers alike, and coping with the perpetual struggle of desire against duty.
Few have ever codified the pressures of leadership but also the remedies as well as Marcus Aurelius.
Sometimes writing at length and sometimes in only a few clipped, crisp sentences, this essential work is absolutely central for the doctrine of stoicism, and is as accessible and relevant now as it has ever been since its translation. A must-have, and one of my favorites.
Get Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius from Amazon.
Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, by Milton & Rose Friedman
A seminal work by economists Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose remains one of the best and most complete arguments for free markets and minimizing government intrusion in the economies and lives of citizens.
A strong condemnation of interventionist policies, and written in his trademark style, Milton Friedman, along with his wife Rose, compare and contrast the economic systems of developed nations all the way back to the 18th century through the 20th century, using historical examples to show what works, and what does not work in economy’s all over the world.
No punches are pulled, and no detail is spared when examining the economic systems of the United Kingdom, India, Japan, Russia and the United States pointing out where correct action was taken that resulted in prosperity, and where missteps, greed, and invasive correctional policies at the federal level resulted in failure, depression and destitution.
Beyond economics, the Friedmans make links to the education system and federal institutions of other kinds that impact the economy, even making links to urban renewal and gentrification as positively or negatively impacting the prosperity of a nation.
A must-read for anyone who wants to argue intelligently for minimizing the size of the government as well as its impact and reach into economic systems.
Get Free to Choose on Amazon.
American Nations, by Colin Woodard
Have you ever wondered why Americans bicker and argue so passionately about what really constitutes American values? Why, in the largest melting pot on earth, is the “you’re obviously not from around here” mentality still so prevalent?
Author Colin Woodard answers all of those questions in a fascinating and entertaining deep-dive into what makes America so divided and contentious, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with contemporary political issues.
As it turns out, it has everything to do with political and cultural differences going all the way back before the founding of America.
When an entire continent is settled by massive influxes of people each with their own unique and sometimes competitive political, religious and ethnic differences, these people will naturally congregate into large tribes which will form regional cultures and subcultures which will be allies in one era and enemies in another.
The argument that there is no broader, truly unifying American culture is a persuasive one, and chances are this book will answer many questions you might have asked about the state of our own culture in the 21st century.
This book dexterously makes the case that local cultural differences have a far greater impact on people’s lives and outlooks compared to national ones in a country that is so large and expansive it is a continent unto itself.
Get American Nations on Amazon.
Becoming a Barbarian, by Jack Donovan
The seemingly unstoppable onslaught of globalist ideology has made maintaining, much less forging, meaningful bonds with like-minded people, be they family or friends, more and more difficult.
People today, especially men, are expected to care about absolutely everybody that might be in need, with no mention made of the natural corollary that if you care about everyone you can truly care about no one.
With real bonds having been slashed away and replaced with one-size-fits-all consumer identities, it is no wonder the meaninglessness and ennui have overtaken red-blooded people in America at an alarming rate.
Jack Donovan’s follow-on book to his surprise breakout hit The Way of Men attacks and completely dismantles this modern way of thinking in what he calls “The Empire of Nothing”, and makes a case for thinking tribally, correctly, again.
This book does much to reverse the programming of globalism and universalism, and challenges readers to find a tribe made up of people that really matter to you, come up with a purpose for yourself and devote your life to your purposes and your people above everything else. A crackling good book.
Get Becoming a Barbarian on Amazon.
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
The magnum opus and final work of fiction by author and objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged is a novel that tells a story about a world all too similar to our own, one that is sliding into a proper dystopia.
Within the bounds of the book, a story is told of two broad classes of people, those who produce and those who look to profit from their production from no effort or ingenuity of their own. Explores themes of efficiency, government invasiveness, capitalism unbound, the virtue of man, and the rightness of working for his own ends against the world around him.
A sprawling book, and one that is very readable but containing hidden depths full of difficult-to-access meaning.
This is a book where the characters are not mere symbols as in other works, but instead are human beings acting virtuously, or not, in spite of that not being recognizable to an audience who has not been mentally equipped to see that in action.
This is definitely a book that you have to peel back little by little at a time, like an onion, and an understanding of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is helpful.
But even without all that, this is a book that will definitely move you and make you think about the direction our own country and culture are heading. The parallels cannot be ignored.
Get Atlas Shrugged on Amazon.
The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek
A masterwork and a classic of political philosophy, pioneering economist F.A. Hayek’s clinical warning of the dangers of socialism and the looming threat of increasing government economic control remains one of the most important and cited works in its category of the 20th century.
Published all the way back in 1944, before socialism was largely viewed as the oppressive evil that it was and is by the West, author Hayek was empowering readers with a grim but accurate analysis of what fate awaited all nations that allowed direction of their economies to be consolidated in the hands of a powerful few.
For any conservative who has yet to grasp how far-reaching the implications of socialism are, this is the only primer you need, provided by one of the sharpest and most brilliant minds of our era.
Remind yourself that this is the overarching objective of progressivism and the modern breed of progressive liberal.
The stakes are high, the evidence is irrefutable and the world has already seen in shocking detail what this abhorrent ideology does to formerly prosperous and free nations.
Those who came before us have been warning us for a very long time, and it is up to us as conservatives to carry on the fight.
Get The Road to Serfdom on Amazon.
Rules for Retrogrades, by Timothy J. Gordon and David R. Gordon
It is no secret and will be admitted by any honest conservative that the ground game of progressives has long outstripped our own.
With media, institutions of learning at all levels and much of the government completely infiltrated and locked down by progressive influences, it seems like no matter where we go we lose arguments and the ones that we win are crumpled up and thrown in the trash can, buried under an avalanche of negative publicity or media suppression.
One of the chief architects of the progressive left’s current stratagems is Saul Alinsky, whose book Rules for Radicals has formed a so-far uncounterable playbook by which leftists will dismantle conservative culture piece by bloody piece.
Enter Rules for Retrogrades, an antidote to the insidious machinations and subversive strategies of the progressive left, and the resounding answer to Rules for Radicals.
This call to action contains advice and procedures for speaking the truth no matter how badly the left tries to obscure it, standing up for objectivity and goodness in an era of debauchery and hedonism, countering the left’s ongoing control of language, and knowing who to trust in the shifting sands of the 21st century political battlefield.
Get Rules for Retrogrades on Amazon.
Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard M. Weaver
First published in 1948, Ideas Have Consequences remains an incisive, cerebral treatise on the decline of western civilization due to the author’s assertion that we, as a civilization, have rejected and replaced the idea that there is an absolute truth from which all other determinations can be made.
He posits that the result is the decay and subsequent dissolution of traditional Western art, education and, most importantly, morality. The parallels he draws with the encroaching apathy of the day are still clearly visible even now.
Even more chillingly, Weaver might have been the first to put a name to the concept of a unified, invasive media construct by which perceptions, beliefs and emotions of the populace would be controlled with the objective of turning subjective truth into a commodity, something he called The Great Stereopticon.
While a heady and intellectual work, a reader who is up to the task will be positively struck by the implications of this particular warning written so long ago.
Get Ideas Have Consequences on Amazon.
A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, by Thomas Sowell
Brilliant social theorist Thomas Sowell’s masterwork that dissects the ideological differences between liberals and conservatives that always seem to culminate in political disagreements and potentially violence is the product of over 30 years of his work in the fields of economics, social studies and cultural trajectories.
If you have ever wondered what the roots of the disagreements are that exist between conservatives and liberals this book will explain it with extraordinary clarity and detail.
Sowell offers his take on everything from war, peace and ideological divides to criminal justice, income distribution and the progressive left’s obsession with equality of outcome.
For anyone who places their faith in blood ties, voluntary associations, traditional customs and self-determinism this book will deftly illustrate why such conservatism is so important to you, but also why it is so important to the health of the populace at large.
Get A Conflict of Visions on Amazon.
The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis
A sharp critique against the debunking and devaluing of natural law and objective value brought on by indoctrination in higher education, C.S. Lewis makes a strong case and intellectual stand for both in this book.
First delivered as a series of evening lectures at King’s College, Newcastle, England, Lewis tackles this subject with great nuance and skill, criticizing science as something that should not be used to debunk natural and objective value, while simultaneously defending it as worth pursuing for its own values.
Elsewhere in the book, Lewis makes the claim that it is impossible for a moral subjectivist to remain morally consistent in any meaningful way as they make observations and interact with the world.
In the end, Lewis describes a world that to him was only theoretical, but to us will appear frighteningly familiar, one in which the majority of people have their values and morals controlled or decided for them by a tiny group of elites who influence them through perfect and complete understanding of human psychology.
If the modern plague of moral subjectivism has you tearing your hair out in frustration and defiance, put Abolition of Man near the top of your reading list.
Get The Abolition of Man from Amazon.
The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Without question, one of the most important books of the 20th century and winner of a Nobel Prize in literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago is the most heart-wrenching, disturbing, and also unflinching look at the terminal effects of socialism and communism on a society.
A work comprised from sources drawn from statements, diaries, legal documents and the authors own grueling experience in the Soviet gulags as a prisoner, this is a book that will shake you to your core, and more than any other will show you a terrifying glimpse into what the future holds if the progressives are allowed to have their way.
Serving as both literary masterpiece, a fiery indictment of Soviet political machinations of its era and an impassioned warning against the ultimate processes and terminal effects of Communism, The Gulag Archipelago is a must-read for everyone who believes in freedom.
Get The Gulag Archipelago on Amazon.
Natural Right and History, by Leo Strauss
A classical work examining the concept of natural right against a natural wrong (or manufactured “right”), author Leo Strauss argues that there is indeed an objective, natural firmament for the case that is observable in reality.
This observation is then further extended through a distinction between right and wrong, culture, politics, ethics and relationships. This stands in stark opposition to subjective right or wrong based on cultural norms or legal precedents.
If you are tired of progressives constantly moving the goalposts and attacking the foundation of an agreed-upon and objective standard for truth as a sort of a WMD in conversation or in debate, this book will give you the tools you need to cut them off at the knees.
It is not the easiest book to delve into, but for sturdy readers and for those who have the intellectual horsepower to get through it it is still one of the best, and most controversial, works in its category.
Get Natural Right and History on Amazon.
The Constitution of the United States of America, by the Founding Fathers
If you seek to uphold the legacy and traditions of our country as written and intended by our founding fathers, you must first seek to become a scholar of the document upon which our nation was founded. Failing to do so is foolishness in itself.
How many times have you had an argument about what the Founding Fathers meant or intended or what the Constitution said, but you could not quote it section, chapter and verse?
If you would take the time to study the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence you would not have that problem.
The Constitution is the cherished fundament of our nation and also the ultimate legal document and institutional backbone of our country.
Both mandate and restrictor upon our government, reading and understanding this most important legal document is mandatory for every conservative American.
Get The Constitution of the United States of America on Amazon.
The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
Unquestionably the best companion work to the Constitution itself, The Federalist Papers comprise 85 articles that defend, explain and expand on the ideas behind it in the words of several of the Founding Fathers themselves.
First written and published anonymously, three of the Constitution’s framers- Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison- talked at length about principles of government, political science and political philosophy.
The Constitution in tandem with the Federalist Papers leave no room for doubt or misinterpretation about our Founding Fathers intent for our country, our citizenry and our government.
Reading the Constitution without reading The Federalist Papers means you may miss out on crucial nuance and frame of reference vital for a complete and holistic education in the rights of our nation, as written and as intended.
Get The Federalist Papers on Amazon.
American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms, by Chris Kyle
Everyone knows that guns are inextricably linked with American culture, and were so important to the founders’ intentions for a newly born nation that the right to own and bear them was ensconced in our own Bill of Rights as the Second Amendment.
Love them or hate them, guns have played a pivotal role in all major eras of American history, and continue to influence both the political landscape, and inform the rights of citizens in various parts of the nation. To understand the gun is to better understand history.
This book, written by Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame and published posthumously, tells the stories of 10 legendary firearms, and the role they played in equally legendary and pivotal events in American history.
Understanding the impact these firearms had, both on technology and the events surrounding them, helps colorize and further inform the nuances of the era. An entertaining read, and one that is packed full of interesting historical details. Highly recommended.
Get American Gun on Amazon.
Every conservative should make expanding their intellectual horizons on such diverse subjects as ethics, American history, economic principles, political theory and governance a regular part of their self-directed education.
It is only by constantly taking in new information, comparing and sifting it against what you already know and formulating ever-sharper arguments and insights on the side of liberty and self-determinism that one can hope to push back the tide of progressive bugthought.