Monday, January 29, 2007

What are the best novels about politics?

Post below lifted from Tyler Cowen. I think I would have put The Last Hurrah and All the King's Men somewhere on the list. Tyler is obviously a classical fiend. I am too but I think the modern world also has its wisdom. I think the two novels I have listed tell you more about American politics than all the sociologists and political scientists put together

Queried here, I will simplify and make it books, period, but restrict it to fiction, not counting philosophy.  My list of five:

1. Shakespeare's Henriad, a no-brainer at #1, if you count it as more than one book it still should take up as many slots as it needs.  Psychology is primary and stands above politics, and libertinism is by no means unrelated to power.

2. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, vanity, pride, and self-deception are the keys to understanding political behavior, plus Swift shows an understanding of "the rules of the game."

3. Montesquieu, Persian Letters, yikes, have you ever seen that Monty Python skit "Summarize Proust"?

4. Sophocles, Antigone, the claims of the family vs. the claims of the state continue to plague Iraq and many other places.

5. Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, the former is not just a good tale but also a profound comparative study of regimes, the latter is the brutal truths of war.

Interestingly none of these are proper novels.  I read Kafka's The Trial as more about theology than worldly affairs.  As for politics as a profession, the source from The Economist recommends "Primary Colors", C.P. Snow's "The Corridors of Power", and "All the King's Men".

It is less fruitful and less fun to guess at the best novels about business and economics, perhaps because the relevant truths seem banal in a fictional context.



Credibility: "According to the New York Times, President Bush and Vice President Cheney “have done grievous harm to the credibility of the Oval Office and the country.” Perhaps so, but by being so blatantly partisan in its political coverage, the Times has done grievous harm to its own credibility and to the profession of journalism. Does the Times not see this?"

Media hostility: "President George W. Bush's father accused the news media of "personal animosity" toward his son and said he found the criticism so unrelenting he sometimes talked back to his television set. "It's one thing to have an adversarial ... relationship -- hard-hitting journalism -- it's another when the journalists' rhetoric goes beyond skepticism and goes over the line into overt, unrelenting hostility and personal animosity," former President George Bush said. The elder Bush, the 41st U.S. president, had a relatively collegial relationship with the press but things turned sour during his losing 1992 re-election campaign. He got so fed up with media coverage that supporters at the time circulated hats with the slogan "Annoy the Media -- Re-Elect Bush."

Air America Can't Even Pull Listeners In Santa Cruz: "Pretty telling when liberal radio can't even pull listeners in one of the most liberal cities in America. Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Sam Seeder - articulate liberal pundits - don't sell well, even in Santa Cruz. The trio are part of the nationally syndicated Air America, which was dropped from Santa Cruz radio station KOMY 1340 AM on Thursday and replaced with music from the 1950s, `60s and `70s. The left-leaning radio network, aimed at taking on Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk shows, debuted on Central Coast airwaves in July 2005, but local advertisers never bought in, station owner Michael Zwerling said. "We didn't sell a single ad in a year and a half," Zwerling said Thursday. "I thought liberal radio would work as a viable advertising business in the most liberal town in America. I was wrong" Santa Cruz isn't the only place Air America has problems. The network is struggling nationwide and filed for bankruptcy four months ago."

IRS can't even collect taxes from government employees: "Internal Revenue Service documents show that the government is still trying to recover nearly $2.8 billion in back taxes from over 450,000 active and retired federal government employees who failed to file tax returns or pay taxes, or some 3.3 percent of the federal bureaucracy. Spreadsheets obtained by Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP under the Freedom of Information Act show that hundreds of thousands of government employees failed to file a tax return for the 2005 tax year.... The United States Postal Service was the agency with the highest level of noncompliance, while the Treasury Department had the lowest level. IRS agents can be fired if they fail to pay taxes. But, an IRS spokesman told WTOP, it's no easier to collect from the bureaucrats as it is from the rest of us. Indeed, the IRS can hardly get a handle around the tax noncompliance issue, and has been reduced to prosecuting high-profile people who they allege have failed to pay taxes owed, such as Wesley Snipes."

Immigration Benefit 'Equivalent to a Mars bar a Month': "New figures out today reveal that, on the Government's own figures, the benefit to each member of the native population of the UK from immigration is worth about 4p a week - or less than the equivalent of a small Mars bar a month. In an analysis of a series of reports on the economic impact of immigration on the UK think-tank Migrationwatch has found that overall the much vaunted contribution of immigrants to the economy is very slight indeed - a finding that coincides with the results of major studies around the world."



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason -- Details here and here

Comments? Email me here (Hotmail address). If there are no recent posts here blame and visit my mirror site here or here. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


No comments: