UNCEASING WAVES

A Reading List for Political Activists

Posted in Politics by Karthick RM on June 22, 2014

Below, I have compiled a list of 35 must read texts for activists involved in radical political projects. I have selected works on political positions of all types, philosophy, history, military strategy, literature, which I believe would greatly assist activists in their understanding of the world today. I have arranged them in no particular order – I just listed them as they came to my mind. So you might be surprised to find Hitler placed along with Gramsci, Huntington with Marx, and Arendt with Sartre. Each of these texts are, in my opinion, the best representations of certain political/ethical/philosophical perspectives that activists need to be familiar with. For instance, a good understanding of fascism, right-wing propaganda, and the idea of the ‘authoritarian personality’ is totally impossible without being familiar with Mein Kampf. Likewise, Civil War in France provides an excellent account of how a ruling class can and will deal with a crisis, especially if the oppressed are not willing to go the extra-mile to overthrow the powers that reign. Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen informs us what true political heroism is in the figure of Adrian Veidt. Each of the texts that I have selected provides a unique perspective on practical and ethical political questions that confront activists today. I hope it is of some assistance. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment.

1. 36 Stratagems

2. Thomas Kempis – The Imitation of Christ

3. Alain Badiou – Philosophy for Militants

4. Carl von Clausewitz – On War

5. Sun Tzu – The Art of War

6. BH Liddell Hart – Strategy

7. Slavoj Zizek – Violence: Six Sideways Reflections

8. Frantz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth (With Sartre’s Preface)

9. Friedrich Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil

10. Maximillien Robespierre – Speech on “The Principles of Political Morality”

11. VI Lenin – What is to be done?

12. Louis Althusser – On Ideology

13. Antonio Gramsci – Prison Notebooks

14. Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf

15. Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince

16. Mao Tse-Tung – On Contradictions

17. Paolo Friere – Pedagogy of the Oppressed

18. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan

19. Sigmund Freud – Civilization and its Discontents

20. Carl Schmitt – The Concept of the Political

21. Samuel P. Huntington – The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

22. Karl Marx – The Civil War in France

23. Reinhold Niebuhr – The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness

24. Alexandre Kojeve – Introduction to the Reading of Hegel

25. Hannah Arendt – Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

26. Jean-Paul Sartre – Colonialism and Neo-colonialism

27. Martin van Creveld – The Transformation of War

28. Walter Benjamin – Critique of Violence

29. D. Sivaram – Essays on Tamil Militarism

30. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War

31. Amilcar Cabral – Speech on “National Liberation and Culture”

32. Plato – The Republic

33. Oscar Wilde – The Soul of Man under Socialism

34. William Shakespeare – Julius Caesar

35. Alan Moore – Watchmen

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