This idea of giving a list of must reads books has been doing the round on many blogs. I thought I might as well give it a go.
There are so many important books though that I thought I'd make a split between the 10 must read books that are directly decentralist, localist, distributist or regionalist or very close and those 10 who set the scene and background for my traditionalist, Christian decentralism. Of course though there is bound to be some overlap, in particular the background list is unlikely to include any books directly contrary to the ethos of the decentralist/regionalist one.
Oh and I thought I'd rule out any scriptural works from the Bible to the Tao Te Ching, in my opinion the scriptures of the orthodox traditions are worthy reads by definition(though the right background and mindset is always required of course.) as well as other pre-reformation works(which rules out the best works but deciding upon the key ancient and medieval works, particularly if you include those outside the Western tradition, would be a task I'm not worthy of and would necessarily take away from majesty of these works.).
The first five of the top ten background works on religion, politics and society post-1500:
1. Logic and Transcendence by Frithjof Schuon, this is one of the greatest works of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. It elucidates key planks of Philosophia Perennialis and sets forth the reality of the divine, the role of faith, the Intellect and reason and the spiritual life. It is an excellent aid to understanding the transcendent unity of the orthodox traditions, the importance of following a particular tradition and the basis for an understanding of metaphysics truth which is the ground of all truth including politcial and social truth. Schuon's essential works are also key readings.
2. The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the times by Rene Guenon. Guenon is another key perennialist thinker and this work represents not just an excellent presentation of that philosophy but an extremely detailed attack on key areas of modernism and the modern world using principles derived from the Perennial tradition. Jacob Needleman has described Guenon's work thus:
“Many of Guenon’s books . . . are such potent and detailed metaphysical attacks on the downward drift of Western civilization as to make all other contemporary critiques seem half-hearted by comparison.”
He helps to show the correct attitude man should have to God, the universe, nature and his fellow man and how the modern world is getting it so very wrong and hence it is an excellent foundation for sound politics.
3. Reflections on the revolution in France by Edmund Burke. The foundational text, in many ways, of modern conservatism. It contains many of the key components of conservatism, at least in embryio.
4. The Conservative mind, from Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk. This epic work charts almost two centuries of conservative thought, particularly the more romantic and traditionalist strains, including such key figures as Burke, John Adams, John Randolph of Roanoke, Disraeli and John Henry Newman. Kirk ably shows the insight of these figures and draws out the similarities of their thought into a cohesive and all-ranging, but adaptive and non-rigid, whole.
5. Ideas have Consequences by Richard Weaver. This work is a reiteration of Platonism in a modern context, showing the importance of ideas, hierarchy, distinction and idealism in a balanced and healthy society and political opinion. Another excellent foundational text for dealing with man, the universe and society.
To be continued.....