How to really read in 2013

Ross Douthat provides a reading list for (dare I say?) an open-minded progressive in 2013. Frankly, his list is lame.

If you want a really open-minded reading list for 2013 here are five suggestions:

1) Read a book written by the losing side from America’s major wars (for example, here’s one from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the German Wars, and the Cold War). Mr Douthat’s list may provide you with multiple viewpoints on why the US should invade Iran, for example, but are you prepared to consider that American foreign policy has been a tool of Britain’s Vampirish foreign policy for decades?

2) Read the memoirs of the greatest statesmen from the post-War era. You may be surprised at how stable and prosperous a diverse society can be. You also may be surprised what is required to achieve this stability.

3) Join the Froude Society. How much high Victorian thought have you read lately?

4) Spend a month reading nothing that’s under copyright restrictions. In other words, spend a month reading nothing written after 1920-ish. The modern world takes on a different hue if you’ve spent a sizable chunk of time reading things that are totally outside of it.

5) Spend a month reading the news only from anonymous bloggers of various viewpoints. Some people think that anonymity is bad. They’re wrong. Polite discourse is limited by the very strict bounds of political correctness. Some things that are true cannot be observed by non-anonymous writers. In other words (with a few notable and admirable exceptions), someone writing under their real name will lie to you if the wrong topic comes up.

Best of all, all this stuff is free.


14 Responses to How to really read in 2013

  1. PA says:

    You also may be surprised what is required to achieve this stability.

    How ’bout a hint?

    • Foseti says:

      I’ll just try to sum it up in one sentence:

      Many traditional English “freedoms” (e.g. trial by jury) and near-universal voting rights are incompatible with stability in a diverse society.

      • asdf says:

        “You just have to structure your society accordingly.”

        Since this fails much more then it succeeds, and it has a particular bad track record in nations of the size and racial composition of America, why try?

        When did the crotchety reactionary get all idealist?

        “Many traditional English “freedoms” (e.g. trial by jury) and near-universal voting rights are incompatible with stability in a diverse society.”

        Inevitably someone figures out that promising to extend the vote to group X will win them the support they need to gain power. So its not sustainable.

        An interesting anecdote, the Japanese tried to introduce a jury system but too many Japanese citizens were incapable of making a decision on the trial because they were uncomfortable with such authority.

        Japan is such an interesting country. It is perhaps one of the most successful reactionary countries in the world, though of a distinctly Asian flavor. I’m especially interest in seeing what they are like in 100 years when the island is less crowded.

      • Handle says:


        You say you’re interested in seeing what Japan is like in 100 years – but the question is why did Japan introduce criminal “juries” at all after rejecting them for so long? (They’re not really like our juries, 3 of the 9 are professional “judge” fact-finders, but that’s a bit of an explanation. Their whole criminal justice system is different actually.) Where, in other words, is the “reform trend” trending? It’s not on a reactionary course, that’s for sure.

        At any rate, there are two good reasons to reject jury trials. (1) Diversity and a near contempt of “justice” in favor of ethnic solidarity makes a mockery of the law [Singapore – criminal trials], and (2) It just doesn’t work because most normal people are neither competent to decide nor able to be truly neutral or unemotional in their determinations – think giant pain and suffering awards against evil corporations when the evidence is barely plausible. [Most other first world countries – civil trials].

        The Japanese don’t have reason (1), but for them reason (2) was sufficient to reject juries altogether for a long time.

        I think that the US is in a “both reasons (1) and (2)” situation. But of course we’ll keep the juries.

      • asdf says:

        In Japan you’re allowed to be racist and the concept of citizens, culture, and country actually mean something. When you consider that these concepts survived having the Cathedral drop two atom bombs on them and occupy their country its quite amazing.

  2. PA says:

    So you can have liberty or you can have diversity, but not both.

    My formula for stable diversity is SMV-based. As long as each group’s women are equally attractive on average and equally available, you will have stable coexistence. This really pretty much rules out any long-term prospects for the success of inter-racial diversity absent cultural oppression – like formal Jim Crow or old-school Latin American racial stratification.

    Any way you spin it, Moldbug is wrong and “diversity” does not work, even given his recommendations. Are you hesitant to take that step and say it?

    • Foseti says:

      Yes. I wouldn’t say that diversity doesn’t work (with “work” defined as stable society). It works fine (and it has many times). You just have to structure your society accordingly.

  3. SOBL1 says:

    I have much respect for the Victorians. I counter criticism of their era by noting that they tackled and corrected most of the horrible bits of their time like the workhouses. A lot of modern folks note Victorian sexual “repression” and the hypocrisy of their time with regards to sex. The stupidity of that criticism is that there was plenty of sex to be had, they just knew it was best to try to control it as unrestrained sex could be a problem. The modern people do not see the chaos around them created by sexual liberation without accountability. They don’t see that the restraint of the former era was not hypocritical and oppressive but truly wise to the dangers of sex inherent in human nature and its attack on human dignity.

    Schools can ever teach a losing side’s account of a war unless it is a precious minority like American Indians.

  4. Michael says:

    Good post. The English in the West Indies and The True History of the American Revolution in particular both made a big impact on me.

    My new standard suggestion for a starting place for any budding reactionary is to read both volumes of the Mencken Chrestomathy. The language is a joy and very accessible, and he has the right attitude about the whole thing in my opinion.

  5. Samson J. says:

    Join the Froude Society.

    Fantastic, I had no idea this concept was happening. One of my very favourite things to do in a good used bookstore is to find the oldest books and browse through them – not for the actual content as much for the insight into the writer’s worldview and assumptions. All of your “losing side” suggestions are going onto my reading list.

  6. […] bonus bonus bonus bonus: How to Really Read in 2013 – from foseti – i like […]

    • Federico says:

      Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.

      Words of wisdom.

  7. Fun Singapore

    How to really read in 2013 | Foseti

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