Ideologue professors, radical leftist peers, and social justice activist groups do their best to ensure that a university is safe space for everything but debate, dialogue, and the unbiased presentation of knowledge. However, there exists a larger problem for students to overcome. The most pressing issue is that most high schools don’t prepare their students for the onslaught of ridiculous ideas, by teaching them to think critically. Many conservative and libertarian students walk onto their university’s campus for the first time and are immediately confronted with ideas that run the gamut from, “Gender is nothing but a social construct!” to “True socialism has never been implemented.” Conservative and libertarian students already recognize the fundamental flaws in these assertions, but many are unable to support their intuition with cogent arguments.
However, everything one needs to fight the ideological war can be found in books. It’s for this reason that I suggest a list of ten books that every high school student ought to read. This list is by no means exhaustive but will serve as a good start to begin building an arsenal for the battles ahead.
It’s important for conservative students to critically examine the many worldviews they’ll encounter (liberals, socialists, multiculturalists, globalists, progressive, libertarians) and to understand how conservatism stands apart from them. Roger Scruton does exactly this in How To Be a Conservative.
Scruton examines the eight major non-conservative worldviews in individual chapters, before demonstrating how conservatism is really an amalgamation of the best that comes out of each of these, making it the best political worldview currently in existence. Whether you’re a student looking to prepare for the barrage of leftist ideas from your professor or a student wishing to engage in debate with your ideologically-opposed classmates, this book is a must-read.
A disturbing phenomenon you can observe at any North American university is the stifling of free speech by radical leftist professors, student unions, and student activist groups. If you need arguments to support your position, look no further than John Stuart Mill’s short book On Liberty. Mill defends the diversity of viewpoints against the tyranny of the majority opinion.
Mill first delineates his famous ‘Harm Principle’ for determining whether an action ought to be prevented, before laying out watertight arguments for why no opinions in society should be silenced, regardless of whether they conform to the public opinion. Despite being an excellent work of political philosophy that sets limits on government authority over the individual, the principles in this book can easily be applied to the problems faced by censored college conservatives in their fight to freely present their views.
If the Constitution of the United States were ever put on trial, The Federalist Papers would be its defense attorney.
In eighty-five essays, the three authors explained the Framers’ intentions in writing the Constitution of this great nation. It explains and defends key concepts often taken for granted in modern American politics, such as the legitimacy of the Constitution, a defense of federalism, the rights of the states, the pernicious nature of the majority, and the importance of checks and balances. Every American high school student must read The Federalist Papers before entering college.
An understanding of the economy is essential for every conservative, and Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics is the perfect way to do it. Sowell lays out the basic principles of economics in everyday English, illustrating them through commonplace examples rather than complicated statistics. He also compares the way different economic structures (capitalist, socialist, or mixed) apply these principles. In doing so, he teaches the reader to differentiate between policies that appear to be helpful and policies that truly benefit the public.
Every college student who is nearing voting age must read this book. It’s essential for those who want to see through the false promises of politicians and make informed decisions at the ballot box.
Ever heard the popular line, “X form of socialism didn’t work, because that wasn’t real socialism?” Ever struggled to give a good enough response? This is the book for you.
In this remarkable book written by a key member of the Austrian School of Economics, socialism in every form is put under the microscope and deconstructed. A highlight is the thorough analysis of how socialism affects everyday life, including its effects on democratic states, the family, production, and foreign relations. Mises then compares it to the effects that capitalism has on these same aspects. Mises dedicates a significant portion of the book to the examination of various forms of socialism that have been applied through history, and examines the claim made by socialists about socialism being inevitable in the future. This book will prepare anyone to debate leftists who try to claim “That wasn’t REAL socialism.”
The true nature of the socialist utopia is revealed in The Gulag Archipelago, a three-volume autobiographical text that narrates the experiences of the author and his fellow inmates in the Soviet Union’s infamous labor camps. You will be horrified by the brutality of socialism’s most famous application and amazed by the bravery of those who stood against it. You will be shocked to realize that the same socialism that leftists laud as the antidote to all inequality, was once just as pernicious as Nazism, which leftists so faithfully denounce. The book also contains great passages of philosophy, particularly those that discuss the human tendency towards evil.
The Gulag Archipelago is an eye-opening work of history and sociology, and a must-read for all who wish to learn what socialism truly stands for.
A question you will often ask yourself during your university years as you meet biology deniers and common sense lacking social justice warriors is, “Why is my generation so stupid?” Allan Bloom diagnosed this problem thirty years ago, penning a warning in the form of his bestselling The Closing of the American Mind. In possibly the most powerful polemic of the 20th century, Bloom tracks the decline of the academy, analyzing various contributing factors such as moral and cultural relativism, deconstructionism, self-centeredness, and aliteracy (which is the indifference of literate students towards reading and writing).
Bloom argues that universities no longer care for the pursuit of truth or value academic freedom, which were once their primary aims and greatest virtues. Instead, the academy appeases students’ outrage over relatively insignificant matters, thereby allowing its own standards to deteriorate in their attempts to pander to a generation of fragile snowflakes. Bloom’s book reads like a prophetic manifesto regarding today’s universities, diagnosing problems and delineating solutions. It is a must-read for anyone who is entering the academy in the hopes of changing it for the better.
Modern feminist activists seem to have convinced society that women are regularly oppressed by men in all aspects of life and therefore deserve extra help to get by. What they fail to realize is this treatment of men as perpetual oppressors, and women as perpetual victims, leads to disastrous effects on the psychology of boys and young men today.
In a well-researched and eye-opening book, Sommers explains how modern feminist theories have led to boys lagging behind girls in everything from reading to the possibility of going to college, and how society’s dogged insistence on ignoring differences between the sexes has led to manhood being viewed by some as a sort of psychological disorder. Before you step into your classroom and hear the “gender is a social construct” and “toxic masculinity must be stopped” lectures, prepare yourself with the facts.
This book is a fascinating combination of philosophy and psychology. The first half of the book narrates Frankl’s own experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, while the second half sets out his psychological theory of ‘logotherapy’ and how one can find meaning in life. The most essential part of the book, however, is Frankl’s discussion of freedom as being necessarily supplemented by personal responsibility. In Frankl’s own words:
“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibility. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibility. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”
It is imperative for young conservatives to realize that freedom in itself is not unfettered and boundless, but brings with it a set of responsibilities to oneself and to society that one needs to fulfill. Freedom must not be treated as an end, but as a means to do that which is virtuous. To treat it as an end would be to abuse it, and abusing freedom devalues it just as much as its suppression does.
BONUS ITEM: KNOW THINE ENEMY
Conservative students must not only appreciate the ideas affirmed by those on his or her own side of the political spectrum, but also admire the good ideas put forth by one’s ideological opponents. It is for this reason that I recommend this next book.
Ever wondered why your friends and family end up voting Democrat when you are convinced that the Republicans are the better option? You need not wonder anymore. In Reasons to Vote for Democrats, a 266-page book that is chock-full of information, Michael J. Knowles delineates a number of reasons to vote Democrat. Spanning issues such as economics, foreign policy, civil rights, education, homeland security, energy, job creation, crime, immigration policies, and moral values, Knowles flexes some serious scholarly muscles in this work, building an airtight case for why the Democratic Party is always the better choice in any election.
Endorsed by political pundit Ben Shapiro and President Donald Trump himself, Reasons to Vote for Democrats will help you appreciate every good idea and policy that the left has ever made and will possibly make in the future.
Reading these books will not be a regrettable use of your time. Just as no soldier regrets the blood and sweat shed during training in the midst of the battle, no conservative student will regret the time spent on these books.