H. Recommended Books
This list could potentially contain hundreds of good books on politics as it relates - directly and indirectly - to modern day Sweden and the European Union (of which Sweden is a member). This is just a sample collection of FreeSwedeen.net author's personal current favourites and will be expanded in due course.
Jonas Himmelstrand, Att följa sitt hjärta - i jantelagens Sverige - To Follow Your Heart in the Swedish Utopia (Happy Company Publishing, Stockholm: 2010) - an examination into why Sweden's social family policies have failed (in Swedish, abridged English edition coming in late 2011) - order a copy by clicking the image to the right. This is probably the definitive book on the contemporary political, social, family and educational scene in Sweden as it really is. Jonas Himmelstrand is president of the The Swedish Association for Home Education, a much sought-after speaker internationally, a homeschooling parent, and on the Marxist state's hit-list. He has had crippling fines imposed on him by Uppsala kommun (municipality) for homeschooling even when homeschooling was legal in Sweden. This is the best and one of the few balanced accounts of the Swedish system available - highly recommended.
Jamie Glazov, United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror - Praising someone for being “politically incorrect” has, alas, become a tiresome cliché. That’s a shame, because we need eloquent critics of that pernicious worldview now more than ever. Yet we toss the phrase “politically incorrect” around as easily as a Nerf ball, and thereby render it about as effective...United in Hate will remind many of Paul Johnson’s seminal Intellectuals. Reading that 1988 book has been an eye-opening experience for many budding conservatives. A month ago, a young man I’d just met excitedly shared his latest used-bookstore discovery: Intellectuals, that anti-hagiography of modernity’s liberal heroes, the ones that same young man had been taught to revere by his professors. You could see the glow of intellectual liberation in his eyes. His eagerness to discover and share even more “unspeakable” truths was palpable. “What’s important about Intellectuals,” observed “libertarian bookworm” Timothy Sandefur, “is that it reveals the extent to which the ideological ‘leaders’ of modern culture have been willing to lie, cheat, and steal — literally — in the pursuit of anti-rational modern ideologies like socialism, communism, and the regulatory welfare state.” Johnson also revealed — some would say reveled in — the sexual and moral deviancy and hypocrisy of the likes of Sartre, James Baldwin, and other leftist demigods. In Intellectuals, he created a conservative Hollywood Babylon, but with bigger words and without those gruesome crime scene photos worthy of Weegee. Alas, Johnson himself — a very public traditional Catholic moralist — was later revealed to be an adulterer with a very British penchant for B&D. For a man of renown and high social station who enjoyed private humiliation, this more public variety surely must have stung more than any cane to the bottom. Hypocrisy being the most serious sin in the liberal establishment catechism, Johnson’s reputation, and that of his most famous book, suffered enormously and never recovered. And a generation or two later, facts that Johnson rightly considered shocking — Rousseau’s and Gauguin’s blithe abandonment of their children in search of “personal fulfillment,” for example — may not seem so troubling to today’s morally unmoored youth. After all, some of today’s children’s parents abandoned them, and who are they to judge? Which is where United in Hate comes in. Besides the usual celebrity suspects — Susan Sontag, Che Guevara, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Mary McCarthy, Oliver Stone — Jamie Glazov sets his sights on an enemy Johnson couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago: radical Islam. Glazov is unsparing in his critique of both left-wing Western intellectuals and their new and highly unlikely anti-intellectual, anti-feminist allies — violent Muslim belligerents — and that makes United in Hate a timely sequel of sorts to Johnson’s original potboiler. Glazov’s thesis is that Western leftists and Muslim terrorists share a pathology, a morbid mental defect. Glazov is not a professional psychiatrist, so some readers will look askance at his conclusions, which he calls “the believer’s diagnosis.” In an interview with Pajamas Media, Glazov explained his conclusions and his rejection of the overly generous contention, put about by liberals and conservatives alike in the wake of the Spanish Civil War and Stalin’s purge, that leftists were and are merely confused, well-intentioned “do-gooders.” “The typical leftist,” Glazov explained, actually “wants to shed himself of his unwanted self and melt into a totalitarian blur. He wants to fit in. And he wants to create a disinfected earth where he doesn’t have to face the challenges that come with freedom. That disinfection demands destruction. It demands Ground Zero, so that the earthly paradise can be built on its ashes. Radical Muslims perpetrate the destruction against free societies that the leftist is dreaming of and supports. Both sides want to create paradise on earth and they cannot accept man for who and what he is. Because of that, every time they try to create heaven, they engender hell. And there is nothing baffling about this alliance. It makes total logical sense.” Glazov writes with the blunt passion of a convert, but he’s never been a leftist. He comes by his brutal candor honestly. Glazov’s parents were Soviet dissidents: Yuri Glazov was one of the signatories of the 1968 Letter of Twelve denouncing Soviet human rights abuses; his mother, Marina, circulated Samizdat. Fortunately, detente made it possible for the Glazovs to escape to America in 1972. Jamie Glazov was five years old. In United in Hate, he writes: “While we were cherishing our newfound freedom, we encountered a strange species: intellectuals in the universities who hated my parents for the story they had to tell. … Thus, when I am confronted with the Left’s current romance with militant Islam, I see something very familiar. During the Cold War”, says Glazov, the Left masked its sinister motivations “through the pretense of being on the side of ‘social justice’ and ‘equality.” But on September 11, 2001, the Left “tore off its own mask.” That day, he told me, “I braced myself for what I expected would happen: my leftist acquaintances and leftists on the international stage began rubbing their hands with glee.” People like Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky, not to mention some in Glazov’s own circle, “couldn’t even disguise their celebration and feelings of kinship with the terrorists that carried out that crime against humanity.” Glazov became determined to get to the bottom of the Left’s, and radical Islam’s, self-hatred and arrogance, their “romance with tyranny and terror.” The key, if Glazov’s theory is correct, is a fascination with death and destruction. It’s a fascination we often observe in misfit teenagers enamored of self-destructive idols like Sylvia Plath and James Dean. However, this fascination becomes downright pathological when it carries on into adulthood and becomes justified as a coherent intellectual, philosophical worldview — a worldview one dare not mock or question without being branded a bigot or a troglodyte. Luckily, Glazov isn’t swayed by this new “etiquette.” In United in Hate, he writes about Michel Foucault, for decades one of the academy’s most revered and influential intellectual theorists. In doing so, he — in the tradition of Paul Johnson — describes Foucault’s ugly (and in many “respectable” liberal circles, unspeakable) demise.
Glazov writes: “For a person who had always been fascinated by death and its interconnections with sex, Foucault’s life came to an eerie ending when he died of AIDS in 1984,” having “embraced” the San Francisco bath house scene when its dangers were well known, and its inherent immorality — even before the AIDS era — should have been, in any case, self-evident. As we shall see later in this chapter,” Glazov continues, “many leftist homosexuals would follow this pattern of self-hate and a craving for death. This pathological behavior mirrors that of other leftist intellectuals supporting tyrannies that murder intellectuals” — Foucault, for instance, was a vocal admirer of Iran’s Khomeini. Sadly one doubts that Glazov will be getting many invitations to speak on that topic at Berkeley in the near future. It is Glazov’s chapters on radical Islam that many will find the most difficult to read, what with their uncensored descriptions of frankly bizarre psychosexual activities that are, if the experts Glazov cites are to be believed, fairly commonplace in the Muslim world. Acknowledging that he doesn’t “know any simple answers to this,” Glazov speculated to Pajamas Media that the “Muslim religion’s misogyny and fear and hatred of female sexuality leads to a hell of a lot of pathology. And this pathology, in turn, plays a monumental role in engendering terror. The hate of the female, and the impulse to stifle her desire and to also stifle the desire for her, is very much at the root of Islamic terror. Wherever you find a misogynist culture, you will find suicidal impulses in that culture.” Asked what aspect of his research findings particularly troubled him — and make no mistake, United in Hate is an overwhelmingly troubling read — Glazov replied: “After living a life of hearing and reading about what the communists perpetrated against their own people, there is nothing really shocking for me. Depressing, yes. Things that crack my soul and traumatize me, yes. I think perhaps I didn’t know how much radical Muslims actually venerate actual human blood. In one scene, a Muslim terrorist actually laps the blood off the floor of his dead victim. It makes sense, of course, since the craving for the pure and sterilized earthly paradise is ultimately an outgrowth of the hatred of human beings and, therefore, the thirst for their blood. That’s why socialists and Islamists have their hands soaked in it.” (Review by Pyjamas Media)
United in Hate analyzes the Left's contemporary romance with militant Islam as a continuation of the Left's love affair with communist totalitarianism in the twentieth century. Just as the Left was drawn to the communist killing machines of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Castro, so too it is now attracted to radical Islam. Both the radical Left and radical Islam possess a profound hatred for Western culture, for a capitalist economic structure that recognizes individual achievement, and for the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States. Both seek to establish a new world order: leftists in the form of a classless communist society, and Islamists in the form of a caliphate ruled by sharia law. To achieve these goals, both are willing to "wipe the slate clean" by means of limitless carnage, with the ultimate goal of erecting their utopia upon the ruins of the system they have destroyed...United in Hate crystallizes the danger that a Barack Obama administration, if tilted too far left, presents to American security and global freedom. As history shows, leftist beliefs have spawned mass carnage and misery. Put into practice, they have caused the deaths of millions. Until now, it has been extremely difficult for rational people who value personal freedom to understand the motivations of those who live in comfort and yet embrace monstrous dictators, ideologies, and policies that leave only death and destruction in their wake. In United in Hate, Dr. Jamie Glazov presents startling new insights into the toxic beliefs and torturously contorted thought processes of the leftists who lust to destroy the very freedoms that allow them to exist. Glazov explains the Left's love for and deification of totalitarian ideologies, from Marxism to radical Islam, with clarity and candor. Why does the leftist believer reach out in solidarity to the most gay-hating, womanhating and minority-hating force on earth? Why does the "progressive" heap adulation upon regimes under which he himself would be annihilated? Why do radical feminists, who supposedly value women's rights, ignore the suffering of millions of women living under Islamic gender apartheid? In this groundbreaking examination, Dr. Glazov at last reveals the vile and morbid forces that impel so-called "progressives" to embrace not just murderous ideologies such as Marxism and radical Islam, but the systematic elimination of all those standing in the way of their new utopia (Amazon Reviews). [The views expressed in these reviews are not necessary those of the author of FreeSweden.net]
Jung Chang & John Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (Vintage Books, London: 2006) - perhaps the most accurate and authentic history of the Chinese Communist dictator, Mao Tse-Tung - many valuable insights into the Marxist mind. China, like Sweden, pursues economic capitalism with social Marxism - if Sweden continues in its present course, then it will evolve into a European version of communist China with all its horrific social abuses. An essential book to understanding the second most important marxist dictatorship in history and still with us today. "The most powerful, compelling and revealing political biography of modern times..." (George Walden, Daily Mail).
Dominic Raab, The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights (Fourth Estate, London: 2009) - an exposé of the British justice system which has turned Britain's liberal values upside down.
Nigel Farage, Fighting Bull (Biteback, London: 2010) - autobiography by MEP and the leader of the libertarian United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) supported by this website. The hope of freedom surviving (and being restored, when necessary) in the West rests in this kind of libertarian politics. The life story of Nigel Farage is both entertaining reading as well as a beacon of light in our Marxist-soaked and anchorless modern society. This is the kind of man that both Great Britain and Sweden desperately need at the helm of national government.
Marta Andreasen, MEP, Brussels Laid Bare - How the EU Treated Its Chief Accountant When She Refused to Go Along With Its Fraud and Waste (St.Edwards Press, Yelverton, Devon: 2009) - an exposé of the corruption and frightening power of the EU by an insider and (now) libertarian politician from Spain living in the UK. Though rather dry reading, anyone who wants to know why the mainstream Swedish political establishment feels so at home in the EU - from the 'conservatives' pretending to be 'right-wing', to left-wing communists pretending to be 'democrats' - will find many answers in this book. The same mindset (and corruption) that plagues Brussels exists in Stockholm.
Christopher Booker & Richard North, The Great Deception: Can The European Union Survive? (Continuum, London/New York: 2005) - a superb history of the EU and Britain's relationship with it, albeit nearly a decade old. What is particulary interesting is to see how the 'Swedish (Marxist) Model' for a political andf social 'utopia' possibly played a major rôle in the shaping of the EU itself and where we may expect the EU to go in the future, assuming it survives the weakness of the Euro, the bankruptcy of some of its Western constituent members, its corruption and its singular unpopularity.
Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 - Written in a narrative style that captures both the scope and detail of the Russian revolution, Orlando Figes's history is certain to become one of the most important contemporary studies of Russia as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. With an almost cinematic eye, Figes captures the broad movements of war and revolution, never losing sight of the individuals whose lives make up his subject. He makes use of personal papers and personal histories to illustrate the effects the revolution wrought on a human scale, while providing a convincing and detailed understanding of the role of workers, peasants, and soldiers in the revolution. He moves deftly from topics such as the grand social forces and mass movements that made up the revolution to profiles of key personalities and representative characters. Figes's themes of the Russian revolution as a tragedy for the Russian people as a whole and for the millions of individuals who lost their lives to the brutal forces it unleashed make sense of events for a new generation of students of Russian history. Sympathy for the charismatic leaders and ideological theorizing regarding Hegelian dialectics and Marxist economics -- two hallmarks of much earlier writing on the Russian revolution -- are banished from these clear-eyed, fair-minded pages of A People's Tragedy. The author's sympathy is squarely with the Russian people. That commitment, together with the benefit of historical hindsight, provides a standpoint Figes take full advantage of in this masterful history (Amazon Review).
Packed with vivid human detail and incident, British historian Figes's monumental social and political history spans Russia's entire revolutionary period, from the czarist government's floundering during the famine of 1891 to Lenin's death in 1924, by which time all the basic institutions of the Soviet dictatorship?a privileged ruling elite, random terror, secret police, torture, mass executions, concentration camps?were in place. Figes dismantles any number of myths surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, a military coup rammed through at Lenin's insistence ("hardly any of the Bolshevik leaders had wanted it to happen until a few hours before it began"). Using diaries, letters, memoirs and archival documents, Cambridge don Figes provides masterful portraits of cynical, power-hungry Lenin, driven by an absolute faith in his mission; Alexander Kerensky, weak-willed, vain democratic leader, the self-styled savior of Russia; writer Maxim Gorky, plagued by the fear and later by the terrible realization that the "people's revolution" was a descent into barbarism; Tolstoyan peasant reformer Sergei Semenov; and dozens of lesser-known figures. In this vibrant magnum opus, Figes illumines the manifold sources of Russia's failure to take a democratic path (Publishers' Weekly).
I picked up this book by Orlando Figes on a whim. The Russian Revolution is an interesting topic so I figured that one day I'd get around to reading this massive book. I finally read it over Christmas break, and I must say that this is an excellent history book. One of the best I've ever read, actually. It is a real page turner, something very rare for a scholarly book of this size and scope. Figes certainly has the education to pull off this type of history: he was educated at Oxford and has written other works concerning Russia. Figes goes against the grain with this book. In opposition to such scholars as Richard Pipes (author of another huge tome I own but have yet to read), Figes believes that the Russian Revolution was in fact a "bottom up" revolution. Figes proves that the peasantry in Russia were sick to high heaven of a system that degraded them to a status of barely human. To the peasant, the most important thing was land and freedom from the state. All government forms, from the tsarist state to the Bolsheviks, were judged by how much autonomy the peasants earned under them. Figes actually seems to measure the success and failure of each government according to how the peasants received them. Not surprisingly, the tsarist system was a dismal failure. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback with history, but the tsarist regime was pathetic. The list of the problems confronting Tsar Nicholas is too numerous to list here, but what is important to note is that this regime failed them all. Land reforms were desperately wanted, but the Tsar denied them. Nationalism in the peripheral states around Russia was not only denied, but a program of Russification was instituted that caused more problems than were necessary. The list could go on and on. The problem was power. The tsarist state refused to give any ground on the autocratic principles that the Russian tsars loved so much. Figes spends a good portion of his book discussing the failures of the tsarist system and shows how that system could have averted problems and maintained the throne (although as a constitutional monarchy akin to England). The other elements of government, the Bolsheviks, the Provisionals and the Whites, failed just as badly. The Provisionals were forced to tread the line between extremists and failed to reconcile both. The White regimes failed because the conservative elements that made up the bulk of the movement refused to budge on principles they enjoyed under the Tsar. Even the Bolsheviks failed, but their failure wasn't as pronounced because they were able to retain at least some semblance to the revolutionary principles that the peasants loved so much. Even here, the Bolsheviks had to make some concessions to retain power. The examination of the Communist regime is probably the most interesting aspect of this book. The Communists are given heavy treatment in this text. Not only do we see how they came to power, we get huge doses of their philosophy. Figes gives a detailed examination of the intellectual currents that gave rise to the Communist movement, as well as their actions once they attained power. What emerges is a bleak picture. Communism is death to all it touches. The Bolsheviks sought to not only rule by dictatorship, but to change the very essence of man into an automaton subservient to the state. Figes shows the reader the Red Terror and some of the other methods the Bolsheviks used to try and bring about this subservience. It is a horrifying picture made worse, of course, under the rule of Stalin. Figes states in his introduction that it took six years to do the research for this book. It is beautifully done and, I should mention, done by Figes himself without research assistants. I am amazed at how much information I have retained from this book, something that can't be said about many history books. I'd love to take a class from this scholar. His insights are fresh and his writing is erudite. Buy this book! (Jeffrey Leach, Omaha, NE USA)
Rarely, one stumbles across a book that is of such surpassing excellence, and whose scholarship is worn so lightly, that you know, reading it, that you will never be able to forget it, and what you learn from it. Figes' A People's Tragedy is this rarity. I have read many books about the Russian Revolution, but no book has the sweep, the clarity, the balance, and the heartbreak of this. I literally had to put it down every so often because the sheer tragedy of what I was reading was more than I could bear. First, Figes briskly deals with all those things you thought you knew about the Russian Revolution, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Kerensky - the liberals, the Bolsheviks, the Tsar. Again and again, I realized I had picked up myths either promoted by those who lost, or those who consolidated, the Revolution. The mythmaking machine was going full tilt from 1917 onwards (particularly during the Stalinist and Cold War Years) and this book would be irreplaceable if only for stripping away so much that you thought you knew - which was wrong. Second, by starting the book in 1891 (with a famine which revealed the incompetence of the Tsarist beaurocracy) and ending with the death of Lenin in 1924, Figes permits himself a sweep of events that makes what actually happened even more dramatic than it was. Again and again, you not only read about, but hear from the survivors of, mistakes, errors, misconceptions - indolence, arrogance, foolishness, well-meaning idiocy - in a way that, as a human being, is more than heartbreaking. Again and again, the Revolution might never have happened, a democracy might have developed, steps taken could have been taken back - but they weren't. Instead, one of the great mass tragedies of history occurred, and you feel like a helpless bystander, watching it happen. This is remarkable history and it is an extraordinary achievement. It is bound to upset those with fixed ideologies on both the left and the right. If you ever read only one book on the Russian Revolution, make it this one (Suzanne Cross, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA).
Orlando Figes, De som viskade: tystnad och terror i Stalins Sovjet - They Who Vanished: Silence and Terror in Stalin's Soviet (Historiska Media, Lund: 2007) - Swedish translation of an English original.