Lin Zinser recently posted this book recommendation on the FRODO e-mailing list. I thought it worthy of reposting on NoodleFood, and Lin was kind enough to give me permission to do so. She wrote:
I am currently reading one of the most significant books about political activism that I have ever read. Many of you may have picked up copies at OCON this summer. For those of you who have not, I urge you to buy this book and read it.
The book contains a series of essays, written by various authors about the proper methods, strategies and tactics of political action on a specific topic. It is a book with the most consistently good moral arguments that I remember reading outside of Ayn Rand. (Although some use religious arguments, they are perfunctory, almost add-ons, rather than central theses.)
These authors understand moral arguments and their importance. They are deeply ideological. They are passionate. They are rational. They debate the important political topics relevant to achieving a political purpose, such as, what are the proper considerations in voting for a party or a political candidate; should one form a separate political party or infiltrate existing parties; is it ever proper to use force to achieve political ends, particularly when force is being used against you; is it more profitable to advocate gradual change or to hold out for absolute and complete perfection; what is the moral and the practical, and do they ever conflict; and other interesting crucial matters pertaining to political action used to achieve a particular goal.
These essays were written by 19th century abolitionists. The book is Anti-Slavery Political Writings, 1833-1860, and is edited by C. Bradley Thompson (executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism).
All of these authors condemn slavery, are on the “same side” in the war against slavery, and yet their arguments with each other are sharp, clear, compelling and harsh. Passion and reason radiate throughout these essays. Brad Thompson’s introductory essay and his comments on each selection are illuminating and distill the essence and fundamental nature of the issues involved. His choice of these selections is truly inspired because these particular essays focus one one the essence of the debate. This book emphasizes the practical nature of philosophy.
If you want to understand how abolitionists brought slavery to the forefront of American thought in less than 10 years; if you want to study how a good, moral political movement changed the world in 30 years; if you want to get involved in political action today, but you want to do it in a principled, moral way — this is the book to read, understand and study. Whether your concern is foreign policy, health care, immigration, or education, this book is an excellent resource and tool.
I should add: Brad Thompson’s course at OCON in June, American Slavery, American Freedom was not only stellar but also very relevant to politics today. I highly recommend buying it when it becomes available. The book and the course would make a great pair, I imagine.