THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Christmas gifts for statists

The Last Ditch: When will we ever learn?

The quote in my post on Shakedown Socialism stimulated Suboptimal Planet to think of buying a copy of Oleg Atbashian's book as a Christmas present for his Labour-voting Welsh relatives. It also reminded commenter 'martiness' of the short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.

Which leads me to ponder, what would be the best book to buy for statist friends and relatives this Christmas; the one most likely to blast them out of their dangerous ruts of thought? After all, what could be more in the Christmas spirit than a gift that might just redeem a sinner?

Animal Farm and 1984 are the obvious suggestions. Too obvious perhaps. Besides, as they are friends and relatives of someone intelligent, they've almost certainly read them already. Welcome to the Monkey House, the book of Vonnegut's short stories that includes Harrison Bergeron sounds like a more subtle choice.

Any other ideas, ladies and gentlemen?


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Andrew Duffin

Oh yeah, sorry, not paying attention.

Must try harder.


You missed my point Moggsy, so let me restate it.

Statists receive their opinions from the state, it would therefore seem pointless to expect them to carefully read a book and understand the underlying message within, specifically Atlas Shrugged, an overly long and turgid read.(though the underlying message is sound)

For the record I have no objections to female authors, but I do object to most modern feminist ideology.

N. Mouse

I know I've read her before, but can't for the life of me remember what book it was. Perhaps I shall give this one a try too!


Andrew, Heloo..?


I don't give a toss about her politics... It's a bloody-good story! :-)

Andrew Duffin

Is "Atlas Shrugged" regarded as too obvious? Or too hard to read?

Just wondering why nobody had mentioned it.


The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is resolutely anti-global government.


Sritctly speaking... "Good" Socialists (oxymorons maybe?)should not be down n dirty wallowing in the opiate of tha masses.

He should figure they are true to their principles and get them... nothing. ^_^

If we are thinking books tho..

Maybe Cascadian would rule out "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand because it was wtitten by a guuurrl?

If you want to sneak in past their predudices then maybe you could give "Probability Broach" by L. Neil Smith to replace Animal Farm, it even has talking animals in it ^_^ and "Oath of Fealty" co-authored by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven to replace 1984?


Atwood is a Canadian lefty feminist, to be avoided at all costs in my opinion.


I think you have posed a trick question Tom.

We all know that statists receive their opinions from the telescreen mounted on the wall (and tuned to BBC). Statists do not read books, even if they know how, they only expose themselves to "approved" messages.

You would be better off buying them a red bandana or a black balaclava. I assure you they would be delighted to receive such a revolutionary gift.

Suboptimal Planet

And I suppose it would be remiss of me not to promote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's been a few years since I last read the "trilogy in five parts", but if it's not squarely anti-State, it certainly imbues a healthy irreverence.

Worth reading for the story of the Golgafrinchans alone!

Suboptimal Planet

Just thought of another one ...

Jeffrey Tucker's Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo.

It's aimed at an American readership, but much of it applies equally to us.

Suboptimal Planet

I too was thinking of Brave New World. I've been meaning to re-read it for some time now. What I remember of it certainly seems apposite — Krugman would be proud of "ending is better than mending". I'm not sure it's quite as conclusively anti-State as we'd like, though.

I'd highly recommend two books I read recently: Lawson's An Appeal to Reason and Snowdon's The Art of Suppression. Both are fairly narrow in focus, but might lead readers to question statism more broadly (or at least to be more sceptical of the BBC, which has to be a good start).

For light reading, I'm currently enjoying Sean Gabb's The Churchill Memorandum, though the lack of proofreading is shocking in places. That aside, it reads as easily as anything by Dan Brown, and though I don't imagine it converting anyone, it might open people's minds up to new possibilities. (Unless they're genuinely committed to political correctness, in which case they'll probably throw it away in disgust.)

At the opposite end of the scale, two heavyweight classics seem to rhyme disturbingly with our times: Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Of course, for a mix of history and approachability, Bastiat is hard to beat.


I have numerous friends and family members who are unsound on the role of the state in a civilised society, James. I deplore their views but love them nonetheless. What are my other choices? As my grandfather said when his business was nationalised in 1946, "If I am to hate all my neighbours who voted to steal my life's work, I shall have a lonely life."


statist friends

Clever trick question, Tom.


That's a new one to me. I shall Kindle it forthwith. Any other suggestions, ladies & gentlemen? The pen is mightier than the sword, and perhaps even the state's bludgeon.


"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood details another form of dystopia. Makes a nice trilogy with "1984" and "Brave New World".


I was given them to read together too, back in the days when English state schools' reading lists were not completely dictated by the leftist establishment. If George Orwell had not been a Labourite so that 1984 could be presented as a critique of taking socialism too far, rather than of the beast itself, I doubt it would have been in schools even then.

Maybe we should suggest a triple pack of those two and Animal Farm for our younger family members? But what about something to shake up the gone-astray adults?


I read and reviewed it earlier this year and can say (without any conflict of interest) that it's a good suggestion. Any others?

N. Mouse

For some reason I always think of 1984 and Brave New World together. That might have to do with the way my high school english lit class was structured. We read one after the other and the sequence has always stuck. The latter was a more difficult read for me.

Vonnegut of course, is always associated with Slaughterhouse Five, but somehow I doubt that's appropriate! I've not yet read Welcome to the Monkey House. Must look.

Single Acts of Tyranny

This one might be nice

The author of this post hereby declares a financial interest.

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