Alina is blogging the top 100 books on totalitarianism, and she has asked me to suggest my own top ten. But Im lousy at such rankings I can never answer whats your favourite X? or whats the greatest Y? questions. So I decided Id just come up with a list of ten pretty good books that arent on her list. Then I couldnt limit myself to ten so I picked fifteen.
These are off the top of my head, so I reserve the right to add other better ones. (I cast my net fairly widely genre-wise because she did too.) Reader suggestions?
1. Omnipotent Government by Ludwig von Mises. Mises analysis of the economic origins of Nazism; Im not sure how much of it I agree with but theres a lot of good stuff in here.
2. As We Go Marching by John Flynn. Explores parallelism between European fascism and the New Deal.
3. Hitlers Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen. Goldhagens thesis that average German citizens knew about and were complicit in the Holocaust is controversial. I dont know whether hes right, but its certainly worth reading.
4. The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff. An analysis of the rise of Nazism from an orthodox Randian position. I have a lot of problems with this book, but it does provide a useful and apart from his uncritical reliance on Rauschning mostly accurate record of what Nazi ideologists actually preached.
5. Marxism, Freedom and the State by Mikhail Bakunin. The Russian anarchists prediction that implementing Marxism would create a new ruling class rather than abolishing the class system.
6. Statism and Anarchy by Mikhail Bakunin. More of the above.
7. The Bolshevik Myth by Aleksandr Berkman. Initially sympathetic anarcho-communist visits Soviet Russia, gets bummed out.
8. The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism by Bertrand Russell. Initially sympathetic state-socialist visits Soviet Russia, gets bummed out
9. The New Class by Milovan Djilas. Former Yugoslav apparatchik who showed how implementing Marxism had created a new ruling class rather than abolishing the class system.
10. The Black Book of Communism by Stéphane Courtois et al. Surely too famous to require explanation here.
11. The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism by Peter Boettke. Documents Soviet Russias early, abortive attempt to suspend market relations entirely.
12. Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective by Kevin Carson. Not about totalitarianism per se, but studies the various informational and incentival perversities that beset hierarchical, bureaucratic command structures generally, be they governmental or corporate.
13. We the Living by Ayn Rand. This one and the next two shouldnt require explanation.
14. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
15. Animal Farm by George Orwell.