Bryan Dijkhuizen

3 Books You Have To Read To Understand Politics And Its History

Politics is and always has been a complicated topic around the world. In some countries, it’s more important than in others, but it hasn’t been as relevant as today. Politics has intruded your lives the last years, from Donald Trump being elected as president to COVID-19 requiring you to wear masks.

To understand the fundamentals of modern-day politics, we need to dive deep into history. To find out about concepts that are still driving our politics.

And of course, with 3 books listed, you can’t explain all politics. But at least this gives you an idea of what types of books you can read to understand it a bit better.

In this article, we’ll look at three books about politics or political concepts.

The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Social Contract — Image on Goodreads

Politics has always been about the contract between the government and its civilians. In this book, the French Philosopher describes this contract.

One of the most important conclusions from this book is that the government’s rules and laws should only be valid once the civilians agree. That’s that social contract.

In The Netherlands, Dutch politician Pieter Omtzigt has written about something similar: ‘Een nieuw sociaal contract’ (‘A new social contract’).

This book refers to the problems that the state and the establishment have created and refuse to solve. Besides that, there is a big problem with counterforce in politics.

“Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” — ‘The Social Contract

These are the famous first words of his book. When Rousseau wrote this book, the French King was the only sovereign leader, almost divine. But once the French Revolution started, this book became one of the fundamentals for the revolution.

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

The Communist Manifesto — Goodreads

Perhaps not an ideology I’d agree with. I think communism is the breeding ground of evil and impoverishment. But let’s be honest about the importance of this book. It has had a huge influence over the last decades and still has.

1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote the manifest to describe that capitalism in its current form will eventually be overthrown by socialism because there is an expiration date for the capitalistic mode of production.

In the beginning, critics easily described their book as “obscure.” Still, around the beginning of the 20th century, it became the foundation for the communist revolution that the Sovjet Union started in 1917.

1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell — Goodreads

An exception to this political list — it’s fiction. 1984 didn’t really happen. But still, it gives us an idea of the cruel reality.

George Orwell wrote this book in 1949 and took a look at the world in 1984 by his vision.

This story portrays the future as a totalitarian society where the government uses mass surveillance to control every bit of our lives. Scary right?

This society looks a little bit like the world should be according to the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. That’s because George Orwell based his vision on the Sovjet Union around the Stalinist era.

Last few years, 1984 has reached a high spot in the seller lists. This might be because a lot of people recognize elements from this book in their daily lives.

Besides all that, it’s a book worth reading, especially if you want to know how you don’t want the world to be.

Wrapping Up

As I described in my introduction, there are way too many books to list them all here. This is just an overview of the books that I would really recommend reading if you want to know about politics, society, and history.

One of the things that gets clear after reading these books and reflecting on the present is that history always repeats itself, and that will not happen exactly in the same way, but the processes behind it are pretty much the same.

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