Coffeehouses are the gathering places of our day, places where minds talk politics, religion, and philosophy. Alas, few things are more representative of 2019 than the coffeehouse. This trend of the Enlightenment Era is still going strong across the United States and the world 250 years later.
Politics, as usual, is a heated discussion. These are some of my most loyal companions that underlie my political theory. I would love to hear yours as well!
We all have our go-to inspirations and books that define our political views - these are those that embrace my philosophy. I do not endorse 100% of all of them, but they have helped me grow tremendously through the whirlwinds of politics. I have read them all in English and the original French.
1. Montesquieu - "Spirit of Laws."
This timeless classic was the faithful companion of Simón Bolívar on his liberating journey throughout South America. This is my all-time favorite political theory text - it outlines the balance of power and discusses monarchies, despotism, and republics in detail. It also mentions how the laws should be made to best fit the people and the country. This book speaks volumes into international relations and the balance of power, and it will especially remind audiences today of the importance of separating power.
2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau - "The Social Contract."
This book is all about government by consent of the governed and the contract the people form with the governing authorities. Is the government violating the contract? What does that mean, exactly? Rousseau answers these and other questions.
3. John Locke - "Locke's Second Treatise."
This is a fascinating work that explains the American Revolution and so many other civil disobedience outbreaks across the world by looking into the minds of the people.
4. Writings from Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre.
Antonio José de Sucre (the liberator of Ecuador) was known for writing many letters with valuable words of political wisdom to Bolívar. Sucre warned against the dangers of polarization, informed Bolívar about traps, and cautioned him not to let power go to his head. Sucre's words are vital and important for everything (Hispanic or not). Bolívar also had some great political writings and enjoyed talking about how to apply Montesquieu to the real world.
5. Selected writings of Hamilton and Jefferson.
Hamilton was practically called a monarchist because of his justification of centralized authority! He was not, but he firmly believed in stability. Jefferson was the opposite extreme and was practically libertarian. Both men's writings are excellent to read and will explain much about the complexity of the political spectrum. I recommend Madison as well.
6. Anything on culture.
Culture is like a tree - there is always more to it than what can be seen on the surface (e.g., movies, music, and food). It's a way of life and can explain entire ways that people think. Read as much as you can about foreign cultures, and you will understand the ways people around you think - after all, politics and culture are closely related. Discuss these principles with people from different cultures next time you are at the coffeehouse.
7. Anything on history.
I shall compile a list of recommended history books for next time. History is more than just an exciting story of revenge, betrayal, love, and adventure mixed together. History is us. It is impossible to understand a culture or politics without knowing history. For example, Poland and Russia have been in a power struggle ever since Poland staged coup attempts in Russia hundreds of years ago. These issues and events are very much alive today and are a part of who everybody is. Even in the United States, things like our hesitation when it comes to taxation go way back to the American Revolution.
Alas, my dear reader, I hope this list may be of help to you as you go into the coffeehouse. If you have any particular political books that have touched your heart, please recommend them to me.
Farewell for now, dear reader, and vive la liberté!