WORLD FUTURE FUND
THE ORIGINS OF WESTERN TOTALITARIANISM
* = Out Of Print
Eternal Egypt by Pierre Montet. Although the term "totalitarianism" was invented by Mussolini, it is a really very old form of government. The cult of the state and the cult of personality for an absolute ruler are political systems that are thousands of years old. Montet, one of the world's leading experts on Egypt, presents a view of Egypt in terms of institutions. Chapters 3 and 4 are most useful describing the political development of Egypt.
Plato: Totalitarian or Democrat? * Editor, Thomas Thorson. One of the most interesting books on Plato. The best article is by R. H. Crossman, who also wrote a book called Plato Today *, of which this is an excerpt. The whole book is an uneven product but this excerpt is excellent. Another excerpt is from Popper's book, reviewed below. See our Plato quotes.
The Republic by Plato. Plato presents his vision of the ideal state. This ideal state is almost totally and completely incompatible with modern western parliamentary democracy. Indeed, Plato could be considered the founding father of totalitarianism in the west.
The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. Probably the best summaries of Plato and Aristotle in relation to political philosophy. The book is very specific in discussing the views of Plato and Aristotle on genetics. See our Plato and Aristotle quotes. The rest of the book leaves much to be desired.
Hellenistic Civilization * by W.W. Tarn. This is not light reading. However, it shows the syncretic nature of Hellenistic political philosophy. Chapters II and III are of particular importance on political philosophy, showing the near total obliteration of democracy as a viable or respected system in the new system of Greek imperial power.
Athens on Trial: The Anti-Democratic Tradition in Western Thought by Jennifer Roberts. This a very interesting book that studies the extent to which the study of ancient Athens has been manipulated for political purposes in both ancient times and today. A example of the manipulation of the classical past exists in even the title in the west for Plato's Republic. The work "republic" is not even a Greek word. A far more accurate translation would be "the state". However, the term "republic" was widely used to give the (totally false) impression that Plato was somehow endorsing the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic. Much of western classical scholarship is based on a manipulation of ancient history to present an unreal idealized view of Athenian democracy and the Roman republic.
THE ORIGINS OF EASTERN TOTALITARIANISM
Chinese Thought * by Herrlee G. Creel. By far the best study ever written of Chinese philosophy. Particular attention should be paid to Chapters VII, VIII and IX to understand the Asian mind. The influence of the totalitarian vision of Legalism on Chinese thought for thousands of years is not fully understood. The Chinese Empire, created in 221 B.C., was a fusion of Legalism and Confucianism. Chairman Mao was a great admirer of the first Chinese Emperor, who hated Confucianism and was a total Legalist. Indeed, modern "Communism" in China is really very much a continuation of some past trends. See World Future Fund list of Chinese texts.
Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China. Arthur Waley. A very interesting analysis of totalitarian roots of Chinese political philosophy.
China's Legalists. The Earliest Totalitarians and Their Art of Ruling. Zhengyuan Fu. A good summary of early Chinese political theory.
Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics * Zhengyvan Fu. A history of the influence of legalism on Chinese history.
The Book of Lord Shang: A Classic of the Chinese School of Law. * Translated from the Chinese with Introduction and Notes by Dr. J. J. L. Duyvendak. University of Chicago Press.
The Works of Hsuntze. * Translated from the Chinese, with Notes, by Homer H Dubs. Arthur Probsthain, London, 1928.
The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu: A Classic of Chinese Legalism. * Translated from the Chinese by W.K Liao. Arthur Probsthain, London, 1939
Arthashastra by Kautilya. The Penguin
Classics edition of this ancient book contains an excellent introduction.
Kautilya was the Prime Minister of India's first empire, created shortly after
the invasion of India by Alexander the Great. This ancient book does not
mince words. It gets right down to business about the need for a secret police
to spy on all citizens and other matters familiar to inhabitants of modern
totalitarian states. Click here for English translation.
Laws of Manu The Laws of Manu. This
ancient Indian book set off a sensation when it was published in modern Europe
and played a mjaor role in the development of modern racism ideology. There is a
direct connection between this book and Nazism. Race and genetics are discussed
in no uncertain terms. Here are copies of full text in translation:
GENERAL BOOKS ON POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper. This book is important because it highlights the incompatibility of the views of two of the world's greatest philosophers, Hegel and Plato, with modern parliamentary democracy. It shows the deep roots of totalitarianism in world history.
Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. This book is a case study of what not to read. It is really incredible that Arendt's book should be considered a leading book on the subject. In the first place, Arendt displays a near total ignorance of the deep historical roots of totalitarianism - contradicting the title about seeking the "origins" of totalitarianism. In the second place she devotes the first third of the book to anti-semitism, a force that is a totally different matter in history and has had only a coincidental relationship with totalitarianism. If this isn't bad enough, the writing style of the book is a mess and sometimes verges on being incoherent and unreadable.
History of Political Philosophy edited by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. A very good summary of Hegel.