Reading list in the Time of Dissent


  1. A King in New York. 

2.  The Great Dictator Speech – By Chaplin

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!


3. Stuart Hall: Representation and the Media 


4. How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley

..flawed social structures tend to give rise to flawed ideological belief, in a similar (yet perhaps less inevitable) way to the manner in which Hume takes our flawed psychology to lead to what he thinks of as our flawed ideological belief in external things. We are capable of setting this belief temporarily aside, according to Hume, when we explicitly rationally reflect upon its justification. But as soon as we return to ordinary life, we slip back into believing in external things. In a similar way, when we explicitly rationally reflect upon the flawed ideological beliefs that are caused by living in a society with structural injustice, we often reject them. But when we return to ordinary life, we nevertheless slip back into the flawed ideological beliefs.

5. The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School by Raymond Geuss

6. Ideology: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton

7. Man Against Myth by Barrows Dunham

8. The Paranoid Style in American Politics Essay by Richard Hofstadter

9. Book VIII of Plato’s Republic 

10. Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms


Raymond Geuss has provided us with a useful framework for discussing competing conceptions of ideology. He first asks the question: In what sense or in virtue of what properties can a form of social consciousness be ideological (in the relevant critical sense)? He then suggests that there are three possible types of answer. First, a form of social consciousness can be ideological in virtue of some of its epistemic properties. An epistemic critique of an ideology is one based on considerations relevant to rational belief formation or theory acceptance (e.g., empirical support, consistency, logical validity, conceptual clarity, etc.). Second, a functional critique of an ideological form of consciousness is based on the negative practical consequences its wide acceptance has for society or some social group within it—for example, the stabilization of oppressive social relations, or the promotion of the interests of a hegemonic group. And third, a genetic critique of an ideology focuses on the negative features that are a part of the etiology or history of the form of consciousness—for example, that it is adopted because of the influence of the class interests of the believer or the dominance of a social group, or that it has some unfavorable origin that tarnishes it in some way.

12. New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time by Ernesto Laclau

13. Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation and Philosophy of Language (Draft) Jennifer Saul

14. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.

The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.

15 Achieving Our Country Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America by Richard Rorty

16. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Brecht

If we could learn to look instead of gawking,
We’d see the horror in the heart of farce,
If only we could act instead of talking,
We wouldn’t always end up on our arse.
This was the thing that nearly had us mastered;
Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

17. Ideology and Utopia by Karl Mannheim

In our contemporary social and intellectual plight, it is nothing less than shocking to discover that those persons who claim to have discovered an absolute are usually the same people who also pretend to be superior to the rest. To find people in our day attempting to pass off to the world and recommending to others some nostrum of the absolute which they claim to have discovered is merely a sign of the loss of and the need for intellectual and moral certainty, felt by broad sections of the population who are unable to look life in the face.

18. Crowds and Power  by Elias Canetti

19. Epistemic Injustice Power and the Ethics of Knowing by Miranda Fricker

20.  Black Radical Traditions 

21. Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman

It does not matter how many people chose moral duty over the rationality of self-preservation – what does matter is that some did. Evil is not all-powerful. It can be resisted. The testimony of the few who did resist shatters the authority of the logic of self-preservation. It shows it for what it is in the end – a choice.


One of the lessons of the Hider period is the stupidity of cleverness. How many were the expert arguments with which Jews dismissed the likelihood of Hitler’s rise, when it was already as clear as daylight. I recall a conversation with an economist who demonstrated the impossibility of Germany’s militarization from the interests of Bavarian brewers. And in any case, according to the clever people, fascism was impossible in the West. Clever people have always made things easy for barbarians, because rhey are so stupid. It is the well-informed, farsighted judgments, the prognoses based on statistics and experience, the observations which begin: “I happen ro be an expert in this field,” it is the well-founded, conclusive statements which are untrue. Hider was against intellect and humanity. But there is also an intellect which is against humanity: ir is distinguished by well-informed superiority.