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Best Political Writers of All Time

Raising a finger at one's superiors never felt so good as it did for these fellows; these political writers knew best how to challenge the ruling hand.

By George HermanPublished 6 years ago 7 min read

Whether they were for or against the government shouldn't matter. The matter at hand should be more accentuated by what their words still mean to this day, how their eras have shaped our own, and the fact that the content they produced regarding their own issues still placates our modern society. One of the finest philosophical writers, Plato, understood the foundation of law and justice. In his findings, he too saw the reality that hides behind the fabric of government control: the extradition of freedom.

While laws and rights may regulate society and the morality of religious virtue and belief kept them from all-out killing each other, the following political writers saw these realities as fallacies corrupted by power-hungry individuals. They sought to examine their authority with critical lenses. Either in protection of their regulation or to reject the upheld way of rule at the time of their writing, these books, if nothing more, offer a glance into history. While not always delivering their message in the right way, or often missing an audience as passionate or as well read, these authors never hold back and for that, they helped diminish atrocities and shape a morality around this universal idea of governance that still protects us today.

Known for his extremely radical economic ideologies, on top of a deeply ingrained distaste for capitalism and the free market, Karl Marx is one of the few political writers that doesn't ever get the right attention he may deserve. Yes, we all may know him well for being the mind to write The Communist Manifesto, but let's not forget that Marx underscored his various ideas, all later collated under the term 'Marxism,' with struggle.

Specifically, class struggle, one amplified and most readily observed by the very inflation and overruling capitalist leaders that regulate our government, is a detailed, key piece of Marx's understanding. His Manifesto, a work published in 1848 with the help of German philosopher Friedrich Engels, has plenty of theories on the social, economic, and political aspects of a socialist society.

It may be a different type of political writing altogether, but interesting and suggestive are two of the best terms I can find to describe Lysander Spooner's The Constitution of No Authority. It's doubtful you've heard of him, but you most definitely have come to hear or even believe in his many anti-authoritarian ideologies.

His extensive résumé includes job titles like essayist, political philosopher, legal theorist, pamphlet writer, and entrepreneur, but none of those could ever have satisfied one of the most interesting political writers. The Constitution of No Authority best explains his craft: a fictional re-drafting of the American constitution without unjust and overruling legalities that make the government more powerful than the people.

A Brit, a philosopher, and an economist, John Stuart Mill may outright be one of the most well-respected political writers in history. Control, as he saw it, was the people's most enigmatic villain. From this initial thought sprouted later concepts that idealized liberty, a freedom that allowed the people to directly challenge their own government.

Mill has been considered "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the 19th Century," which can be evidenced in having formulated stepping stones in such academic disciplines as social theory, political theory, and political economy. As it were, On Liberty, published in 1859, suggests that individuality is most important to liberty and also illegitimatizes government intervention with three main principles.

Though he has a history of scandals his sanity may still be in question, Bill O'Reilly has written some terrific political commentary. Many may not consider him being among the best political writers, for his views are rather eccentric and chaotic, but his historical perspectives are rather important reads for understanding policy as a whole.

Killing Lincoln is on par with Killing Kennedy, but the life and times of JFK far supersede the former. Presenting readers with the most detailed and researched aspects behind the presidency of John F. Kennedy, Killing Kennedy simultaneously evokes symbolic investigation of his political ideals in office and considered one of the must-read books on American politics. We'll have to wait and see what's next for the former television host, now that O'Reilly is out at Fox.

Blending morality with politics and shaping liberal philosophy amid the 1970s, Rawls has been a valued energy among political writers. Having received the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy, and a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, which had been given to him by Bill Clinton himself, John Rawls doesn't need an intro. He's a political literary icon, one whose ideas still provide us with insight and complex theorems, especially abundant in his 1993 Political Liberalism.

Many fans of the author would rather point to his 1977 publication, A Theory of Justice, but I prefer the former for inviting an overview of power in politics. Rawls opts to examine the ways power can be positively manipulated with averted views on the good life.

Radical and defiant as for the leadership of society, Noam Chomsky's name can't escape the limelight of most cherished political writers. His over 100 books on linguistics, war, mass media, and politics have professed innumerable concepts that are highly beneficial in strengthening our regulation.

His siding with libertarian socialism and anarcho-syndicalism should alone portray his main ideologies, but Failed States may even do that better. His feelings, birthed from disagreements he had with the US involvement in the Vietnam War, come alive with organic splendor in Failed States.

While Plato may hold the key to belief and reality, Aristotle must obviously be the one to outline these laws and how best to regulate them. He's among the most influential and talented political writers of the ancients; Nicomachean Ethics only proves this. His message carried weight and conviction, even still do to this day, as his words remain cornerstones in political practice and philosophical thought.

Far less of his personal or boyhood life is known as opposed to the other political writers on this list, but most importantly about him is his inclusion with Plato as the "Father of Western Philosophy." Following Plato's death and upon request by Phillip II of Macedon, he even taught Alexander the Great and was among the most talented students of Socrates.

A Harvard graduate and scholar in various political concepts, Henry David Thoreau is one of the most celebrated American political writers. He was an expert in the transcendentalist concept, which is more apparent in Walden. Subjects he loved most include philosophy, ecology, history, poetry and, of course, writing.

Civil Disobedience, or "Resistance to Civil Government" (its original title), tells of a society cemented in injustice and malicious authority. It's also key evidence of Thoreau's necessary inclusion among political writers that helped bring positive and everlasting change to our society. Literally and bluntly challenging political rule, the 1849 written essays present his most ambitious abolitionist ideals, in part to bring an end to slavery, as well as to disavow the Mexican-American war.

While 1984 may be his most popular work of fiction, Animal Farm beats almost any Orwell piece in terms of good humor and political insight. George Orwell might have been the last name you'd expect to see among political writers, but he's got a mind for the way society should be run, and his outline in this instant classic highlights the hypocrisy of the utopia.

A democratic socialist, Orwell felt the need to represent the buildup to the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the Soviet Union amid the Stalinist era. During his writing of the novella between 1943 and 1944, the author experienced great hate for the UK's alliance with the Soviet Union and the British intelligentsia's high regard for Stalin. Voted as one of the 100 best English language novels by Time magazine, this book is a must-read.

If you don't know Rousseau, it's time to retake your history. Having written a myriad of different pieces dedicated to his own political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a mastermind of education and civil policies. He knew best how to structure the educational system and idealized concepts that would influence the Enlightenment and even the French Revolution. That's why he's one of the most popular political writers.

Of particular note is The Social Contract. Published in 1762, this written political theory underscores the 'community' and how commercial society was tainting these neighborly affections. In all, Rousseau effectively challenged the idea of political rule and sought to view society as a series of cogs working together in harmony to protect and administer order effectively.


About the Creator

George Herman

Call me a nerd, that’s what I am: Star Wars fanatic, Grand Theft Auto champion, comic book connoisseur, and a long-time lyricist. So, call me a nerd, but that’s not all I am!

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