Ian Brzeski | United States
Imagine a society where people did not strive to obtain knowledge, where people did not try and better themselves and society as a whole due to laziness or negligence. There would be no intellectual debate or discussion amongst peoples; there would not even be the high level of society we live in today. From generation to generation, society has progressed and there is no question about it. Life expectancy has gone up tremendously, and the impoverished are nowhere near the level of terrible poverty that they once endured. All of this progress comes from our desire to learn, our desire to improve, and our desire to make our lives easier and better. Without these desires, nobody would care about anything and we would have never achieved this progress. Without this desire, who knows where we would be at in society today. Would we still be stuck in the Dark Ages? Maybe it would be worse; perhaps we would still be neanderthals who have yet to invent the wheel.
The ability to learn is the most underappreciated and undervalued skill that people possess. Choosing to acquire knowledge in a particular subject is bound to shape who we are as a person. The saying “knowledge is power” holds a tremendous amount of weight. Knowledge opens up worlds of opportunity. It liberates our minds from the thinking of the masses. It allows us to think critically, analyze ideas, and develop our own conclusions from said ideas. From the eagerness to learn comes knowledge and from knowledge comes wisdom.
The Importance of Reading
The best way to obtain knowledge is through reading. Reading is simply a wonder. Regardless of the subject matter, you can always learn something from a good piece of literature. Fiction, non-fiction, politics, sports, or history, the subject does not matter. Harvest the knowledge that comes from all these readings. There are always going to be facts to learn, concepts to grasp, morals to uncover, and ideas to critique through reading.
Reading a book may motivate you, relax you, give you information to better yourself as a person, or even give you random bits of information that you find interesting. No matter what you are reading, it will always help you. Reading poorly written books or conceptually poor books also have some benefit because you would be able to distinguish and analyze the faults of these books. If none of the prior reasons convinced you to pick up a book and start reading, remember that reading is overall inherently fun. When picking up a book, you never really know what to expect. The stories you read or the facts and opinions portrayed could be just full of surprises. Reading could change your life.
You are What You Read
What you choose to read stem from your interests and beliefs. If you read books and articles about politics and more specifically libertarianism, you are interested in politics and are probably a libertarian. While this claim is a given and is true most of the time, your interests and beliefs also stem from the books you read as long as you go into the book with an open mind. Reading with an open mind will help shape your political ideology and who you are. It will increase your understanding of different positions and mold you into a person who you would want to be.
When reading books about politics or political theory, it is just as important to read opposing views as it is to read the views you agree with or the ones you are most comfortable with. The books we read shape our persona and develop our livelihood and our way of thinking. Think about everything you can learn from reading. Think about the different viewpoints and understanding and knowledge you will obtain from reading your opposition. You will undoubtedly learn a lot and be incomparably more educated than the person who only reads Rothbard or the person who only reads Marx.
Read Differing Opinions
If you only read Marx or Baudrillard, you are still ignorant. If you only read Rothbard or Hoppe, you are still ignorant. This goes for anybody who reads only one side of things. These people will have no understanding of their political counterparts. They will sound stupid, ignorant, and hateful, inevitably leading to an abrupt halt to any political discussion. Civil discourse will be virtually nonexistent.
This is why it is so important to read your opposition. If we want to continue progressing as a society, we must be able to develop an understanding of different views and opinions. People must be prepared to understand and listen to different opinions if we want to maintain any civil discourse. Allowing for civil discourse makes way for a more transparent and more efficient exchange of information and ideas. Civil discourse will undoubtedly lead to a quicker progression in society.
Reading differing opinions is better than reading books with opinions in which you agree with. It will challenge your way of thinking while giving you more of an understanding of different opinions, making you more compassionate and sympathetic to people who think differently from you. Your critical thinking skills and levels of analysis will certainly improve by challenging your opinions and allow you to form your way of thinking in a more articulate manner.
Read Rothbard, read Marx, read Zizek, read Nozick, read Chomsky, read Orwell, and read Konkin. Read from all the brilliant minds who were able to develop and create discussion in politics. Especially read from the people who you disagree with or are maybe disgusted with. It is essential to do this in order to be able to formulate and strengthen your position. Keep on reading for the knowledge and wisdom that you will inevitably gain.
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