Bringing Sanity to Politics

Books

Recommended Reading

 

The work of Conciliators Guild is driven by recent discoveries in the social sciences, psychology and human nature: knowledge that remains little-known and even less applied to the challenges facing the world.

Below is a list of some of the more influential works which we think should be required reading for everyone, but especially for those working in politics, international relations, conflict resolution and public policy:

 
 

ESSENTIAL READING: HUMAN NATURE

 
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human givens

The authors exquisitely describe one of the most important psychological insights of our age: how we are all born with a rich natural inheritance – a partially formed mind containing a genetic treasure-house of innate knowledge patterns: the ‘human givens’. We all experience these givens as physical and emotional needs, powerful forces that must be satisfactorily met in our environment if our minds are to unfold and develop to their fullest potential. How these innate patterns connect up with the world, and unfold in it, determine our own and our family’s emotional health and happiness – as well as the maturity and humanity of the society we create around us. This book explores these human givens and looks at what each child and adult needs from the environment in order to develop well. 

 
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US AND THEM: cult thinking and the terrorist threat

Cult thinking is not something out there—a rare affliction that infects a few people on the margin of society—but a disturbing phenomenon that most of us have experienced in some degree. In Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat, author and psychiatrist Arthur Deikman shows the connection between classic cult manipulation and the milder forms of group pressure that can be found in even the most staid organizations—churches and schools, mainstream political movements and corporate boardrooms.

In her foreword, Doris Lessing discusses the implications and repercussions of cult thinking on contemporary society.

 
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BEYOND CULTURE

For too long, people have taken their own ways of life for granted, ignoring the vast, international cultural community that surrounds them. Humankind must now embark on the difficult journey beyond culture, to the discovery of a lost self and a sense of perspective. By holding up a mirror, Edward T. Hall permits us to see the awesome grip of unconscious culture on our lives. With concrete examples ranging from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake to the mating habits of the bowerbird of New Guinea, Hall shows us ourselves. Beyond Culture is a classic work about self-discovery; it is a voyage we all must embark on if humankind is to survive.

 

The Righteous Mind

"We are deeply intuitive creatures whose gut feelings drive our strategic reasoning." This fundamental premise underpins this book, and it drives our sense of righteousness, our cultural identity and its inevitable politics. It's what Haidt calls "the hive", a collective sense of community that we need in order to be happy and content. However, this moral sense also blinds us. Until we understand better its impact on us - as well as the fact that the other side is also composed of good people who have something worthwhile to say - we will continue our troublesome behaviour in politics and society.

 

SUGGESTED READING: ARGUMENT AND OPPOSITION CULTURE

 
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I AM RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG

Most of our everyday decision-making tends to be confrontational. Whether in large meetings, one-to-one or even in our own heads, opposite view points are pitted against each other. Ultimately, there must be a winner and a loser.

In I Am Right, You Are Wrong, lateral-thinking guru Edward de Bono challenges this 'rock logic' of rigid categories and point-scoring arguments which is both destructive and exhausting.  By favouring 'water logic' over 'rock logic' Dr De Bono overturns conventional wisdom, and will help you to become a better thinker and decision maker.

 

THE ARGUMENT CULTURE

One of the world's most famous linguists examines the way we communicate in public - in the media, in politics, in our courtrooms, and classrooms - letting us see, in a new way, the forces that have powerfully shaped our lives.

The war on drugs, the battle of the sexes, political turf combat--in the argument culture, war metaphors pervade our talk and influence our thinking. We approach anything we need to accomplish as a fight between two opposing sides. In this fascinating book, Tannen shows how deeply entrenched this cultural tendency is, the forms it takes, and how it affects us every day--sometimes in useful ways, but often causing damage.