Yesterday evening, Owen Jones (a Guardian columnist and supporter of the former leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn), posted the following tweet regarding books displayed on the shelves of Cabinet minister Michael Gove:
“Why does Michael Gove and his wife own a copy of a book by David Irving, one of the most notorious Holocaust deniers on earth”.
Whilst Jones is correct that Irving is a “holocaust denier”, ownership of a book in no way implies that the owner subscribes to the views propounded therein. As Stephen Pollard points out in “The Jewish Chronicle”, to understand views with which one profoundly disagrees, one must read works that express those opinions, (see https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/one-stupid-tweet-by-owen-jones-confirms-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-hard-left-1.499433).
Other than poetry and works of fiction, my own bookshelves contain:
V. I. Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”,
Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto”,
Engels “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”,
Lord Kenneth Baker’s “The Faber Book of Conservatism”,
Lord David Willetts “Modern Conservatism”,
J. S Mill’s “On Liberty”,
Herbert Spencer’s “The Man Versus the State”
And various other works of politics, including writings by the Anarchist theorist Proudhon.
What should one conclude from the above? That I am a Anarchist/Conservative/Marxist/Libertarian? or that, as a student of politics I have an interest in political theory?
My bookcase also contains “The Selected Poems of Rudyard Kipling”. Does my possession of this book make me a racist/imperialist or whatever other word careless people might choose to fling around with gay abandon?
In short, the possession of books does not imply that the possessor agrees with the views being expressed. Indeed (in my own case) where I to subscribe to all the opinions contained in the books on my shelves I would be a highly confused individual in need of serious psychological help!
If anyone of my readers would care to share what lives on their shelves, I would, of course be interested to know. Although I promise not to draw any sweeping conclusions about you!