Take a look around at the sad state of our nation. In the 100 years since the self-proclaimed "progessive" Woodrow Wilson was President of these United States Americans have slowly but surely been ceding their rights and liberties to the state. The "masterminds" in our government, those who are so cock-sure that they know what is best for the rest of us, have been systemically consolidating their power and building a mammoth bureaucracy designed to control nearly every aspect of our lives. Then in 2008 the American people elected Barack Obama who promised to "fundamentally change America". Obama has taken the "statist" agenda to a whole new level and most Americans have become increasingly alarmed at the direction this country is headed in. The battle lines have been drawn and the 2012 election will no doubt prove pivotal in the ultimate direction our nation will take. Those of us who favor the traditional American values of hard work, freedom of speech and free enterprise are going to have to articulate our case in the best possible way to a wider audience of our fellow Americans in order to win the day. Lawyer, author and syndicated radio talk show host Mark R. Levin has given us all a huge assist in this regard with the release of his powerful new book "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America". Drawing on the writings of the great philosophers on both ends of the political spectrum Levin provides his readers with a plethora of devastating arguments against the direction Obama and the progressives in both political parties are taking this nation. It is a truly compelling read!
I think that it is fair to say that most Americans have only a passing knowledge of the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu and Alexis de Toqueville. Some would attribute this to the "dumbing down of America" that has been inexorably taking place in our schools over the past half-century or so. But the truth is that all of these individuals as well as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have exerted a great deal of influence over American political thought in the 235 years of our nation's existence. Plato, More, Hobbes and of course Karl Max all come down on the side of "collectivist" or "utopian" states whereby individuals must necessarily become subservient to the interests of the state. In such an environment individuals "must be managed and suppressed by masterminds for the greater good." There is no tolerance for individual self-interest or even self-preservation. A person's labor and property belong to the state or are controlled by the state. Citing lengthy excerpts from the extensive writings of each of these individuals, Levin points out the obvious flaws in this line of thinking. Mr. Levin succeeds in arming his readers with the ammunition they will need to refute the arguments offered by the leftists and statists in this country on a wide variety of issues like universal health care, the progressive income tax and an ever-expanding and intrusive federal government. To paraphrase an old boxing expression "in this corner" we have the Barack Obama's, Nancy Pelosi's, Lincoln Chafee's and Chuck Schumer's of the world.
Part Two of "Ameritopia" hones in on the writings of John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, and Alexis de Toqueville who all champion a much smaller, less intrusive government. John Locke in particular had an enormous influence on our Founding Fathers as they went about the rough and tumble business of fashioning the Constitution. It is an indisputable fact that for most of the history of the world mankind has been ruled by despots and repressive governments. The Founding Fathers wanted something much different. John Locke wrote that "laws made by men and governments without the consent of the government are illegitimate and no man is bound to them." Regarding personal property rights Locke explained that there is always going to be an unequal distribution of property resulting from the manner in which a man applies his labor. This is just plain common sense. "As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labor does, as it were, enclose it from the common. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational; not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious." Amen! Meanwhile, another major influence on the thinking of the Founding Fathers was the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu. Montesquieu warned of "the dangers of a republican government attempting to transform a civil society--including superceding the effects of religion, family, commerce, traditions, customs, mores etc. through legal coercion." Sounds like a page from the Saul Alinsky handbook does it not? Finally, Montesquieu goes on to observe that "There are two sorts of tyranny: a real one, which consists of the violence of the government, and one of opinion, which is felt when those who govern establish things that run counter to a nation's way of thinking." Many of us would argue that this is precisely what has been going on for the past three years.
In the final section of "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America" Mark Levin explains how the statists have advanced their agenda over the past eight decades and why the 2012 elections stand as a watershed in American history. The choices we face have never been more clear. If you are one of those people still sitting on the fence I urge you to read "Ameritopia". Meanwhile, if you are someone who is largely in agreement with the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers I would wholeheartedly encourage you to pick up a copy of "Ameritopia" as well. Mark Levin's compelling book will help to crystallize the arguments in your mind as your attempt to educate your friends, relatives and neighbors in the coming months leading up to the election. Kudos to Mark Levin for an extremely well thought-out and well-executed project. Very highly recommended!
on June 1, 2012
"Ameritopia", by Mark Levin, is not - by any stretch of the imagination - light reading. I had to read each section twice, in succession, in order to be sure I completely understood the wealth of information and history being presented.
Chock-full of citations and quotes, and using examples rather than theory, Levin leads the reader along two philosophical paths, demonstrating the eventual Hell that results from taking the utopian path and the enlightenment and individual freedoms enjoyed by choosing the conservative path.
He then seamlessly folds the history and philosophy lessons into an exposition on the government's 100-year march toward "utopian statism", as he labels it. The confiscatory nature of an ever-expanding central government (stealing our liberty, our property, incurring unsustainable debt that makes us slaves to the state) resulting in the inevitable loss of our individual sovereignty, and the consequent collapse of the civil society.
Mark Levin's "Ameritopia" is one of the most prescient works of our time. A much heavier book than his equally compelling "Liberty & Tyranny", "Ameritopia" weaves together first the threads of Marxist utopianism and then Lockean conservatism embraced by our Founders/Framers, creating two diametrically opposed tapestries and finally asking: "Which tapestry shall we use to blanket the United States?"
This should be required reading for every single high school and/or college student - especially when we consider that these same young people are the ones who will be left holding the bag should we choose poorly when answering Levin's concluding question: "So my fellow countrymen, what do you choose, Ameritopia or America?"
on February 7, 2012
I just finished reading the book this morning. I am not going to attempt a thorough summary as the product description and other reviews have done that well. There is unfortunately no substitute for taking the time to actually read and personally interact with the ideas of this book, so I humbly but strongly suggest 1) getting Ameritopia, and 2) reading it ... right through to the end.
In very broad strokes, though, Levin delineates two general intellectual streams of thought regarding the way society ought to be structured. They are Utopianism and Americanism - and they are diametrically opposed.
Thinkers and proponents of the Utopian stream include Plato (Republic), Thomas More (Utopia), Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan), Karl Marx (Communist Manifesto), Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barack Obama, and others. There are obviously differences among them, but what they hold in common is the big stuff, and it is really quite striking. The main point is that they all support movement toward the micromanaging of the life of the individual by masterminds, who idealize strict conformity and radical egalitarianism. The actual goal of utopians, though their rhetoric is couched in terms of "looking out for the little guy", is total control and submission of the individual. This translates into dehumanization of all members of society and the amassing of power for the masterminds. They justify their actions largely based upon the (false) moral premise that unequal distribution of property is evil, and that the State in the form of a committee of elites, is somehow both capable and correct in assuming the function of micromanaging the minutiae of society - against all objections or protests from minorities (or even majorities) within it - in order to achieve their vision of absolute control.
Utopians/statists work against actual human rights according to the following process:
1) they deny the claim that any rights are inherent or un-alienable (e.g. God-given to all human beings), insisting instead that the individuals' freedoms are granted by the state and therefore the individual has no inherent claim to them. Thus, Woodrow Wilson spoke not of "rights" but of "privileges" (p.189), and thus FDR modified "inalienable rights" to read "inalienable political rights" (201), paving the way for step two;
2) they then muddy the waters further by elevating to the same standing as basic human rights such things as "the right to protection from unemployment," or "the right to free education," or "the right to universal health care," "the right to leisure" (all of which "rights" were specifically affirmed by the constitution of the Soviet Union, by the way), and so forth. Such things may represent desirable outcomes under certain circumstances and may be instituted (at a local level, to prevent fraud, cronyism or the abuse of the individual via the stifling of the free market), but no reasonable person can argue they are universal rights of the same order as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, the right of all persons to be treated equally under the law, and so forth. A good test is this (and this is my analysis, not Mark's): Does the "right" asserted cost something to grant? In the case of the utopians' supplementary "human rights", you will notice that they almost invariably do, whereas in the case of actual human rights they do not. The problem with pseudo-human rights such as the right to healthcare is that their guarantee requires an agent and requires resources. For this role the utopian masterminds are happy to step up to the plate once they have created the expectation in the general populace that such things are their rightful due. But the utopian masterminds do not fulfill these pseudo-human rights from their own pockets; no, the expectation they have created has now given them the warrant they sought to then infringe upon the rights of bystanders to an ever-greater degree in order to carry out their process of micromanaging, control, and amassing of power to a centralized governing elite.
3) As one might have noticed, step 2 cannot be fully carried out without the infringement of actual human rights such as free speech, the right to the fruit of one's physical or intellectual labor (AKA private property), freedom of conscience (for example, the right of a private insurance company to charge a copay for contraceptives or to not offer reimbursement for them at all). This is why the muddying of the waters is so important to the statist: he really wants to deny actual human rights but he cannot do so until he has so confused the flocks with talk of entitlements and the assertion as "rights" things which are not rights at all, that the latter are willing to relinquish their basic liberties in order to allow the Statist to implement his/her vision of the "greater good."
4) They systematically undermine the rule of law in favor of whatever they want to do at any given time. Thus, the Constitution becomes "living and breathing," and so forth, and they need not be troubled by the limits it places upon the infringement of the rights of the individual.
Utopians (yes, including American presidents), insofar as they support utopianism, are actually and literally ANTI-AMERICAN. The reasons for this will become clear upon reading and understanding the quotations and discussions inside Ameritopia itself.
Among the reasons, though, are that the Statist/utopian vision is completely incompatible with the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights, since as already stated, the rights affirmed as universal and God-given in our Constitution are incompatible with utopianism, while principles essential to utopianism (such as the free reign of bureaucratic or judicial caprice, or the denial of private property, or the dehumanizing of the individual) are antithetical to the Constitution. This is why Wilson (who despised checks and balances and bemoaned the difficulty of passing amendments to the Constitution), FDR, Obama, Ginsberg (apparently), and others have held the Constitution in such contempt; since it thwarts their totalitarian purposes, they must re-classify it as "living and breathing" in order to evade its limits and ultimately to disregard it completely.
The most important thinkers forming the intellectual and philosophical basis for Americanism, on the other hand, include John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, and Alexis de Tocqueville. The political philosophies of the former two were probably the most influential of anyone in the shaping of the Constitution and thus the system of American government (and Mark demonstrates the specifics of their influence in this book); the latter (Tocqueville) visited from France twice after half a century of the American experiment - he "got it" and both understood the wisdom and described the effects and fruits of liberty as they were beginning to blossom in the young republic.
The affirmation of ACTUAL unalienable rights by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, guaranteed by strict limitations upon the reach and function of the federal government, formed the solid foundation upon which has been built the freest society in history, including the inevitability of the abolition of slavery and the basis for the civil rights movement which was not a deviation from, but an appeal to and claiming of, the God-given rights for all people that are recognized and asserted within the U.S. Constitution. A major concern of the framers was the preservation of liberty, and Mark describes this in great detail and contrast to utopianism/statism.
Supporters of Americanism uphold actual human rights and their derivatives. Therefore: equal standing before the law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, private property (the fruit of one's honest labor), the Takings Clause (that government may not seize private property without a compelling public interest and fair compensation), freedom of religion (or irreligion), the Establishment Clause (the non-establishment of religion in government and vice-versa). I am not going to break down Mark's discussion of these thinkers, but when you read Ameritopia you will see how closely tied they were and how carefully and thoughtfully those who crafted our Constitution considered all of these matters. Remember, the utopian/Statist ideal goes all the way back to Plato - who by the way also insisted on universal healthcare - and its rationing. These are NOT new or "modern" ideas! The Framers were familiar with all these propositions and had seen from experience and from history their various effects on humanity and human society - and they soundly and forcefully REJECTED the things that have now crept back in - repackaged - via Wilson, FDR, Obama, statists in the judiciary, and the massive bureaucratic and unelected 4th branch of government (that exercises executive, legislative, and judicial power all at once).
The tendency of government throughout history has been toward tyranny. Democracy alone is no safeguard against it. The only bulwark against tyranny is the clear thinking of the people, and their adamant affirmation of true human rights buttressed by a firm affirmation of the rule of law, and equally adamant rejection of all things that would thwart such affirmation. Statism/utopianism seeks to transform the United States of America into a tyranny ruled by a busybody elite. They are not all ill-intentioned; they have in many cases simply failed to examine their premises or to think through the unintended consequences. In some cases, though, they have thought through the long-term consequences and just figured that they and their progeny will come out on top within a future tyrannical society. Who knows, but they need to be opposed in matters of substance, and principles of liberty and justice need to be upheld once again as a beacon of true hope, for the sake of freedom-loving people everywhere.
Again, I recommend this book because of its insightful analysis, and also because of the great service Mark has done to us by summarizing and placing into context what would amount to many thousands of pages of reading of primary material. Those things should be read too by as many as are able, but the matter is time-sensitive and important and the reality is that there are a great many people who cannot handle or carve out the time to digest so much in short order. We need all hands on deck.