Mark Levin’s Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America “will debut at #1 for all four categories on the New York Times nonfiction.” Just to give you an idea of how popular this book is, there are lines 1500 people deep waiting in the snow to get signed copies of the book.
I’ve already read the book, liked it, and yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk to Mark Levin about it. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
All right, first question, Mark: one of the criticisms of the conservative movement often made by the Left and even some people on the Right is that the GOP is anti-intellectual. I have to say that your book, which is number one on politics on Amazon as I write this, seems to be a direct refutation of that idea. Your book is extremely deep, intellectual and philosophical. It’s certainly not pop politics. What do you say to the idea that conservatives aren’t interested in intellectual discussions?
I know the Left isn’t all that interested in it because I’ve never been asked about my books from the Left. Instead people trash my books or me without actually having read them. They don’t get reviewed. By the way, this isn’t a complaint. I could care less. But it is the Left actually that’s anti-intellectual.
As for the Right, I think the Right is where the action is when it comes to ideas and philosophy. And that’s where our strength is as a matter of fact. Now that’s not to say that my book is embraced by everybody on the Right. There are people on the Right who’ll pretend it doesn’t exist. Again I could care less.
On the other hand, it also receives great reception by most people on the Right. But, I write these books not for commentators on the Left or commentators on the Right. I write these books for my audience and for the general public. And I think the people of this country are craving more extensive examinations of philosophy.
That is what folks like we believe and what folks who don’t believe as we believe what motivates them. So I would argue that not only is conservatism a more thoughtful and intellectual philosophy but that our people, Tea Party activists and so forth are craving this information.
In talking about Hobbes, you noted that, “Hobbes seemed to be saying that man’s nature cannot be trusted but the nature of a ruler or a ruling assembly can be trusted. How so?” Along similar lines, you noted that Utopians viewed governance like so, “The individual is to be governed, not represented. His personal interests are of no interest. They are dismissed as selfish, unjust, and destructive.” Isn’t this a constant failure of Utopians? They believe we can’t trust individuals to make their own decisions, but government officials and bureaucrats in DC can be trusted not only to make the right decisions for themselves, but to make the right decisions for everyone, everywhere, all across the country?
That’s quite right. It really is bizarre that we live in a society in which we have enough wisdom to choose our rulers, but we don’t have enough wisdom to choose our light bulbs. This is intentional. It’s not so much, I don’t think, that the Utopian mindset believes that individuals are incapable of making decisions. It’s more that the mastermind, the self-appointed, really delusional masterminds who manage to get in very significant positions; positions of great power, that they think they’re smarter than everybody else. Not based on any record or experience or knowledge or anything of the sort; just based on the fact that they have this notion of how people should behave, in the ideal society.
So they seek to as Obama said, “fundamentally transform” — and I will say destroy this society, reject our history, reject our legacy and start with something new. And they believe that something new is a model society and that you cannot have individuals on their own acting freely, pursuing their own interests and reach the Promised Land. That is, accomplish something that cannot be accomplished and never will be accomplished, and that is the construction of a paradise. It’s an impossibility and yet it is an abstraction, it is a dogma and it is where they seek to take us.
If you asked the Left Wing Utopians, they’d tell you they’re just trying to make people’s lives better and fair. They’re not hurting anything. Everything they do is positive. There are no negatives to what they’re doing. Describe some of the real world consequences in this country that have occurred because of the Left’s quest for Utopia?
First of all, let me say that totalitarianism is often dressed up as compassion and humanism. And it’s neither.
Let’s take a look at our society today. We have a massive federal bureaucracy — what I call the fourth branch of the government, this administrative state which issues thousands of laws every year and increasingly so. And they’ve piled upon law and piled upon law and these laws have penalties and fines which include criminal penalties for which people are held strictly liable and can be imprisoned. So it is a complete disconnect between enfranchisement, that is our ability to influence our government, and what our government is doing to the people. So when we vote every election cycle, the fact of the matter is there is a significant part of our government that is largely unaffected.
This is why, among other reasons, I talk about us living in a post-Constitutional America. We’re not strictly a Constitutional republic anymore because so many of our so-called leaders have managed to evade the Constitution. This has been a process that’s been going on gradually for about 100 years and it’s more aggressive today. We’re not really a federal republic anymore because the states that gave birth to the federal government are now really the children of the federal government. And we’re not really a representative republic for the reasons I just said. So much of what goes on in the government has nothing to do with who we vote for or how we vote or whether we vote at all.
So the Utopians pushing this radical statism have institutionalized their policies in this sort of permanent part of the government. So where are we? And I think we are more an Ameritopia than an America. I’d like to see us get back to an America, obviously. But I think we’re more of an Ameritopia.
We are deviating in many respects from the Constitution. As a result, we have individuals making decisions that are imposed on us because they think they know better than us. Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech is a perfect example of this mentality. He goes on and on and on about who should have money, who shouldn’t have money, which businesses we should support, which businesses we shouldn’t support, how he’s going to rearrange the deck chairs on the deck and on and on and on.
You think to yourself, “Gee, I look at the Constitution and the president doesn’t have the power to do all these things. He shouldn’t have the power to do all these things and yet he does these things. And if he could do more, he would do more of those things.”
One of the theories I have, Mark, is that a lot of the people we think of as the conservative elite, many of the people in DC, many of the people in power, have already accepted the idea of Ameritopia. I think a lot of these people are content to hold the line and try to keep the country from going further to the Left, but I’m not sure they still have the courage and the will to support people who want to actually move the country back towards the Right. Now I know you don’t have that mentality, but you roll in those circles, so what do you think?
First of all, just so you know, I talk to as few of these people as possible. The word’s gone out; so they don’t really try to talk to me that much anymore. You’re right again; I mean the rhetoric that we hear from a lot of Republicans running for office is that they claim to support free markets, they claim to support individual sovereignty in the Constitution. And they get into power and they do absolutely nothing, not only to begin the long, formidable, daunting process of reversing course — but they won’t even stop what’s going on so that we can take a breath and begin that process.
That’s why I think if the Republican Party is not careful, the Republican Party is going to die because it is so far behind what conservatives see and what conservatives know to be happening and if it doesn’t have answers, or if it has leaders who aren’t willing to take steps that are absolutely crucial in order to reestablish our Constitutional system and to protect individual sovereignty, it’s really quite pointless.
It can even get worse because if you look at George Bush, TARP was George Bush’s creation. He used TARP money and subsidized GM and Chrysler even though Congress had refused to do so. So there you have a clear violation of separation of powers. He expanded Medicare. He ran up the debt. With so much of what Obama is doing, the foundation was laid by his predecessor. Obama took the ball and ran with it and, of course, being the fanatical Utopian that he is, meaning he wants ever more concentrated, centralized government — he took that precedent and the precedent even before his predecessor and has been running wild with it. So, yes, if Republicans are going to start the process of not just stopping what’s going on, but reversing course, we have to come up with another means for addressing it if they’re not going to do it.
Last question and it’s the 64,000 dollar question, Mark. Utopianism has never worked anywhere, throughout history. Moreover, there’s no promising success story on the horizon. When you look at Western Europe, where the countries are further down the road to what people like Obama would consider a utopian paradise, you see anemic economies, demographic death spirals, pitiful militaries, and increasingly untenable levels of debt. So, there’s no reasonable reason at all for anyone to think the path we’re going down is going to be successful. So, why does the Left keep pursuing unachievable utopias?
Because if they accept that this ideology can’t work, then they diminish themselves because….let me explain it to you this way. This has been going on for thousands of years, which is the reason I go all the way back to Plato’s Republic and Thomas Moore’s Utopia. and I go back to Thomas Hobbes Leviathan — those are hundreds of years old. Of course, the Communist manifesto with Marx and Engels. The fact is that wittingly or unwittingly, the modern day masterminds who push this agenda, they always believe the world begins with them and it begins today.
They always believe they have a better notion of an ideal society than the guy before them. So Obama is smarter than Plato, you see. Pelosi is smarter than Hobbes. Reid is smarter than Moore. They’re not really interested in history. As a matter of fact they have to break from our history in order to advance what is a very alien notion — which is why I get into the philosophical underpinnings that seem to allure millions of people while it is destroying those people.
And one of the ways they do this is by making these far off promises and predictions — big, ambitious images of what the world would be like and how mankind would be if only the individual was squelched, if only you surrendered more of your liberty and private property to the central authority, to the mastermind, the experts and their army of bureaucrats — then they could rearrange society in a way in which we have equality of income and equality of social outcomes. Then we could build this rainbow to paradise. This is how they argue. This is what you heard in State of Union Address in so many words.
I get into John Locke and get into Charles de Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville so we can explain to people again why we have a better message and that is, we actually believe human beings have value. We actually believe individuality needs to be protected from all powerful Leviathan. We actually believe in the worth of the individual and the family. So if we understand our philosophical underpinnings to the foundation of our government, I think we will not only cherish it more, we’ll be in a better position to argue.
Look, the Founders didn’t wake up one day and come up with the idea of unalienable rights, consent of the governed, natural law, man’s nature, and three branches of government. They found that persuasive philosophy elsewhere. So I just decided that we the people in America today, we have to look at those philosophers, too, and see what’s so compelling about it and once we do, I think we’ll have a chance.
Mark, outstanding I appreciate your time.
Well, John, I am a big fan. I love reading your stuff.
Great interview. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot, Mark.
God bless you, man. Take care, bye-bye.
Once again, Mark Levin’s new book is called, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America.