Ameritopia

Ameritopia

I have just finished reading Ameritopia. It is quite simply one of the best books on political theory I have ever read.

It is the kind of book I hoped Liberty and Tyranny would be; it is the book I would have wanted to write had I the time, skill, and intellect of Mark Levin.

High praise indeed but praise well earned. We in the Liberty movement have recognized for years that 2012 is the most important election of our lifetimes. Ameritopia tells why.

In Liberty and Tyranny Levin described conservatism by contrasting the policies and ideas of the conservatives with those of liberals. He told us what it means to be conservative. Now in Ameritopia he shifts the argument: he tells us what it means to be an American by carefully explaining the underpinnings of the American Founding. He again contrasts it with the Left which this time he equates to the utopians of the past.

It is a brilliant stroke. Uncomfortable calling the Left "Marxists?" Not sure socialist is quite right either? They have taken to calling themselves Progressives, but are they? They are actually a bit of each, and Levin shows that they are simply Utopians, radical egalitarians. They are people for whom equality of outcome is everything and the state is the mechanism to achieve it.

To explain and prove his thesis, Levin divides his book into three parts. The first is a description of the Utopian theorists of Western political philosophy. Plato, Thomas More, Hobbes, and Marx are the utopians he describes at length. He quotes extensively from the original sources. This is good, as it gives the reader a feel for the language and argument of the original. It also avoids the criticism that Levin is interpreting the original incorrectly.

As a one-time professor of political science teaching political theory, I enjoyed the passages very much; however, the 17th century language of Hobbes and Locke, for example, are challenging for the modern reader. I was brought up on the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible; a reader lacking that background may find the quotations slow going indeed, yet well worth the effort.

Having defined the inevitable tyranny of utopianism, the second part describes what he calls Americanism. This used to be called liberalism until the radical egalitarians corrupted it; now it is called classical liberalism and forms a large part of both libertarianism and conservatism. It is the application of Enlightenment philosophy to the American experience. The philosophers who most influenced the American founding are Locke and Montesquieu. He also quotes Tocqueville extensively.

In the third part we see clearly the contemporary battle between the forces of the utopians and all they stand for and the principles of the Constitution. It is a battle of individual liberty versus collectivist utopian tyranny. Those who today imagine themselves moderates are deluded. There is no middle ground. It is either Liberty or Tyranny, Ameritopia or America.