Mark Levin Talks to NewsBusters About 'Ameritopia' and Media's Role in Advancing Utopianism
One of the Media Research Center's dearest friends and supporters, Mark Levin, has a new book out called “Ameritopia” which as CNSNews reports will debut at number one on the New York Times best seller list in four different nonfiction categories.
On Tuesday, the esteemed author and radio host spoke to NewsBusters by phone about the book's contents and how the media are assisting powerful utopian forces in America to undermine our Constitutional republic (video follows with complete transcript, don't miss spectacular book signing video at article's conclusion):
NEWSBUSTERS: Mark Levin is a lawyer, author, and host of one of the nation’s most popular syndicated radio programs. His book “Liberty and Tyranny” was on the New York Times bestseller list for eight months, three at number one, and was Amazon’s second best seller in 2009. An expert in Constitutional law, Levin is a loyal supporter and dear friend of the Media Research Center. His new book “Ameritopia” takes readers through the various utopian concepts proffered by Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, and Karl Marx demonstrating that despite their notorious failings, America has been moving in this direction for almost a century and is dangerously close to never coming back. We are very pleased to have Mark with us at NewsBusters to discuss his compelling new book. Welcome, Mark.
MARK LEVIN: Noel, a great pleasure. I appreciate all the work you do, my friend.
NEWSBUSTERS: Thank you, sir. You as well. My first question is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I think you’ll find it a tad humorous. Despite your last book “Liberty and Tyranny” spending many months on the New York Times best seller list, they never reviewed it. You think they’ll review this one?
LEVIN: Well, you know, if they do I'm sure it won't be very favorable. Whether they review it or not is almost irrelevant because I barely read the New York Times anymore, let alone that particular section of the New York Times. So, my goal is to address my audience, reach beyond where we can to people who are somewhat open-minded or aren't sure what they believe, and my guess is most of the people who read the New York Times are people who are in that utopian camp. Whether it's reviewed or not is no matter to me.
NEWSBUSTERS: Why do you think they don't typically review conservative authors?
LEVIN: Because they are exactly what we've said they are for years. They are mouthpieces for the Left, and for the most part when they do review conservative authors, they trash them, or they nitpick them and cherry-pick aspects of their books. So I don't care if they review my book or not. It is totally irrelevant.
NEWSBUSTERS: I don't imagine you're expecting "Good Morning America," the "Today" show or the "Early Show" to give you a call and let you speak about your book.
LEVIN: They've not contacted us and we're not contacting them, and that's pretty much the way it worked with “Liberty and Tyranny.” They never contacted us and we pretty much didn't contact them. If they want to go out of their way to contact me and invite me on and have a little debate, that's perfectly fine, but I don't need them, and obviously they don't need me.
NEWSBUSTERS: There you go. Well, in your introduction, you wrote, “Utopianism has long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo ‘ideal’ societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual – in exchange for his abject servitude.” Does this describe Barack Obama and all of his followers including in the media?
LEVIN: Well, it absolutely does, and in his State of the Union speech it will be clear as with his past State of the Union speeches, with most of his past speeches. Obama holds himself up as a mastermind. He's not one, but he holds himself up as one, and only because he has power and he has an ideology. And even though his ideology is generally understood and can be generally defined, it's not well thought out by him.
So, like most masterminds, he has a general idea where he wants to drag this country, although he's a little short on specifics from time to time, and his target is to reshape, to mold the individual, in fact to destroy the nature of the individual so that he can build in essence an army of followers – the masses as they like to call them – in pursuit of a fantasy. And the fantasy is this notion of a so-called paradise which requires individuals to surrender their liberty and surrender their private property rights, basically to surrender their free will in order to accommodate this abstraction that Obama and others have. And there's no end to it, because once you're unmoored from the Constitution, as we are in so many ways today, then we are moored to this abstraction that a mastermind has and is promoting.
In Obama's case, he borrows a little bit from Plato's “Republic,” a little bit from Thomas More's “Utopia,” and Thomas Hobbes' “Leviathan,” and Karl Marx and Engels' “Communist Manifesto.” Now, he may not do it wittingly, and he may do it unwittingly, but in either event it is extremely destructive. You cannot have these notions of utopianism dressed up as a humane type of ideal society and constitutionalism. You cannot have 310 million individuals who are mostly free to pursue their own interests and live their own lives and at the same time have a centralized government with increasingly concentrated power which is telling people what to do in matters big and small.
NEWSBUSTERS: Staying with that theme, do you see the desire for a utopia stemming from laziness and cowardice? Aren’t people who strive for such a system just wanting less work and personal responsibility?
LEVIN: It's a number of things depending on the people and the groups of people we're talking about. For instance, there are a number of malcontents in this country who blame the existing society and system quote-unquote for their own personal failures. And so they are largely disconnected from the existing society. There are also those who benefit greatly from the policies of the masterminds and their utopian endeavors such as crony capitalists among others. So they favor utopianism greatly because they benefit personally from it.
There are those who unfortunately are more in the Pollyanna or blissfully ignorant school who really aren't paying attention, aren't engaged, haven't been roused by what's going on, and they do not necessarily see this much as a threat because it is sold to them in a rather mild way - not as a trespass on their liberties or their private property rights. So it's a combination of all these things, and I thought it was very important to dig into this because it can be a very alluring philosophy for so many millions of people while it's destroying their nature. And that is the nature of utopianism.
NEWSBUSTERS: Interesting. Early on, you also quoted Eric Hoffer who wrote, “For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power.” How well does this describe the nation after the financial crisis of 2008, and how important was that to Obama’s victory?
LEVIN: Well, I think it describes the hard-left utopians period, and always has. Look, the financial crisis, we always have some crisis in this country whether it's a real crisis or a manufactured crisis. The government likes to sabotage various industries, and it sabotaged the financial industry with the Community Reinvestment Act, which is a long story I wrote about in “Liberty and Tyranny” and don't need to get into right now. But, the fact is where you find most economic dislocation or failure you find the heavy hand of the federal government.
So, to answer your question, the crises that are used are either made by the federal government or they happen naturally and the mastermind seizes on them to further centralize government and seize power. The problem is that when that ends it ends in an increasingly tyrannical society because the problems that are created by government are further exacerbated because the people who are trying to deal with the problems in government do not have the knowledge and not necessarily the best interests of the population generally in what they're trying to achieve.
What is it exactly, for instance, Barack Obama brings to the table about healthcare? He's not an expert, he doesn't have great knowledge on the subject. He brings ideology. He brings a conceit. He brings his own self-interest. Milton Friedman once said, and I paraphrase, “Why is it nobler for politicians to make political decisions than for individuals to make economic decisions?” It's a great statement that applies certainly to this circumstance.
NEWSBUSTERS: Well, you know of course Obama promised to unite the nation, but as you wrote, utopianism “assigns [individuals] a group identity based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, income, etc., to highlight differences within the masses. It then exacerbates old rivalries and disputes or it incites new ones.” So, despite the claims of unity, in reality that's not what utopians are after at all is it?
LEVIN: No it's not, and you can hear it today. Again, in the State of the Union speech, Obama will talk about fairness, fairness, and fairness again while he's trashing successful, independent and industrious people who produce all kinds of wealth for our society and all kinds of services for our society that the people want. He's going to trash those people, and he has to because those people demonstrate that society can in fact function properly, that there are people who do succeed in this society. But when you have an individual such as Obama who seeks to fundamentally transform this society - meaning he rejects it, meaning he doesn't like it, meaning his conduct is going to be un-Constitutional because he doesn't have the power as president under the Constitution to fundamentally transform our nation - you're going to see more and more of that kind of behavior and that kind of propaganda.
So of course he's not interested in uniting. This is the other thing about the utopian push for this endless statism. It's the perversion of language. So while they pretend to speak for the quote-unquote middle class which we can't even find, while they pretend to stand for the little guy, while they pretend to stand for hard work and individual values and so forth, they stand for none of that. They stand for in fact a top down authoritarian system where a relative handful of people have this ideal society in mind which always involves the destruction of man's nature, to mold man to accommodate their abstraction.
And so that is what's going on today, that is what has gone on since the beginning of mankind. And that is why what we did in this country, what the Founders did in this country is so unique, so marvelous, such a blessing that it is my hope that in this book “Ameritopia” when I define and explain the philosophies that underlay our view of individual sovereignty and constitutionalism and consent of the governed and the nature of man versus their view, these phony ideal societies that even Plato couldn't create, the idea of uniformity and conformity, and the idea of class warfare or an all-powerful sovereign where we're subjects will be exposed for what it is and people will fear it.
NEWSBUSTERS: Speaking of the Founders, you quoted Jefferson, and I love this quote: “All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating of these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one…An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.”
LEVIN: Yep. And later on, about a half century later, Alexis de Tocqueville said exactly the same thing. And before both of those men, others said exactly the same thing including Charles de Montesquieu. The point being that the fact that you vote doesn't mean you don't have despotism. The fact that you have a legislature and an assembly of some kind again doesn't mean you don't have despotism. You can vote for your despots. And the point is that at some point unfortunately in democracies the power structure is such that when you vote, so much of what you vote about has nothing to do with what happens.
I'll give you an example. We've this massive fourth branch of government, this administrative state, massive bureaucracy, untold numbers of people doing untold numbers of things in untold numbers of agencies who are issuing regulations that have the force of law that have financial penalties and criminal penalties where people can go to prison with strict liability. We don't know who they are, we don't know what they're up to, we don't know how they come to their conclusions.
And the point is that we've elected a congress, we've elected the president, and yet here we have this big monument to despotism in effect which has incredible power on our daily lives. And so there's a huge disconnect between us voting and what happens in this society and how we're governed. And this is why I came up with the title of the book “Ameritopia” because you and I and others, we are fighting to get back to the America that is based on the Constitution and the concepts of individual sovereignty and so forth.
This country cannot be called today strictly a constitutional republic, a representative republic or a federal republic because it's been turned upside-down. The states have very little authority vis-a-vis the federal government. The individual is getting smothered in this massive leviathan, and those things that Jefferson feared, the Founders feared, Alexis de Tocqueville after him feared, and the great enlightened philosophers feared are coming to pass.
NEWSBUSTERS: Isn’t it also interesting that although all of the utopias you wrote about provide universal healthcare for their people, they also all encourage the sick or infirm to commit suicide or just die off? So despite what the media said, Sarah Palin was right about death panels?
LEVIN: Isn't that interesting? In Plato's “Republic,” in Thomas More's “Utopia,” in supposedly humanistic, compassionate societies, and so forth, yes, national government-run healthcare is key to all of these societies because they want complete control over the individual body and soul. And, yes, they encourage people to end their own lives, or at least not seek medical care if they have these terrible diseases or illnesses and cannot be contributors to the society as a whole, because remember now, under the utopian notion, it is society as a whole, it is government as a whole, it is an ideology that is paramount to everything else. The individual is inconsequential. The individual has no worth in and of himself. Self-interest is to be denounced as it is in our society in many respects.
NEWSBUSTERS: The other interesting hypocrisy to me is a common theme in all these utopias: men can’t be trusted to govern themselves. But if this is true, how can a president, ruler, or legislature of men be trusted?
LEVIN: Well, I kind of get to that in the book. Men cannot be trusted to govern themselves, but they are trusted to vote for their guardians. Yet they're not wise enough to pick their own light bulbs. And this is what it's become. And of course man is so bad, so imperfect, so evil, except of course for the few who manage to get power and rule over the rest of his fellow men. So, the whole notion is a notion of totalitarianism, and that's the point. It's totalitarianism in form and substance, and the question is what degree of totalitarianism are people willing to tolerate.
NEWSBUSTERS: Another interesting aspect, you quoted de Tocqueville: “In America the aristocratic element has always been feeble from its birth; and if at the present day it is not actually destroyed, it is at any rate so completely disabled that we can scarcely assign to it any degree of influence on the course of affairs.” With the current Occupy movement and the media’s incessant contention that the wealthy have undue influence in America today especially in light of the Citizens’ United decision, would de Tocqueville make this same observation if he were here today?
LEVIN: Oh, absolutely. In fact, he'd be appalled as would the Founders by what's happened to this great country. The aristocracy in this country today, I would argue, are the politicians and the bureaucrats who have the power of law to do lawless things, and the robber barons of this country today aren't individual industrialists. They are the individuals in Congress and in the Administration who have access to enormous amounts of wealth, not necessarily to enhance their own status financially, but in order to remake society, in order to coerce people, in order to sabotage various private sector entities and so forth. So they're actually even worse than the old robber barons in that they not only have enormous wealth that doesn't belong to them, they have the power of the law to do as they see fit with that enormous wealth.
NEWSBUSTERS: You also wrote, “For the utopian, it is better that all be poor than some be wealthy.”
NEWSBUSTERS: Does this describe the feeling of today’s Left as well as the Occupy movement and the media?
LEVIN: It absolutely does. It is this mindless, destructive pursuit of radical egalitarianism. You see it in Thomas More's “Utopia,” you see it in the “Communist Manifesto,” and you see it in the modern Democrat Party. You see, we can never be truly equal. There will never be equal incomes period. Mankind has demonstrated that through experience. There will never be free healthcare for everybody of the same exact quality no matter what. It's simply not going to happen. And these plans that they come up with are not only impracticable, but they're impossible. And yet they're put out there as these promises, these future promises where these masterminds say they're going to deliver these things, and of course they can't and they won't. They deliver the opposite: destitution, misery, and poverty.
But all that said, I think that today we're in an extremely perilous situation because if I had to guess, I'd guess 40 percent or more of the American people have surrendered to this ideology, or they've been conquered by it, bought off by it through entitlements and so forth, or through coercion, administrative coercion through bureaucracies. And the issue to me is whether there is time to save the republic or whether the mindset, the psychology of the American people has been so trounced and so altered that politically it will be impossible to reverse course.
NEWSBUSTERS: Well, that's why I would ask you if there are any real anti-utopians left in America? 80 years after the New Deal, aren’t we all utopians to some degree? Look at the Tea Party signs that we saw, “Keep Your Hands Off of My Medicare,” “Keep Your Hands Off of My Social Security.” Aren’t we all now on a utopian slippery slope that can’t be stopped given the number of citizens – even conservatives – now dependent upon the existing utopian legislation?
LEVIN: Those signs were the exception at the Tea Party rallies. I went to several of them. The Tea Party rallies were not about Medicare, were not about entitlements. They were about the opposite. They were about constitutionalism.
I can't answer your question whether or not we will survive as a nation. All I can tell you is that those of us aware of what's going on need to fight like hell to try and preserve it because it's worth preserving, and if we cannot preserve it, then I don't know what mankind's going to look like in the future. I cannot believe as I say in “Ameritopia” that as inheritors of such a magnificent society that we are prepared to send our children and grandchildren and all future generations into infinite darkness. I just cannot believe it. And so we shall see.
I cannot predict the future, but I am very hopeful that “Ameritopia” will help get the message out to at least some people so they understand the philosophical roots of individual sovereignty, of constitutionalism of this great society, and will also understand the philosophical roots of the tyranny that seeks to devour it. And I am of the opinion that more and more people who get to those roots beyond the superficial, who go beyond the Founders, who go beyond Obama, and who really look deeply into what's gone on in the history of mankind and then apply it to what's going on today, I think we have a chance.
NEWSBUSTERS: You argue in “Ameritopia's" concluding chapter that if the Supreme Court doesn’t strike down the individual mandate in ObamaCare, “the contours of utopian society and the mastermind’s authority would seem unconfined. Thereafter, the individual’s free will ceases to be free or his will?” Please elaborate.
LEVIN: Well, that's correct because at this point we would have all three branches of government – the legislative, executive and the judicial – conspiring openly against the individual, against “we the people,” against the citizen. And what I mean by this is the utopians who push this statist agenda, this top down authoritarianism if not totalitarianism and dress it up as a democracy movement, or dress it up as some kind of a compassionate program, they won't have to dress anything up anymore because if the Supreme Court gives itself and the rest of the federal government the power to push around and bully and order the individual to do things that the individual does not want to do, then it no longer has to use the carrot. It can use the stick. That's the point.
NEWSBUSTERS: Indeed. And you mentioned that the Tea Party certainly is the positive force. The utopian force right now would you agree is pretty much embodied not just in the media but in the Occupy movement, and this is where the battle for America's future, the Americans versus the Ameritopians is being waged?
LEVIN: The Occupy movement is a very tiny movement that is just a reflection of what's been going on in this country. The Tea Party movement is really a great perhaps last stand for constitutionalism, which is why the utopians hate it so much and disparage it endlessly. And yet it gives people like me hope.
We are in an Ameritopia right now. We're not transitioning into an Ameritopia, we are here. The question is how far down this course are we going to go? And I don't think it is virtuous or noble to pretend otherwise. I don't think it is helpful if some conservatives or some Libertarians pretend otherwise.
This is an extremely perilous period in our history, and the utopian notions have taken a firm hold. And the question is, as I said earlier, can we reacquaint ourselves with the original mindset of the American people or whether we've been so thoroughly duped that there's no hope? I believe that we still have an opportunity, but the hour is very late.
NEWSBUSTERS: And why do you think America's media are so on board with the utopians and always have been?
LEVIN: Because they are one and the same. The fact that they're in the media not in the government is irrelevant. When you look at Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner writing in the New York Times, he's constantly flirting with totalitarianism and rejecting the checks and balances that are built into our Constitutional system. The utopians are in a hurry. They're in a hurry to go somewhere they can't detail exactly where they want to take us, but they think they want to take us in that direction regardless. The Constitution - they condemn it all the time. During ObamaCare, people were asked about the Constitutional basis for ObamaCare. Members of Congress basically laughed. So, that's how I would answer your question.
NEWSBUSTERS: Anything else you want to tell our readers before I let you go?
LEVIN: I would tell them what I tell my radio audience - and I'm sure there's a lot of overlap in that regard - that is you have to view yourselves as the Paul and Paulette Reveres of this nation. The media's not going to do it. Certain politicians aren't going to do it. One election's not going to do it. We have to save ourselves from this utopian tyranny. The more we understand it, the more we inform ourselves, the more we can spread the word to our family members, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors. If this society is going to survive, and if we are going to survive as a free people, it's up to us and nobody else.
NEWSBUSTERS: Well, Mark, speaking for everybody at the Media Research Center and all of our readers, we sincerely thank you for your hard work toward saving our nation, and thank you very, very much for your time today.
LEVIN: Noel, thank you for all you do, and the great Media Research Center, my buddy Brent Bozell and everybody else there. G-d bless you, my friend.
The following is a marvelous video from an “Ameritopia” book signing at a bookstore on Long Island last weekend:
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