Book Review Of Ameritopia By Mark Levin

By Dick Morris on February 8, 2012

A Book Review of Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark R. Levin

I took Contemporary Civilization at Columbia College. It had a reading list that was a smattering of excerpts from all the great thinkers who shaped western civilization. We referred to it as the “cocktail party course.” The readings were neither long enough nor sufficiently representative of the body of work of the author to give you a real grasp of what they were saying. But they gave you enough to get by and sound erudite.

Now Mark Levin revisits these philosophers and explains how their thinking shaped the world in which we live.

To purchase a copy of Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America – Go Here.

Broadly, he divides them into two camps: Utopians and Libertarians. He explains how utopians laid the basis for modern socialism, leftism, and Obamaism and how the libertarian (he calls it Americanism) enlightenment philosophers set the stage for modern conservatism and free market economics.

His most important intellectual contribution is to identify the search for utopia — the perfect world — with the politics of the left. From Plato’s Republic through Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia and Hobbes’ Leviathan and Marx’ Communist manifesto the storyline is the same: A super-lawgiver brings about a transformation of our flawed society into a perfect world. To Plato the superhero is the philosopher-king. To Moore it is King Utopus. To Hobbes it is the super dictator/strong man. To Marx it is the working class dictatorship. But the formulations are all the same – a big strong man saves the world. No democracy needed here. All we need is the right man in charge.

Levin realizes that this search for perfection – both in the outcome and the leader – underscores the futile search in which liberalism has been engaged for the past century. Like a secular second coming, it never quite happens, but the true believers on the left never give up hope. And, when a leader comes along who, in Chris Matthews’ memorable formulation, sends a “thrill up his leg,” then hope and change sprout like wildflowers and it seems utopia is finally at hand! Until reality sets in.

By contrast, the libertarians focus more on process than on outcome. To them, the ends do not justify the means. It is the means that shape the ends. Democracy, education, enlightenment, free markets, deregulation lead to the best outcomes for humankind. Levin explains how John Locke and Charles de Montesquieu shaped a philosophy that relies on the consent of the governed and human freedom to shape good outcomes. And then, he hammers it home by chronicling Alexis de Tocqueville’s real life observations about how these ideas were playing out in early America.

We all read – and some of us write – books about what is wrong and how to correct it. But Levin understanding that it is the hope for utopia itself that leads us astray is a key insight. Regardless of whatever else you are reading, read this book. It explains the cause of all that’s happening.

To purchase a copy of Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America – Go Here.

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