Many of us often use the phrase. “It’s time to get this country back on track.” That’s most definitely true. However, in order to be fully committed to that task, it is essential that we understand the depth of what we’re rallying against and what the manifestation of the antithesis of Americanism really looks like.
Mark R. Levin’s “Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America” juxtaposes the Americanism and constitutionalism of our Founding Fathers with utopianism, “the ideological and doctrinal foundation for statism.” The flawed and destructive utopian visions of Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, and Karl Marx serve as potent contrasts to the liberty-enhancing conceptions of John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, Alexis de Tocqueville, and our country’s founders.
In Parts I and II of “Ameritopia,” Levin provides an extensive philosophical context that illuminates the vast theoretical and practical distinctions between utopianism and Americanism. In doing so, he does a fantastic job of fulfilling the book’s intent, to “identify, expose, and explain the character of the threat that America and, indeed, all republics confront” and to foster a deep understanding of “the existential danger to a free and prosperous people.”
Levin defines utopianism as that which “substitutes glorious predictions and unachievable promises for knowledge, science, and reason, while laying claim to them all . . . A heavenly society is said to be within reach if only the individual surrenders more of his liberty and being for the general good, meaning the good as prescribed by the state.”
He goes on to delve into the ability of utopianism to penetrate a society gradually and its inherent “immorality,” what characterizes utopianism’s “receptive audience,” the toxic effects of “radical egalitarianism,” and the subjugation of individuality and diversity under the leadership of a “mastermind . . . driven by his own boundless conceit and delusional aspirations, which he self-identifies as a noble calling.”
Readers journey through Plato’s “Ideal City,” replete with censorship, zero competition, an aristocratic ruling class of Guardians, and indoctrination, “a philosophical and intellectual brew for a utopian society that would influence tyrannies for centuries to come.”
They venture into More’s “Utopia,” where private property and free will don’t exist, where “people all wear identical clothing” and “every religion on the island must recognize a single, supreme, ubiquitous god,” “an egalitarian society that claims to provide for all wants and needs on an equal basis by expunging humanness from the human being.”
Readers walk through worlds where Hobbes’s “all-powerful Sovereign” leads an “inhuman utopian structure that devours the individual” and Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” tramples natural law, reason, tradition, and individual sovereignty.
Levin adeptly contrasts the aforementioned utopias, in which “the individual and his family are subservient to the state,” with Locke’s opposition to class warfare and focus on the importance of protecting individuals’ inalienable rights.
He discusses Montesquieu’s emphasis on limited government and his concerns regarding both excessive taxation and “the tyranny of concentrated power resulting from either unjust laws or the application of laws unjustly, and the anarchy of radical egalitarianism that leads to despotism.” He deeply explores the influence of Locke and Montesquieu on the Founders.
Levin’s attention to Alexis de Tocqueville’s sentiments on the dangers of a “soft tyranny” is particularly significant. Perhaps that’s because “the gradual imposition of and acquiescence to radical egalitarianism, which is disguised as democratic and administrative utilitarianism” is a very real, unfortunate reality in America today.
In Part III of “Ameritopia,” Levin offers an honest discussion of the dangers presently facing our country: “America has been transitioning from a society based on God-given inalienable rights protective of individual and community sovereignty to a centralized, administrative statism that has become a power unto itself.”
He dissects Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt’s contributions to utopianism and discusses aspects of modern America that harbor elements of and share “ambitions, albeit inexactly,” with Plato’s “Republic,” More’s “Utopia,” Hobbes’s ‘Leviathan,” and “the Marx-Engels class-based radical egalitarianism.”
Hence the birth of Ameritopia, an America that “has become more utopian in character and less republican.” Federal taxing and spending, regulations, entitlements, and Obamacare are a few areas Levin analyzes to back up his conclusion.
Perhaps my favorite statement from the text is the following: “America has become a society in which the people are wise enough to select their own leaders, but too incompetent to choose the right light bulb.”
Levin’s closing argument is not about whether America has turned into Ameritopia, as he affirms that that has happened already. His real question is “whether the ongoing transformation can be restrained and then reversed, or whether it will continue with increasing zeal, passing from a soft tyranny to something more oppressive.”
At this critical point in our country’s history, “Ameritopia” is a must-read for Americans of all political persuasions. Levin doesn’t sugarcoat the severity of the challenges that lie ahead, but inspires us to never lose sight of the great power of the individual.
The future of this country lies within us.
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