Opinion: Carolina Critic

Ameritopia Not An Easy Read, But Well Worth A Reader

• Mark R. Levin, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, New York: Threshold Editions, 2012, 270 pages. $26.99.

It is not often that a book hits the top of the bestseller lists within 24 hours of its release, but Mark Levin’s latest, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, did just that and has remained at or near the top of every bestseller list weeks later. Along with the publicity Levin has given the book on his own syndicated radio show, it certainly hasn’t hurt that Rush Limbaugh has highlighted the book on his program.

Levin’s purpose is to contrast the visions of the most influential utopians thinkers with those philosophers whose concepts of liberty and individualism inspired the American Founders and later, our republican form of government.

In Part I of Ameritopia, Levin provides an historic insight into the origins of utopianism, which he equates with tyranny. He notes that the first concepts of creating a perfect utopian society originated in antiquity. Levin’s historic journey begins in 380 B.C. with Plato’s Republic, noting its influence on subsequent philosophers, including the inspiration for what we now know as Marxism. Levin then moves through time to 1516 and Thomas More’s Utopia, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651), and finally to Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto in 1848.

Each tried to articulate a form of utopian society where everything is equal. Unfortunately, in every one of these author’s scenarios, the government controlled every aspect of life. In their quest to form the perfect society, government authorities make all of the decisions for everyone. The government decides where you live, what you eat, how children are educated, and what type of job you do.

Without exception, there is the element of class warfare within the utopian societies. Whether the class struggle is against royalty or, in the case of the Communist Manifesto, the bourgeoisie (capitalists), society is divided until the utopian ideal is achieved.

Levin’s book shows how many of the leaders of communist countries became far worse than the previous rulers they replaced. He also notes that, during the communist era, all of the major advances in manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and technology occurred in capitalistic countries like America, rather than in communist countries.

The chapter on the Communist Manifesto is a frightening look at how the principles of this ideology are influencing our elected officials and creeping into our laws. Levin lays out ten of these tenets that should be read by every American.

In Part II of Ameritopia, Levin turns to the writings of John Locke and his influence on the founders and the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Next, he shows the influence of Charles de Montesquieu on the framers of the Constitution. Levin then turns to Alexis de Tocqueville and his travels and his positive observations about democracy in America.

For readers who haven’t tackled the extensive writings of Locke, Montesquieu, or de Tocqueville, Levin provides a snapshot of each man’s thought and writing and how it has influenced America.

Unlike the utopian writers who dehumanize the individual and control every aspect of the individual’s life, Locke celebrates individualism and property rights, which is a fundamental aspect of America’s success. The separation of powers in our government is the direct result of Montesquieu’s writings. Levin also notes that Montesquieu “explicitly rejects” Hobbes’s views in Leviathan.

In the chapter “Ameritopia,” Levin explains his fears about the threats to the American way of life. “There are those who are hypnotized by the utopian message.” Levin feels that “politicians, judges, and bureaucrats have become America’s version of Plato’s philosopher-kings and guardians,”

Levin does not understand the appeal of this hypnosis and states, ”Looked at another way, the utopian models of Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia, Hobbs’s Leviathan, and Marx’s Communist Manifesto could not be more repugnant to America’s philosophical and political foundation.”

Americans often hear that the founders and framers were just a bunch of old white guys who wrote for a different era, so the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have no relevance today. But Levin’s book illustrates that the utopian writers also were old white guys writing for a different era. Levin points out that while the American constitutional republic has survived and flourished for more than 200 years, a true utopian society never has been established, and Communist societies never have flourished or lasted very long.

In the epilog, Levin restates his reason for writing the book and what he sees as the “growing tyranny of government.” “Tyranny, broadly defined, is the use of power to dehumanize the individual and determine his nature, political utopianism is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even paradisiacal governing ideology,” says Levin.

Levin ends his book with an excerpt from a President Reagan’s 1981 inaugural address: ”I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing,” the president said.

Levin then challenges his readers. “So, my fellow countrymen, which do we choose — Ameritopia or America?”

This book was not an easy read. At times, it was unclear whether Levin was quoting another writer or if he was using his own words, which required going back and rereading sentences or even paragraphs.

However, it was a thought-provoking work illustrating how many of the utopian and especially tenants of Marxism are creeping into American laws and government. For this reader, the time and effort it took to read the book was well with the effort and provided a wealth of vital information.