Liberty and Tyranny By Mark Levin
In Liberty and Tyranny, a series of essays that are drier than dust and more alarmist than a Noam Chomsky speech, Mark Levin, apparently talk radio’s newest thing, lays out a "conservative manifesto." The enemies of which are chiefly; liberals, progressives and "statists," his slur for those who believe that the government should solve the problems of its citizens. His dismay over the power and reach of the US federal government is certainly one shared by millions of Americans and often times his insights serve as an important push back against the decade of government encroachment that is still in motion.
Sadly he all too often relies on partisan politics. Rahm Emanuel is spanked for his "never let a crisis go to waste" comment, but there is not even a whisper of Bush’s power grab after 9-11 (Patriot Act, preemptive war, domestic spying, etc, etc, etc). If conservatives are going to recover from the political exile they now find themselves in, they are going to need to discard that old Bush strategy of never admitting a mistake and this book is not exactly a promising start. Be that as it may, Liberty and Tyranny is filled with good ideas that truly could serve a nation, especially the US with its lust for freedom.
However, if these ideas were to ever reach a mainstream audience, Levin would have to do away with some of his crazier hang-ups, such as his constant ranting against the nameless, faceless "statists" and his never-ending feud with Franklin Roosevelt. One look at the best sellers list does indicate that he has struck a chord and it is possible to see why. Besides calling for fewer taxes it also serves as an idealistic dream in which the author and the reader can share in a utopian fantasy, where the free market and faith solve all of Man’s problems.
The book would have benefited greatly had Levin actually engaged popular arguments from the left. What about The Wrecking Crew, in which Thomas Frank persuasively argues that the anti-government stance is used by many merely as a covert means for the US government to inflate their bank account? Or The Shock Doctrine, in which Naomi Klein outlines how gigantic corporations have exploited free market economics to exploit the helpless populations of smaller countries?
Unfortunately he does not touch on any of those points. Instead he uses a measured tone to tout the Republican Party line but does a poor job of masking the fact that this is really a paranoid screed. Often times his chapters start off thoughtful and calm, only to soon devolve into complete idiocy. For example, the idea that illegal immigration is bad because it drives down the wages of the average American worker is probably an idea that resonates with a large percentage of the right. However, Levin can’t help himself and soon he is spinning in circles trying to prove that Mexico is actively trying to take over a section of Southwest America and that most Mexicans who do jump the border eventually find themselves in murderous gangs.
Who exactly does that speak to? He also, in a throwaway line, blames Jimmy Carter for the spread of radical Islam and in the epilogue pleads with his readers to brainwash their kids with his ideas. That’s all fine and good and he is entitled to say whatever he wants, but his total faith in the idea that all government is bad unless it is being used to chase Mexicans out of his backyard is one that is very suspicious.