In the last entry I stated that Mark Levin focuses more of his second chapter, “Prudence and Progress,” villainizing a bogeyman he calls a Statist (read, Modern Liberal) rather than focusing on explaining his own position. I also explained what Levin’s “ordered liberty” probably means to him, based on a few sparse statements and his fondness of certain Enlightenment Philosophers. It would be unfair to create the impression that he does not explain anything in chapter 2. Most notably he describes what prudence means (though he does not explain much on progress) and he provides stereotypes for Statists.
Levin makes a distinction between change and reform. Change is bad because it introduces novelty and chaos. Reform is good because it merely polishes and enhances what already exists. Guess which one Statists ALWAYS want and which one the Conservative ALWAYS want.
In truth, the difference between change and reform is a matter of scale or perspective. For example, you make shorts with buttons. You get this bright idea to use zippers instead of buttons. The consumer might view that as a nice “reform” of the original product. Button makers, however, are likely to view this as a novelty change that bodes ill. On the other hand, let’s say you keep the buttons but design kilts instead of shorts. Now the button maker is pleased as punch because the types of product using buttons has doubled. However, the fashion police may think this a novelty that decent society could do without.
To put this in more relevant terms, if you are a Federalist, then you think that the packing of the Judicial Branch of government by John Adams, fating our government to become more paternal and more allied to corporations over the years, as needed reform. Those folks in favor of states rights and agrarian living, which was by far the majority of colonialists, might have dubbed it as dubious change. On the other hand, the packing of the Supreme Court by FDR, diluting the influence of corporate lawyers, would be branded as abhorrent change by the Federalist (or Conservative, for that matter), while agrarians at the time likely considered it a reform. Even if considered a bad change the FDR packing did not last long. A corporate bias was restored to the Supreme Court by the time of the Buckley v. Valeo decision in 1976.
The Statist stereotypes that Levin refers to are Academics, Hollywood and Media. Yet Levin is either confused about their influence in politics, or is manipulating misinformation principle #7, switching what is normal and abnormal. On page 15 he states that: ” Americans are living in a state of diminishing liberty–that statism is on the ascendancy.”
Hmm. Granted, Levin states that Hollywood now champions global warming instead of Marxism, and that is apparently all one and the same to him in terms of being a Statist, but most folks would think that regulating global warming is a little less Marxist than, well, Marxism, even if they accepted at face value that all of Hollywood were once Marxists and now are all Enviro-Statists.
I admit this is anecdotal, but in the sixties and seventies one equated Hollywood political activism with Jane Fonda. Now Arnold is just as likely to come to mind instead of a Hollywood Marxist, er, Enviro-Statist. This same trend goes for those radical Academics. Mark Levin must be a young pup, never to have witnessed what college life and curricula were like in the sixties and seventies. If he seriously thinks the trend has been towards more Statist-like radicalism on campuses than occurred back then I don’t know what else to say but to claim him an ignorant fool. Yes, that’s name-calling, but I don’t really suspect he is an ignorant fool, I suspect he unscrupulously uses any misinformation that he thinks will work to induce groupthink among the gullible.
And that brings us to the greatest tool for groupthink, Media. Look, you can come up with anecdotal evidence to claim any bias you want on the part of media. However, those owned by corporations either have a corporate bias or they are wonderful pillars of altruism willing to shoot themselves in the foot if they think that is in the public interest. If corporations have a corporate bias (the likely choice, in case you are still mulling this over), then these large businesses can either work the ideology market to their advantage or they can’t. There is certainly an abundant supply of conservative newsmakers and suppliers, and there is a conservative demand from consumers. If they can’t work this to their advantage, even as the trend has been towards media consolidation into giant corporations, one has to wonder how they got so big in the first place. No, Media has trended away from the Statist characterization that Levin provides. Being a media person himself, this amounts to selling you snake oil.
So whether or not we have been “going to hell in a hand basket,” the trends since the seventies, at least in regards to the stereotypes Levin provides, has been away from Statism. He wants us to think we have been trending towards Statism because he wants to induce a negative reaction that continues us trending towards his Conservative alternative, as we have been doing already for the past few decades.
Here is previous background material.