Author: Mark Levin
Review by Jared Taylor
“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.” Abraham Lincoln
Every week I meet someone who claims to be a Conservative. Even some Democrats will often say they are conservative in their political beliefs. It seems everyone wants to be called a Conservative because being a “Moderate” or “Liberal” has too many negative stereotypes. Sadly, many people have no common understanding of Conservative principles. Therefore the True Conservative becomes the politician who can give the smoothest speech, run the nicest ads, or who has the best smile.
So what is a real or true Conservative and what does it even mean to be a Conservative? To solve this problem, best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio host, Mark Levin has written “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” (2009). This book compares and contrasts the definitions of a Conservative to those of a Statist. Levin also defines variations of each of these ideas such as “compassionate conservative,” “national-greatness conservatism,” “neo-Conservative,” as well as “neo- and corporate-statists.
Here are a few great quotes from the introductory chapter that introduces these definitions.
“…the Statist has an insatiable appetite for control. His sights are set on his next meal before he has fully digested his last. He is constantly agitating for government action. And in furtherance of that purpose, the Statist speaks in the tongue of the demagogue, concocting one pretext and grievance after another to manipulate public perceptions and build popular momentum for the divestiture of liberty and property from its rightful possessors.”(8)
“The Conservative does not despise government. He despises tyranny. This is precisely why the Conservative reveres the Constitution and insists on adherence to it.” (10)
“Conservatism is the antidote to tyranny precisely because its principles are the founding principles.”
With everyone jumping on the popular “Conservative” bandwagon, it is vital to understand the terms and definitions explained by Levin. These ideas will allow the student of good government to easily discern the rhetoric of various politicians who claim to be “Conservative” or the “True Conservative” and to educate others in the vocabulary of liberty.
In 192 pages, Levin applies Conservative ideals to the environment, immigration, free markets, the Constitution, and a few other topics we hear every day. At the end of the book Levin offers “A Conservative Manifesto” as a way to push back the march of “soft-tyranny” put forth by the Democratic and Republican Party leadership. (Levin’s title is a clear counter-point to the “Communist Manifesto” which outlines the ideals of the Statist.) At the end of the book, Levin offers a list of “tactical actions” that “must be taken today, if the civil society is to survive tomorrow.” (199)
Taxation, the environment, immigration, education, faith, and the Constitution are just five of the 10 points in his manifesto with specific recommendations. On the topic of immigration he recommends, “Eliminate chain migration….Secure the nation’s borders and discourage those who violate them by enforcing the immigration laws. End multicultural, diversity, and bilingualism in public institutions which beget poverty animosity and ethnic balkanization; promote assimilation and unity of citizenship, allegiance to American culture, and English as the official national language.” (202)
This book has many benefits. First, we now have a standard and meaningful definition of a Conservative to begin an intelligent conversation. Too many political discussions are people ‘pooling their mutual ignorance’ with words and definitions they know very little about. Further, I’m always surprised at how many people simply believe what a politician says without asking if these ideas actually make sense or align with the principles of liberty. Second, a common vocabulary and understanding of a Conservative will help us to know if a candidate is who he or she claims to be. Third, we will also be able to be more astute in evaluating the merits of policies or bills before our local, state, or federal governments. It will be clear if these recommendations will move us toward liberty or tyranny.
My first experience with “Liberty and Tyranny” was an audio book read by the author. Yes, Levin’s voice is an acquired taste. If you don’t like the tone or tenor of his voice from his radio show, go for the book. I guarantee, you’ll find yourself reaching for your highlighter or drilling into the extensive list of references. Every American should have a copy of this book on his or her bookshelf. After you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To order this book today and support GilbertWatch.com click on the Amazon.com link at the GilbertWatch homepage and search “Liberty and Tyranny.” The book is available in various formats between $10 – 16 before shipping.