Mark Levin’s new best-seller American Marxism contains some essential truths but leads to a dead end [Mark Levin’s ‘American Marxism’ Sells 1 Million Copies In First 10 Weeks, by Alana Mastrangelo, Breitbart, September 23, 2021]. Levin wants to save “our institutions” but misses that those institutions are already on the other side (witness their overwhelming support for nation-breaking immigration). Patriots must start challenging America’s managerial elite, not defending them.
There’s some good in the book. Levin notes that the educational Establishment trains Americans to reject their past. He recognizes the disastrous consequences of the state takeover of education, an “alien transformation.” It’s unquestionably true that many educators see their job as indoctrinating their charges, and they are remarkably successful [Wide Gender Gap, Growing Educational Divide in Voters’ Party Identification, Pew Research Center, March 20, 2018]. Levin rightly says this is why progressives want all Americans in government schools.
Yet Levin’s critique fails because he hails “capitalism and constitutionalism” as “ramparts that stand against Marxism.”
“Constitutionalism” is flawed because legalism can’t restrain power. Power shapes law. If “constitutionalism” worked, we wouldn’t be here, especially when it comes to immigration. If the “rule of law” meant anything, we wouldn’t have millions of illegals. Adherence to largely symbolic ornaments doesn’t prevent a country from being utterly remade.
But unfortunately Levin (I’m trustingly assuming that he wrote the book himself, although I’m an old Beltway hand) doesn’t understand Marx.
Thus Levin cites The Communist Manifesto’s claim that
…the bourgeois cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.
He links this to environmentalism and calls it a “condemnation of economic and technological progress.”
However, classical Marxism holds that society is shaped by its economic structure. Bourgeois society is a necessary step towards Communism. The bourgeoisie creates its nemesis, the industrial proletariat.
Levin uses Ayn Rand to brush away the Communist critique of industrial capitalism. Yet The Communist Manifesto, in words Levin himself cites, asserts that capitalism reduces everything to commodification:
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober sense his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.
A conservative can say that this isn’t true and that free markets can preserve traditional values and identity (fusionism). He could even say traditional values can only be preserved via limited government or no government (right-libertarianism or market anarchism).
Alternatively, a traditionalist could take a radical position against capitalism. Julius Evola, in Men Among The Ruins, said, “Nothing is more evident than that modern capitalism is just as subversive as Marxism,” because both are based on a “materialistic view of life.”
But what a conservative can’t do is completely ignore the contradiction between traditionalism and capitalism (particularly if the latter is interpreted to mean unfettered immigration). Levin, however, does ignore it. Of course, he commendably defends both national identity and religion. But he doesn’t address the fact that neither of those things can be justified through an atomistic or economic viewpoint.
Levin also misses the point of the “German-born” Marcuse (as he calls him—of course, Marcuse was also Jewish). Unfortunately, Levin refers to Marcuse and the “Franklin School”—admittedly just once and it may be a typo (were Simon & Schuster’s copy editors asleep?), which raises the question of whether Levin knows what the Frankfurt School even is.
Levin calls Critical Race Theory an “insidious and racist Marxist ideology” that divides America into “oppressors” and “oppressed.” OK—but what is to be done?
Well, Levin quotes black conservative Thomas Sowell defending America in Intellectuals and Society. Levin appeals to “America’s unique and very successful fusion of diversity and cultural assimilation.” He digs up “the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief of staff, confidant, and friend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker,” who supposedly would have opposed Critical Race Theory. MLK’s obviously lying quote about wanting his children to be judged by the “content of their character” is also trotted out. Furthermore, Levin says we can appeal to our “Founding documents” which rejected “racialized views of America.” Those views were “soundly defeated on the blood-stained battlefields of the Civil War.”
Levin is here citing President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13950, which cast men like Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas as un-American. After all, Douglas claimed the United States “was made on the white basis… by white men, for the benefit of white men” [Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping – Executive Order 13950, Federal Register, September 22, 2020].
That’s right. friends, Democrats are the real racists. Yup.
But the problem is that, historically, Executive Order 13950 and the related 1776 Commission’s cornball report were simply wrong. Modern conservatives can of course contend that racial preferences in law are bad. However, the fact is that the Founding Fathers were not race-blind [What the Founders Really Thought About Race, by Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, February 17, 2012]. The Declaration of Independence explicitly refers to the “merciless Indian savages.” The country’s first immigration law said citizenship was for “free white men of good character.”
You can deplore this and say we’ve moved past it. But you can’t ignore it without looking like a fool. Besides, defining American identity this way means that John C. Calhoun or Confederate leaders were somehow not American. If that’s true, why shouldn’t the South have had independence?
Levin’s book does address ideas that grassroots conservatives need to know about. He cites Zach Goldberg’s findings about how the corporate media fueled the “Great Awokening” [How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening, by Zach Goldberg, Tablet, August 4, 2020]. (But he manages to spell Goldberg’s first name wrong—it’s Zach, not Zack.)
Levin also notes the push to separate the word “American” from the U.S., something that will probably catch on, and the claim that Hispanics are indigenous to America and therefore have a greater claim to it than whites. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made this exact argument: AOC: Conquistador-American, by Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, February 11, 2019.)
Levin also writes, of particular interest to VDARE.com readers, that current immigration policy is aimed at destroying American identity:
The plan is linked to the CT [Critical Theory] Marxist ideology–that is, the more migrants the better, continue to overwhelm and collapse the nation’s politics, demographics, and citizenry, and ultimately transform the nature of the governing system. And by no means support or accept assimilation.
That’s The Great Replacement. Levin just doesn’t use the phrase.
Still, if America is just based on egalitarian phrases and capitalism, what culture is there to assimilate to? If you honestly ask who created America, you’ll find the answer was not just whites, but WASPs specifically.
Levin defines America as an “open” society, but never analyzes Karl Popper’s Open Society. Popper is mentioned just once, favorably. But this is a big problem given that Popper’s most influential pupil is George Soros.
George Soros is an international financier, not a Communist (at least as generally understood). He’s a better capitalist than staffers at libertarian nonprofits. But while Levin occasionally hits corporate America for being cozy with China, Soros has outright called China’s system an “unprecedented danger that is threatening the very survival of open societies,” apparently because it defies the international finance order [Soros: Xi Jinping is the ‘most dangerous opponent’ to open society, by Julia La Roche, Yahoo News, January 24, 2019].
To be fair, Levin does write about Big Tech censorship of conservatives and corporations’ backing Leftist movements. He adds that “these corporations are also currying favor and colluding with the Democratic Party by using their financial muscle to help create a one-party political machine.” But for Levin, this clearly DOES NOT COMPUTE. He settles for vaguely blaming the Leftist takeover of academia and calling corporate behavior “bizarre.”
But it’s not “bizarre.” Critical Theory, as practiced today, defends elites. Levin doesn’t get this.
For example, Levin cites Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s Critical Race Theory and does a point-and-sputter at their assertion that “because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class whites (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.” Levin advocates individualism instead.
But that’s not enough. The premise that white elites back “racism” is wrong. Elites’ interests lie in attacking white racial feeling and anything else that hinders mass immigration, cheap labor, and the free flow of capital. Indeed, Leftist Noam Chomsky famously said capitalism is ultimately anti-racist because it’s anti-human, and racial identifications “interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangeable cogs” [A Market or a Nation?, by Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, March 9, 2020].
James Burnham, Sam Francis, and others of the “Machiavellian” school emphasized the primacy of power. Levin does not. Instead, he wants Americans to fight back by tracking which companies or schools back Critical Race Theory. But that won’t work without access to online platforms and support from major media. Levin also suggests a Boycott-Divest-Sanction (BDS) movement of the sort used against Israel, a good concept. And convincing conservative-leaning alumni to withhold donations from colleges is also promising. But he seems unaware that any private citizen who does these things will be a target of the media mob.
Levin cites Eric Hoffer’s ideas as expressed in The True Believer, that mass movements are “built of deeply flawed individuals with deeply flawed ideas” who can satisfy their inner need for “self-renunciation.” I think there’s something to that. Look at Antifa. Levin is right about fanatics who deny facts that don’t fit into their worldview and the “psychotic pleasure and excitement in wrecking the present day-society.” I’d only add that Regime Media journalists give extreme Leftist ideas the veneer of respectability.
Yet whatever these zealots’ psychological issues, they are effective. “Patriotic consumers” who lack media support are not. And, frankly, idealistic rightists who challenge the System may also be flawed people looking to fill an inner void. What’s needed are grounded, middle-class, well-adjusted activists who are also willing to go through hell. That’s rare.
Which doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. The solution: state power and leaders willing to use it.
Levin’s suggestions are far too modest. He recommends lawsuits against Leftist groups, but this reflects a naïve faith in a legal system already infiltrated by Critical Race Theory. He wants Republicans to remove the monopoly protection professional sports leagues enjoy. He suggests removing nonprofit status from some environmental groups. (Of course, that would inevitably be turned against VDARE.com—but that might be coming anyway.)
But the real test: Big Tech. And here Levin disappoints. He vaguely alludes to not opposing corporate tax hikes. He wants an investigation of Big Tech’s interference in the 2020 election, enforcement of anti-trust laws, and ending Section 230. He encourages the use of smaller social media sites like Parler. Yet as Gab’s Andrew Torba notes, without Section 230, smaller social media sites would face more difficult legal challenges. (Levin doesn’t deign to mention Gab.)
Tinkering around the edges won’t work. The government is already pressuring Big Tech to ban “misinformation” [Biden raises fears of Big Tech censorship with COVID-19 misinformation push, by Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, July 16, 2021]. Politics isn’t simply downstream from culture; culture is downstream from power. My view: the solution is platform access as a civil right. Unless people want to repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act, let’s hear no complaints about too much government interference with private companies.
Levin misses what’s really happening. Critical Race Theory is not paving the way for some Soviet takeover. The USSR would be considered hopelessly right wing by today’s Leftists. Cultural Marxists and many of today’s capitalists share the same goals. Both want patriotic middle-class families replaced and their wealth taken away. Both want the Historic American Nation gone. Critical Theory is useful to economic elites because it distracts from campaigns over working conditions or wages. Instead, the prosperous can pose as victims.
“American Marxism” is not something Marx would necessarily recognize. It’s about race and sexuality, not economic classes. This “Marxism” is backed by billionaires and bureaucrats. Ibram Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates are System mascots, not rebels.
Levin’s book is a call to save the classic American system. But he’s 50 years too late. Modern America itself is now the greatest global force pushing anti-white, anti-Western, and Leftist ideas. It should be critiqued, not conserved.
As Marx himself said:
The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him | Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right. Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow's Preface here.