How Dumb Is Mark Levin?

May 7 2012 @ 12:53pm

I always knew Mark Levin’s books were reactionary screeds, but until this scathing review, I didn’t realize he incorporated embarrassingly stilted accounts of the history of political philosophy into them. Carlin Romano’s review in the Chronicle of Higher Education wades through the ignorance so we don’t have to:

Ameritopia, like many po­lem­i­cal bad books in po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy, teems with mis­used ab­strac­tions and con­tains few em­piri­cal ex­am­ples. In chap­ters de­vot­ed to the Re­pub­lic, Le­vi­a­than, U­top­ia, and The Com­mun­ist Man­i­fes­to, Lev­in of­fers Cliff’s Notes-like cap­sules of the works. His for­mu­la is to of­fer a brief phrase like, “as Locke ex­plains,” fol­lowed by long quo­ta­tions that some­times go on for a page. (He also adores his own prose, as when he writes, “As I wrote in Liberty and Tyr­an­ny,” then quotes him­self for near­ly half a page.) That’s one way to pad a book…

In ex­pli­cat­ing Pla­to, Lev­in op­er­ates as if he’s Sir Karl Pop­per’s cam­paign man­ag­er, run­ning against an an­cient guy in a toga. Lev­in men­tions ev­ery line that sup­ports Pla­to as pro-tyr­an­ny and ex­cludes ev­ery one that doesn’t. While Pop­per cer­tain­ly had some sharp ob­ser­va­tions a­bout Pla­to, Lev­in’s de­pic­tion of the au­thor of many di­a­logues be­sides the Re­pub­lic as a con­sum­mate hat­er of in­di­vid­uals is just dis­tor­tion. (One won­ders, too, what Pop­per would have made of Lev­in’s claim that “it’s not dif­fi­cult to find the germs” of “Islamicism” in the Re­pub­lic.)