The Utopian Mastermind and His Intellectuals

In his new book, Ameritopia, Mark Levin discusses what he has discovered in his thorough study of utopianism in the works of Plato, More, Hobbes, and Marx. From the jacket,

“[Levin] explores the psychology, motivations, and history of the utopian movement, its architects, and its modern-day disciples — and how the individual and American society are being devoured by it. Levin asks, what is this utopian force that both allures a free people and destroys them?…”

Obama pointing sternly at the cameraI’m not sayin’ that the U.S. is a Marxist (or any other kind of) utopia. (Yet.) Nor am I sayin’ that President Obama is the kind of “mastermind” described below. He hasn’t reached quite that level of mania or control. (Well, maybe the former?) I’m not even sayin’ that David Axelrod or Valerie Jarrett or James Carville or… any of Obama’s henchmen & handlers exactly fits the role of utopian “intellectual”. (Not sure they’re smart enough.) But, I am suggesting that you might see some parallels in the excerpts here — from the opening chapter of Levin’s book — to what can be observed in the current administration. Just sayin’…

“In utopia, rule by masterminds is both necessary and necessarily primitive, for it excludes so much that is known to man and about man. The mastermind is driven by his own boundless conceit and delusional aspirations, which he self-identifies as a noble calling. He alone is uniquely qualified to carry out this mission. He is, in his own mind, a savior of mankind, if only man will bend to his will. Such can be the addiction of power. It can be an irrationally egoistic and absurdly frivolous passion that engulfs even sensible people. In this, the mastermind suffers from a psychosis of sorts that endeavors to substitute his own ambitions for the individual ambitions of millions of people….

The mastermind is served by an enthusiastic intelligentsia or ‘experts’ professionally engaged in developing and spreading utopian fantasies. Although there are conspicuous exceptions, longtime Harvard professor and political theoretician Harvey Mansfield explained that modern intellectuals have ‘monumental impatience… with human complexity and imperfection…. They believe that politics is a temporary necessity until the rational solution is put in place.’ Of course, the rational solutions are not rational at all. While intellectuals are obviously smart, they are not smart enough to have conquered the social sciences and use them to rejigger society. They are posers to knowledge they do not and cannot possess. Meanwhile, intellectuals are immune from the impracticability and consequences of their blueprints for they rarely present themselves for public office. Instead, they seek to influence those who do. They legislate without accountability. Joseph Schumpeter, a prominent economics professor and political scientist, was a harsh critic of intellectuals. He wrote, ‘Intellectuals rarely enter professional politics and still more rarely conquer responsible office. But they staff political bureaus, write party pamphlets and speeches, act as secretaries and advisors, make the… politician’s… reputation…. In doing these things they… impress their mentality on almost everything that is being done.’…”

I wonder if certain lobbyists, activists, union leaders, and other influence peddlers would fit the bill here, too. Obviously, they aren’t specific to any one administration, either.

“[T]he mastermind relies on uniform standards born of insufficient knowledge and information, which are crafted from his own predilections, values, stereotypes, experiences, idiosyncrasies, desires, prejudices and, of course, fantasy. The imposition of these standards may, in the short term, benefit some or perhaps many. But over time, the misery and corrosiveness from their full effects spread through the whole of society. Although the mastermind’s incompetence and vision plague the society, responsibility must be diverted elsewhere… for the mastermind is inextricably linked to the fantasy. If he is fallible then who is to usher in paradise? If his judgment and wisdom are in doubt then the entire venture might invite scrutiny. This leads to grander and bolder social experiments, requiring further coercion. What went before is said to have been piecemeal and therefore inadequate. The steps necessary to achieve true utopianism have yet to be tried….

Obama shredding ConstitutionClearly, utopianism is incompatible with constitutionalism. Utopianism requires power to be concentrated in a central authority with maximum latitude to transform and control. Oppositely, a constitution establishes parameters that define the form and the limits of government…. The [U.S.] Constitution enshrines a governing framework intended to ensure the longevity of the existing society and stifle the potential for tyranny….

For the mastermind, where the Constitution is believed useful to utopian ends, it will be invoked. Where it is not, under the pretense of legitimate differences of interpretation it will be abandoned outright or remade through various doctrinal schemes and administrative evasions. For the mastermind, the Constitution’s words are as undeserving of respect as the rest of history. They will be used to muddle and disarrange, not inform and clarify. Moreover, the Constitution’s authors, ratifiers, and present-day proponents will be dismissed as throwbacks. To follow them will be to renounce modernity and progress. And yet to follow the mastermind is to renounce the American founding and heritage.”

Yeah. A lot of this sounds awfully familiar. (If you want some examples of Obama’s disregard for the rule of law and the text of the Constitution, check out Stephanie Hessler’s recent article at Townhall.com.) And, if we don’t stop Obama from holding onto the Oval Office for another 4 years, the slide into “utopian” tyranny will likely accelerate until there is no way for those of us who value freedom & independence to get enough traction to pull this nation out of the pit.

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