March 26, 2009

Listening in on Two of the Greatest Conservative Minds Alive

This is the transcript between Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh from today, who probably understand Conservativism and progressivism, statism, liberalism whatever better than about anyone else alive today.
To me this is fascinating stuff.

EIB Conversation: Rush and Levin Talk About "Liberty and Tyranny"
March 25, 2009

RUSH: We welcome to the EIB Network, Mark Levin, who is -- full disclosure here -- a good friend, one of my best; and the author of the just-released and already best seller, Liberty and Tyranny: a Conservative Manifesto. Hello, sir, and welcome to our big and vast network.
LEVIN: You're not kiddin'. How are you, brother?
RUSH: I'm pretty good. Never better. I'm in a foul mood the last couple days, but nothing to do with you.
LEVIN: Cheer up! Cheer up!
RUSH: I'm trying. I'm trying. Look, I don't want to overdo this, but as I said yesterday, people throughout my whole career have said, "What can I read to learn what you know? Where can I go to find the intellectual truths of conservatism?" and I've always had a book list that I give them and I've always had a magazine list and so forth. Your book is now a one-stop shop. Your book... This is the book, not only to read for someone to read themselves, but to give to people while it is... Well, not too technical. And it's got it's intellectual parts, but it is readable, understandable, inspiring. It's a page-turner, which is difficult for a book like this to be.
LEVIN: Well, you know, as I was writing it, we talk frequently, you know, on the weekends I was there and you'd send me an instant message, "F-Lee, what are you doing?" "I'm writing." You know, or, "What are you doing? It's two in the morning." "I'm writing," because, you know, I have full-time jobs and this is the only time I could do and that's part of the reason it took so long.
RUSH: Now, you weren't just writing.
LEVIN: Well, I was thinking.
RUSH: There's a notes section. You were researching.
LEVIN: Yeah.
RUSH: You could have written a book that just regurgitates what's in your heart and what's in your mind, but you have backed it up here with the thoughts of the Founders, with empirical evidence and proof of what's in your heart and what's in your mind, and that's the work. I mean, anybody can tell anybody what they think. To go out and get backup for it is what took the time. And full disclosure, as I said yesterday: you worked on this for a year and a half. There were times I know that it was arduous, but all the hard work has paid off. Believe me. Here's how I want to start with you on this.
LEVIN: Yes, sir.
RUSH: I -- even now at age 58 -- still consider myself naive, 'cause throughout my childhood and my adult life, I just accepted that everybody living in America loved our country and appreciated the whole concept of America and understood it: freedom, liberty, American exceptionalism. My opinion of this wasn't due to nationalism. It wasn't because, you know, I put a pin on my lapel or 'cause I was born here or any of that. It was rooted in the way that I was raised, and then in the things that I learned, my appreciation for this country and what it is, how unique and rare it is in the whole history of human civilization. So I still have lots of difficulty today intellectually understanding -- I get it emotionally, but I have difficulty intellectually understanding -- people natively born in this country who hate it, who want to destroy it, who want to remake it in an image that will cause it to not be what it has always been, which is the single greatest outpost and location for prosperity and security the world has ever seen. Can you help me to understand why there are people who hate this country and want to tear it down?
LEVIN: The key is to understand that there are people who are of that mind-set -- and if we don't understand it, and we just think this is an academic debate or they're just slightly liberal or what have you, we're going to be devoured by it. We need to understand that these people do not share our view of liberty and individuality. They reject the Declaration of Independence, which talks about unalienable rights
RUSH: Who are these people?
LEVIN: These people are what I call the statists. They are not liberals because liberal in the classical sense is the opposite of authoritarian, and I refuse to allow them to steal the language and use the language to attack us. You even hear Obama talking about "investments." These aren't investments. It's nationalizing the private sector. It's massively increasing taxes to confiscatory levels. We have to deny them the distortion of the language and speak the truth -- and, look, here's the problem. They have abandoned the principles of the founding. Conservatism represents the founding principles. That's who we are. We embrace the Declaration of Independence. We revere the Constitution of the United States. They try to evade the Constitution and undermine it and construct something that's expedient, that advances their political agenda, which we cringe at. We need to understand who these people are, but, frankly, I started writing this book because we need to understand who we are, that we need to have confidence. Because we have some people teaching the abandonment of conservatism or trying to rewrite conservatism or trying to create some weird hybrid, and I'd just as soon stick with Edmund Burke and Hamilton and Jefferson and Madison because I happen to think they're smarter than these people.
RUSH: Well, I'm going to get into the internecine conflicts in the Republican Party, the conservative movement in due course in our discussion here. But what I gather from what you're saying is, the motivations of these people really aren't necessary, all we have to do and understand is that we gotta beat them.
LEVIN: Well, we needed to understand that their motivations are not good, that they're destructive. I talk about the civil society, as have others in the past. The civil society is what we call organized liberty or the social compact, and there are various elements to it, and this is the heart of conservatism. You know, that man has a spirit, that each man and woman is unique, that we have duty to promote our unalienable rights and to protect them, that we have a duty to our families and ourselves, to take care of ourselves, to contribute to charity, that we have a duty to support a just and righteous law that is stable and predictable. And I go into some of these things and what the statist does is, they believe in human experimentation. I'm not talking about Mengele here, I'm talking about society and turning it on its head, and this is why Edmund Burke was so crucial.
He explained the difference between change is reform, which is what we conservatives believe in, reform that promotes and preserves the civil society, and change is radical innovation that destroys the civil society, that destroys the culture. And this is what we are fighting off. So people say we always say no. You're damn right we say no to destroying this society! But we have a lot of yeses to say, too, about liberty and free enterprise and all the other things that are one linked to the other -- and if I might make a footnote, too. I keep hearing, "Well, there's the social conservatives, the free market conservatives, and the national security conservatives." No, there are not. In a civil society you must have a moral order. Right versus wrong, good versus evil, just versus unjust, and means versus ends. They're not the same thing, and when we talk about moral order, you must have a moral order to have a rule of law, for the free market to work, to advance national security. There are not three branches to conservatism; there is Conservatism.
RUSH: And it doesn't need to be refined or reformed. It doesn't need to be remade or rebuilt.
LEVIN: Well, why would we surrender our core principles that have served this nation so well, that have served humanity so well? I mean, Americans have contributed so enormous to mankind. Why would we surrender those principles to these politicians who are only in office on a temporary basis, who are advancing their own political careers and their fairly radical agenda? Why would we make peace with people, make peace with such philosophy? Why wouldn't we take our case -- be confident in our case and take it -- to the American people? We can link it to current events, we can promote policies through it, but we can't promote policies that are not based on sound philosophy.
RUSH: You mention a lot about the founding and you quote John Adams frequently in the book. One of the quotes that I like from John Adams -- and I'm paraphrasing this, but -- he said that the Founders had written the Constitution for a religious and a moral people, that the document wouldn't work for people outside those realms. So is it safe to say that those who oppose the Constitution are afraid of it, they don't like the concept of morality, they don't like the concept of a natural order of things, natural law, this kind of thing?
LEVIN: This is a great point. First of all, let's go to the Declaration first. The Founding Fathers created a society, and that's what they created in the Declaration of Independence, founded on natural law, divine providence, God-given natural law, alien rights. The only thing that makes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unalienable is the belief in a Creator, not the belief in man or some government. Man and government can't, in the end, confer these rights or legitimately deny them. This is a huge difference we have with the statists, whether the modern statists or past statists. They believe rights are something to be rationed. If you agree with them, they give you rights. If you don't agree with them, they take rights away. They believe that they're all-powerful. We don't. We believe they're earthly.
This is a huge difference between us and the statists. When you watch Obama doing his press conferences or Pelosi, these people sound like they're God! I mean, they think they're God. "We're going to do this," and they also exploit something. Man is imperfect. Every religion will tell you that man is imperfect. So man's institutions aren't perfect, and what the statist does is he exploits that. He tries to create this phony notion of a utopian state where, if you'll surrender your will, surrender your liberty, surrender your property -- more and more of it over time, to them -- they will make the impossible possible, the unequal equal. And what they really will do is destroy your humanity, because they're not about humanity; they're about government. And that's why we need to call them statists.
RUSH: Now, okay, let's talk. But the statists and their voters. I've always thought they're two different people. You've got the Obamas and the Pelosis, the Barney Franks, all the Washington statist elite, if you will -- and the statehouse, all the states, statist elites. But let's look at their voters. How many of their voters -- how many of the people who are fully enraged and angry on their fringe blogs, how many of them -- are actually of the same belief that the leaders of this statism are, in belief of it, or how many are just sheep? And therefore if they're sheep -- if they're not as committed and they don't understand, really, what they're voting for and what it leads to -- are they salvageable?

LEVIN: You know, many of them are what I call malcontents. They're victims. They think they are. They always have agreements. They don't look inside. They don't analyze their own lives. I write about this, too. They don't take responsibility for their own situations. They don't know how because they refuse to look beyond their own situations. They don't know how to prosper in the freest, most generous, most benevolent society ever established on the face of the earth. And so they feel the rest of us shouldn't survive or can't survive in a similar society. They're the malcontents. They're what I call the drones, what de Tocqueville referred to as -- my phrase -- these drone-like characteristics where more and more of them surrender their independence, their human sensibilities to the state. They want to be told what to do. And then there's the elitist side of this.
It's academia where you have professors and teachers who get a sinecure from the government, and what are they doing? Well, not everyone. I'm talking about the rule, not the exception. They are promoting this quiet counterrevolution in the classroom against the civil society, against our country, same thing with Hollywood, here you have people who luxuriate in the most magnificent society on the face of earth. They have fame; they have fortune. Nobody bothers them. They can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and yet they act as if they're revolutionaries, when in fact they're not. And they have enormous influence in the political process because of their wealth and their ability to contribute and affect the media. Are they salvageable? Well, we won't know if we don't try our way. If we keep doing these half measures and create clutter and doubting ourselves rather than have confidence and articulate our positions and do it with our friends and neighbors and in our neighborhoods, well, we'll never know if we can reach these people.

RUSH: So it makes no sense to you, in a political sense, let's say the Republican Party is the home of conservatism, just theoretically or hypothetically for a moment. It makes no sense to you to accept publicly some of their premises so as to attract them and then when we get them, start to work on them to change their minds?
LEVIN: No. What we need to do is challenge the language and the content of what the statist does. And the statist is extremely manipulative, and they will deceive. You can see they're politicians. They deceive, and they want to buy votes, they'll change their positions on a dime because, really, they march at a relatively standard pace. Right now they're marching faster than in the past. But they're incremental and persistent and they have their goals in mind. And too often we conservatives are fighting with each other, over, "Well, should we do this? Should we do that?" In other words, we're tweaking on the edges. We're debating over nonsense. We're allowing people who claim to be conservative to demoralize conservatives.
We have nothing to be demoralized about. Let me tell you something. You said it a hundred thousand times. This is the greatest nation on the face of earth, and we cheerlead for it, and they attack it. We love this society. We love the Declaration. We love the Constitution. We love what it's brought forth. We love the capitalist system with its imperfections. Of course it has imperfections, and that's the capitalist system itself, deals with that. The other side wakes up in the morning on the attack. They reject the Constitution and evade it day in and day out. They reject the founding principles and evade them day in and day out. They want to recreate our society, and that is what we're up against
RUSH: Mark Levin, the author of Liberty and Tyranny, is our guest here, and we will continue our discussion right after this obscene profit time-out here on the EIB Network.
RUSH: We are back with Mark Levin, who, by the way, is the host, as many of you know, of his own radio talk show, syndicated nationally. We have the same flagship station, WABC AM 77 in New York. Mark, you'll get a kick out of this, I checked my e-mail during the break and I just found this note. Subject line: "'Interview awesome.' I was stopped at a stoplight when it began, I saw a friend who I know to be conservative, I rolled down the window and I yelled at her, I said, 'Turn on the radio.' She said, 'I already am.' I just ordered four copies of Levin's book."
LEVIN: Oh, wow. That's terrific.
RUSH: Well, this is a best-seller. You know, a lot of people are going to credit the wrong things for the success of this book, such as its publicity. You can't get where you're going to get without publicity here, but it's the book itself. There is a hunger for this in a concise way. Folks, this is not a large book, it's 256 pages, but it's not large. It's a book that's jam-packed. This has the answer for everything you've asked yourself about yourself, and why you believe what you believe, and it also has at the end -- we'll talk about this when we get closer to it -- a modicum of steps that people can take. Now, Mark, I'm serious about this question. I happened to just coincidentally run across Barry Goldwater's book The Conscience of a Conservative.
LEVIN: Yeah.
RUSH: I read it, parts of it, and of course everything in it, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know, I know. And then I recall that we had Ronald Reagan for two terms, landslide majorities, and then I recall that we elected the House of Representatives, Republican control, 1994, largely on a conservative Contract with America. Here's Goldwater's book, here's your book, here's all of these real life experiences -- Reagan. Why do we have to keep re-teaching this? Why is it that people who read this stuff 30 years ago, 40 years ago, vote for it 20 years ago, can be so easily turned against it?
LEVIN: Because tyranny is persistent. Tyranny has existed since the beginning of man. Liberty takes people to be resolute, it takes some thinking, it takes some proper education and understanding, and it takes competence. Tyranny takes brute force and emotion and propaganda, and so it is we who have to be resolute.
RUSH: If freedom is the natural yearning of the human spirit as endowed by Our Creator, as you said earlier, why does it take work?
LEVIN: Because tyranny is something -- you know, not everybody wants to promote liberty for everybody. I want to read you the back, and this will answer it, Abraham Lincoln's quote on the back of the cover of the book.
RUSH: Okay, can you do it in one minute?
LEVIN: I can do it in one minute. I found this right after I started the book. "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." The slave owner thought he was promoting liberty, theoretically, but he wasn't. He was a tyrant. And let me tell you something, those people who want to enslave us today by small steps and a thousand different regulations and taxes, they're following the root of a soft tyranny. That's what de Tocqueville called it and de Tocqueville was right.
RUSH: Mark Levin is with us, and we've gotta take another EIB obscene profit time-out here in mere seconds, but again the title of the book is Liberty and Tyranny, and we've got much more to discuss here, we'll do it after this brief time-out. Sit tight. Back before you know it.
RUSH: We're back with our remaining moments with Mark Levin, the author of the book, Liberty and Tyranny. And, if the bookstore is sold out, fear not, there are more being printed. The book is exceeding all expectations except mine.
LEVIN: (chuckles)
RUSH: Quick question here. You were just talking. You were just quoting Lincoln on the word liberty and how it can be defined in a bunch of different ways. Let's relate this to something happening right before our very eyes at this very moment. Liberals today, from the Obama administration on down, are easily and successfully confusing liberty with greed and greediness. Libs think that men exchanging goods and services freely for greed-on market prices, is greed -- and it is not. It is liberty. In fact, it is the liberals, the left -- the statists, as you call them -- who are practicing greed today, printing their own money, bankrupting the country, spending other people's money for their causes. So how do we arrive at this moment where the exercise of market-economic liberty is considered greed?
LEVIN: Well, first of all, people need to understand that the greed comes from government. The government wants to take 60%, 70% of what you earn at all levels of government, and it hasn't earned a thing. So here's the way we need to understand it. Labor. Labor is the time you spend working, whether it's an intellectual pursuit or a hands-on type pursuit. You have a finite amount of time on earth. So this is precious time. This is your liberty, your time that you're spending to earn this income. So when somebody says that you've earned too much after working as you have using all your abilities to do what you do, to create a comfortable living for yourself, and somebody in the government tells you, "Well, that's not good enough" -- and they want to take your money not for the legitimate purposes of government, as stated in the Constitution, but to redistribute wealth or some other outrageous Marxist-type theory, socialist-type theory -- they are stealing literally time out of your life, your liberty that you spent earning this money, earning this private property legitimately. We need to explain that the free market is the most transformative of economic systems, and it fosters creativity and inventiveness. It produces all these industries and products and services that the statist wants to control and tax. The statist creates nothing. The food Obama has was created by capitalism. The suit that he wears when he does these press conferences, he can thank capitalism, not a single bureaucrat. The car that he drives or that's driven for him -- the helicopter, the jet he takes -- all of it is a creation of capitalism.
RUSH: The teleprompter.
LEVIN: No government bureaucrat and no politician. You know, people need to look around, because liberty permeates. It's so broad, it's so wide that when you're born into it, a lot of times you don't recognize it and you think it's going to be here forever. Aspects of it will, but it's going to be severely curtailed if those who do not respect liberty and do not respect private property rights and do not respect the labor that somebody applies to a skill or whatever and earns his own money, that liberty is going to be severely diminished. Liberty is precious, and that is what we want to defend.
RUSH: Couple more things before our time "perspires."
RUSH: The internecine battles in the conservative movement now for primacy, supremacy, leadership, and so forth, as I look at this, I see it as a problem we first have to deal with before we even take on the statists, because we've got several on our side who are siding with the statists, at least on the basis of accepting some of their premises and then affecting them on the margins, on the corner, and all of these people love to call themselves moderates. Now, Mark, the one thing about this is you'll never find, as I've said, are books in the library, "Great Moderates in American History." And one of the reasons is, they're not passionate. They are not passionate in beliefs, and they do not advance ideas. The only time these moderate so-called conservatives -- and we don't need to mention names here 'cause it's not necessary. Everybody knows who they are. The most passionate they get is when attacking the traditional conservatives that you have described today and in your book. Where's this going?
LEVIN: The truth is, the truth is, they're largely irrelevant. Most of the people don't know who they are. They write in liberal publications. They write for themselves; they speak to themselves. They have not had an impact. But they're not only abandoning the only principles by which our society can exist as free and secure and prosperous, but they're urging others to abandon them, too. So to the extent that people listen to them -- or, frankly, that we bring them up -- they are demoralizing and petty at a time when we must understand and embrace conservatism. What I try to do in this book, when I took on the task of writing it, is, "I don't want a superficial talking point book." I started from the beginning. I went back to some of the great classics and philosophers, and I questioned myself. "Why am I conservative? Why do I believe these things? Who are we? Why does the statist not believe what we believe? Why is he so cynical and destructive of our society, and what can we do about it?" So I find these folks that want to surrender or abandon our principles or come up with some weird hybrids and so forth, and I find them to be clutter, for the most part, and frankly irrelevant to the grassroots.

RUSH: All right, the last chapter, the epilogue, is entitled, "A Conservative Manifesto." I'm going to ask you what I always get when explaining these things to people, "Okay, what can I do as an average citizen? Beyond vote, what can I do?
LEVIN: The first thing you can do, the question I always get is, "What can we do?" The first thing you can do is stop saying "we" and say "I." What you can say is a hell of a lot. If you're a grandparent talk to your grandchildren, if you're a parent, talk to your children. You need to educate them and inform them. The fact that most of your kids and mine go to these government schools doesn't mean you don't have a role in their lives. You have the most prominent and important role of anybody. Teach them these principles, understand them. Be confident. Teach them the confidence and you should have the confidence to talk to your neighbors or at a social event or a grocery store. You have these kids when they go to sleep, when they wake up, when they're eating dinner, when you're taking them to the mall or to a movie or to see a friend. We are a bigger army of advocates than ACORN can ever be. We are a bigger army of advocates than any other army out there. If each of us were to use our intelligence and use our ability to articulate these principles -- which I hope I will help to promote here -- they cannot stop us.


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