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Mark Levin’s American Marxism: Worse Than Worthless

Summary:
Authortarians in the United States are currently competing to see who can publish the most stupid book. Mark Levin is a strong contender. Much more drivel exists in the book under review in this post than described here. Levin goes on about selected philosophers in odd ways. I haven't seen others point out his curious grouping of Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx. They supposedly "argue for the individual's subjugation into a general will, or greater good, or bigger cause built on radical egalitarianism - that is, 'the collective good'" (p. 18). He has the usual misassignment of utopian schemes to Marx. I do not claim to understand Hegel, but I do not see why holding up the Prussia of his day is a matter of advocating egalitarianism. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, was

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Authortarians in the United States are currently competing to see who can publish the most stupid book. Mark Levin is a strong contender. Much more drivel exists in the book under review in this post than described here.

Levin goes on about selected philosophers in odd ways. I haven't seen others point out his curious grouping of Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx. They supposedly "argue for the individual's subjugation into a general will, or greater good, or bigger cause built on radical egalitarianism - that is, 'the collective good'" (p. 18). He has the usual misassignment of utopian schemes to Marx. I do not claim to understand Hegel, but I do not see why holding up the Prussia of his day is a matter of advocating egalitarianism.

The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, was originally published in the New York Times. Levin insults his readers by suggesting that the naivety of Walter Duranty, the Times Moscow bureau chief from 1922 to 1936, and Herbert Matthews 1950s' scoop interview with Fidel Castro are relevant to the validity of the 1619 project (pp. 110-111). This fallacy is called poisoning the well. But what does the 1619 project have to do with Karl Marx?

Levin is big on arguing strawpersons. He tells us that Marx does not appreciate the industrial revolution and "the technological and other advances" with which "capitalism has created unimaginable and unparalleled wealth for more people in all walks of life than any other economic system" (p. 4). "Longer workdays do not ensure wealth creation or growth" (p. 4). Levin is probably incapable of reading volume 1 of Capital or even noting the existence of part IV, on the production of relative surplus value. Finally, in arguing against supposed Marxist environmentalists, who critize Marx for emphasizing economic growth, he manages to quote (p. 157) Marx's praise for the bourgeois from The Communist Manifesto near where Marx writes "All that is solid melts into air."

Despite the above, Levin has very little to say about Marxism. Some of his rants are quite curious. A 1909 book by Herbert Croly, an author associated with the founding of The New Republic, provokes a numbe of pages (pp. 45-48). He is curiously obsessed with John Dewey's impact (p. 54 and p. 204) on education. Levin goes on about (pp. 32-39) a 1966 essay in the Nation, by Francis Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward. I happen to recognize Piven and Cloward, but what this has to do with Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Critical Race Theory, or whatever else is unexplained.

Levin quotes Ayn Rand (pp. 153-158) and George Reisman as 'experts' when denying global warming. But let me turn from inappropriate arguments from authority back to strawpersoning. As others have noted, much of this book is long chunks of quotations from others. Sometimes he even manages to find somebody on his side who is worth studying. (I would not cite Hayek's The Fatal Conceit too much myself, given disputes about its authorship.) So he has many long passages from various academics. Although these passages are often long-winded academic prose with many polysyllabic passages, they are usually quite reasonable. Levin will then have a short passage supposedly saying what they say in other words. Rarely does his rephrasing have much basis in the quoted text. Sometimes it is a complete non sequitur.

But maybe Levin is just illiterate and can neither say what he means nor mean what he says.

"American Marxism exists, it is here and now, and indeed it is pervasive, and its multitude of hybrid but often interlocking movements are actively working to destroy our society and culture, and overthrow the country as we know it. Many of the individuals and groups who collectively make up this movement are unknown to most Americans, or operate in ways in which most Americans are unaware. Thus, this book is written to introduce you to a representative sample of them, some perhaps, more familiar than others, and to provide you with specific examples of their writings, ideas, and activities, so you can know of them and hear from them." (p. 12)

So he claims he is presenting a "representative sample of them", thus the strawpersons. This is supposedly a representative sample of "the individuals and groups who collectively make up this movement", where "the movement" is a "multitude of hybrid but often interlocking movements". Presumably, he took some care over this circular, vague, non-definition.

Here he says Critical Theory started in American universities in 1989:

"Indeed, in 1989, ... the seeds of a radical-fringe ideology, Critical Theory, which I discuss at length ..., and the unraveling of the existing society by weaponizing the culture against itself, began their early bloom throughout the American landscape, but with little public notice." (pp. 43-44)

Others have noted that Levin cannot even get his Nazi conspiracy theories right. As near as I can parse this non-sentence, Levin here says that higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are highly relevant for the degrowth movement (that is, the belief in their irrelevancy is expendable):

"Inasmuch as the purpose of this movement is to regress back to nature and a mere subsistence economy, where the communal psyche is anti-growth, anti-technology, anti-science, and anti-modernity, ironically the irrelevancy of higher education, graduate studies, and doctoral degrees, and the colleges and faculties themselves, particulary in the teaching of hard sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, are expendable." (p. 158)

This book fails at the level of the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter, and overall. It has no index.

Ignorance, incoherency, disdain for his reader - on which criteria is Levin the greatest?

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