books book reviews

More Political Books

reviewed by T. Nelson


Plunder and Deceit:
Big Government's Exploitation of Young People and the Future

by Mark R. Levin
Threshold Editions, 2015, 244 pages

I admit I haven't read Mark Levin's previous books, but I heard so much prepublication praise about this one that I ordered it. It's meant to be read by young people—we oldies already know all this stuff. It's not a rant, either, but full of numbers, facts, and quotes from guys kids have never heard of, like Jefferson, Madison, and John Locke.

As such, if you can get 'em to read it, it's great. But it starts out like this on page 21:

“The rising generation must question, confront, and civilly resist the real authoritarianism that endangers its future and the quality of life of those not yet born, whether preached in the classroom, popularized through entertainment, or idealized by demagogic politicians. Their well-being as a free, self-sufficient, and thriving people is at stake.”

Now, we know they must do that, but saying so is like telling teenagers they must clean up their room—it turns leaving a pile of clothes on the floor into an act of rebellion. In the very next paragraph he asks the most important question in the whole book: “Do younger people wish to be free and prosperous?”

Trigger warning His answer is yes. But I'm not so sure. When I talk to them and read their Tweets, I get the impression they don't much care whether they're free or not. They happily upload their personal data to Google and Facebook, knowing it goes straight to the government. They happily fill out those forms in the doctor's waiting room saying they don't have a firearm and then check the box saying it's okay to share this information with anybody who wants it. And, of course, young people, and especially young women, turned out in droves to vote for Obama because he was, in their eyes, one of them.

Not having freedom is normal to them because unlike us old geezers they never really had it. They just think we're out of touch.

But maybe they're smarter than we give them credit for. Young people don't save enough, says Levin. But why is this a problem? Debt is good if there's inflation, and we all know the government loves inflation, which is why we always have it. Young people picked up on that.

Student loans are another example. Student debt is ginormous. But I defy you to show me one kid who doesn't believe the Feds are going to “forgive” all the student debt. If that happens the ones who struggled and worked to pay in cash would just feel like chumps. And they would be chumps.

Here are the issues that Levin says will hurt the Millennials:

Conservatives have been talking about these issues for years, but Millennials haven't gotten the message.

The question is: will Levin's tone resonate with them? When talking to young people, it's often more effective to give concrete, specific examples rather than soaring abstractions. I suspect that by the time Millennials figure out what's meant by ‘a steady transition toward statism’ it may be too late.

Here is a concrete example of a concrete example:

“Little unemployed Julio huddled against the cold in her little cardboard shack. He looked out over the bleak, polluted landscape, hoping the government would send her some money. But his Social Security had been destroyed by greedy capitalists, so no check was coming to her. His free gender change operation was scheduled for her for next week by the kind lady down at the government-run health center, but he or she was too hungry to think. She or he took another bite from his or her dead rat, which had once been her or his beloved pet, and he or she vowed someday to get revenge on those Republicans.”

That's what Millennials are used to reading. Instead Levin gives them this (p. 181):

“The consolidation of power, a mortal threat to the individual and liberty, is now the primary object of government.”

Again, this is true, and well said, but why are the individual and liberty important? I'm not at all sure young people know. Mark R. Levin's hope is that when presented with the brute facts that Social Security isn't coming, the terrorists are here, and youth unemployment is trending up, they'll want to do something about it. He calls for them to start a New Civil Rights movement to get their liberty back. But if the economic and sociological pressures push them the other way, it's asking an awful lot for a kid to buck that.

Mark Levin (and the rest of us) are hoping they'll wake up and realize they're being cheated before it's too late. Maybe the best way to get them to read this book would have been to plaster the cover with Trigger Warnings. Then they'll have to read it.

aug 08, 2015; updated aug 10, 2015


The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam

by Douglas Murray
Bloomsbury, 2017, 343 pages

It is now certain, says Douglas Murray, that within the lifetimes of most of us, Western Europe as we know it will cease to exist. As Mark Steyn put it way back in 2006, the only question for Europe is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be.

Americans tried warning Europeans after 9/11. We tried insulting them. We tried ridiculing them. Nothing worked. Those few Europeans who dared to speak out, like the great Oriana Fallaci, were either ignored or shoved aside. Europe seems bound and determined to commit suicide. In America, criticism of it has been muted, partly because many on the right have largely given up on Europe, and partly because the establishment right has been discredited by their views on our own immigrant problem.

Anyway, we're told, maybe we should just accept it. Much of Europe's history consists of barbarian tribes migrating east to west and pushing the previous tribes into the Atlantic. Present-day Germans call these waves the Völkerwanderung. If the Europeans want to repeat that, by what right do we interfere?

Douglas Murray, a Brit, has to tread carefully: the establishment and press will happily call anyone who speaks out a racist. But maybe he speaks for those who are waking up to the fact, now that it's too late to do much about it, that there might be a problem. If the critics are right, European values, culture, and language are fated to be swept away, their cathedrals replaced by minarets as the people are replaced by immigrants.

The establishment and press, of course, deny that could ever happen. They have their arguments: immigration is good because it promotes “diversity,” which is good because opposition to it is racist. What are Murray's arguments? If the European left is anything like ours, many of them hate their continent, its people, and its accomplishments. How can one argue that something your opponent hates should be preserved?

Murray reports on the consequences of the uncontrolled immigration: unemployment, terrorism, the mass rapes of 1400 English girls by Muslims in Rotherham that the police and city council covered up out of fear of being called racist. The establishment manufactures fake statistics, lies to the people, and suppresses facts: the 2015 Cologne New Year's Eve sex attacks would never have been reported if not for the Internet. The price for defying the establishment can be high: Murray says that in 1993 the editor-in-chief of the Swedish newspaper Expressen was fired for reporting on an opinion poll saying that 63% of Swedes wanted immigrants to return to their home countries.

He describes, in picturesque terms, the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos in the Mediterranean, and the suffering the migrants endure. He visited those places and interviewed the migrants, so his writing is convincing. Where he talks about the Italian navy patrolling the sea, it might have been lifted from Camp of the Saints.

Murray also asks why Europe seems to have lost confidence in its own values. Western Europeans, he says, feel guilty for being Europeans. Unmoored from their foundational beliefs, they are spiritually empty.

But this book is no polemic against Islam. He doesn't take seriously the theory that what's happening is a hijra, a Muslim way of conquering by migration. But just acknowledging the issue is itself, for a European (which Murray calls himself), a step forward. By presenting both sides fairly and calmly, he raises hope that a solution can be found.

In the end he's forced to admit that it may be too late. Nobody criticizes the Japanese for blocking immigration, says Murray, but that is not Europe's way. And so Europe's leaders, perhaps thinking themselves noble but really just afraid of being called racist, will most likely continue to take in migrants regardless of what the people want, until there is no longer any Europe to take the migrants into, and no more pesky voters to complain about it. It is like a chemical reaction that, once ignited, continues until one of the reagents is used up.

So far it seems that many Europeans are cool with that. But if they believe they can just die comfortably in their beds, as one Italian parlimentarian reportedly admitted to George Weigel, well, I'm afraid that's not how it works.

july 09, 2017