Review of “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin

If this is the state of conservatism, let’s just make Barack Obama President-for-Life.


Mark Levin writes Liberty and Tyranny in ten chapters plus an epilogue. The chapters primarily dwell on the following themes:

  • A taxonomy of politics
  • The Judiciary
  • The Welfare State
  • Environmentalism
  • Immigration
  • National Defense and Security

One of these meta-chapters, on the Judiciary, is solid. Before his career as a talk show host, Levin was a lawyer, and his expertise here shows. Levin accurately and forcefully attacks the liberal establishment’s assault on the Constitutional framework of government, beginning with the Executive’s seizure of the rule-making and regulatory powers during the New Deal, and contuing through the increasingly activist left-wing judiciary that reached its height under Warren and Berger, and still lingers in too many courts today. The Judiciary’s activism has transformed it into an extra-legal standing constitutional convention, which deprives the the states and the other branches of their constitutional powers and also pre-empts the emergence of actual amendments that could serve to modernize the Constitution.

If Levin stopped here, and limited himself to an attack on the liberal ulema, Liberty and Tyranny would be a must-read book. Indeed, if he would expand this section to book length it would be incredibly useful for conservatives to understand how the Constitution is attacked and subverted.

Unfortunately, Levin does not stop there. The rest of the book conflates his attack on the unconstitutional means of this opponents with legitimate, social ends such opponents may have. He rhetorically divides politics into a two-sided debate between “Liberty” (his views) and “Tyranny” (views held by those who use extra-Constitutional means). This leads to some humorous contradictions, where seemingly anyone who believes the necessary and proper clause exists, or who believes that Article 1 Section 9 of the constitution prohibits a poll tax, are supporters of tyranny.

Another example if Levin’s trouble with math. He castigates supporters of Tyranny (who he calls Statists) for supporting the regulation of harmful chemicals, as many harmful chemicals have only a one-in-a-million chance of causing death each year. This, of course, would sum to something like 300 deaths per annum. However, he criticizes the CAFE standards, which he blames for 2000 extra deaths each year. By this logic, I would assume he supports the regulation of harmful chemicals, as long as at least 8-or-so are bannedm, so they can sum to the CAFE death level (which appears to be his criterea-for-being-a-national-concern).

Many other sections, such as that dealing with national security and defense, are simply non-sensical.

The weakness of Levin’s non-judicial sections, and the nonsensical divsion between Liberty and Tyranny that he pushes, is unfortunate, because his analysis of the judicial state of the United States is solid. Still, as it currently exists, this book should not be read. The America that Levin envisions is poorer, more dangerous, and less seecure than the country we currently live in.

If Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny represents Conservatism, then get me Barack Obama!

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18 thoughts on “Review of “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin
  1. “If Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny represents Conservatism, then get me Barack Obama!”

    Well, it has been on the NYT’s bestseller list for some time now. I guess one could reach two conclusions as to why.

    1. There are several objective people out there that are willing to read such material with the agenda of giving an equally objective analysis.

    2. There are several politically insecure people out there that are willing to grab on to any material that sounds as though it will reaffirm their previously held beliefs. After all, anything that has the word “manifesto” in the title must be even more reaffirming.

    Unfortunately, it is probably the later.

    BTW, could you expand on your criticism of his national security argument and give examples? I am just interested in what he said.

  2. How about…

    3. There are many politically secure people who are willing to grab material that elaborates on their previously held beliefs, and don’t think critically about such elaborations?


    As to national security… Levin centers on Obama’s April 2007 foreign policy speech. This is around page 183 in the book, though National Review previously covered it. [1] To give you a flavor, at one point Obama says that

    In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well. Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

    Levin’s response, among others, is that our security is not inextricably linked with the security of people who want to kill us, thus, Obama is nonsensical.

    In other words, Levin is playing brain-dead.
    Levin cannot be this stupid on accident. It must be on purpose.


  3. I don’t know what you were expecting? The work of the talk show conservatives are not to write material for Phd candidate consumption. People like Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, Levin, etc are intended for working and middle class whites who want more political information than the average couch potato but who are still followers at heart. Remember that 95% of the population doesn’t have the capability, time, nor desire to remain informed.

    The big “fight” between Left and Right in America is theater for an ignorant public. If the real power in America wants something, they’re going to get it. The REAL power in America wanted a war in Iraq and the “liberal” NY Times helped them get it. The REAL power in America wants open borders and “Right Wing” President Bush still called the Minutemen “vigilantes.”

    My advice to everyone is make yourself useful to the REAL power in America by helping them increase their power.

  4. A close friend strongly and repeatedly recommended the book for me, and even (after I purchased it from Audible, but before telling him this) got me a copy of it.

    In a way, Levin is a mirror-image of Rachel Maddow, who is grounded when it comes to most security matters, and a wingnut on all others.

    The big “fight” between Left and Right in America is theater for an ignorant public.

    Well said.

  5. “Levin cannot be this stupid on accident. It must be on purpose.”

    Robin: So, you mean that Mark Levin is an in-the-closet liberal trying to make conservatives look bad?

    Batman: Yeah, just like Ann Coulter, among others.


  6. Slitshock,

    Clearly we have different intellectual standards.


    Yes, but more likely, a really good constitutional conservative who is clueless about the rest of the philosophy.

  7. I am actually reading this book and I’m almost finished with it and I can’t agree more with you. My Conservative friend gave it to me to read cause he felt it was insightful to someone who is “Liberal” leaning.

    If this is the attempt at a conservative manifesto, I am not impressed. The book itself is a clear example that one’s reality is not true for others; hence the subjectivity and ambiguity of truth.

    In many chapters he uses comparison to define the Neo-Conservative by bashing the so called “Left”/”Liberal”/”Statist” by claiming how terrible they are and how he and his affiliation are the only ones who understand how government, economics, and society works.

  8. Austin,

    We are on the same page.

    Mark Levin may be effective at rhetoric, but he is not in outlining a political philosophy. “A Future Perfect” [1] is a much better description of what Levin might call “liberty”. Future Perfect is also written by two writers of The Economist, which should tell you something about its quality.

    (Plus the used price is only 1 cent! — though I listened to it in an audio format which appears to be hard to locate…)


  9. Hello tdaxp,

    When you say that Mark’s assertion that Conservatives know how Gub’mint works and Lefties do not, is false, please tell me what the Lefties know about Gub’mint that is true, and what they are doing now that is working, eh?
    Kash for Klunkers? They ran out of money in two weeks and have paid only 5 percent of the dealers?
    And did not tell anyone that the rebates are taxable.
    Since he has actually worked in Gub’mint and you presumably have not, you would know that 90% of what Gum’mint spends money is not Constitutionally valid. When he says that, you apparently disagree with as you believe the opposite.
    Just one question, do you ever wake up and say that we have enough Gub’mint or do you say we need more?
    I say we not only have enough, but we should do with less.

  10. Rockribbedconservative, I assume your comment is sarcasm, but I can’t tell if it’s to further a left-wing or right-wing agenda.

  11. I have to say that I cannot agree with this review more. One of my family members bought this for me and, out of love of my family, I read it. It was painful for me. To give you all a gem I found that particularly bothered me, he said that animals are stronger, faster, and more cunning than us; what makes us superior is property.

    Anyone whose owned two animals of the same species/gender (whether they be dogs, lizards, cats, monkeys, etc.) can safely say that animals have a very developed sense of property and can be quite fierce (to the point of ruthlessly hunting down another pet through the house) in protecting it.

    Also, last time I checked it was our superior brain power that made us victorious…

  12. Mark Levin is brilliant. Any disagreement you may have with him leads me to believe that you just don’t get it. He’s not going to slown down enough for liberals to shake the cross-eyed look off their faces.
    Go watch David Letterman and stick with your own kind.

  13. No comment Nazi, merely the Akismet spam filter’s “to be moderated” queue 😉

    Levin’s rhetoric may make enjoyable radio, and I agree they are similar to a lot of what I hear on the airwaves. They are not a sound argument, however, hence my surprise at the degree to which talk about this book has spread.

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