Match the Passage to the Book
By Arnold Kling
Below are passages taken from the introductory material to two books. Your job is to match the passages with the books. The two books are:
A. Ameritopia, a best-seller by talk-show host Mark Levin.
B. Why Capitalism?, by distinguished monetary historian Allan Meltzer.
Answers below the fold.
the heart of the problem is, in fact, utopianism. Utopianism is the ideological and doctrinal foundation for statism.
Alternatives to capitalism, whether socialism, communism, fascism, or some religious orthodoxies, offer some group’s utopian vision of mankind that becomes the one “right path.” Utopian visions and orthodoxies always bring enforcement, brutal enforcement.
Capitalism is not a perfect solution to human problems. Perfect solutions are utopian; capitalism is a human institution that works with humans as they are. I share the view strongly taken by early Christianity that Immanuel Kant expressed very well. People are not perfect;
Utopianism has long promoted the idea of a pardisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo “ideal” societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide for all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual
I chose those books and passages–using the original words of certain classical philosophical works…Plato’s Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, and Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto are indispensable in understanding the nature of utopianism.
I also contrast the utopian societies created by these writings with the enlightened thinking of philosophical pioneers john Locke and Charles de Montesquieu
Long ago John Locke recognized that collective action is the efficient response to some social problems.
Unlike its alternatives, capitalism does not take a utopian view of economic organization or replace man’s choices with a legal command that someone’s idea of perfection be implemented.
Socialism and other utopian systems are more rigid. They represent someone’s belief in the aims of a stated ideal that certain “good people” embrace–if movies are too violent, then they must change; if television is too banal, it must be improved.
It is my hope that, in some small way, this book will contribute to a broader awakening of the citizenry and the reaffirmation and reestablishment of the principles that secure and nurture individual liberty
Political utopianism is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even pardisiacal governing ideology…The fantasies take the form of grand social plans or experiments, the impracticability and impossibility of which, in small ways and large, lead to the individual’s subjugation.
Socialism seeks to restrict choices only to those that officials will permit…capitalism does not seek utopia but lets markets accomodate individual differences, leaving most decisions to individuals
Karl Popper, a philosopher who eloquently deconstructed the false assumptions and scientific claims of utopianism, arguing it is totalitarian in form and substance…
James Madison believed that competing churches would prove stronger than an established state church–because each would appeal to its members and try to attract others. Time proved Madison right.
The critics of capitalism always decry “greed” and “self-interest” and invoke “social justice” and “fairness.” Socialism, Communism, or authoritarianism are generally proposed as an alternative, yet these systems have persisted mainly under police states. This is not accidental. Orthodoxy must be enforced on the unwilling.
Utopianism also attempts to shape and dominate the individual…making him indistinguishable from the multitudes that form what is commonly referred to as “the masses,”
equality should not be confused with perfection, for man is also imperfect, making his application of equality, even in the most just society, imperfect.
Libraries are full of books on utopia, and those that have been tried have either not survived or not flourished. The most common reason for failure is that one person’s or one group’s utopian ideal is unsatisfactory for others who live subject to its rules.
I could continue to quote passages that would give you difficulty guessing, but this post has gone on too long already. I do not claim that the books are identical in tone or substance. I have not finished either book, and I strongly suspect that the similarity declines considerably as one reads further. Still, I am surprised to see such overlap between a best-seller and book by an erudite economist.Answers: