Blaze Books Cheat Sheet
Author: Dinesh D’Souza
Blazing Fast Review: Bestselling author, filmmaker and perennial thorn in the president’s side, Dinesh D’Souza moves beyond his examination of President Obama’s background and philosophy and here looks at the progressive critique of America in and of itself under a critical light. D’Souza seeks to answer the question — on the left’s own terms — if based on history America truly is a colonialist, plundering, unjust, thieving empire. He does so by surveying the major episodes of history that inform the progressive worldview — such as the U.S. treatment of Native Americans, annexation of Mexican land, slavery, etc. — and asks if those at the bottom would have been better off had America ceased to exist. In so doing, he prepares the intellectual groundwork for what is sure to be a provocative movie of the same name, coming out July 2nd.
You will probably enjoy this book if…
– You admire ANDREW BREITBART or MELANIE PHILLIPS
– You are interested in subjects like POLITICS, ECONOMICS, or HISTORY
The Hard Sell: If you want to arm yourself in the ideological war of ideas against progressivism, Dinesh D’Souza’s book is an excellent place to begin. D’Souza skillfully walks the reader through progressive theory and tactics, examines the progressive narrative based on the real-world events that inform the progressive worldview, and ultimately argues that on the merits, this vision is not only intellectually dishonest but wrong. Moreover, progressivism hurts the very people it purports to help, and, unchecked, will lead to national suicide. Suicide is a choice however. D’Souza believes that by looking at the morality of the progressive ideology, and its empirical failures — by arguing that the underdog in society is aided most by liberty, capitalism and the Judeo-Christian system built by the Founders, and hurt most by the progressive ethos — the left can be defeated. In so doing, he hopes to enable Americans to rekindle a country they are fast losing, a loss that would be devastating for all of mankind.
Blaze Books Review
On the one hand, “America” talks about the big picture — that the nation’s economic dominance is waning, debt is exploding and position in the world is declining. As D’Souza puts it, quoting Irwin Seltzer, the American ethos under President Obama is “Omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.” On the other hand, McCarthy speaks to the micro example — the embodiment of the progressive philosophy and progressive tactics in President Obama — and the many high crimes and misdemeanors that he has committed.
But, as D’Souza would likely agree, President Obama is a mere symptom of the progressive worldview, what D’Souza calls the “spirit of 1968,” that has been bludgeoning the “spirit of 1776” in the war of ideas.
D’Souza’s “America” engages in this war by dissecting the narrative of the progressive left on their own terms. Like Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky, D’Souza looks at “history from below.” He asks two basic questions: (i) Were the perceived injustices perpetrated by America actually injustices? (ii) More importantly, were those “at the bottom” actually injured by such injustices, or were they ultimately beneficiaries (at times even the biggest beneficiaries) of American policy?
In order to build his case that the progressive worldview is in effect wrong, and that America’s overall decline is not an inevitability but a choice that requires defeating such a worldview and reasserting one based in individual liberty, property rights, free market capitalism and the Judeo-Christian ethic that backs such a system, he starts with theory and moves to practice.
The theory of D’Souza’s book is ironically enough framed by two Frenchmen: Alexis de Tocqueville and Michel Foucault. These figures embody the “spirit of 1776” and “spirit of 1968,” respectively. Here is how D’Souza describes the dichotomy exemplified between the two men:
“One side loves the America of Columbus and the Fourth of July, of innovation and work and the “animal spirit” of capitalism, of the Boy Scouts and parochial schools, of traditional families and flag-saluting veterans. The other side loves the America of tolerance and social entitlements, of income and wealth redistribution, of affirmative action and abortion, of feminism and gay marriage…
Tocqueville celebrated the spirit of 1776–a spirit of enterprise and voluntary organizations and religious freedom. Foucault celebrated the spirit of 1968–not freedom of enterprise or America as a force for freedom in the world, but rather pelvic freedom, freedom from traditional constraints.”
In other words, while Tocqueville loved the traditional American conception of liberty, based in Judeo-Christian morality, creating a basis for capitalism and a thriving civil society, Foucault came to love the system for the libertinism that it enabled and tolerated.
After walking us through the 1960s to explain how it was that the “spirit of 1968” had grown so strong and sown the seeds of progressive destruction now blooming in the form of President Obama (and much of the rest of the political apparatus), D’Souza walks us through the tactics used to enshrine this system and “re-make” America in the progressive mold: the Alinsky plan.
In this section, D’Souza comes to a revelation that has heretofore been missed by everyone as far as I can see. Saul Alinsky dedicated “Rules for Radicals” to Lucifer. D’Souza believes that there is a far more substantive reason behind this than others have attributed to it. Based on D’Souza’s research of Lucifer as portrayed in “Paradise Lost” and throughout the Western canon, Lucifer’s strategy, outlined below, bookends perfectly with that of Alinsky:
“First, polarization. Satan is deeply alienated from God. He doesn’t seek to mend fences; he polarizes. He issues a declaration of war against God…Second–and this is rather ironic, coming from Lucifer–demonization…Satan demonizes God. How? by making God into a tyrant, the symbol of “the establishment…” Third, organization. Satan is a mobilizer of envy; he draws on the very quality that motivated the bad angels to rebel in the first place…Finally, deception, or what Satan calls “covert guile.” Satan knows he cannot defeat God by force; he has to rely on deceit and cunning.”
The practice in D’Souza’s book is comprised of the history of America as told through the progressive lens: that America unfairly stole the land of and barbarically ravaged the Native Americans, “occupied” Mexico vis-a-vis the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that America was founded in original sin due to slavery and owes reparations to the African-Americans who were enslaved, while is still woefully behind in fulfilling the dream of “Civil Rights,” and that on the whole, Americans “didn’t build that,” and capitalism is exploitative and unjust.
To review all of D’Souza’s arguments here would be exhaustive, nor would mere summaries do D’Souza’s work justice. But in each and every instance he turns the leftist arguments on their head and presents compelling evidence that the progressive view is intellectually dishonest, and ultimately fails when it comes to the question of whether the “oppressed” had it worse off or better off due to America’s political decisions and political framework.
This is NOT to say that D’Souza does not acknowledge America’s transgressions and injustices, but it is to say that he argues that the person at the bottom of the totem pole in each situation had it substantially better than the alternative or the status quo. And they certainly had it better than they would have had in any other country in the world at the given time in question.
At the risk of having simplified into a couple short paragraphs D’Souza’s nuanced and well-researched positions, I would urge you to read the book to see why I come to this thumbnail conclusion.
Dinesh D’Souza’s view as to why the progressives hold such a worldview is that it is a means to political power, justified by righting perceived wrongs. D’Souza writes:
“While posing as the pursuer of thieves, and the restorer of stolen goods, the government is actually the biggest thief of all. In fact, progressives have turned a large body of Americans–basically, Democratic voters–into accessories of theft by convincing them that they are doing something just and moral by picking their fellow citizens’ pockets.”
How have progressives been able to implement such a system so anathema to that of the Founders?
“[Progressives] have convinced people that they are fighting theft. If a greedy capitalist has looted your possessions, you would want the government to do something about it. An essential function of government is to bring thieves to justice and to restore stolen possessions to their rightful owners. If the progressive critique is valid, then it doesn’t matter if government does it inefficiently, since there is no one else to do the job: inefficient justice is better than no justice. Moreover, when we ask the police to go after bad guys and repossess their stolen goods, we aren’t concerned with whether we foster virtue among the “giver” and gratitude in the “receiver.” That’s because the giver isn’t really giving; he’s merely giving back, and the receiver has no cause for gratitude since he(or she) is merely being made whole. In this scenario, Americans who are sitting in the bandwagon have earned that right, and the people pulling are the thieves who deserve to be penalized and castigated. This is why I’ve devoted the bulk of this book to refuting the theft critique. If I’ve succeeded, then the whole progressive argument collapses and our federal government, far from being an instrument of justice, now becomes an instrument of plunder.”
“See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime…legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole — with their common aim of legal plunder — constitute socialism.
Most elegantly, D’Souza sums the immorality inherent in the progressive system up as follows: “They work, and you eat.”
And what is the end result of the implementation of such a philosophy?
The last chapter of D’Souza’s book is entitled “Decline is a Choice.” America can choose to continue down the progressive path, and with it the loss of our pre-eminence in the world, or instead turn back to first principles. What’s most chilling is that as D’Souza writes, the rest of the world is already talking “as if the West is finished; as he notes, educated non-Westerners use the stock phrase, “After America…” (incidentally the title of one of Mark Steyn’s books).
What is at stake in the final analysis is civilization, or at least Western civilization:
“The Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, and the Russians are all getting richer and stronger due to wealth creation. Yet the leaders of these countries, while they appreciate wealth creation as one way to gain power, have never given up on the conquest ethic as another way to gain power. In fact, they see wealth creation as a way to increase their military power; then that power can be deployed to acquire more wealth through conquest…we [Americans] no longer have the conquest ethic. But the Chinese do; they have never given it up. This is why the world still needs America. We remain the custodians of the idea that wealth should be obtained through invention and trade, not through forced seizure.”
D’Souza is optimistic as to what comes next, seeing this time of crisis as an opportunity for an American rebirth. He calls for us to seize this moment to restore the country to its rightful place as the leader of the free world: “this is our turn at the wheel, and history will judge us based on how we handle it. Decline is a choice, but so is liberty.” Only we the people can answer if we are up for the challenge.