Mark Levin is a rabid right wing radio talk show host. Because I at least scan about any title with the word progressivism in it, I viewed his latest book Rediscovering Americanism: and the Tyranny of Progressivism and was pleasantly surprised at the depth of his topic. His study of the origin of natural rights, his survey of the philosophers like Montesquieu who influenced the founders and framers, and his review of the changes in our fundamental governing ideas that came with progressivism make this a very worthy read. Its depth is surprising and at least for me required a slow reading.
Kevin Williamson at National Review wrote an excellent review in Rediscovering Austrianism and focused further on Levin’s distinction between our constitutional heritage and progressivism:
Levin quotes Hayek at length on this:
The unwillingness to tolerate or respect any social forces which are not recognizable as the product of intelligent design, which is so important a cause of the present desire for comprehensive economic planning is indeed only one aspect of a more general movement. We meet the same tendency in the field of morals and conventions, in the desire to substitute an artificial for the existing languages, and in the whole modern attitude toward processes which govern the growth of knowledge. The belief that only a synthetic system of morals, an artificial language, or even an artificial society can be justified in an age of science, as well as the increasing unwillingness to bow before any moral rules whose utility is not rationally demonstrated, or to conform with conventions whose rationale is not known, are all manifestations of the same basic view which wants all social activity to be recognizably part of a single coherent plan. They are the results of the same rationalistic “individualism” which wants to see in everything the product of conscious individual reason. They are certainly not, however, a result of true individualism and may even make the working of a free and truly individualistic system difficult or impossible. Indeed, the great lesson which the individualist philosophy teaches us on this score is that, while it may not be difficult to destroy the spontaneous formations which are the indispensable bases of a free civilization, it may be beyond our power to reconstruct such a civilization once these foundations are destroyed.
(Hayek’s remarks about “artificial language” may seem odd to the modern reader unfamiliar with the Progressive Era political mania for things like Esperanto or the Communist project of “rationalizing” language, hilariously and terrifyingly parodied by Vaclav Havel in his play The Memorandum. But what is the modern project of political correctness if not the creation of an artificial language within English for the purpose of writing politics into the very tool of thought itself? E.g., the biological realities that bedevil women pretending to be men are recast as the curious case of “men who menstruate.” The more things change. . . . )