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How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps is a book that argues America is lost. Americans cannot agree on what makes America special. In fact, Americans cannot even accept that America is special. A large part of this book is based on the idea of disintegrationists. These people view America as a society of competing oppressions. Ben Shapiro disagrees with these people and believes they are attacking the values upon which America was built. Ben then argues how America can become a cohesive nation again. Plus, he provides a warning of the destruction awaiting us if we don’t recover America’s union.
Ben Shapiro’s Perspective
Ben Shapiro is a conservative political commentator, media host, and attorney. At the age of 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated journalist in America. He is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and hosts a daily political podcast called The Ben Shapiro Show.
Why Ben Wrote This Book
Ben begins the book by describing a number of statistics that suggest America is more divided than ever. The red part of America is becoming redder and the blue part is becoming bluer. Here are some of the most important statistics he gives at the start of this book:
- 54% of Republicans believe that the Democratic Party is spiteful
- 61% of Democrats believe the Republican Party is racist, bigoted, or sexist
- Approximately 20% of both Republicans and Democrats consider the opposing part to be evil
- 70% of Democrats believe that Republicans are close-minded, while 52% of Republicans think the same of Democrats
The thing that makes America so fantastic is the individual rights it offers its citizens. The book states that America provides the most freedom of any country.
Defending Free-Market Capitalism
In the book, Ben offers counter-arguments to the arguments made by the left against America’s free-market capitalism. America is not a true ‘free market’. Crony capitalism and central state meddling have a significant impact on America. For example, Tesla can profit off pushes by the government towards using clean energy. The government is rigging the economy. It is rigging the economy to mostly benefit the coastal elites and industries.
Ben defends an even freer market. He points to how GDP has increased by 15,000% since the introduction of capitalism. Plus, technology has advanced at a rate unimaginable outside of a free-market capitalist economy.
People Should Stop Idolizing Nordic Countries as Successful Socialist Countries
Ben points out that countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway need to stop being used as examples of how socialism works. The Nordic countries are actually free-market economies. In fact, Denmark ranks higher than the United States on the Index of Economic Freedom. Sweden and Norway similarly rank very highly on these same indices. You can have market economies that are very generous socially. The Nordic countries are an example of this.
There are multiple reasons they don’t have to worry about being so generous:
- They have an external defense
- They have very small populations (the size of a major American city)
- They have homogeneity so much less crime
Disintegrationists and Unionists
One division in America at the moment is between disintegrationists and unionists.
Disintegrationists are eroding America’s shared sense of nation. They adhere to the idea that human nature is infinity malleable. Plus, they believe that equality before the law is just something to maintain power and benefits. Disintegrationists also argue that freedom of contracts is a problem and that exploitation is a feature of the system rather than a bug that can be stamped out.
This book outlines the fundamental features of disintegrationists:
- Intersectionality – Victimology and intersections of the different victim groups. This creates a hierarchy of victimhood
- Disparity as discrimination – Any disparity in any walk of life is seen as discriminatory
- Race should be considered more – Race should be more involved in the conversation than it currently is, not less involved. Race should be used to consider and evaluate how systems are working. Like the alt-right, these people want race to be involved more in the way we think, what we think, and how we make decisions
The infinitely malleable nature of humans means that governments are then blamed for racial inequality. It is the government’s fault for not shaping people to make them equal. This group of people believes that the government supplies rights rather than natural rights existing. Hence, they believe that the government can take rights away to make the system more equal. There is an emphasis on equality of outcome, not just equality of opportunity.
Disintegrationists want to create a positive right to things like housing and healthcare. However, the issue with this argument is that it ultimately has to impinge on another person’s rights. If you have a right to housing, you have to force somebody to build the houses. If you have a right to healthcare, you have to force somebody to provide that healthcare.
Disparities Automatically Equal Discrimination
Disintegrationists believe that a disparity means there is an injustice or discrimination. Plus, you need discrimination to create equality after. Basically, if there are inequalities, you have to discriminate against those who are ahead to make things equal. This also means that sometimes rights have to be destroyed in order to prevent misuse. A perfect example of this is the right to a firearm.
A government of Morals, Not Laws. A Government of Rights, Not Virtues
Disintegrationists want a government that manufactures moral people. They do not want a government who rationally creates laws. Instead, they want a government that creates morals and forces people to keep those morals.
The smallest minority is the individual. Therefore, the mob cannot infringe on the rights of the individual.
The Spirit of Adventure in America Must Be Quashed
One of the greatest strengths of America is its spirit of adventure. This ties in with the American Dream. The idea that we can be whatever we want to be. We all have equal rights and, if we work hard enough, we can make something of ourselves. This spirit has not wavered for centuries.
The captains of industry, small business people, investors, and engineers have been the explorers and students of America. They laid the foundation for a spirit of adventure. Because of this, anybody who left home to pursue a dream, or took a risk to build a better life, were being motivated by a spirit of adventure.
Despite this, the disintegrationist view aims to quash this spirit. They see this spirit of adventure as dangerous. They believe that this spirit is a threat to a cohesive, government-organized society that they strive for. Additionally, they hold the view that entrepreneurs are a threat to society. Entrepreneurs disrupt the ‘fair’ order of things and that entrepreneurialism is actually the source of inequality and brutality in society. They believe billionaires are villains. Based on this, disintegrationists want to dampen the spirit of Americans.
The burden of proof has shifted away from the government having to prove that they are allowed to remove a right. Now, an individual has to prove that they should have that right. The idea of natural rights is eroding. The shift is saying the government gets to ask you why you should be allowed certain rights.
Disintegrationists and American History
The disintegrationist view of American History is very different from Ben’s, which will be spoken about later. The disintegrationist view is based on three fundamental principles:
- America was founded in evil (through pushing Native Americans from their land)
- America is completely divided and this divide cannot be solved. This is because America is struggling to escape its past of dismantling founding principles
- America was born in sin and can never be redeemed. They believe that America’s involvement in the slave trade and pushing Native Americans from their land means America cannot be supported on any moral level.
Basically, disintegrationists would argue that any greatness that has come out of America is in spite of its founding principles, not because of them. As well as having this view of America’s history, disintegrationists believe that America is damned for eternity. They attribute all wrongdoings in modern America to bad things that happened in the past. Instead of focusing on the individual, they prefer to look back at history.
Ben uses Matthew Desmond, a Princeton Sociology Professor, as a prime example of modern disintegrationists. He is quoted as saying, “In order to understand the brutality of American Capitalism, you have to start at the plantation.”
Ben describes the union as being underpinned by a shared philosophy, culture, and history.
Philosophy – How Rights Were Created and How to Protect Them
Historically, it was always the case that kings granted rights. They could give rights, and they could take them away in a matter of seconds. An alternative to this was the idea of natural rights. Ben gives the example of Jerusalem as a precursor to what happened with the formation of what it means to be America. Jerusalem was built based on the idea of individualism. Specifically, every individual is made in the image of God. This is the origin of the concept of individuals being seen as a unit rather than just viewing people in terms of their group or constituency. Athens then provided the power of reason. They were run based on reason, not by passion or by powerful people (e.g., kings). Reason is used to determine what is right and what is not.
The unionists believe that the founders of America combined these strong features of Jerusalem and Athens to form an American government. They tried to create rights from the broadest possible positions. They were natural rights as they came from the mere fact of having been created by something. The government is a protector of these rights rather than the source of them. This is a very important distinction.
Ben explains that, as individuals, we must defend the rights of others. This means defending the rights of those we don’t even like. A culture based on union is one that requires individuals to believe in rights as the foundation of the nation. Therefore, Americans must believe in the application of rights beyond legal requirements. The law only acts as the final barrier against violations of rights, they are not the first line of defense.
Another way to protect rights is to complement them with virtue. Rights alone will not create a society that only does good things. Rights were in place when black students were being barred from lunch counters. Virtue lies in our non-government social fabric. Our social fabric is underpinned by morality and religion. Rights allow us to live together but if we hate each other we will start to erode others’ rights. Hence, this means we must combine rights with virtues and duties.
Culture – A Rights-Based Culture
The union approach to culture is underpinned by four distinct elements:
- A tough-minded tolerance for the rights of others. This is particularly important when we don’t like how others are exercising their rights. We just have to agree to disagree and remind ourselves that those actions are their right
- Our social fabric is created through our social institutions. These institutions help us to trust each other in the absence of a government that forces us to be moral
- Liberty is hugely important. We have to be willing to stand up for our freedom and the freedom of others
- Those with a sense of adventure must be rewarded
Each of these cultural elements are based on the philosophy of America. The philosophy seeps into every part of American life and thinking. In order to adopt this culture in America we must get back in touch with America’s founding philosophy.
Union and American History
“Increasingly, Americans don’t know history at all. And why should they? To understand America’s history probably would be to learn about the past-and learning about that past does not achieve the purposes of the disintegrationists.” – Ben Shapiro
Ben describes how America’s history is one of attempting to meet the promises of America’s founding documents. America is imperfect. However, it is still a force for good in the world. America’s history has been a story of ever-improving fulfilment of the founding philosophy. This improvement is underpinned by the important American institutions, including the Declaration of Independence.
American history is the root of American Philosophy and Culture. Its history is full of heroism and vision, idealism and bravery. However, America’s history also included cruelty. However, no nation is perfect across time and space. When looking at the broader picture and the histories of other countries, it is easier to see American history as far greater than other countries. Without America, the world would be a far worse place. Individual rights would have eroded all over the world.
The True Foundations of America
Ben Shapiro outlines how rights were developed based on reason. Here are some of the examples he provided:
- The Magna Carta offered the foundation for the due process that is seen today in America
- The Virginia Declaration of Rights was the precursor to America’s Bill of Rights
Plus, Ben points out that the foundation of America is union. He explains that America would not exist if slavery was a dispositive issue. America would not exist without a union between the North and South.
The founding fathers built America. They expected future America to continue to fulfill the promises of the declaration of independence and the constitution. However, this does not mean that the declaration was perfect. Certain people were not respected in this declaration. Despite this, the fathers were certain that their children and the following descendants would ensure that those rights were kept over time. Ben believes that this is a promise made and one that has been kept.
Local governments know best. Local governments have a better idea of what is going on in their local space. Therefore, they will be able to govern best and figure out what the best approach is.
America needs a shared history, philosophy, and culture. These are all fundamental to keeping the American ‘experiment’ going. American people need to look back to America’s history and the declaration of independence for guidance. America is increasingly becoming a divided nation. It needs to remember how it was founded, what makes it great, and how it can become great again.
Ben concludes the book by describing how he wants to bring up his children. He uses this as a metaphor for how we can help create a future generation based on union. Firstly, children must be taught values. Once these values have been taught, we have to let our children apply these values to the world. Children have to make their own choices after being trained. Additionally, we need to help instill a feeling of adventure again. This is only possible if we trust them and let them make their own decisions based on the values we have instilled. Ben wants his and others’ children to have rights against others, not privileges provided by others.
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