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steve: next week is my wither b. do come back and find us next week when "the next revolution" will be tell vaize televised. mark: this is liec "life, liber& levin." we have a great guest. it's been what, 20 on 30 years. >> i've been following you. mark: and iol you. it's a pleasure to have you professor, considered the greatest publication on book reviews. i read it and i love it. also you're a professor of government at claremont
mckenna college. but the reason i wanted to have you here toads is to talk about the declaration. its relevance to today. a lot of discussion about racism and slavery. a lot of discussion about centralized government in the miadministrative state versus capitalism and federalism. you're an expert on all of these things. you've been teaching for decades about these things. let's start with the declaration of independence and its relevance to today. what is this natural law, natural right reference in the declaration? why is that so important? sphwhr it requires an explanation today in a way it didn't really in the 18th century because we're not used to the idea that you could derive right and wrong from nature, from the way things are. that nature is that part of life
which we don't e kro create. humans don't make it. and the nature of the thing is what it has in common with others likee itself, so the nature of trees and puppies and rabbits and human beings have a nature too. it's also the essence of what these beings are that we don't maked and that form a kind of species. there's a bunch of them but they're different kinds. so human nature, the notion that youot can devief from human nature, the rules of right and wrong, how we treat each other, that's base by what natural law, rights and natural justice are all about. in the modern philosophy coursee this is an unpopular notion because for along time we've thought that you can't derive an
ought from from a viz. no one in philosophy thought that for thousands of years before essentially the 19th ulntury when that became a popular line of argument. so it means, based on what we are, you could e the vief from our human nature a rule about how we ought to treat each other. >other. mark: the golden rule. >> do unto others as you would have done unto you. i have no natural authority over you because we are equals. i do have some natural authority potentially over horses, dogs, fcowses ancows and other parts e that are subhuman eafn of course you have authority over yours but you don't have authority over others like yourself,
rational beings who are your equals. don't have any authority over your life, your liberty, your property and there's no natural government. so any w government that we jusy can operate among oses has to be agreed on by consent of equal human beings. mark: isn't that the significance of the declaration at that time. the revolution had started. they meet at the second continental congress and they're declaring that to world why they have to stabbed up to the most powivepowerful military on the f the earth and talk about natural rights, natural law, unalienable rights, god given rights, which is your point, not government given. as a matter of human right you can't control them. you have to conditio consent.
they were promoting government. is this not the basis of our constitutional system? >> yes. the constitution is, in a way, a means to the ends that are outlined in the declaration, protecting our rights, securing our rightses to life, liberty and the pursuit of levin -- i'm sorry, happiness. mark: those are the goals. >> g or safety and happiness, te ultimate goals of government which the declaration speaks about. how are you going to secure all of those things. myou need a form of government and the constitution is what that is. it's our form of government. our highest law. the supreme law of the land, meaning the supreme human law. but there is a natural and perhaps a divine law of the
human law which is looking up to and aspiring the perfect justice, you never can achieve perfect justice with imperfect human beings and imperfect governments but you have to be conscious of your obligation to try to do justice. that's what leads to the creation of the constitution, what leads to, throughout american history, reform movements of various kinds to abolish slavery, for example, to bring positive law and the community into line with natural law with the way it should be. mark: let's break this up into a few pieces here. the declaration, the constitution. that key, as you were saying earlier is the individual. individual liberty. what is the civil society in we've talked about the declaration, the constitution, the civil society. what is the civil society? >> well civil society is what
exists, you might say, between the individual and the state. or the national government in the case of america. civil society is what individuals byin their own voluntary transactions and by much ralmuch rale consents how e cooperate with each other. we form churches, townships, local communities, we form stamp collecting clubs. mark: whatever it is. >> pursuing our own views of our interest and happiness, we're free, the government leaves us free to construct a whole rich tapestry, really, of ways we relate to each other. and the government has nothing to do with them unless they break a law or unless they are engaged in some nefarious
activity or another. but the idea, i mean, in china, you know, you're kept under constant surveillance. there are cameras in the churches designed to make sure that nothing that's preached goeses against the government line. and in america one of the glories of a free country is the government is not always surveilling you, watching you. and it presiems tha presumes tha free person, can run your life o your own for the most part in conjunction with other free peoples that you want to associate with. mark: so the declaration talks about the individual, the civil society and talks about life that goes on all around us, constitutionally focused on little piece of that. government. >> right.
mark: the federal government. governments are e scenlly lefessentially left alone. that little piece is getting bigger, bigger and bigger as we move into an increasingly post constitutional period which is compelled by the progressive movement. and so more and more of the civil society, private lives, individual lives are being devoured by a government that's getting bigger and bigger and bigger beyond its constitutional limits, correct? >> yes. the constitution did take away some powers from the states and put them in the federal government but that it constructed a system of federalism to balance those two levels of government. with a progressive you have a counter revolution against the american revolution. all of the things that the deck
declaration endorsed progressivism negated or countered. so the notion that rights are based upon your individual status as a human being, the rights preexist government, they come from god or nature, that's rejected by progressivism. your get your rights from the stage of civilization and the kind of state that you have. avthe notion that government should be limited to the protection of these rights and can be a danger and so has to be kept under control by an act of public, that too is rejected. the notion is that government is not opposed to your rights or potentially opposed to your rights. it is an expression of your rights. a and soo the most important rights are not any rights that you myt might have as an --
progressive denyings as a possible. the most important rights you get come frome the government. we give the government power, it gives us rights. that's the social contract, the new social contract, the new republic that progressivism builds. it's been an intoxicating bargain. for a lot of persons increasingly in the 20th century and now the 21st, it's been hard to resist the notion of what could go wrong. the government becomes more and rre powerful andiv it gives us more and more rights. what's not to like about that. i think we've lost touch with common sense and with the founders common sense understanding that government is run by human beings too, very imperfect human beings. the more powers it accumulates,
the more dangers it can pose. mark: centralized power versus disbursedsu powder. when we come back i want to ask you, how does progressivism and constitutionalism coexist and over the long haul can they. don't forget, most late nights you can watch me on levin tv. all 844-levin tv -- and don't forget, on freedom of the pr prs twb two mont,two months on the k times" bet seller list. they hate it. we'll be right back. blp ly.
mark: professor kessler, constitutionalism which is intended to protect the individual, limit the federal government, certain specific powers with, no doubt, and progressivism, the early progressiveives trashed the declaration and constitution. is this the battle we have today and how do they coexist, these
two completely different ideas? >> well, we really -- america is in a very od an odd and perilous constitutions. con constitution is the constitution amended, ten other constitution is what the liberals call the living constitution, a phrase that woodrow wilson was among the first to use. and between the cons serve tifs cons collusion and the liberals constitution we're continually being whip sawed from one view of justice to understanding what government is for and to an opposite one. but in the beginning up until say the middle tf 20th septemberry, it was thought that the two constitutions could coexist because they were
graduallygi converging. because the livings constitution, as the conservatives talked about was an evolutionary product. not a revolutionary one. but one that would grow up around and incorporate anything in the old constitution that was valuable and worthy. theyco didn't think that there s really a -- that the two constitutions woulconstitutionso a fight because they would growing together. and then the '60s happened. and instead of growing together the liberals rad liberals radic. and insteaz of instead of 0 a u had a fight going on. and now the contradictions
between individual rights and group rights between a permanent frame of government and an ever-changing frame of government that has, you know, is in a permanent state of transformation as barack obama -- you know, five days away from the election he said, you know, we're approaching -- we're five days away from fundamentally transforming america.te but that's what liberalism, the living constitution is about. it's nothing but transformation. mark: if it's nothing but transformation, that's a long way from the cans teution. constitution. so my question is, where does it take it? where is the blueprint? if it's not the constitution, it's something else. they just do this on the fly? >> in twhair mind it takes us toward an ever more perfect social democracy, to put it in a
harmless form, in which each of us would be transformed into a more and more, basically a more and more perfect human being in a more and more perfect society. and it's an endless process. mark: let me just ask you, but in order to get there, as marx would say, you have to surrender your free will, right? you have to surrender your individuality to the state. because you really can't realize the full extent of your humanity unless you're part of the general citizen, part of a bigger picture, correct? >> yes. and what you see in the phenomenon of political correctness, so powerful, it came from the universities but now it is udderly dominating the
political politicians. politics. you look at the squad in congress. their agenda is driven by political correctness. that means you hate and cannot toleraten the imperfection, the moral imperfection of your fellow citizens, the deplorables who are not evolved. we're all supposed to be evolving into a more perfect union as president obama used to say. but the fact that we're not, the fact that there are these recall tranrecalcitrant people and inst on ruling themselves, the kind we want and that they promise, the left is not prepared for that and sees no reason why it should tolerate that.
in that sense it's become a kind of, in a strange way, it's become an established religion, sort of medieval established religion. there's an inqu forbidden though you're not supposed to read or think and there is a strict make sure you're not caught thinking things you shouldn't thinking or saying things you shouldn't say. and it's the a antithesis of freedom in the soans of it. what happens to your right. you have no right to be political incorrect, that's the whole point. you have no right to think differently from the progressive menu of the day. and it is, you know, americans have reached, or i think are reaching a breaking point where even a lot of old-fashioned liberals, first amendment
liberals, there's still a few of thems around, free-speech liberals looking around saying we don't recognize the america that these people are leading us towards . it doesn't seem to be a free country anymore. mark: when we come back i want to tackle the question of racism, slavery, the american founding up to today. we'll be right back. my joints... they hurt. the pain and swelling.
. live from america's news headquarters. president trump ending a week long summer break at his golf estate in new jersey. speaking to reporters before returning to washington, the president downplayed fierce of another rescission. insisting that our economy is strong. some economists think otherwise after a wild week on wall street. a superrer tanker with suspected tie to an organization now moving away from gentleman braaway.the u.s. unsealed a warn friday to seize the vessel. but authorities rejected u.s. pressure. now back to "life, liberty & levin."
mark: professor charles kessler. we hear a lot of talk about slavery, systemic racism. more than ki remember 20 years ago. it seems to be a crucial part of the radical progressive agenda. first ofse all, the declarationf independence, if constitution. does the declaration promote slavery? does the constitution? >> well the best line about the declaration, i think, was spoken by bernard, the great harvard historian of the revolutionary period when he said the declaration of independence did not solve the problem of slavery, it created the problem of slavery. what he meant by that is there have been plenty of republics in human history, particularly in the ancient world, that had
slifry as a fundamental institution of the republics of their way of life and saw no contradiction of the two. but when you start a republican form of government and a way of life by saying all men are created equal, you make slavery problematic. you make slavery wrong and a problem. because the country that's declared its independence also of course did have slaves in almost every state of the union at that point. but the moment that it declared its independence in the name of human equality, it made that slavery a contribution and a problem that would have to be dealt with in some way. the constitution, being a bundle of compromises among 13 states that had different. s about some things, compromised
also on the issue of slavery. it forbad, for example, any, the new congress to pass any laws interfering with the international slave trade for 20 years. fast forward 20 years, the very first day that it was possible for congress to pass a law interfering with the international slave trade, they did. they made that trade illegal. the very first day they were constitutionally able to do so. the founders, in wrestling with the question of what to do about slavery in the constitution, they also -- every founder you've ever heard of virtually had the same opinion. slavery was unjust. the question was what to do about it. how do we get rid of it. and on that there was disagreement and in a way the
disagreements were compromised by the assumption which was shared widely in the founding generation, that slavery would be put on the road to extinction, yo you know, that eventually states by themselves would emancipate the slaves in their states and abolish the institution. that's and happened. in the next generation slavery was abolished in every state, in new england and new york and working its way down in effect but then something happened that they had not a anticipated. the emancipation in every state haltehalted at the mason dictio.
in the 1920s and '30 twhruz a resistant movement, an argument for slavery, not just a necessary evil but that it was a positive good. so at that point the tragic sequence of events began which culminated in the civil war. but the constitution itself doesn't mention slavery as such. it contemplates, i would say, its eventual extinction. and nothing in the constitution had to be changed to accommodate the results of the civil war. i think an interesting question is to think about racism as opposed to slavery. racism is the sin, not slavery and that our original sin was not the bondage of part of humanity wu thinking ill of a part of humanity or other parts of humanity.
mark: and we hear this all of theer time, the founders were racist, the nation was founded on a racism, racism is pervasive in the country despite civil war and the end of slavery. you have the supreme court court iindecisions. you have jim crow in the south. i had shelby steele here. he acknowledges all of this and says it was horrendous. but then he said we're free. he's talking to his fellow -- we're free. be free. live free. do what you want to do. but when you watch the media today and you watch the individuals the president was talking about today, it is a constant drum beat and i'm starting to think -- and i want
your opinion on this when we come back -- it's not about racism at all. it's about progressivism. if you don't agree with the progressive ideology and the agenda and more centralized government and redistribution of wealth and so forth and so on, then you must be a racist. i would be interested in your take on that. we'll be right back. ♪ i mean, if you haven't thought about switching to geico, frankly, you're missing out. uh... the mobile app makes it easy to manage your policy, even way out here. your marshmallow's... get digital id cards, emergency roadside service, even file a... whoa. whoa. whoa. whoa. whoa. whoa! oops, that cheeky little thing got away from me. my bad. geico. it's easy to manage your policy whenever, wherever. can i trouble you for another marshmallow? ♪
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mark: so professor i ended that last segment with the notion that really when we talk about racism we're not really talking about race now. we're talking about a radical progressive ideology. and if you reject it or challenge it, somehow the word race is introduced as if you don't agree or embrace this ideology and don't conform to
the agenda, then you're a racist. am i wrong? >>am yes. i mean racist is now an all purpose accusation. and racism is an all purpose epitaph. i think, you know, it has to do with your view of human nature and the world. from the founders point of view, from the common sense point of view, you expect people by nature to prefer their own. you prefer your own children over other children, your own family over others. you prefear people you know over strangers. you prefer those who are closer to you and more like you to those who aren't. andha that was regards a the starting point, as it were, moral growth and moral life. to grow you have to learn to work with others who are not your friends and not just like you. but it take as process of trust building that people who are
different from you can be your allies, your friends, your fellow citizens. ieyou can die for them in political -- in war, and stand by them as a band of brothers, to use that language. all of those great world war ii movies which showed the platoons made up of the italian americans, the polish american, you know, the mexican american and so forth. living examples in miniature of how moral growth and political life were understood to work in the past. you find that you can work with people in larger and larger circles. you expand yourself and your circle of trust outward to -- -from city to county to state o
nation. and that was regarded as a process that every generation would have to remeet because you're starting from a human nature that is selfish and prefers people that are more known as more trust worthy to others, to strangers who are neither. liberalism today, political kredness toads begins with human perfection. wer oar at the end process of an historical progressive revolution. any is regarded as original sin, a defect which must be obliterated. so there can't be any resemishun for that sin. redem sun redemption for that sin. it's un forgivable and has to be
stamped out. so the mod gern accusation of racism is an accusation against human evil, imperfection, selfishness, preferring your own. and as such it is an endless indictment. mark: and yet, professor, which ideology pushes group identity? which ideology uses the power of government to group people based on race, based on sex, based on what youal do with sex, based on different categories set up for politicians and bureaucrats. is that not the progressive? >> yes, it is. and there's somewhat of a contra contradiction there. but if you take the high progressive point of view right now, the pli politically correct point of view, their argument is there's so much sing as a
natural individual. we're all, by nature, members of groups. there is a a need for groups to raise their consciousness and understand that other groups like themselves are also oppressed and need government assistance and recognition to escape that p oppression. that's h intersectionalty. this terrible word that's become common these days. it's amazing. i teach freshmen in american government and the first day of class they already all know the vocabulary. they've learned it in high school or some place long before they got to college. it's very interesting and surprising how pervasive that moral education is. i mean maybe it's an immoral education lu i but it seems to e everywhere. the meaning of racism now, the goals are continually being
moved and redefined by what progressives think is the worst outrage of the age. and that's why marti martin lutr king, preaching color blindness, is considered a racist today on nemany campuses because color blindness is regarded as a privileged white male idea designed to disguise the very structural racism and the kinds of things, you know, the inner biases that we don't realize but are still there and need to be expunged somehow. all of that, unfortunately has conversation in kerk abouamerica about these th. mark: when we come back with, what's the purpose of immigration historically. you can check me out most work nights on levin tv, give us a
mark: whap'what's the purpose of immigration. >> it has several purposes, i guess you could say. the prefresh and repopulate the country but not designed to change the country in a fundamental way. the way that americans in past generations thought about the problem of immigration was that america was always an extraordinarily open country. we had open borders, basically, for 100 years. we had no immigration laws for 10100 years or so. mark: huge country, very small population. >> very small papulation and it's very hard to get here. open borders but you had to cross 3,000 miles of tem ocean o
get here. jefferson, hamilton, they were talking about what is the moral and the political qualities of the people who are coming to us. a debate about this.bate about and jefferson wanted farmers and hamilton wanted people who were interested in manufacturing and in finance and other kinds of things. different ideas about what would work best for america. but they agreed -- they all agree that you wanted people with a strong work ethic who were prepared -- who spoke english or who would learn english and who would love republican government, love to live in a free government unlike the hi miserable place they're probably fleeing from to come here. mark: and would cute their allegiance from their country they came from and give allegiance to our country.
>> yes. there's a strict sense of that, that is that you follow the constitution, are loyal to the constitution, will fight for the constitution and the republic andtl a slightly larger sense w, that you will culturally be an american. which this larger sense became known as an american simulation as roosevelt called it, meaning you would learn to identify with and to like and love your fellow citizens and their life in general. it didn't mean you couldn't live was a believing jew or a quaker in your own city and township or whatever. but it meant that you saw ntsomething important in common with people who weren't quakers
or atta orthodox justice. jews.m. mark: what do you see the situation today, omar, tlaib, others standing if are the proposition that they will not secure the border. and that people have a light to be here when they come here, they effectively have all of the rights that a citizen has. there's a distinction between citizen and noncitizen is ebecoming less and less so. what do you make of that in. >?>> well it's perverse to say e least. in a way it's a complete reversal of the understanding of the past. we u look upon the immigrants as coming to teach us a higher way of life somehow. they come so that we may, in sacrificing for them, elevate ourselves. you know, we can yoofer come our
selfishness, our americanness by embracing an ever wider diversity. now, one of the strange things about that argument, though, is that even on campuses they talk about diversity and inclusion. hethese two words go together, t they're different. and the fact that you need both of them is in a way a concession to them. because you can have so much diversity you don't have any community left. there has to be inclusion. there's a community into which you will be included. but what is community? they are very weak on that subject. that's the contradiction or the problem that they face. eybut they are quite prepared to answer that question and, as you know, the answers will differ from decade to decade. and some decades they can be in favor of closing the border. in other decades opening the
border. it all depends on what advances the progressive agenda. mark: i personally find this notion that immigration exists for the purpose of 7 billion people outside of the united states, that they manage to get into the united states and all of the sudden rights are conferred upon them, economic benefits are conferred upon them as a way to destroy a society. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ ... hmm. exactly. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance,
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he was in washington half the union was in the session or would soon be in the session rapidly be in succession. the two year long investigation, mueller investigation and the other investigations is an absolutely unprecedented situation, not that there weren't things that incoming president like jfk and lbj cannot have been investigated for but never had to face those kind of head winds. given all he has had to face and overcome i think is a ministration has gone quite well. there's much on the agenda that still needs attention and i hope that it will be attended to between now and the election and into a second term. mark: i agree. maybe some of the republicans and at some point the democrats will help although don't hold your breath.