How can we bring America together? What principles truly made our country great? What must we do to preserve them?
New York Times bestselling author and political commentator Ben Shapiro answers these questions and more in his latest book, “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps,” a compelling addition to the conservative library.
Shapiro reflects on President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, in which Lincoln said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”
Those bonds are on the verge of dissolution today, and Shapiro provides an important look into how we got here and where we are headed. He analyzes the division that our country is facing today and offers a solution from our past to fix our future.
Shapiro’s earlier work, “The Right Side of History,” examined more than 3,500 years of the ethical principles and values of Western civilization. His newest work discusses these ideas and how they are being both upheld and undermined in America.
In “How to Destroy America,” Shapiro outlines the values espoused by two longstanding factions, Unionists and Disintegrationists. Even with our personal divisions, we are all Americans, he argues.
The Unionists, he writes, cherish the principles that founded our country and made America great; the Disintegrationists seek to dismantle those principles and destroy them. Saving America will require us to defend Unionism from the Disintegrationists, he says.
Shapiro writes of the three critical corners in the Unionist triangle—the philosophy, culture, and history that most Americans share. Unionists champion the philosophies of the Founders themselves and those enshrined in the Constitution—individual natural rights, the equality of all human beings, and the Lockean idea that government is instituted to secure the protection of those rights.
Unionist culture encourages strong social institutions that enable trust, tolerance, liberty, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Unionist history focuses on the struggle to fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution over time, and urges society to face up to the mistakes made along the way. Unity is more powerful than division in an otherwise imperfect union.
Distintegrationists oppose American values by disintegrating American philosophy, culture, and history to serve the goals of their movement. They see society as dominated by power struggles between disparate groups, and that through collective action leading to the enforcement of a strong, centralized government, their group can ascend the social dominance hierarchy.
To them, Unionist social institutions are obstacles to public safety, and steps that quash their freedom of speech are justified. In their view of history, sins of slavery, genocide, and oppression outweigh the achievements made by America over the past two-and-a-half centuries.
Disintegrationism preaches total destruction of the ties that bind us because its adherents deem those very ties to be divisive.
The title of Shapiro’s book is particularly relevant given the growing partisanship and polarization we face today. Each chapter provides insights into the ways in which the two factions weave their values into the American way of life and the impact of these values through contemporary political debates and controversies.
Shapiro’s powerful prose and acerbic wit will be familiar to longtime Shapiro readers and newcomers alike. He offers an effective diagnosis of the division that is gradually consuming our country and an equally effective remedy.
If we lose any of the three Unionist pillars of philosophy, culture, and history, the structure of America will fall into utter disrepair. A continued appreciation of the principles that made our country great is necessary for the structure to remain standing.
This work serves as the clarion call for conservatives to stand up for those foundational truths. We need to save our country to save ourselves.