Laura Perrins: Ben, thanks for sharing your views with us. I really wanted to introduce you to our readers. For some unknown reason it has taken me some time to discover your work; you have written quite a few books, all of which can be found here. Your short book, How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them: 11 Rules for Winning the Argument, is the best £1 I have ever spent. Your much longer book, Bullies explains more fully that the Left are in short the real bullies yet they have successfully painted the Right as brutes. Once we grasp this truth, things become a lot clearer. Can you explain further?
Ben Shapiro: The Left believes itself in possession of an unearned moral superiority thanks to their political viewpoint. In order to justify that unearned moral superiority, the Left must tear down its political opposition as morally evil. All of their politics is based on this notion: if you disagree with them, it’s because you are a victimiser. They bully and cow conservatives into silence by declaring them evil without evidence. It’s the key to their entire worldview.
LP: You attended the ultra-Left university UCLA at 17, and then Harvard law school. How did you survive and indeed thrive at UCLA, as a conservative student?
BS: Actually, I started UCLA at 16. I was able to survive and thrive because I was brought up with strong principles by my parents, and because I always loved debating ideas, which meant that I would research the points being pushed in class and by the student newspapers and groups for myself rather than accepting them as rote.
LP: Given your academic record you could have done anything you wanted. Why this?
BS: I’ve always been interested in politics, but I sort of stumbled into it as a career. I originally wanted to go into genetics, but once I got to UCLA, I started writing for the student newspaper because I felt passionately that they were pushing leftist talking points without a proper response. That ballooned into a regular column for them; I then applied for a syndicated column with Creators Syndicate, which I was given at 17 (they didn’t know my age when they decided to pick me up). One thing led to another pretty quickly from there.
LP: Explain constitutional conservatism to me?
BS: Constitutional conservatism is the notion that government exists only to protect rights that pre-exist government; that the government has no right to intervene in matters that have no externalities; that checks and balances among people and branches are required in order to prevent government from becoming the tool of any faction; that Judeo-Christian social structures are necessary to provide the social fabric required for a functioning free society. The Constitution embodies all of these notions.
LP: You have two children under three, I have three under seven. How do you see the future for them? Given the Left stranglehold over the main institutions such as the media, academia and the public school system (as you set out in Bullies) it can be difficult to be optimistic?
BS: The future will be difficult because of an emerging consensus that the government is not there to protect your rights, but to care for you. This consensus seems to have crossed the political aisle, unifying Trumpian populism with Sanders socialism. I’m hopeful that a conservative libertarian merger will be effected in the near future, but that requires children brought up with Judeo-Christian values in a society that seems intent on opposing them.
LP: How do you see the Trump presidency going, although I accept he is extremely unpredictable?
BS: I’m optimistically sceptical. I think that Trump will do a number of things I like – his nationalist populism has some policy crossover with conservatism – but he’s a wild card. He’ll also pursue big government policies I dislike, and convert heretofore conservatives into cheerleaders for government interventionism in the process. You can’t predict scandal, of course, but I find it unlikely that he’ll outlast scandal in a way no president has for the next four years.
LP:Finally, do you still play the violin?
BS: I do – I just got my bow rehaired, and we purchased a grand piano so my dad and I can practice together.
(Image: Diego Cambiaso)