Book Review: America Alone by Mark Steyn

MultiCultiThumbby Brad Nelson
Excluding Thomas Sowell simply clearing his throat, probably the wisest words I’ve read of late are in Mark Steyn’s “America Alone.” Although many conservative books are too intellectualoid or but a single idea padded to fill a full-length book, Steyn’s effort is clear, interesting, and downright funny throughout.

Well, where to start? I’m not kidding when I say that perhaps except for Thomas Sowell, Steyn is the best analytical mind of our age regarding political and social issues. It is no small topic that Steyn takes on. It is the topic of the survivability of Western civilization itself.

In Steyn’s sardonic, yet even-handed, way he asks the question (and I paraphrase): Can the Western democracies survive the moral, financial, and political ennui brought on by the entitlement culture of socialism?

Dennis Prager calls today’s struggle a struggle between three ethical systems: the Judeo-Christian ethic, the secular-socialist mindset, and Islam’s totalitarian system. Steyn is certainly of the same mind. Whatever the cause may be (and Steyn offers plenty of evidence for the causes), the effect of our Western entitlement culture is to produce a culture that is slowing dissolving and fading away.

The demographics — based on real numbers, not Paul Ehrlich-like fantasies — are showing that Western countries (including Japan) are shrinking while Islamic countries (and Islamic populations inside Western countries) are growing. And if you conservatively run those number out for just a few decades (and taking into account just how much of Sharia law is already being respected and kowtowed to in the West), there is good reason to believe that Europe will soon be Eurabia.

Whatever one’s politics are, socialism depends on having more people on the bottom of the pyramid in order to pay for those at the top. But a shrinking population cannot even begin to support what is already a creaky economic system. As Steyn notes, even if Islam wasn’t a factor, the secular socialism of Europe and other countries would doom them to demographic suicide. In one generation, for example, Spain’s population will drop by half. The fertility rate of simply sustaining current population levels is 2.1. (America is at 2.11.) Countries in Europe, Canada, and Russia have rates that are typically from 1.2 to 1.5.

All of these facts are known. But as Steyn notes, in a socialist state, it’s the government that takes over the adult functions that normally the individual would take care of, such as paying for college, daycare, healthcare, etc. In abandoning these core functions, we become infantile. The survival instinct itself begins to fade, not only in terms of birth rates but simply in terms of defending our social and political principles.

Under the nanny socialist system, more and more people have the mindset of surviving only for today and caring very little for the kind of world that we leave behind. As Steyn notes, if mankind walked on four legs and hung from trees, he would be a cause célèbre of the environmental movement because his numbers are reducing so quickly in many places. Contrary to the idea that the earth is running out of resources, we are instead suffering from the reduction of the greatest resource we have: people.

Steyn’s astute analysis of what is happening in Western Civilization, and why, is eye-opening. We have become a culture that no longer believes in itself. This is worse in such places as Europe and Canada, but the cancer has spread to the United States as well. In contrast to the weak multi-culti identity of secular types, Islam does believe in itself.

And as Steyn notes, it is the Saudi Arabian Wahhabist sect that is driving a pan-Islamic identification. The proverbial “moderate Muslim” is a non-factor. It’s not that they might not exist. It’s just that they matter no more than those who were “moderate Germans” in Nazi Germany. What matters is who is driving the issue, and the issue is an expansion of a militant Islamism that Western Civilization itself is facilitating via its misguided notions of “all cultures are the same” multiculturalism. As Steyn notes, if you don’t see any differences in cultures, you’ll then not probe into the actual details. We would be wise to note the difference between, say, Sufism and Wahhabism, but multiculturalists simply do not. They are blind.

Whatever you think of Islam, it’s a quite sobering thought that there are one million Muslims in London. Many cities in Holland, for instance, have populations that are up to 30 to 40% Muslim. When you crunch the numbers, it looks as if Europe is indeed dying and will become Eurabia by the end of this century, if not sooner. The flower of the Enlightenment is so addicted to socialism they cannot, and will not, lift a finger to defend their way of life, let alone simply reproduce in sufficient numbers.

If you read this book, you may be profoundly shaken. Some will no doubt (and with good reason) say we need to turn to that Good Old Time Religion. But as Steyn notes, many denominations of Christianity share the same secular-socialist non-confrontational multiculturalist ideology that is at the very heart of the problem. Our problem is that we no longer believe in anything much more than whatever comfy entitlements we think we deserve. We have rationalized away all the hard problems much like children. We sedate ourselves and save ourselves from any mental trauma by simply steeping ourselves in a warm, comforting denial. Our entitlement culture has enfeebled our minds and taken all the stiffness from our spines.

All that sounds quite gloomy, but to read Mark Steyn is to constantly laugh even while he’s telling you that our world might very well be coming to an end, although he holds out better prospects for America itself if we will but learn from European failures. Give this book a read. I think you’ll enjoy it and will come away with an even more sober and clear mind. It is one of a handful of books that I put on the “must read” list. • (4202 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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13 Responses to Book Review: America Alone by Mark Steyn

  1. Monsieur Voltaire says:

    Excellent review, Brad. Regarding the issue of moderate Muslims in today’s world, even if they exist (and they certainly do), they are like passengers in a vehicle driven by the committed fanatics. So, it doesn’t matter if the ratio is 10- or 100-1; what matter is where the vehicle is going. And it looks like it’s going on a worldwide jihad.

    This is why it’s important that we “reconquer the discourse” in our communities (including Churches, as you very sadly remind us here).

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks, MV. I really do think this book is Steyn’s masterwork. If one wants a glimpse of what it would look like if you took all of America and stuck it in the back seat of a green 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible (Thelma and Louise), this is the book. Europe will go over the cliff ahead of us.

  3. Brianna says:

    Good review. Should read After America next. America Alone is out of date, written back when Bush (whatever his flaws, he kinda/sorta had a spine) was president. After America came out in 2010.

    “I’m not kidding when I say that perhaps accept for Thomas Sowell”


    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for the correction, Brianna. You’ve got a sharp eye. A victim of homonyms again. Yes, that’s right. I”m a *victim* and I shall not take personal responsibility for that mistake. 😀

      I started reading “After America” and it seemed there was enough overlap that I just went on to another book. You know, so many books, so little time.

  4. Diane says:

    I read “After America” a couple of weeks ago, then immediately afterward, “America Alone”. Both are utterly brilliant and cogent….I’m in my second reading of “After America” and find I more thoroughly understand the content and am picking up even more than during the first read. Taking the information presented by Mark Steyn and applying it to the “here and now” of political events (Egypt in particular) clarifies the situation in a way nothing else has. These books should be mandatory reading assignments in every school in America.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Diane, you lead me to believe that it wouldn’t be a waste of time to read “After America” even if one has already read “America Alone.” Thanks for your brief description of the book. Should you like to do a longer one, please submit it. 🙂

      • Brian says:

        You should definitely not consider After America a waste of time after having read America Alone. Steyn’s latter volume sheds the Pollyannaish tones of the first and describes America’s predicament much more succinctly, even though it, too, is apparently far too optimistic in light of the unfolding scandals of your transformational president’s administration.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Thanks, Brian. I’ll consider reading “After America.” I do like reading Steyn so it’s not like eating one’s vegetables. He’s one of the more entertaining writers.

  5. russ in nc says:

    I read both America Alone and After America. Steyn suggests the end game will be a declining socialist America with less than fifty States and a remnant of maybe one or two States (TX + LA?) that leave the Union, like a life boat leaves a sinking ship, and hold fast to America as it was founded. Also, Alaska and Hawaii might also leave but only because they can get better deals from Japan and Russia. That last was me, not Steyn.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Russ. I remember when reading “America Alone” that I made lots and lots of notes in the book. There were just so many memorable passages. And I have lots and lots of quotes already typed from it that I can cut-and-paste. I’ll share a few when I get a chance, although I’m guessing most people here have read enough Steyn to know where he’s coming from.

  6. Kurt NY says:

    I think France is the only European country close to maintaining its population level and much of the birthing there is to Muslims. And large parts of the Western intelligentsia look on population decline as a good thing – something about worshipping the earth or removing human despoilers from our pristine landscape don’t you know.

    I find it ironic (if it weren’t so deeply tragic) that the heirs to the greatest civilization in human history, that which has delivered the greatest level of material prosperity and scientific wisdom, one whose heart is the greatest philosophical and theological wisdom ever promulgated, are flushing it down the toilet in a generation because it is just so darned tediously onerous to propagate. And that a continent that is spurning the religion which gave it shape and shared culture as obscurantist, unscientific, and silly. But, given the population decline and increasing conversions to Islam along with immigration of still more Muslims, they may very well find Christianity’s replacement to be truly obscurantist, unscientific, and silly as well as misogynistic and oppressive. Truly frightening.

    How long before Notre Dame or Chartres Cathedrals are visited by rampaging mobs of indignant Muslims, similarly to how Christian churches are being razed in Egypt as we speak? 2-3 generations? Thank God I won’t be alive to see it. And shame on the generations of feckless good for nothings who are letting it all happen.

  7. David Ray says:

    Very good review Mr. Nelson.
    That 30 to 40% of islamic poplation in the cities of Old Europe is sickening.

    I saw that coming in that I read “Londonistan” by Melanie Philips. (Holy Shit! When the No. 1 baby name is “Muhammad” you know London is on the down-slope.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, David. And, yes, it is extraordinary that various versions of the name “Muhammed” is the #1 choice for baby boys in London. And later this was also true of names in England as a whole.

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