Review by John Jalsevac
April 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Mark Steyn is one of the finest conservative thinkers alive today. In his writing, as much as in person, he is passionately energetic, uncompromising with the truth, sharp as a knife, impatient of fallacies and fools, and (which is what sets so many conservatives apart from their adversaries) often very funny. Which is to say, he is able to take his topic deadly seriously, but himself not at all.
Indeed, since that hour when first I discovered Mark Steyn I have everywhere declared him to be the brightest and the clearest thinking man in the business. Some might point out that when the business we’re talking about is journalism, that isn’t saying much. But the point is that, despite his odious choice of profession, Steyn nevertheless has an annoyingly vast quantity of facts always at his fingertips, knows how to use the English language better than any other journalist out there, and has a disturbing and unrelenting habit of speaking the truth, and speaking it sometimes years in advance of anyone else.
This is a disturbing habit because at this juncture in history much of the truth happens to be very disturbing.
Take, for instance, this new book of Steyn’s, America Alone, just released this week in paperback. In the chapter subtly titled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” Steyn finally states outright just exactly what he foresees in Europe’s near future.
“How bad is it going to get in Europe?” he asks darkly, before answering even more darkly yet. “As bad as it can get – as in societal collapse, fascist revivalism, and then the long Eurabian night, not over the entire Continent but over significant parts of it. And those countries that manage to escape the darkness will do so only after violent convulsions of their own.”
So why does Steyn believe that the majority of Europe is going to descend into this long, dark night? Well, in short (and this should come as no surprise) – Islam. But, as Steyn is quick to point out, while one oughtn’t to downplay the role of Islam, Islam isn’t so much a cause as a consequence.
To illustrate his point, Steyn quotes a Canadian journalist who writes: “secularism is precisely what created the Euro spiritual/moral vacuum in which Islamism has rushed headlong.” Or, as he says elsewhere, addressing the issue of abortion and the West’s general moral decay, “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’ feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything. Non-Muslim females in heavily Muslims neighborhoods in France now wear headscarves while out on the streets.”
Hence, in order to understand the current crisis of civilization, one must understand not only the impending threat (Islam), but also the underlying root cause that has allowed the threat to become a threat in the first place (secularism). Steyn brilliantly accomplishes both of these tasks in this book.
Steyn frames the central argument of America Alone (that Europe is heading towards civilisational suicide, that Islam is well on its way to global domination, and that America is the nation at this period in history that is best equipped to save Western civilisation) in terms of what he calls “the central equation in human development: the intersection of demography and will.” The life and future of a society is almost entirely dependent on these two factors; in terms of demography, whoever has the manpower is going to have a lot going for them as far as world domination is concerned; and, in terms of will, whoever has the stronger and more sustained will to spread their civilisation is going to be practically unstoppable.
In the first case (demography), the obvious point, of course, is that the West isn’t having any babies, while Muslims are; and, in terms of the second (will), Steyn points out that most of those in the West who would be able to have the babies if only they stopped popping the pill or using rubber aren’t much more than babies themselves; as such, they aren’t exactly prepared to engage a rapidly expanding, world-domination-bent civilisation in any sort of sustained global conflict. They’d rather play with their toys.
While the argument that the West isn’t having any babies, while Muslims are, is old hat to most of us, up to this point the real urgency of the crisis hasn’t been brought home in its full force. Fortunately one of the most unique talents that Steyn has is to present innumerable statistics to his readers, and somehow to manage to make the numbers really, really interesting. The demographic picture that Steyn deftly paints in America Alone, by juxtaposing and commenting on endless statistics, is much more devastating, and much more difficult to refute, than any of us have grasped until now.
By this point the doubting Thomases out there may be thinking (and rightly) that books with the sort of apocalyptic theses that Steyn ardently defends in America Alone have a pretty constant habit of devolving into nothing more than crude fear-mongering and sweeping overgeneralizations. But throughout America Alone Steyn avoids this dangerous pitfall not only by a generous display of his shrewd sense of humor, but also by the use of the full extent of his self-educated Western mind, which brings to the table an immense quantity of historical, political, religious, and artistic knowledge (there is also, of course, the added bonus of Steyn’s being right).
Because of his unusual historical sense, Steyn knows full well that this battle of the wills between the West and Islam began way before 9/11, and is much deeper than a passing argument about America’s foreign policy. It is a conflict that sits at the very core of the human person and of reality – it comes down to the deepest questions of who we, as human beings, are, and what the truth is, if anything.
As Steyn writes, “At the heart of multiculturalism is a lie: that all cultures are equally ‘valid.’ To accept that proposition means denying reality – the reality of any objective measure of human freedom, societal health, and global population movement.” The West has abandoned the notion of an objective truth, and without that it is left helpless, utterly exposed to the force of any competing civilisation that believes it is in possession of the truth.
Certainly what many readers (especially Democrats and foreigners) won’t appreciate about Steyn is his arguably over-the-top Americanist position. He really does argue that it is America’s turn to save the world; and he really does think that America can do it.
But, what makes Steyn’s argument particularly interesting is that he isn’t a Bible belt, gun-toting, war-mongering, city-on-a-hill sort of Proddie. In fact, Steyn isn’t even American, which makes it kind of hard to describe him as your typical raging Americanist. He’s a Canadian citizen who spends a lot of his time living in England, has a house in New Hampshire, and who occasionally hops over to the Middle East to see how things are going. Whatever way you look at it, that gives the man a unique perspective. And from that perspective Steyn has come to see that America, while not perfect, is the only place with enough sane people left, with a high enough birthrate, enough fire power, and enough will-power and cultural pride to put a stop to the spread of Islam and to jump-start Western civilisation’s flatlining heart. And heck, he just might be right.
Anyway, for anyone who needs a good jolt into reality, and a good joke to boot, America Alone is highly recommended reading.
A version of this review first appeared in Christendom College’s student journal of opinion, The Rambler (www.therambleronline.com).
America Alone is available in book stores or may be purchased online at various websites including Mark Steyn’s at https://www.steynstore.com/product49.html .