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Articles,Books,Videos Reviewed Susan Freis Falknor on 07 Sep 2011 03:06 pm

Mark Steyn’s ‘After America’: We Must Correct Course Now

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, by Mark Steyn, Regnery Publishing, Inc: 2011.           Available through Amazon.

In his new book  After America, indispensable commentator Mark Steyn goes well beyond the point, demonstrated in his previous book, that America is headed in a dangerous, even suicidal direction. Now he warns that we may be losing the ability to correct course.

And in doing so, we may be losing our will to self-govern as well.

“Americans face a choice: you can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or you can join most of the rest of the world in terminal decline.”

Steyn weaves in his broad knowledge of contemporary Britain, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and the Third World.  He also up-ends our accustomed perspective by taking us on  fantasy time-travel episodes.

To keep up readers’ spirits in this desert of grave perils, the author provides sustaining manna:  Steyn’s signature wit.

“Americans face a choice: you can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or you can join most of the rest of the world in terminal decline.”

Steyn paints an American present in which the Ruling Class, at least,  is driving as hard as it can in the direction of Europe, which is already tipping into a dystopia of socialism, failing productivity, population aging,  growing Islamist influence, diminished freedoms, increasingly undeliverable promised social benefits, and debt.

Steyn elucidates clearly just how big government — which brings more restrictive laws, more regulations, and more unpayable government benefits — crushes liberty and shrinks the space in which the once-free citizen operated.

Expansion of anti-liberty government is driven by bad ideas, measures adopted by elected officials who did not “read the bill,” and by “judge-made law and bureaucrat-made regulations.”

The last two practices effectively control citizens without consent of the governed.

Steyn’s book tracks many dangers.

  • First, there is a huge public debt that threatens to rob prosperity from the American people and future generations. “Big Government augmented by a terrible education system and a tide of mass immigration” he declares, is “a life killer.”
  • As to the civic culture, which is the “glue” of society, he cites the baleful influence of political correctness, infantilization of citizens, and multiculturalism.

How do you position yourself to fight all this?

The field of action runs a lot further than the cyclical drama of elective politics, according to Steyn.

Using Canada as an example, he writes:

“Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever expanding number of governments will be statists—sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily “compassionate” statists, sometimes patrician nobles oblige statists, but always statists. The short history of the post-war western democracies is that you don’t need a president-for-life if you’ve got a bureaucracy-for-life….”

Steyn urges us to recognize a tyrannous bureaucracy as something we should urge elected officials to actively resist.

After America?

After America… what happens to America?

In the all-too-possible future era Steyn portrays, the United States would find itself  between a weakening advanced world and a “reprimitivizing” world.  Domestically, Steyn speculates–

“A statist America won’t be a large Sweden—unimportant but prosperous—but something close to the Third World.  As a dead-end economy drives its surplus manpower deeper into poverty, addiction, and crime, parts of the country will take on post-Soviet Russian characteristics, with a gangster class manipulating social disintegration for its own ends. What’s left will be Latin America, corrupt and chaotic, broke and brutish—for all but a privileged few.”

Steyn contemplates scenarios for American implosion, with say, a bankrupt California being nationalized, the Southwest deciding to break away, or perhaps, “still functioning states… may opt for de jure secession, anxious to escape being buried by federal debt.”

“You Can Win This”

Despite the somberness of his message, Steyn ends on a hopeful note.

He suggests some directions to fight: to decentralize, degovernmentalize, deregulate, de-monopolize, de-complicate, de-credentialize, dis-entitle, and de-normalize.

Emphasizes Steyn:

“You can win this. Statists overreach. They did on ‘climate change’ scaremongering, and the result is that it’s over. Hollywood buffoons will continue to lecture from their mega-mansions that we should toss out our washers and beat our clothes dry on the rocks singing native chants down by the river, but only suckers are listening to them.….

“Liberty cannot survive if only a few are eternally vigilant. We need more. We took our eyes off the colleges, and the high schools, and the grade schools and these and many other institutions were coopted by forces deeply hostile to the American idea. So push back, beginning in kindergarten….

Steyn directly addresses American youth who, more than any other group, will have to deal with this situation:

“Sooner or later you guys have to crawl out from under the social engineering and rediscover the contrarian spirit for which youth was once known…. This will be the great battle of the next generation—to reclaim your birthright from those who spent it. If you don’t, the entire global order will teeter and fall. But,  if you do, you will have won a great victory.”

This is not just a book well worth reading – – but one essential for every conservative who wants to get their society and their politicians to correct course while there is still time.

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