A Strong Case for Limited Government, Self-Reliance

Published November 1, 2007

America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It
By Mark Steyn
Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2006
224 pages, hc, $27.95, ISBN: 0-8952-6078-6

I cannot recommend this bestselling book too highly to those who treasure our way of life.

Journalist Mark Steyn believes some day we could all wake up to a call from a nearby mosque for prayer time. If you think this can’t happen, he says, you are not paying attention. The West is wedded to a multicultural mindset that undercuts its own confidence; a welfare state that nudges it toward sloth and self-indulgence; and a childlessness that consigns it to oblivion.

Europe, laments Steyn, is almost certainly a goner. The future, if the West has one, is almost certainly in the hands of America alone, with maybe its cousins in Australia at the ready to help.

But America can survive, prosper, and defend its freedoms if it continues to believe in itself, in the sturdier values of self-reliance, and the conviction that our country really is the world’s last great hope.

This is not a fear-mongering book. In fact it is often very funny, but it does drive home, with often-frightening clarity, the calamity befalling the Western World under the leadership of leftists who mollycoddle those who would destroy our way of life.

Less Government

Steyn is different from other doomsayers. For them, whatever the problem, the solution is always the same: more government, more regulations, more taxes, and a massive transfer of power from the citizens to some unelected, self-perpetuating, crisis lobby.

Of course this transfer of power never solves the problem and is in fact a source of the real problem: The torpor of the West derives in great part from the annexation by government of most of the core functions of adulthood.

So this is a doomsday book with a twist, an apocalyptic scenario that can best be avoided not by more government but by less. Steyn writes, “if you frame the issue in terms of multicultural sensitivity, the wimp state will bend over backward to give you everything including, eventually, the keys to the skyscrapers.”

Muslim Population Takeover

Relatively few people are aware that the United States is the only developed country with a replacement birth rate of 2.1. Canada is at 1.48, Europe as a whole is 1.38, Japan 1.32, Russia 1.14.

Islam is now the principal supplier of new Europeans, and currently the second biggest supplier of new Canadians, so it’s worth mulling over Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s question: “What proportion of Western Muslims are supportive of jihad?”

Steyn spends nearly 100 pages explaining Muslim perceptions of the West. It may be more than you want or need to know, but his analysis is certainly convincing. He chose some frightening times to personally embed himself in Iraq.

Western Governments Inept

Steyn writes, “The next time a terrorist gets through and pulls an attack, there’ll be a bunch of new post-September 11 regulations, and some bureaucrats somewhere will have neglected to follow them, or some wily Islamist will have rendered them as obsolete as his predecessors made all those thirty-year-old hijack rules.”

Given the difficulty of reforming the bureaucratic culture, the best we can hope for, Steyn notes, “is to constrain its size–and leave enough space so that a nimble and innovative citizenry does not degenerate into mere subjects of an overbearing state.”

What’s Needed Is Will

This book is not an argument for more war, but for more will. We should make judgments about competing cultures on liberty, religious freedom, and the rule of law, Steyn says.

Steyn concludes this wonderful yet scary, thought-provoking book with these two insightful paragraphs:

“Americans and other Westerners who want their families to enjoy the blessings of life in a free society should understand that the life we’ve led since 1945 in the Western world is very rare in human history. Our children are unlikely to enjoy anything so placid, and may well spend their adult years in an ugly and savage world unless we decide that who and what we are is worth defending.

“The advantage for the United States and to a lesser extent, other parts of the English-speaking world, is that Europe is ahead in the line and its fate may wake up even the most blinkered on this side of the Atlantic. Islamism is militarily weak but ideologically confident. The West is militarily strong but ideologically insecure. The suicide bomber is a symbol of weakness, of a culture so comprehensively failed that what ought to be its greatest resource, its people, is instead as disposable as a firecracker. But in our self-doubt the enemy’s weakness becomes his strength.”

Jay Lehr ([email protected]) is science director of The Heartland Institute.