Friday, June 01, 2007

Mark Steyn's America Alone, II--Part One (Prologue to Chapter 3)

Steyn gave me a bunch of bracing things to think about. Among them:
  • September 11, 2001, was not "the day everything changed," but the day that revealed how much had already changed. --p. xv

    I don't know how many people use (or used) the phrase "the day everything changed," but it is my impression--especially after reading the rest of Steyn's book--that almost nothing has changed in the West. "We" have failed to wake up to the threat we face. Instead, we try to ignore it. Steyn doesn't quite use these terms, but I will, as a result of reading Steyn: Western society continues on its same somnambulant journey toward destruction, almost wholly unaware of the really large threats that face it.

  • The "Western" nations' fertility statistics:

    Greece . . . just below 1.3 births per couple. . . . And Greece's fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain, 1.1. --p. xvii

    For a stable population--i.e., no growth, no decline . . . --you need a total fertility rate of 2.1 live births per woman. That's what America has: 2.1, give or take. Canada has 1.48. . . . Europe as a whole has 1.38; Japan, 1.32; Russia, 1.14. These countries--or, more precisely, these people--are going out of business. --p. 2

    The UN's most recent population report has revised the global fertility rate down from 2.1--i.e., replacement rate--to 1.85--i.e., eventual population decline. World population will peak in about 2050 (I'd hazard earlier) and then fall. --p. 13

    I had no idea! I've never heard these things before. Or if I have, I have never thought about their implications.

    Steyn's following analogy, however, caught my attention (p. 2):

    Picture the difference between a small northern mill town where the mill's closed down and the young poeple have moved away and a growing community in the Sun Belt. Which has the bigger range of stores and restaurants, more work opportunities, better school choice? Which problem would you rather have--managing growth or managing decline?

    So what happens when the whole nation--and in Europe the entire continent--has a profile closer to the decrepit mill town than to the Sun Belt suburb?

  • The logic of the Islamic influx into Western society:

    1. The West has below replacement reproductive rates.
    2. The Western governments' social programs depend on--require--population growth. (pp. 2-3)
    3. THEREFORE the West imports the "excess" (young, restless, fertile) population from those parts of the world that have the greatest "excess" population--i.e. (based on fertility rates), the Islamic nations.

  • How thoroughly Islamicized (or "infiltrated") Western Europe has already become:

    What's the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What's the most popular baby boy's name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmö, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular baby boy's name in the United Kingdom.

    --America Alone, p. 6

    [W]hen it comes to those living in France aged twenty and under, about 30 percent are said to be Muslim, and in the major urban centers, about 45 percent. If it came down to street-by-street fighting, as Michel Gurfinkiel, the editor of Valeurs Actuelles, points out, "the combatant ratio in any ethnic war may thus be one to one"--already, right now.

    --America Alone, p. 34

  • The social implications of Islamicization--not (as Western multiculturalists trumpet) a greater openness to and appreciation of "diversity" in society, but, instead, the subjugation of Western culture to Islamic culture in the West . . . at the behest of the Muslims. (Steyn presents shocking examples throughout the book, but in Part I, let me point you solely to pp. 38-39.)

  • The foolishness of so many political aspirations in the West over the past several decades.

    Today, in your typical election campaign, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much every party in the rest of the West are all but exclusively about . . . secondary impulses [rights and entitlements from cradle to grave]: government health care . . ., government day care . . . , government paternity leave. . . . We've elevated the secondary impulses over the primary ones: national defense, self-reliance, family, and, most basic of all, reproductive activity.

    --America Alone, p. 43

    Unfortunately, as recent European election results demonstrate, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow-enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him. "Social democracy" is, as it turns out, explicitly anti-social. . . . And it leads, in Europe and elsewhere, to societal "indolence."

    --America Alone, p. 45

    Secondary-impulse states can be very agreeable--who wouldn't want to live in a world where the burning political priorities are government-subsidized day care, the celebration of one's sexual appetites, and whether mandatory paid vacation should be six or eight weeks? But they're agreeable only for the generation or two that they last. . . . Europes' belief that you can smooth off the rough edges of Anglo-American capitalism and still remain wealthy has trapped it in societal structures predicated on false arithmetic whose disastrous consequences can't be postponed much longer. Unchecked, government social programs are a security threat because they weaken the ultimate line of defense: the free-born citizen whose responsibilities are not subcontracted to the government.

    --America Alone, pp. 50-51

  • American cultural exceptionalism . . . as a good thing.

    Chapter Three, honestly, modified my view of the United States and made me want to stand up and cheer for the "good old" U.S. of A.

    Wanting, always, to view the United States honestly, forthrightly, etc., within the world's "community of nations," I have been, I'm afraid, a bit blind to some of the uniquely positive aspects of America's contributions, and very blind to the uniquely selfish, destructive, or just plain silly, aspects of too many of the United States' ostensible "allies" in the West.

    A citizen of an advanced democracy expects to be able to choose from dozens of breakfast cereals at the supermarket, hundreds of movies at the video store, and millions of p*rno sites on the Internet, but when it comes to life-or-death decisions about his own body, he's happy to have the choice taken out of his hands and given to the government.

    --America Alone, p. 45

    It's the case that in a general population some people will neglect their elderly parents and leave their children alone at home while they go off gallivanting. However, by making the government the guarantor of a comfortable old age and supervised day care, you don't end such fecklessness. Rather, by relieving the individual of the need to have "private virtues," you'll ensure that they wither away to the edges of society.

    --America Alone, p. 48

    What . . . would happen if America were to follow Mr. [Will] Hutton's advice and "join the world"? Well, those "40 million Americans without health insurance" would enjoy the benefit of a new government health care system and, like their 250 million neighbors, would discover the charms of the health care "waiting list"--the one year, two years, or more Britons and others wait in pain for even routine operations; the six, twelve, eighteen months Canadians wait for an MRI scan, there being more such scanners in the city of Philadelphia than in the entire Great White North.

    --America Alone, p. 51

    • Steyn's example of the woman who had to give birth to her twin sons in Edmonton, Alberta, because her local maternity ward in British Columbia--and, indeed, all the maternity wards everywhere in British Columbia--were full. --p. 51

    • The example of SARS. "When SARS leapt from China to infect Toronto's hospitals in 2003, the principal contribution of the WHO (Wold Health Organization) was to issue a travel advisory warning visitors to steer clear of Ontario, leaving it to the [United States'] CDC [Centers for Disease Control] to provide advanced and practical analysis of the problem. . . . (I)f an infection shows up in an Atlanta hospital, no American doctor looks for guidance from a Canadian government agency. But if it shows up in a Toronto hospital, the Ontario health system takes it for granted that the best minds of the CDC in Atlanta will be staying late at the office trying to work out what's going on." --pp. 52-53

    • "When something goes awry, in a Sri Lankan beach resort or a Toronto hospital, it's the hyperpower who shows up. America doesn't need to 'join the world': it already provides a lot of the world's infrastructure." -p. 53

Kind of a wake-up call for me!

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