Yes, I do realize that I’m a book behind on Steyn’s works. I run a little late on political books, since I can only take a couple of them annually. I read enough blogs to get my fix of this sort of material daily, and when you’re reading it daily, the book form seems to be a bit tiresome.
I actually picked this book as the first selection in a shared reading experience a friend of mine in Minnesota suggested. Sort of like a book club, but just the two of us, and over the phone. We were talking about demographics one day, and I remembered I own this book, so I recommended it. He borrowed a copy from the library, and when I called him again, he fumed a bit about it and said he couldn’t read it because… well, because Steyn is that way. Also, my Canadian friend in Minnesota is quite probably not that way, which is to say obnoxiously conservative.
So I read it with an eye toward what it would mean to my friend, who is not a conservative. The thrust of Steyn’s argument lies in three facets: 1) Demography is destiny, 2) Sclerotic, secular, non-reproductive societies have their roots in their cradle-to-grave welfare systems, and 3) A certain worldwide demographic wants to destroy the West and make the world submit to its religion, and its birthrate exceeds that of the West. If you’re reading this blog, you’re familiar with it. In Steyn’s thesis, Western Europe and possibly all of Europe will be overrun by Islamic citizens in the near term, which will destroy those countries as they’ve been known, and of all the West, only America will maintain its civilization since it is barely replenishing its citizenry through things done routinely in seventies science fiction in extraplanetary zoos by human captives on display.
Steyn weaves the three main thrusts of his arguments together instead of building them syllogistically to the conclusion, and he puts barbs into the text. Between those two things, it’s really not going to convince my friend and maybe not many who are yet unconvinced. However, I think the target audience of the book is those who are already convinced and want affirmation or restatement of their beliefs, hopefully so they can go forth thoughtfully and convince others.
Five years after the book, I’m not as gloomy as Steyn was (and is now, given the title of his latest book–After America for those of you who might not know). The sweep of history is broad and long, and its predictors are more often wrong than not. However, the book does crystallize, or should, that our Western traditions and heritage are better than all the others that have been tried and do require some conscious defense thereof. If you merely enjoy liberty without recognizing its sources, someone will quickly take it from you.
Books mentioned in this review: