After America by Mark Steyn

After America

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon tells a cautionary tale about the end our country and our 236 year experiment in self governance. Steyn doesn’t use Science Fiction, instead he uses newspaper articles. What makes this book so disturbing is so few people want to stop our slide but rather want to catch up with Europe on the great rush to self-destruction. The first half the book is depressing. I was sickly reminded of reading ‘The Gulag Archipelago‘ by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn.
At some point our enemies will over play their hand and America will react, right? But Steyn assumes the worse and asks: will there be enough of us left?
In the second half of the book Steyn smuggles a letter out of the future to warn us: of a planet with no country like America to rescue it. [Steyn uses the  H.G. Wells story: ‘The Time Machine‘  throughout his book.]
In the epilogue, Steyn makes a few level headed suggestions to protect this country as the last bastion of strength, freedom, and liberty.
Steyn sprinkles humor along with his stories of the coming apocalypse, but it is hard lighten such a dark mood.

400 pages

Quotes From The Book

So it starts with the money–dry stuff about numbers and percentage of GDP. As Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado fumed to a room of voters in 2010, “We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet. In my view, we have nothing to show for it.” – location 90-92

It starts with the money, but it doesn’t stop there. It ends with a ruined and reprimitivized planet, in fewer easy stages than you might expect. – location 100-101

On assuming office, President Obama assured us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible wastrel of a predecessor had taken the federal budget on an eight-year joyride. So the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor could get things under control was to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in Spaceballs (which seems the appropriate comparison) called “Ludicrous Speed.” Let’s head for the washed-out bridge, but at Obamacrous Speed! – location 114-17

When government spends on the scale Washington’s got used to, that’s not a spending crisis, it’s a moral one. The Irish have a useful word for the times–flaithiulacht–which translates to ruinous generosity, invariably with someone else’s money. There’s nothing virtuous about “caring” “compassionate” “progressives” demonstrating how caring and compassionate and progressive they are by spending money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born. – location 305-8

if Europe’s somewhat agreeable post-war decline was cushioned by America, who’s volunteering to do the cushioning for America? – location 333-34

Faced with a choice between unsustainable entitlements and maintaining armed forces of global reach, the United States, as Europe did, will abandon military capability and toss the savings into the great sucking maw of social spending. – location 393-94

It’s amazing with a multi-trillion-dollar barrel how quickly you wind up scraping the bottom of it. – location 603-4

According to Mushtaq Yufzai, the Taliban have a saying: Americans have all the watches, but we’ve got all the time. Cute. If it’s not a Taliban proverb, it would make an excellent country song. It certainly distills the essence of the “clash of civilizations”: Islam is playing for tomorrow, whereas much of the West has, by any traditional indicator, given up on the future. We do not save, we do not produce, we do not reproduce, not in Europe, Canada, Vermont, or San Francisco. Instead, we seek new, faster ways to live in an eternal present, in an unending whirl of sensory distraction. Tocqueville’s prediction of the final stage of democracy prefigures the age of “social media”: It hides his descendants and separates his contemporaries from him; it throws him back for ever upon himself alone, and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart. – location 662-70

There is a famous passage by Alexis de Tocqueville. Or, rather, it would be famous were he still widely read. For he knows us far better than we know him: “I would like to imagine with what new traits despotism could be produced in the world,” he wrote two centuries ago. He and his family had been on the sharp end of France’s violent convulsions and knew what forms despotism could take in Europe. But he considered that, to a democratic republic, there were slyer seductions: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. – location 785-90

The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations–complicated, minute, and uniform–through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own… it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. Welcome to the twenty-first century. – location 797-802

Fans of Big Government take it for granted that Obama, Geithner, and a handful of other guys can “run” the financial sector, and the auto industry, and the insurance industry, and the property market, and health care, and even the very climate of the planet. – location 853-55

Big Government depends on going around the country stirring up apathy–creating the sense that problems are so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it’s easier to shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal with them. – location 886-88

As Bing Crosby said to Bob Hope in The Road to Utopia, “Leave your name with the girl, and we may get to you for some crowd noises.” That’s the citizen’s role on America’s road to Utopia: Leave your name with the girl and, after the background check, you may qualify for the crowd scenes. – location 913-15

It’s tough to write an autobiography when you haven’t done anything. – location 1089

“Code language” is code language for “total bollocks.” “Code word” is a code word for “I’m inventing what you really meant to say because the actual quote doesn’t quite do the job for me.” – location 1153-55

It’s like docking at Ellis Island in 1883, coming down the gangplank, and finding everyone excited about this pilot program they’ve introduced called “serfdom.” – location 1832-33

If the problem with socialism, as Mrs. Thatcher famously said, is that eventually you run out of other people’s money, the problem with Greece and much of Europe is that they’ve advanced to the next stage: they’ve run out of other people, period. – location 1846-49

So it is in our time: things are “kept going” by forces largely out of sight, whether in the Flownover Country of working America, or in the shadows of the Undocumented, or in the factories of China. – location 2333-35

He’s not, even in Democrat terms, a political figure–as Bill Clinton and Joe Biden are. Instead, he’s a creature of the broader culture: there are millions of people like Barack Obama, the eternal students of an unbounded lethargic transnational campus for whom global compassion and the multicultural pose are merely the modish gloss on a cult of radical grandiose narcissism. – location 2553-55

Or as someone once said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We were waiting for a man who would have been unthinkable as the leader of a serious nation until our civilization had reached such a level of bland bovine prosperity it truly believed that the platitudinous nursery chants it teaches our children as a substitute for education are now a blueprint for governance. Obama is not just a product of his time, but the product of his time. – location 2556-59

not every child has the aptitude to benefit from college, and not every child who has wants to go, or needs to. For most who wind up there, college is a waste of time, and money, and life. Hacks pretend to teach, slackers pretend to learn, and employers pretend it’s a qualification. – location 2581-83

Eighth Grade America won a world war, and emerged afterwards as an economic superpower that dominated the post-war era until Eighteenth Grade America sleepwalked it off the precipice. – location 2593-94

For most of its “scholars,” college is a leisurely half-decade immersion in the manners and mores of American conformism. – location 2598-2600

Other than that, it doesn’t matter what, if anything, you learn there, just so long as you emerge with the diploma. It used to be made of sheepskin. But these days the students are the sheep and the ones getting fleeced are their parents. – location 2600-2602

Americans not only forego what might have been six years of profitable and career-advancing work, they also rack up a six-figure debt in order to access a job that is increasingly unlikely to justify that outlay. – location 2607-8

Or as the blogger Kate McMillan likes to say: What’s the opposite of “diversity”? University. – location 2650-51

Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that “the best” colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages…. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority. – location 2661-64

If he hadn’t become president, his resume wouldn’t be anybody’s idea of a return on investment. His life would read like one of those experimental novels that runs backwards. – location 2699-2700

Obama’s proposals are bold only insofar as few men would offer such a transparent guarantee of disaster. – location 2718-19

It’s interesting to learn that “anti-fascism” now means attacking the British Empire, which stood alone against fascism in that critical year between the fall of France and Germany’s invasion of Russia. And it’s even sadder to have to point out the most obvious fatuity in those “anti-fascist groups'” litany of evil–“the British Empire’s association with slavery.” The British Empire’s principal association with slavery is that it abolished it. Until William Wilberforce, the British Parliament, and the brave men of the Royal Navy took up the issue, slavery was an institution regarded by all cultures around the planet as a constant feature of life, as permanent as the earth and sky. – location 3434-38

In Britain, everything is policed except crime. – location 3503-4

Big Government means small citizens: it corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. – location 3590-91

England is a sad case study because it managed to spare itself all the most obviously toxic infections of the age, beginning with Fascism and Communism. But, after Big Government, after global retreat, after the loss of liberty there is only pitiless civic disintegration. – location 3591-93

One-third of all female-headed households live in poverty. Which suits government just fine, because then you’re more willing to serve as a pliant, dependent subject of the benign Sovereign. – location 3710-12

(to use a British archaism I rather miss) bollocks on stilts: – location 4923

For all the economic growth since World War II, much of the world had gone backwards–almost the whole of West Africa, and Central Africa, and Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Bosnia. Yet none of the elite asked themselves a simple question: What’s to stop that spreading? In a world after America, the reprimitivization of the map would accelerate: – location 5501-3

As Andrew McCarthy wrote: “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” – location 5515-16

The animating principles of the American idea were entirely absent from Obama’s vision–unless by American exceptionalism you mean an exceptional effort to harness an exceptionally big government in the cause of exceptionally massive spending. – location 5626-28

How could any citizen-president of a self-governing republic quote approvingly a plea for remote, centrally regulated, continent-wide dependency? Because that’s what he likes about it: the willingness of freeborn citizens to be strapped in to the baby seats of Big Nanny. – location 5674-76

But small government gives you big freedoms–and Big Government leaves you with very little freedom. The opposite of Big Government is not small government, but Big Liberty. – location 5944-45

When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher–and you make it very difficult ever to change back. – location 5947-48

Yes, you can tax people to the hilt and give them “free” health care and “free” homes and “free” food. But in doing so you turn them into, if not (yet) slaves, then pets. And that’s the nub of it: Big Government leads to small liberty, and to small men. – location 5949-51


About craigmaas

I do a little web design work and support a couple web sites and blogs. My primary focus is lighting and energy consulting where I use a number of computer tools to help my customer find ways of saving money and improving their work environment. See my web site for more information:
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