Review. After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
In After America we pick up where the end of the world left off in Steyn's last book: Europe and much of the rest of the Western world is still in demographic upheaval and financial crisis. America is fast joining its declining neighbors in a race to the bottom.
In Steyn's words, "It starts with the money." As he lays it out, the United States is being buried under a mountain of debt that it has no hope of ever paying off, at least at the current rate it is spending money and maintaining its entitled, ever-growing, unaccountable bureaucratic class. What shrinking amount of working class America is left to pay the bills can't possibly hope to keep up. The border to the south is getting hazier every day, the education system is churning out dumber and dumber students, and things show no sign of getting better anytime soon.
Cheery, right? Well, it gets worse. In his intro, Mark Steyn quotes this passage from Jonathan Swift's "The Run Upon the Bankers," a few small lines which nonetheless lay out one of the book's central themes:
A baited banker thus desponds,
From his own hand foreseess his fall,
They have his soul, who have his bonds;
'Tis like the writing on the wall.
And who owns America's bonds? Increasingly, it's China, which also happens to be buying - or renting - prime real estate not only across Asia and Africa but in the Western world as well. If the balance of global power passed from Britain to America sometime during the Second World War, in the wake of Britain's own financial problems - a relatively smooth transition from one Western democracy to another - then to whom will the baton be passed should America's own financial problems spark the beginning of its decline as a nation? China looks like a leading prospect.
In short, Steyn's thesis is that should America go the way of Britain and lose its position as the global order-maker, its decline will lead to a meaner, less free, less democratic world. And as for the United States, an imperial decline would undoubtedly be ugly: picture a Latin American-type banana republic with a series of state successions. It's all quite grim, and, while some elements sound far-fetched, they begin to seem less and less implausible as one reads on.
Oh, and there's jokes. Mark Steyn has a wonderful ability to make depressing things remarkably funny without crossing the line into flippancy, and After America, above and beyond its subject matter, is an easy-flowing, enjoyable read.
Walker Morrow is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist