Steyn’s nightmare agenda endorsed by Pipes

(Further comments have been added to this entry.)

Daniel Pipes praises Mark Steyn’s American Alone: The End of the World as We Know It as a “remarkable book” that combines “several virtues uncommonly found together—humor, accurate reportage, and deep thinking…. Mr. Steyn offers a devastating thesis but presents it in bits and pieces, so I shall pull it together here.”

[A devastating thesis that’s in bits and pieces, and so it has to be pulled together by someone else?.]

The thesis, as summarized by Pipes, is that Europe has through its welfare-state culture fatally weakened itself morally and demographically in the face of expansive Islam, and therefore it “will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries.” Here is Pipes’s last paragraph:

Pared to its essentials, [Steyn] counsels two things: First, avoid the “bloated European welfare systems,” declare them no less than a national security threat, shrink the state, and emphasize the virtues of self-reliance and individual innovation. Second, avoid “imperial understretch,” don’t “hunker down in Fortress America” but destroy the ideology of radical Islam, help reform Islam, and expand Western civilization to new places. Only if Americans “can summon the will to shape at least part of the emerging world” will they have enough company to soldier on. Failing that, expect a “new Dark Ages … a planet on which much of the map is re-primitivized.”

Pipes disagrees with Steyn on only one point: he thinks that Europe still has time to avoid the fate Steyn lays out for it. He takes not the slightest exception to Steyn’s other ideas: that the welfare state and birthrates are the main problem, not Islam and what to do about it; that America should do nothing to restrict Muslim immigration (a non-issue for Steyn, and now apparently for Pipes as well, though in the past he has warned against Muslim immigration); that America should seek to reform the Islamic world rather than isolating and containing it; and that America, even while yielding to the de-Westernization of Europe, should seek to Westernize other parts of the world so as not to be alone.

In addition to its laughable self-contradictions and total unworkability (Steyn expects us to “destroy the ideology of radical Islam” even as we are accepting the Islamic conquest of Europe!), Steyn’s nightmarish vision, embraced by Pipes, is of an “America” that has cut itself off from its European cultural and racial roots and the whole past of Western man—an “America” that fulfills itself by merging itself with the non-European world. It is, in short, the ultimate neoconservative program.

Meanwhile, readers like Stuart S. think I should refrain from criticizing such “conservatives,” in the interests of maintaining “conservative” solidarity.

- end of initial entry -

Michael E. writes:

The notion that the West can reform the Islamic world when we can’t even reform the Muslims living in the West is ludicrous. These people must be willfully blind not to understand that. The only reason that the Muslims in the US are not as demanding and radicalized as those in Europe is because their numbers have not yet reached a critical mass.

Regarding Steyn: He seems to take pleasure in announcing and anticipating the Islamization of Europe. Perhaps it stems from Europe’s past anti Semitism and current anti-Israel policies. But Does he not realize that every loss of a country in Europe to Islam will weaken the US and Israel?

LA replies:

Jews have so often expressed hostility to historic European Christendom because of its anti-Semitism, and have so often emphasized that historic Islam was more tolerant of Jews than was Christendom (a terrible simplification and distortion of the truth, as explained by Andrew Bostom), that a motive of revenge against Europe cannot be dismissed out of hand as an explanation of why a Jew like Pipes and a half-Jew like Steyn are so ready to envision a world without Europe. Obviously, many non-Jews evince the same sort of callousness and indifference to their own civilization as Pipes and Steyn do here, but, given the specifically Jewish historical grievances against Europe, plus Europe’s present (and deeply wrong and sinful) demonization of Israel, I think it’s a legitimate question to be raised, which they could answer.

Also, I don’t wish to make this a Jewish issue, but as I recently said, an element of what is happening here is that the neoconservatives, a faction led by Jews and formed around a predominantly Jewish sensibility (regardless of whether individual members are Jewish), have a rock-bottom opposition to any form of ethnic or religious discrimination, because Jews fear that such discrimination would end up harming them. Thus Norman Podhoretz wrote in My Love Affair with America (discussed by me here):

“Acting on the principle that ‘all bigotry is indivisible,’ Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, whose purpose was to defend Jews against discrimination and defamation, joined enthusiastically in the civil-rights movement, of which individual Jews were for a long time leaders and funders.”

Such logic would inevitably lead Jews to believe that even rational discrimination against Muslims (i.e., stopping and reversing Muslim immigration) must end as irrational discrimination against Jews. Neocons are extreme on this. Joseph Bottum, a long-time contributor at the fanatically open-borders Weekly Standard and now the managing editor of First Things, who is a Catholic, has said that to exclude Muslim immigrants from the West would make us as immoral as Muslim terrorists.

The sheer nuttiness and destructiveness of such opinions points the way to their solution: they are not sustainable against rational criticism.

Ben writes:

If Mr. Auster began to have solidarity with “conservatives,” that would mean he is not serious about the defense of Western civilization. Period. It would also not help to save the West as their tactics are losing anyway. Regardless of how much us traditionalists admit the darkness of the hour, this still doesn’t change the fact that only traditionalism can save America.

Mark P. writes:

Lord, what a nightmare! Between the Leftists who gleefully want the de-Westernization of the West and the Neocons who tacitly want the de-Westernization of the West, it’s hard to tell who our enemies really are.

LA writes:

Michael E. wrote: “But does [Steyn] not realize that every loss of a country in Europe to Islam will weaken the US and Israel?”

I have not read the book, but none of Steyn’s previous articles from which the book seems to be largely lifted, and none of the reviews I have read about the book, indicates that he realizes that. He doesn’t seem to have any notion of America’s organic connection to Europe, either in a historical/cultural sense, or in a present political/civilizational/economic/military sense. How could America live in a world with an Islamized Europe?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. More horrifying than Steyn is the fact that so many people admire his work and think he’s important—not just admire him, but are his devotees.

If you think I’m exaggerating, here’s a brief sampling of responses to his Chicago Sun-Times piece at

Reply 1—Posted by: steveW, 11/12/2006 5:37:52 AM

The “money quote” (as they say) in Steyn’s brilliant piece here, starts with his first word and ends with his last. A Must Read amongst the Must Reads this year.

Reply 2—Posted by: John C, 11/12/2006 5:41:38 AM

Mark should have a permanent box on Lucianne, with his works automatic posted to -must read-!

Reply 3—Posted by: safesword, 11/12/2006 5:47:02 AM

good idea #2….maybe if enough people wanted it, miss lucianne could pull something?

Reply 7—Posted by: Toledo, 11/12/2006 6:25:53 AM

There’s no need for a permanent box for Steyn. He’s always here. Ever remember a Sunday when we didn’t get out “Sunday Steyn”?

The man is brilliant. I kneel at his feet.

Has anyone ever heard of people saying they kneel at the feet of a columnist? When we consider the the destructive and demoralizing content of Steyn’s ideas (joking about the death of Europe, telling people not to do anything to oppose the spread of Islam into the West, but just have more babies) combined with the hold he has over many readers, in which they look at him as some combination of pop idol and savior, we realize we are looking at something abnormal and dangerous, almost, perhaps, in Revelations 13 territory.

Charlton G. writes:

You wrote: “How could America live in a world with an Islamized Europe?”

It can’t. Many persons who know better, like Steyn, seem to forget that Europe is one of the most highly developed areas on earth. It possesses military weapons that are the equal of any held by the US or in Asia. What happens when these nations and their sophisticated weaponry fall under the influence of militant Islam? Does anyone doubt these weapons will be used against non-Muslim areas to threat and cajole them into policies favorable to Islam? We cannot remain neutral as Europe falls under the spell of Islam. If Europe falls to the Muslim, war between the US and Europe will be inevitable at some point. Either that or we surrender.

Arlene M. writes:

I’m curious: what’s your opinion on just why Steyn is so revered by most of the L-dotters, the Freepers, and the rest of the mainstream conservatives? Obviously he is entertaining in his way, but his fatalistic, “the West is doomed” refrain would seem not to be a welcome message. What is the Steyn phenomenon about? Do we just want someone to entertain us as the lights go out in the West? I really don’t understand it, although I’ve pondered it quite a bit.

Or is it that many of the conservatives who are Europhobes are gleeful to see Europe fall to the Moslems, thinking “better them than us; it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people?”

Maybe because I don’t share most “conservatives’” disdain for Europe, especially France, I don’t get it.

LA replies:

I agree with you that it is bizarre. I have at times enjoyed him, namely during the 2004 election cycle when I very much enjoyed his columns on Kerry, who was his perfect subject (the way Clinton was Rush Limbaugh’s perfect subject). But to be a “fan” of his, a “groupie”? To get excited about someone who is basically a light-weight humorist, and to remain excited about him even after he starts pronouncing on weighty matters like the fate of civilizations, and, moreover, writing off our own civilization? I don’t get it. I think it reflects a deep emptiness in modern people that this empty character, whose columns are intellectual bubble gum, would mean so much to them.

However, maybe it’s possible to make sense of it. Each of your theories makes sense. Another theory is that he gives his readers the heady feeling that they’re in the know, on top of the bad things that are happening, the things that the PC liberals ignore, while at the same time he doesn’t demand anything of his readers. He doesn’t make any arguments that would cost himself or his readers anything, e.g., what do we do about immigration. He soars and floats in his own stratosphere, untouched by the things he writes about, and gives his readers the feeling that they are up there with him.

Maybe it’s just this. People are in an unspoken dread over the Islamic menace and the real possibility of our civilization coming to an end. If you’re a liberal (and almost all modern people are liberals), there is no solution to this threat (since solutions can only be found outside liberalism, e.g., radical changes in immigration policy, deportations, closing mosques). So Steyn makes this insoluble threat endurable by giving the reader the vicarious experience of being “tough-minded realist looking into the abyss,” without his actually having to take any tough positions. There is something escapist and masturbatory about it. Or it’s like a drug. People talk of him in terms of “my Steyn fix. … I can’t go without my Steyn…” Someone just wrote to me this evening saying that he had been a “Steyn groupie,” but was now recovered, or, should we say, recovering.

Whatever the cause of it, I view the Steyn phenomenon as deeply sinister. I’ve often felt that there is something novelistic about it, as though it were something happening in a novel about some fraudulent entertainer/politician/savior with an evil agenda gaining a hold over millions of people’s minds. Like one of those Left Behind novels. Only it’s not a novel. He is a real-life pied piper taking conservatives away from a serious grappling with the troubles we are in, and rendering them unfit for any civilizational defense.

Dutch reader “Snouck Hurgronje” writes:

I think this is it. Old European (and American) society was a heavy society in which people had lots of duties. These duties had been assembled of centruries of life and struggle of one society against another and against the invaders from the South and East (mostly Islam).

Some of my partly formed thoughts: After the development of nuclear weapons, preparations for war became make-believe. Large inventories of arms were built up and conscripts trained in their use like before, but wars can be decided with push-button ease in the nuclear age. This is especially true after decolonisation.

So why ingrain people with a sense of duty and patriotism under such circumstances? Why not increase the power of the elites over the population by binding them to the state with bribes (welfare). All the pillars of society (church, people, marriage, army, culture) could be assaulted with impunity, because war was not about a strong populace anymore.

War has changed and immigration is a form of warfare against Western people that does not look like warfare as we knew it. Islam and the Mexicans are using these new modes of conflict to attack the West. The opinion forming elites are in denial just as a large part of societies, because if they recognise this as a threat and as warfare, then there is a real problem which has to be addressed by recreating a society of duties. Nobody wants the burden of those duties.

The West will continue to be rolled back until the pain of losing power over their societies outstrips the pain of carrying the burden of duty PLUS there is someone who shows a way out, who shows a way to visible victories over the enemies of the West.

LA replies:

Certainly Westerners’ sense of duty and their will to defend their nations have declined, but to lay this at the feet of a single material cause such as the development of nuclear weapons seems too simple and deterministic.

LA writes:

By the way, I can’t help but notice the way Daniel Pipes praises Mark Steyn for his “deep thinking,” and then adds: “Mr. Steyn offers a devastating thesis but presents it in bits and pieces, so I shall pull it together here.” So, Steyn has a deeply thought-out and devastating thesis, but it’s presented in bits and pieces, so that Pipes volunteers to pull the theory together for him. Is this what is known as carrying water?

We don’t have intellectual life in this country any more. We have intellectual tribalism. Neocons automatically endorse everything their fellow neocons write; paleocons automatically endorse everything their fellow paleocons write; leftists automatically endorse everything their fellow leftists write. And nobody ever asks a critical question that goes outside the shared premises of his tribe.

That thought was triggered by Pipes’s fulsome praise of a “devastating” theory that, Pipes admits, is so poorly organized that someone else must put it together, which suggests that it’s not devastating at all, and that Pipes knows this but won’t say so. It’s also triggered by the fact that Pipes, who virtually alone among the neocons has said that Muslim immigration is a problem, gives his unqualified endorsement to a book on the Muslim threat that totally ignores immigration. Thus the tribalistic imperative of neocons to support each other trumps Pipes’s own concerns about the immigration problem.

Leonard K. writes:

By praising Steyn, Pipes is definitely showing his indifference to the fate of Europe, but I don’t think he is motivated by revenge for the European historic persecution of Jews. As a matter of fact, he is no less fatalistic about the future of the American Jews, his own “tribe”: just read “The End of American Jewry’s Golden Era”!

LA replies:

Fair point. I’m not arguing that Pipes actually has such revenge motives. I am saying, however, that the constant attacks on historic Christian Europe and the constant favorable comparisons (which Pipes himself has engaged in) of Islam’s treatment of the Jews as compared with Christian Europe’s treatment of the Jews suggest an underlying hostility toward Europe which may be a factor in the shocking indifference of many neocons to Europe’s fate. It’s a reasonable inference which the neocons are free to refute, if they cared to do so.

Ian H. writes:

About the Jews and the fate of Europe … it occurred to me recently that if Europe, or more precisely southern Europe, fell, Israel would be left as a militarily/economically unsustainable enclave at the far end of an Islamic “mare nostrum.” The best they could hope for might then be to become a Turkish protectorate.

LA replies:

But isn’t that part of the same consistent inconsistency as the neocons’ support of Bush’s Muslim democratization project, even though it led to the validation of the Palestinian entity and to the election of Hamas to govern that entity? I’ve been pointing out for years—and the paleocon critics of the neocons and Israel have never picked up on this fact—that the neocons have abandoned their commitment to Israel in favor of their commitment to the Bush democracy project. What this means is that the neocons are no longer pursuing a blameworthy double standard of undermining American national identity in the name of universalism, while defending Israeli national identity in the name of Jewish particularism. Instead, the neocons are now, like the left, consistently opposed to everyone’s national identity.

In other words, it turns out that support for Israeli nationhood was merely an unprincipled exception to the neocons’ overall liberalism, namely their democratic universalism. And that unprincipled exception (“unprincipled exception” meaning a non-liberal attitude that lacks any articulated non-liberal principle) was inevitably pushed aside by their principled democratic universalism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 14, 2006 01:59 PM | Send

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