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Interview: Mark Steyn on After America, One Year Later

DRISCOLL:  This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we're talking with Mark Steyn of Steyn Online.com who writes on stage, screen, and demographic and economic apocalypses, and is the regular guest host for a talk radio star you may have heard of called Rush Limbaugh.  He's also the author of the After America:  Get Ready for Armageddon, now out in paperback.

Mark, last year, when After America debuted, we had Moody’s lower America’s debt rating and the British riots. This year, Regnery seems to be paying off rioters in Egypt and Libya to promote both the new book, and America Alone, your look at America during the War on Terror, back when we still called it the War on Terror. How do you manage to consistently gin up such great publicity for your books?

STEYN:  Yeah, I know.  The -- my book ends with a fairly sort of apocalyptic nuclear finale.  And you might want to be out of town once Regnery decide to do the publicity tie-in for that.

But it's true, when it came out last year I had the great good fortune on the day of the launch to actually have the Moody's downgrade.  And I -- and basically in the British riots they were reenacting pretty explicitly my chapter on Britannia's post-imperial decay.

This time around you're right, what's going on in Libya and Yemen and various other U.S. embassy compounds around the region I think is the next phase of that.  Decline always starts with the money, but it then moves on to other things.  When money drains, power drains.  I didn't agree with Condi Rice's -- a lot of Condi Rice's speech at the Republican convention, but she had one very good line in that when she said that a nation that loses control of its finances eventually loses control of its destiny.  And that's actually what you're seeing on the streets of the Middle East.

DRISCOLL:  While all that’s going on, Mark, what do you make of the Pentagon having Pastor Terry Jones on speed dial, and ringing him up after this year’s 9/11 riots?

STEYN:  Yeah.  I would fire General Dempsey, the Chief of Staff, for that.  I say that, by the way, as an immigrant to this country.  One thing you notice about this country is the U.S. government is actually quite coercive.  The United States Department of Justice if it decides to can bring unlimited resources to bear.  When you soak in the United States Treasury the IRS has far more powers to freeze your kid's bank account than equivalent revenue agencies in most free societies.

So it's not a small thing when the most senior military officer in the United States government calls you at home over a film you've made.  And it's simply not appropriate.  Kathy Shaidle, my compatriot, the great Canadian blogger, had a joke about the -- after the Manson killings, the Pentagon calling up the Beatles to warn them not to release “The White Album” -- or whichever it was, that it allegedly provoked Charles Manson.  But this is simply something that the United States government should not be doing.  It's legitimating, essentially, the view of these loons that the content of films and novels and cartoons and everything else is the business of the state.  And that may be true in Islamic states, but it's not true in free societies.

And again, there's a sort of futuristic chapter towards the end of my book where, sort of looking back on our time from around whatever it is, 2020, 2025.  And when we look back from that time we will marvel at how quickly western elites were willing to trade core western principles such as freedom of speech.  We see it in those -- that disgusting Twitter chain from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, we see it in the weaselly words of Secretary Clinton and President Obama, and we see it in that outrageous phone call that General Dempsey made to Pastor whatever-his-name-is.