The Disunited States: America’s Collapse?

Gideon Rachman of the FT gives a sound thrashing to Mark Steyn and the other participants in a conference on “The Collapse of Europe” somewhere in Florida California. It’s always good to see the racist buffoon Steyn getting fisked, but there’s a deeper point here. What if it was the United States that was threatened by “collapse”?

After all, it is a society that faces some grave problems. Oil-intensity of GDP is surpassed only by China among industrialised economies, meaning that the US has a lot of distance to make up on its competitors on the way towards sustainability. The long-term population shift into Florida and the South-West was famously the result of air conditioning, which doesn’t look such a cracking idea any more. The Western states have always had problems with water, which so far have been coped with. Will they always be, especially with reduced snowpack in the Rockies hitting water supply and hydroelectric generation?

The economy, meanwhile, faces gargantuan twin deficits and a dollar sustained by the conditional support of the People’s Bank of China. In the event of a devaluation, how quickly can resources shift into exporting and import-competing sectors? Gigantic sums – hundreds of billions of dollars – are projected to be necessary to restore the US Army after it finally leaves Iraq.

But perhaps the most worrying feature is the increasingly vicious political polarisation, and its corollary, the increasing efforts each side of the partisan divide makes to withdraw into its own version of reality. We mentioned the re-direction of resources into the tradable sector of the economy, but will those resources be available in a nation of creationist “science” fairs? Solutions like this one aren’t for duffers. More importantly, the same distinction late Pentagon strategists like Thomas Barnett make between the “integrated core” and the “nonintegrating gap” was making itself plain in the US. (What else, after all, does the famous and prescient “United States of Canada/Jesusland” map illustrate?) Can a society include Intel ISEF and the Christian Soda Volcano show without tearing itself apart?

Similarly, exactly the same trends were making themselves felt demographically as in Europe, with a low birth rate among the existing population being masked by immigration, which is bitterly – and violently – resented by some sections of society. Perhaps they realise that, in the long run, immigration only strengthens the remaining outward-looking sections of society. US publicists boasted that Muslim immigrants to the United States were “more integrated” than in Europe, but on closer inspection this simply meant that nothing bad had happened yet.

These problems tested the constitutional fabric to the limit – consider the ugly confrontation between Alberto Gonzales and Thomas Comey by John Ashcroft’s hospital bed. Comey found it necessary to have his FBI security detail ordered to resist Gonzales’s Secret Service guards by force if necessary. By 2007, was it already too late for the United States to avoid its second Civil War? Even though the outbreak of violence on the California-Nevada line was unexpected, the forces that led to it had been around for years, and it is a truism that nobody ever realises it is happening to them until it happens. Hence the scenes of people going about their business as foreign nationals were evacuated on the EU amphibious assault ships.

It is certainly no more ridiculous than “Eurabia.”

27 thoughts on “The Disunited States: America’s Collapse?

  1. “US publicists boasted that Muslim immigrants to the United States were “more integrated” than in Europe, but on closer inspection this simply meant that nothing bad had happened yet.” Ironically this is much the same point that others of Steyn’s political ilk (for whom Europhobia and Islamophobia often go hand in hand)have been making of the recent Pew Survey. BTW – the conference is somewhere in California – Pepperdine University is hosting it.

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  3. Malibu is 3,000 miles from where you think it is. This seems to sum up how much you know about the US and the working of its Constitution, which is functioning well, as it has for over 200 years, thank you very much.

  4. “which is functioning well, as it has for over 200 years,”

    Exactly. The Civil War was, after all, a fantastic experience, greatly enjoyed by all the participants.

  5. I would like to see Alex Harrowell back up his assertion that Mark Steyn is a “racist buffoon.”

    Any back up will do, Alex.

  6. Racist: He repeatedly argues for public policy based on the doctrine that citizens of different “races” should have different rights and entitlements.

    Buffoon: Mr. Steyn suggested that the United States bombard Canada after the 11th September attacks.

    Malibu is 3,000 miles from where you think it is.

    How do you divine my thoughts on the geographic location of Malibu? The word is not used in the post. I think you just failed the Turing test, baby.

  7. I politely asked Alex Harrowell back up his assertion that Mark Steyn is a “racist buffoon.”:

    “Racist: He repeatedly argues for public policy based on the doctrine that citizens of different “races” should have different rights and entitlements.”

    Alex, more assertions are not evidence. In lieu of evidence, it’s slander.

    I would like you to quote at least one citation where Steyn says that “citizens of different races should have different rights and entitlements.”

    Please? You can do it.

    Or if you would like to back up the more general “racist buffoon” comment with the same; have at it.

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  9. Haha. The US faces collapse because a small minority believe in Creationism. Good one!

    I also think that because no American Muslims have “yet” to carry out an attack that is in and of itself a good sign. I don’t think its any secret that American Muslims have assimiliated better than European ones. In the US they aren’t segregated into government owned squalor like in France, and they have substantially higher incomes than Muslims in the U.K.

    I wouldn’t worry about the price of oil either. The price for the US was actually higher during the OPEC embargo, and the US made it through that just fine. Higher prices of oil will only decrease demand, which in turn will readjust future prices. Furthermore, technology is not stagnat, and enterprising individuals will make use of any new Tech. in a reality of high energy prices.

    You do, however, have very strong points on the issues of twin deficits, indebtness to foreign holders, and water issues out West. BUT, it’ll take more than any combination of the three to create a “disunited” states.

  10. What the hell is it about this thread attacting so many patently ridiculous claims?

    “The US faces collapse because *a small minority* believe in Creationism.”

    five second with google will lead you to
    which will tell you that as of 2006 55% of the US population believes that god created humans in their current form, while 27% that humans evolved but god guided the process, and only 13% take the pure science viewpoint.
    The precise fractions change as you change the wording of the question, but there is no way you can characterize the population of the US that believe in creationism as a small fraction.

    The existence of a nutcase religious population may or may not lead to a future collapse of the US (it certainly hasn’t helped the Arab world, and I think it has done a lot to throttle Israel), but claiming that this fraction of the population is small is flat out wrong.

  11. Alex Harrowell,

    You are going to have to spend more than three seconds on Google. Because I cannot find the word, sentence, or paragraph that leads you to the conclusion that the author is a “racist buffoon”.

    Maybe I am thick. But maybe you are just dodging and weaving and going ad hominem. And indulging in slander.

    It’s been 24 hours since your first post, and I am still waiting for you to enlighten me.

    Thank you! 😀

  12. A bit on Steyn:

    But number-crunching and mockery are not a sufficient response; it is hard to comment on Steyn’s work without noting its raw racism. Throughout his work he uses openly racialized language, albeit with a post-ironic smirk. He talks about “the Yellow Peril” and “gooks”. He notes nostalgically that “in the old days, the white man settled the Indian [sic] territory” whereas now the savages are settling us. He describes as “correct” a friend who talks about “beturbanned prophet-monkeys.” Of course, Steyn denies this is connected to race, writing, “To agitate about what proportion of the population is “white” is grotesque and inappropriate. But it’s not about race; it’s about culture.”

    Yet it quickly becomes clear that for him, culture is merely a thinly veiled homologue for race – and then the mask slips entirely. He writes: “Those who pooh-pooh the the United States’ comparatively robust demographics say they reflect nothing more than the fecundity of Hispanic immigration… In fact, white women in America still breed at a greater rate – 1.85 or so – than white women in Europe or Canda.” So after saying it is “grotesque” to count out “white” babies, he does just that. “White” is not a culture; it is a skin colour, and there Steyn is, relieved that more babies have his pigmentation than the brown and black varieties. Indeed, if Steyn’s ‘warnings’ have a historical precedent, it is the hysteria among even liberal Americans like Jack London in the early twentieth century that anticipated Chinese immigrants would outbreed white Americans and take over the US. London’s solution was extremination; what is Steyn’s?

  13. It’s attracting ridiculous claims because that’s what it was designed to do, Maynard. I’d like to point up the weird double standard that it seems quite routine to make the wildest suggestions about Europe, but impossible to even imagine that anything is wrong with the US.

    Interestingly, there’s a partisan divide here – many of the points I’ve referred to are routinely used by left-leaning US publicists to threaten apocalypse unless [enter proposal here] is implemented. And even though they are fact-based (water, dollars, deficits, oil etc) the neoconservative right’s only response is to deny them. The only public policy challenge whose existence they accept is immigration.

    Famously, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  14. Wow. Alex, you’ve got some dense readers here. I am stunned, honestly stunned, that they don’t understand the concept of irony.

    Forgive me, Alex, but it’s becoming painful to watch people make idiots of themselves in your comment thread. So, for all the humor-impaired commentators above, I’ll spell it out.

    Claiming that the U.S. is going to collapse into a civil war is stupid. Claims that Europe is about to fall into dhimmitude or suffer an intifada are based on similar reasoning and with as much grasp of the facts on the ground as claims that the U.S. is about to fall into a civil war. Ergo, fears of imminent Eurabia are even more stupid. Get it?

    It wouldn’t be so depressing if Alex hadn’t first hinted at his intention in his introduction, then signalled it by switching tenses halfway through the post, and finally spelled it out in his last sentence. You know, the one that reads, “It is certainly no more ridiculous than ‘Eurabia.'”

    While I’m here, I’ll take a deep breath and try to take Scott seriously. It’s hard, Scott, because you’re doing your best to come across as a deeply unserious person who is incapable of analyzing even a single short page of Steyn’s writings.

    So, racist buffoonery.

    (1) The claim that the growth of Latino students in one single solitary Long Island public school districts is so impressive and signals an unprecedented sickness of American society, when it’s no more impressive than the growth of Italian students in certain New York public school districts a century ago, or, hell, the growth of Latino students in, say, other Long Island school districts a quarter-century ago.

    (2) The use of the word “zamesty.”

    (3) The absolutely pointless … well, it’s not an argument, or an effective use of irony, or anything that a thinking person would recognize … suggestion that all foreigners apply for a Z-1 visa.

    (4) The claim that bilingual education is something new in the American experience, which would be a surprise to Dwight Eisenhower, who attended one. Gosh, there are actually Americans out there who don’t know about the long history of state-supported bilingual education in the U.S.?

    (5) Finally, the incorrect claim Alex spotted but you were apparently too … careless, yes, careless … to notice: that Latino students are more prone to be in special education.

    I must conclude, Scott, that you are strikingly ignorant about what should be common knowledge about the world in which you live. Like, oh, the prevalence of German in the United States before WW1, or the commonality of foreign-language public signage in most major American cities before WW2, or the sheer inanity of Steyn’s inability to either muster facts or form anything resembling a coherent argument. I must also conclude that you are mysteriously lazy.

    Go read Steyn’s latest book for more buffoonery. And stop bothering Alex.


  15. Noel,

    I read Steyn’s column that Alex cited. I still don’t see the “racist buffoonery.”

    What, suggesting that Bush’s policy on Z-might be wrong on this issue, that migrants from Mexico might be less educated, and therefore require more resources from the state?

    Let’s just take one point, your point No. 5. Steyn didn’t say they were stupid. But you would argue that, what, migrant workers require LESS resources than other groups? That a large Hispanic population in New York is a natural condition?

    No, Steyn is arguing against the abrogation on its border controls, that uncontrolled — ILLEGAL — immigration might be a bad thing. That SHOULD topic that should be close to every Brits’ heart in the modern world.

    But it’s too easy to smear and misrepresent. Feh, and you call ME “mysteriously lazy.” 😀

    And Alex, you can stop hiding behind Noel’s skirts any time.

    All I asked for was a specific quotation (preferably with a link) that backs up your assertion that Steyn is a “racist buffoon”.

    I don’t think you can.

  16. I already have. I could provide more, if I had any reason to think this would elicit a response other than “all I asked for..”

  17. Yeah, Alex, this Scott fellow seems a bit challenged. He’s apparently too ignorant to know what “special education” means. He also seems to think that “zamnesty” is a clever use of the English language. And he’s too dumb to have learned that education pays for itself.

    Not to mention being totally ignorant of what it actually costs to educate an immigrant versus a native-born American.

    Worse yet, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Scott that he might be talking to a “Hispanic” from New York who is not at all happy at having his family’s presence in America called less “natural” than somebody else’s, like, say, Dwight Eisenhower’s. Or his own. But those Hispanics, you know, they all need special education and couldn’t possibly be commenting at a place like AFOE.

    I might as well stop referring to him in the third person for the conclusion.

    Scott, you’re a racist buffoon. See evidence above.

    Hasta siempre.

  18. “Racist: He repeatedly argues for public policy based on the doctrine that citizens of different “races” should have different rights and entitlements.”

    Strange to see this as the definition–it would include almost all Democrats. They regularly defend the idea that college admissions ought to be made with a huge racial component.

  19. No you twit, they defend the idea that some people have inherent advantages due to class, race and gender and correct for that.

    You cannot be colourblind in a racist society.

  20. Derbyshire’s numbers suggest that at some point not far away, every school board in America will have to factor in bilingual education programs and ever swelling special ed budgets, making one of the highest cost-per-pupil/lowest scores-per-pupil education systems even more expensive and even less educational.

    Clearly the ‘special ed’ reference sets liberal panties in a bunch. But as Steyn makes perfectly clear, this is in reference to the Derbyshire article which probably shows that along with increases in Hispanic enrollment and ESL classes, there is an increase in Special Education enrollment as well, hence the statement. I can’t find the original Derbyshire article though, so if anyone else can, please post. Special Education encompasses quite a bit these days. It used to be just straight retarded kids, but now it’s people with any number of ‘disabilities’, which are probably more prevelant in lower income brackets as they’ve always been, but weren’t considered ‘Special’. I doubt the nuance matters much to Harrowell though.

    No you twit, they defend the idea that some people have inherent advantages due to class, race and gender and correct for that.

    Martin, your simply repeating what Sebastian stated to a tee. Why? You don’t make up for past grievances by simply repeating them.

    (Bring back the preview button please!)

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  25. Scott: I would like to see Alex Harrowell back up his assertion that Mark Steyn is a “racist buffoon.”

    Well, Steyn has written at least one article whose title contains a racial slur: “Europeans are worse than cockroaches” published in The Spectator in November 2003. That makes him a racist in my book.

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