Thanks very much to all the Mark Steyn Club Founding Members from around the world who swung by for our first Q&A session at SteynOnline in eleven years. We were swamped with questions, some of which we'll set aside and use elsewhere, and we'll be doing it again, but at a different hour to accommodate different parts of the world - and we'll try to do it in different forms, too - print, audio, video, so there's something for everyone.
Thanks again - and forgive any mistyping. Oh, and please join us tonight for another episode of The Tragedy of the Korosko, truly a tale for our time.
Herewith your questions and all my answers, in order:
Sean • May 17, 2017 at 15:35
I'd be interested in any writing tips you might have to offer.
Notwithstanding the Munk debate, where you "you weren't going to do any funny stuff", I personally like how you see the humour in some the most dour topics.
You gave a writing tip somewhere once before. As I remember, it was something like, "have an interesting fact or figure that the reader's never heard before". I thought this was good advice.
The most important tip is: Always maintain high standards of personal hygiene. As a young lad, I was shocked on meeting several writing heroes of mine by their noticeable level of malodorousness. Comes from sitting around the house typing all day. In that sense, Ian Fleming at his pad in Jamaica makes a better role model. He'd write in the morning and then have lunch with Ursula Andress. A chap has to shower and dress for that.
Morgan • May 17, 2017 at 15:46
Your antipathy toward the Beatles is of course legendary but surely even you can't let the imminent 50th anniversary of the release of their Sgt Pepper album pass without comment - caustic or otherwise.
Especially seeing as Bjorn from Abba, a band you do seem to like, said "The Beatles were absolutely by far the most influential and most important band for myself and Benny Andersson"
Surely the musical event of the 60's from the pre-eminent cultural artists of the 20th C deserves at least a few column inches?
Morgan Riordan (FM)
I'm not that antipathetic to the Beatles. In fact, on some awards thing or other a few years back, I voted to give George Martin some lifetime achievement prize. But I sort of feel that everybody and his auntie is an expert on them, and I've nothing very enlightening to say. I like "Something" (by George Harrison), and you'll be horrified to hear that a few months ago I worked out a couple of arrangements for my versions of two Beatles songs - one by Paul, one by John. I don't know whether I can match the all-time great Beatles covers review - for an album of Fab Four songs by the great John Pizzarelli. It got a thumbs-down at Amazon under the headline "Abbey Roadkill".
Hari Seldon • May 17, 2017 at 16:03
Mark, you talk frequently about the destiny of demography and the effects of similar long-term historical trends. How much of what happens in the year 2100 is our choice, and how much is going to happen regardless of what we do or don't know in the present day?
Well, we don't know much about the world in 2100. That's a prediction. But demography 20 years out isn't predictive. If, say, one million Italians are born this year, it's hard to have two million Italians enter the workforce in 2037. Most western nations know they've got a huge problem starting the day after tomorrow. In that sense, what matters is not whether Britain becomes majority Muslim by 2100 or 2070 or 2050 or 2040, but the trend: The proportion of Frenchmen who are Muslim increases as you descend from university to high school to middle school to kindergarten. The kindergarten proportions are not a snapshot of your world tomorrow - they're not a prediction. If you don't want to live in an Islamized society, you have to back politicians willing to halt or reverse that trend line.
Jamie • May 17, 2017 at 16:08
I was re-watching one of your shows from CRTV and thinking about what a great show it was! I loved the band, the set, the format, you. Then I thought what idiots they were for losing that and how disappointed I was not to be able to enjoy it anymore. Is there some possibility that you could recreate that show in another venue?
I agree. We haven't given up on that, and we'll get the band and the set and the format back together again soon. It was never meant to be on CRTV, which frankly was all wrong for it.
J.P. • May 17, 2017 at 16:09
Hi Mark, many thanks for bringing 'The Tragedy of the Korosko' to our attention. Indeed remarkably relevant to our times. Would you have another suggestion for me as I finished it just now?
If you're in the mood for something similar a generation later (Ie, the Great War), give a go to Greenmantle by John Buchan (later Governor-General of Canada). Too hot for the BBC in these touchy times, but very relevant.
J.P. J.P. • May 17, 2017 at 16:14
Many thanks, will look for it.
John • May 17, 2017 at 16:11
A while back a UK colleague was lamenting the fading of the British Culture and overall system that he grew up with (being 61now). Your reflection on the Austin Power movie reminded me of that and a comment he recently made. He was worried about his daughters growing up in an England with a new demographic and non Christian culture and sadly said: "When they come to put burkas on my daughters all my male relative had better be in jail". I took it that he felt so frustrated that there was anything he could do to change the trend aside from some form of firm resistance. Being a fellow Canadian living in the U.S. I do have sympathy for the view. What form of resistance do you see that would be successful?
I'm actually worried that there'll be no resistance - because incremental change is the hardest thing to resist. If you were born in, say, 2010 by the time you're 20 it'll seem perfectly normal that there are whole areas with no pubs or no non-Halal butchers. As for "Christian culture", most Britons won't even know what they've lost - because when you lose your future, you also lose your past: No one will sing "Jerusalem" because no one will have a clue what Blake's on about.
Carl • May 17, 2017 at 16:13
My wife and I followed your demographic advice and welcomed our third child in March.
1. Do you babysit?
2. How about a STEYN lullaby album in the future to help get this kid asleep?
I get a surprising number of people who tell me that, after America Alone, they were inspired to have a third child. Hey, whatever works: for some, it's the lights down low, a glass of wine and your favorite Johnny Mathis LP; but for others it takes a demographic thesis and impending societal collapse to aid romance.
Re your questions
1) Yes - but only for Super-Elite-Premium-Platinum Members of The Mark Steyn Club;
2) Nobody sleeps when I sing.
James Patey • May 17, 2017 at 16:14
What Is your opinion of Douglas Murray's latest book?
Haven't yet read it, but Douglas says a copy's en route to New Hampshire, and I'm looking forward to reading it. I first met Douglas about twelve years ago, when he was rather more optimistic than I was - about how some of these malign trends were still sufficiently embryonic not to overwhelm us. He's less optimistic today, because almost everybody who matters in Britain and Europe ignored his advice. He's a personally very courageous man, who's well worthy of all our support.
Owen Morgan • May 17, 2017 at 16:15
What kind of future do you envisage for the "European Union"?
The EU is a 1970s solution to a 1940s problem - and it will double-down on that in reaction to Brexit. But, if the UK makes a go of things, my bet is that a few northern and eastern European states will be minded to try it. Which is why Juncker & Co are determined that Brexit must fail.
Keith Hood • May 17, 2017 at 16:20
I can well understand why there's so little information out there about your family, but quick question (and, of course, I don't expect a reply if you think it's best not to offer one) but...how are they holding up considering the constant assault(s) directed at you? I recall one of the Steyn was credited on your CRTV show. Take good care and continue the good fight. And thanks for autographing my Mark Steyn Show bag!
That was my darling daughter on the credits, who helped very much with the visual style of the show.
Lori Fredrickson Keith Hood • May 17, 2017 at 16:44
I love the intro to your CRTV show. Perfect--Steyn, man of New Hampshire and of the world. She did great!
Andrew • May 17, 2017 at 16:28
I read that you were in Orsa, Sweden recently, I think. What on earth were you doing up there?
Also, I hate Astrid Lindgren with the passion of a thousand suns, as is right and just, but, I think the soundtracks to the Emil movies, done by Georg Reidel and Lindgren are pretty good. Am I right, or has my brain been rotted by my forced listening to too much schmaltzy kids music?
Yeah, I was indeed in Orsa. I'd driven down from Oestersund a ways north, and so for me that particular little town sums up the total absurdity of what my friend Ingrid Carlqvist calls Absurdistan. I'd driven south through a hundred miles of stereotypically Scandinavian woods and lakes until I realize I'm getting near Orsa - about which I know nothing except that either Benny or Bjorn from Abba is hot for Orsa folk music. So I'm looking forward to an authentic slab of Swediana. And on the outskirts of town the first thing I see pushing strollers en route to the supermarket is two covered women. Even in some nowhere burg in the middle of the woods. Enjoy Abba while you can.
Bob Lackey • May 17, 2017 at 16:30
There is a general "HAIR ON FIRE" frenzy in DC surrounding the Trump admin, which is part of their plan. Trump has generally doubled down on criticism in the past and I view much of the current effort as Fake News. It appears that health care, tax cuts, et al are sidetracked for now.
Do you think he can put his head down, or conversely hit back, and get on with it and survive the hysteria?
I hope so. If it's a choice between, say, "the Ryan agenda" and Trump's campaign platform, I'm with Trump. Because I don't believe the shriveled focus of Ryan gets anywhere near to what the voters of last November want. But he has to demonstrate he can impose his will on those timeservers.
Denyse O'Leary • May 17, 2017 at 16:31
What is the best way for the average person to fight political correctness? Everyone I know thinks it is terrible but everyone feels helpless. All answers appreciated, even useless and condescending ones (though I assume you would not do that).
The best way is to push back against it whenever you encounter it. Why does everyone feel "helpless"? A belligerent Islamic imperialist demanding the right to wear a burqa for her driver's license doesn't feel helpless. A transactivist shutting down The Vagina Monologues on the grounds that it implies you can't be a woman if you have a penis doesn't feel helpless. Yet both represent statistically irrelevant minorities. They get their way because they mean it. So when the stupid school field-trip form comes back with a space for signature by "Designated Primary Caregiver 1" or whatever, score through it and write "Mother" or "Father". I know I'm a demographic bore, but it's not just a numbers game: The people who want it most tend to get their way. And on a lot of this stuff we give the impression our hearts are not in the fight.
Denyse O'Leary Denyse O'Leary • May 17, 2017 at 17:27
Mark, I have often thought that. I keep explaining to people that the progressives and the Islamists work together and win - even though they are mutually incompatible - because both groups are absolutely serious.
Our champions are usually just duffers playing around. We cheer for them and they betray us. We lose, lose, lose and they go off to the cottage. But pointing out the vast cowardice and treachery is unpopular.
So how do we raise up real leaders?
Matt J • May 17, 2017 at 16:41
What do you do for fun?
Jim from San Francisco • May 17, 2017 at 16:42
When you look at how the English-speaking peoples embrace cultural and demographic changes, where do you see the most ground for optimism (less cause for pessimism might be more apt)? This would be something of a re-ranking post- America Alone (post-Obama). Not that any one can necessarily succeed while the others fail, but do you find more to cause for positive developments in North America, the Antipodes, or the British Isles?
Well, flawed as it is, Australia has the least unserious immigration policy: Everybody needs a visa before they can get on the inbound plane in San Francisco, Paris, Khartoum or anywhere else. And, if you try to land by boat, the Royal Australian Navy drags you to some offshore internment camp in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
Imagine if Trump proposed that. What kind of ruling do you think he'd get from your Ninth Circuit chums? Imagine if the EU's Frontex force was to do that.
So I'd say Oz is one of the least insane - but I'm not sure I'd put it higher than that. And Canada in its fetishization of Islam - including taking your oath of allegiance in a niqab - one of the most dispiriting.
Blake Berryman • May 17, 2017 at 16:42
Any chance you will publish the Frank Sinatra essays from 2015 as a book? I thought it was some of your best work. Plus, I'd love another opportunity to help The Cause.
Yup, we've got that bubbling away on the back-burner. I thought the Sinatra centenary market was a bit crowded in 2015, but in the end the books that came out were mostly rather dull and predictable, I thought. We'll get around to it.
Scot Blake Berryman • May 17, 2017 at 17:24
I will definitely be ordering an autographed copy of that book when you release it.
Gary Perlman, Tokyo, Japan Blake Berryman • May 17, 2017 at 19:23
I hope that's sooner rather than later. That was a spectacular series.
Tom Gibbons • May 17, 2017 at 16:43
Did you see last Sunday's Dilbert cartoon with the climate scientist that looked like Dr. Mann? (http://dilbert.com/strip/2017-05-14) Are you friends with Scott Adams and did you help him with that strip?
No, I don't know Scott Adams. But I was delighted to see that comic strip - because I'm well aware of Dr Fraudpants' seething insecurities. He can't stand mockery, and he's a guy who deserves to be roundly mocked.
Bob Stewart • May 17, 2017 at 16:44
Kimberley Strassel's book, "Intimidation Game", makes it pretty clear that the abuse of government agencies was a nicely orchestrated response to the Tea Party. I think the corruption goes much deeper than our "elite" representatives are willing to acknowledge right now. Why, for example, didn't the Federal government intervene in the Milwaukee gestapo raids? Ditto Hillary. Why hasn't the FBI done anything now that we know how ingrained the local corruption was? What's your take on this? Could Trump's recent woes be a case where the Democrats figure the best defense is an off-the-wall offense?
One of the distinctions between anglophone and Scandinavian nations and, say, southern European countries has historically been the former's contempt for corruption and its commitment to clean government. It has been utterly revolting to see the Obama Administration weaponize the bureaucracy and transform them, as in a one-party state, into the paramilitary wing of the ruling party. When you've got a corrupt Justice Department and a corrupt Treasury, you don't really need anything else: That's banana-republic stuff right there.
Scot Bob Stewart • May 17, 2017 at 17:15
As recent retired member of the military, I can tell you that the left is hollowing out the military too. We spent more time on diversity training and learning about micro-agressions than focusing on our missions at times. The victim mentality has spread to the military and everyone in it is some kind of victim of the "system." It came to be a depressing place to work because you were told either get with the program or you didn't belong. I decided to retire after 20 years and do something else.
I agree with you. After speaking at the Naval Academy a few years ago, I somehow wound up on a Navy newsletter mailing list, and thought it would all be tales of derring-do on the high seas. Instead, it's an endless procession of "parade admirals" (as they say in Britain) presenting diversity awards. This isn't by accident, anymore than the Boy Scouts' fast-track "transitioning" is accidental. The social engineers take it as read that the universities and NPR stations will fall their ways. The real plums are the hollowing out of male bastions - like scouting and the military.
Jenny • May 17, 2017 at 16:47
To what do you attribute your impressive command of so many accents in The Tales of the Korosko. World travel? It makes it wonderful listening. Even the whiz of a bullet sounds realistic!
And a comment: I've enjoyed having The Tales of the Korosko in my hip pocket as I go through my day. It's made chores more tolerable.
I listened to chapter 1 while I was working in the garden, Ch. 2 while making dinner, Ch. 4 while sitting on my deck in the moonlight and the last chapter, the scariest one, while perched on a ladder pulling down stubborn ivy.
I wouldn't say I'm an accent specialist, but once in a while I like to give it a go. A couple of years back, my daughter and I were motoring through the Scottish Highlands listening to a Gaelic rap station. When that faded, we made do with a rather boring oldies channel, which we livened up by singing Eighties hits in thick Scottish accents. In makes a huge improvement to Duran Duran and Foreigner.
David • May 17, 2017 at 16:55
Was 1914 (Just before the Great War) the apogee of Western Civilization or was 1969 (Man steps on the moon). Another time you might consider the apogee?
I think both statements are true. As I say in After America, I certainly think the moon landing marked the peak of technological achievement, but those men stood on the shoulders of an extraordinary preceding century of scientific advance. As somebody said, the greatest invention of the 19th century was invention. But I do believe August 1914 was the apogee of the west as a self-confident civilization. Generation Snowflake's simultaneous ignorance and loathing of its own inheritance is part of a corrosion of the west's soul that began in the trenches of the Great War.
Cary J Frick David • May 17, 2017 at 17:06
And yet I read recently that an old farmer recently replied that the most important invention of the last century was window screens. What a great personal perspective.
Leigh • May 17, 2017 at 17:02
Many Western countries have seen major political shifts in the past few years. A number of descriptors have been bandied around, including populism, nationalism, and anti-globalization. Whatever it's called, it propelled Donald Trump to the White House, led to Brexit, and helped Marin Le Pen get to the second round of the French presidential election. A notable exception to this would seem to be Canada. Why? Or is another realignment ala 1993 in the wings?
When you talk to Canadian Liberals, they seem pretty confident that the deranged Dominion is an exception to the trend, and going to remain that way. As they see it, Canada doesn't have anything like the number of dead rustbelt towns as America, or the MS-13 gangs, or the sense of helplessness in the face of cultural transformation. As for the Tories, there's no doubt that they regard the cautious incrementalism of the Harper years as a blown opportunity. Next time they win, they don't want to be (as I always say) merely in office, but in power, too.
Len Small • May 17, 2017 at 17:03
Do you think comparing climate change to the discredited Eugenics fad is effective?
I don't know whether it's effective, but it's true. There have been spasms when science has fallen too easily for the totalitarian temptation. What's effective is celebrating humanity's ability to adapt and turn whatever big climate variations happen to come along to its advantage - as we did in the Medieval Warm Period, a generally beneficial time for liberty, culture, art, science, etc.
Robert • May 17, 2017 at 17:23
Hi from Oz, Mark.
This internet thing is great, why not go "full commando" and do your own "broadcast", ideally with some other commentators around the world in the UK, Australia and other places. Through some advertising in and get your "shareholders) like the Founding Members to toss in a little more money.
I thought going commando was something to do with underwear. I seem to recall many years ago my old "Loose Ends" comrade Craig Charles (of the BBC sitcom "Red Dwarf") saying he was doing it, round the corner in the terrible BBC pub. But perhaps I'm fantasizing again...
Oh, well. After climate change, demography, immigration, Islam et al, that seems a suitably sober note on which to end. See you next time! No shirt, no shoes, no shorts, no service.