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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Invading Mexico

Why are America’s elites so anti-Western? Or, to put it another way, what does a tortilla maker in rural Mexico have to do with a university professor at Harvard or a Hollywood producer? To see the connections, we have to step back a century.

At the end of the 1800’s, industrialization was changing the face of America, but industrialists had an enormous problem: how could they keep the factory floors filled with workers when most of the American workforce was agrarian?
Farmers were famous for not wanting to leave their farm. American farms were largely self-sufficient affairs – nearly everything a family needed could be grown, raised or produced on just a few dozen acres of land. True, farmers could sometimes be lured into factory work, but they were unreliable, showing up only when and for as long as they needed hard cash. As soon as family or farm responsibilities called, they would disappear. This was not good for industry.
Worse, anyone who entered America could get a piece of land to farm without too much trouble. There were essentially no immigration restrictions for the first century of America’s existence. Any immigrant who had the cash could step off the boat, walk to the nearest land office and buy whatever land he could afford. True, few immigrants were in the financial position to do this immediately, but most oriented their financial life towards the goal of eventual land ownership.
In order to own land, immigrants needed money, and factory jobs were a steady source of income. American industrialists soon discovered immigrants were an excellent source of cheap, steady labor. Because they were immigrants, they didn’t own land. Because they didn’t own land, they had no land to run back to. The only sources of refuge were their churches and their families.
But these refuges were dangerous. They represented a source of hope outside of the job, an alternate means of ordering one’s life apart from the factory job. Worse, people would go to enormous lengths to protect their families and their sanctuaries. The connection to family and church had to be broken.

Building a Better Mousetrap
The European experience, both on the continent and in the European colonies scattered throughout the world, had shown the importance of schools, especially urban schools, as a means of social control. If children could be wrested from the influence of their parents, if the family and the church could thereby be broken apart, the factory worker would become more easily controlled, more focused on the only important thing: his job.
Starting in the late 1800’s, child labor laws forced young men and women out of apprenticeships and onto the streets. The passage of child labor laws was always immediately followed by mass schooling laws, requiring those now-unemployable children to be indoctrinated in the culture of mass consumption at the factory school. At the same time, immigration laws were passed, preventing immigrants from gaining easy access to land. Within twenty years, factory labor was trapped on the factory floor.
But that wasn’t all. Whereas the university stood at the margins of American cultural life in the 1800’s, it became the center of American cultural life in the 1900’s, but American culture had changed. In the early 1800’s, it focused on self-sacrifice, church and family. By the mid-1900’s, it focused on narcissism, consumerism and comfort.

How Hollywood and Academia Fit In
If the business of America was business, the business of American education was producing consumers, not entrepreneurs or pioneers. Likewise, American culture both created and fed off the consumers it produced. Hollywood became an industry, as did American education, and both made their money by producing consumers – a state of affairs at complete odds with the founding documents written by self-educated American farmers in the last quarter of the 1700’s. American elites hate the founding documents because the founding documents keep them from doing their jobs.
As the culture industrialized, the self-sufficient agrarian lifestyle slowly corroded The destruction of the family created what is called “the demographic transition”: American families went from an average of 7 children in 1800 to 3.5 children in 1900 to 1.8 children in 2000 as the population changed from 80% agrarian in 1800 to 80% urban by 2000. Today, less than 2% of the US population owns or works on a farm.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, this transition from an agrarian, family-oriented lifestyle to an urban, job-oriented lifestyle is a great boon for the economy. Narcissism increases sales and profits across the board, as does making business “Job One” for every American.
The only possible flaw in the ointment is the very family breakdown the process is designed to create, i.e., the eventual lack of narcissistic consumers available to buy things. While narcissists do, from a business perspective, show a laudable interest in their own comfort, they tend not to have children. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult to exploit the next generation since that generation tends not to exist. As the old saying goes, if your parents didn’t have any children, chances are you won’t either.
Enter Mexico
In the early 1800’s, Anglo-Americans illegally immigrated into Mexican territory in massive numbers, but largely refused to assimilate into Mexican Catholic culture. Instead, with the active assistance from Washington DC, American illegals eventually rebelled against the legitimate government authority and provoked the war of 1848, resulting in the American capture of what is now the entire southwestern portion of United States. That was the first invasion.
NAFTA was not the opening salvo in our second invasion of Mexico, but it was the opening of a major operational front. Roughly 30% of Mexico is agrarian with a strongly family-oriented Catholic culture. But things are changing.
As noted above, less than 2% of America’s population is now devoted to farm work. The heavy industrialization and low absolute population of US farms allows US farm output to be heavily subsidized: a lot of money can go to just a few organizations.
Meanwhile Mexican farmers, 30% of the Mexican population, receive essentially no government subsidies and are only lightly industrialized. Of the several dozen areas in which trade tariffs between the two countries are reduced or abolished, farm tariffs were the first to disappear. While the American media concentrated on the movement of American automotive plants, no one noticed what was happening to the price of Mexican corn and the backbone of the Mexican food economy, the corn tortilla.
Mexican tortillas are now made almost exclusively with American corn, as Mexican farmers are driven out of business by lower American-subsidized crops. This, in turn, creates an enormous migration pressure, forcing Mexican rural folk to the cities.
The men and women who designed NAFTA don’t really care which cities, American or Mexican, the campesinos choose. In either case, the farmers lose their land. In either case, the family is broken apart, children become expensive to have, and adults are pressured to stop nurturing babies and start nurturing themselves. A new generation of consumers is created.

Of course, from the perspective of the intellectual elites, it is best if the migrants end up illegally in American cities. Unlike the immigrants of old, today’s American immigrants will be unable to purchase land without documents. They will be unable to marry without documents. Even if they can marry and purchase land, they won’t be able to buy the self-sustaining farmland necessary to raise large crops of children since small family farms are as economically difficult in the United States as they are in Mexico.
By making marriage difficult or impossible, by making home stability difficult or impossible, we destroy every possible refuge, every possible source of support. Landless peoples are easier to control, landless peoples without documents are the easiest.

As with any war, our trade war with Mexico, conducted with the acquiescence of the Mexican government, has produced a large refugee population. 
In 1848, our goal was to capture Mexico City in order to gain land.
Today, the goal of the Mexican government is to capture the land. 
Today, our goal is to capture the Mexican farmer and turn him into an American consumer. 

5 comments:

Patrick said...

Actually, the first invasion would have to be the first case of illegal immigration in North America. That would have been the European immigrants taking American Indian land - if you wonder why people are against illegal immigration, ask an American Indian.

Anonymous said...

patrick,

Aren't you assuming the mental construct of a legal system which recognizes the concept of individual property rights and then projecting it onto the native American Indians?

There were Indian tribes which invaded and "illegally immigrated" into other tribal areas long before Europeans ever showed up. And they didn't treat each other too well, either.

Aren't THEY the first invaders?

Patrick said...

Most American Indian tribes did have a concept of a legal system and a concept of property rights. It just wasn't similar across all tribes and indian cultures and it did not necessarily state absolutes as the culture of the West uses. That would lead to the inevitable war between the indians and the europeans over their illegal immigration because of poor definitions between the two sides of boundaries and agreements. It was due to the poorly written boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase and subsequent Adams-Onís Treaty that led to the inevitable Mexican-American War, a Right of War justification used by both sides that finalized the determination of the US southern boundary. This allowed illegal immigration to diminish over time. Europeans always used war to define boundaries and so did some indian groups, and Mexico and the US were just continuing that history.

Jordan Potter said...

Well, there wasn't any war that determined the boundary between Oregan and British Columbia, or the boundary from the Pacific to Lake Superior for that matter, though we came close -- 54/40 or Fight, and all that.

James said...

Sure put all the blame on "the poorly written boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase." Hey the writers of such maybe weren't educated THAT well and maybe they didn't have too much geographical knowledge BUT they actually had a writing system. They could actually read. Pardon me if Europeans were more advanced. They had no reason to be more advanced. They just were. "Most American Indian tribes did have a concept of a legal system and a concept of property rights." Where in the hell did you get this information from? From their libraries? Their courthouses? I think not. "Oral tradition?" Perhaps. Do not try to legitimize these disadvantaged peoples by creating a fantasy land where they had advanced thoughts like land ownership and law.