Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ridding society of its unwanted citizens

A society ridding itself of its unwanted citizens is nothing new. In the western world, this idea first surfaced during the last years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, in either the late 16th or the early 17th century.

This was a time, Alden Vaughn writes, when England was undergoing tremendous change, some might even say upheaval. It was transitioning from being primarily an agrarian economy to one that was based on industry. In many ways, during Elizabeth I’s reign, England left the Middle Ages and entered the beginnings of the modern world.

England’s small farms crumbled, depression gripped the economy, and the population increased. It created, Vaughn writes, “the honest poor” who could not find work and “the willful poor” who turned to crime to survive.

The problem was so large that the ruling classes, or those who influenced the ruling classes, began to feel threatened, saying these two types of people were “threatening the purity and orderliness of English society.”

London “attracted the dispossessed” and they inhabited the city’s pubs, where they cursed English society and complained about the cards they’d been dealt. It’s likely they were too drunk to lead any armed rebellions against the establishment but, the ruling classes, likely found them be an unsightly lot.

This was a time when there were no government programs to help the poor. There was very little, if any charity.

But there was a need for a solution to England’s problems. And, the ruling classes began to think, it was to be found in America, or the New World.

As England’s ruling classes viewed the world, “God had ordered man to multiply and fill the earth, and the New World appeared to Englishmen a vast, empty continent,” and, therefore, a solution. In essence, it was a place to dispose of England’s unwanted, unproductive, uneducated yet Christian citizens.

The only people living in the New World, as the English rulers saw it, were a few natives. But they were considered heathens, Vaughn writes, and, therefore, needed Christian neighbors so they could enter God’s Kingdom.

As the nobles saw it, placing Englishmen, even if they were the dispossessed, in the New World was not an invasion of a sovereign nation but an attempt at peaceful colonization; and the colony’s mission was to Christianize the natives as well as a means to keep England’s dispossessed busy and productive.

Not much has changed

Today, according to Victor Davis Hanson, in his book Mexifornia, the same thing is happening in Mexico. The country’s leaders, Hanson writes, see the United States as a dumping ground for their unwanted citizens.

There’s no motivation for Mexico to stop its citizens from illegally immigrating into the United States. In fact, if anything, there’s every motivation for them to allow their dispossessed citizens out of their country, so they become someone else’s problem, namely ours.

While he doesn’t quite ask the question, Hanson wonders what domestic American politics would look like if our poor and underemployed were crossing the border in droves into Canada. What would the Canadians do? And how would our leaders react to this situation?

Mexico, as far as Hanson is concerned, wants its poor and undereducated citizens out of the country. Every citizen who leaves Mexico is one less problem the government needs to worry about.

In fact, Hanson writes, Mexico is motivated to let its citizens leave its borders illegally because it’s a way to undo the results of the Mexican-American war, which gave the United States California and large portions of the southwest.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico are also, in some ways, a solution to Mexico’s poor, Hanson writes. They send money back to their relatives and friends in Mexico. And Mexico’s citizens, living in the United States, Hanson writes, give the country “leverage in its relationship with the United States, which involves billion-dollar loan guarantees and the creation of free-trade leagues.”

Hanson writes that he’s talked about this problem with Mexico City’s elite “who privately laugh that they’re exporting their Indians and … their unwanted, into the United States.” Hanson tells them their riffraff are likely the same kind of riffraff that made the United States a great country.

“So while the powers in Mexico City regard departure (illegal immigration) as good politics – a valve of sorts that releases dangerous pressures rather than allow explosions of the type that occurred in the country’s earlier checkered history – in an odd way the joke ultimately is on them. Within twenty years the poor, brown Indian alien could enjoy a material existence in America superior to that of the upper-class white Mexican in Mexico City.”


Your correspondent hopes you’ll accept his apology for not updating this blog lately. The holiday season, along with a few other duties, prevented him from updating this blog as much as he would like. Thank you for your understanding.

No comments: