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Mexico and International Politics: Autarkic Walls

Trump wants absolute sovereignty (autarchy), not to hide behind, but to step forward (still further) into the world: the world an American colony or fiefdom, brought about through extreme militarism (is there any other form?) for purposes of political-ideological dominance AND internal social control. Herr Trump is our designated Nazi, in a business suit (preferably blue, with orange tie) than a uniform, armband, leather accessories. Berchtesgaden has been moved to Palm Beach. Membership in the Club is now doubled (fee, $200,000) to ensure the right sort of (billionaire) folk.

That bad, with four and possibly eight years still to go (assuming the Constitution remains still in effect), after a lightning first week of inflicting what appears to be permanent damage on policy, attitudes, the very processes of government? Move quickly, Donald, create a blur of activity, and a willing populace will nod itself to sleep, as, despite the Washington March, it appears already to be doing. America is comfortable with fascism. It resonates well with its core components, a militarization of political consciousness matched by the ever-widening differences in wealth and power. No problem about intra- and inter-capitalist struggles—the preponderant 1/10th of one percent already on your side, some of whom recruited into high government circles.

The case of Mexico is intriguing, a case study of the authoritarian mind. One does not build a 2,000 mile wall to shut down and humble a neighbor unless one is mentally (pathologically) unstuck—or is expressing the underlying wishes of the society one represents, which comes to the same thing. Mexico might as well be a mangy dog, given the message being sent out to it and the world. For Trump is looking beyond, while simultaneously addressing, Mexico. Proximity is only one matter, hegemony the more overriding concern. The fulcrum for establishing Mexico’s subordination to the US, and every Third World nation in the schematic which provides for a two-tiered division of the world, very few at the top, is trade, investment, one-sided market penetration and extraction of raw materials and natural resources.

America has a gargantuan appetite; that is what makes it great and, ideally, to be feared. With Trump, all semblance of pretense is dropped: power is meant to be exercised, in this case from behind massive protective walls (the tariff a functional equivalent of keeping immigrants out). Make America Great Again, Saviors of the World, and with that head-start, go after Russia (his attachment to Putin a temporary marriage of convenience) and, more in his cross-hairs, China. Trump doesn’t flinch, a rottenness of pride keeping him overextended in the willingness to use force.

Here, Mexico is a demonstration of policy, a pin cushion to serve notice on the remainder of the globe: complete surrender, or face the consequences (including nuclear blackmail). And with Mexico safely in camp, Canada offers another attractive opportunity to demonstrate political muscle, Trudeau possibly less resistant than Pena Nieto, the Alberta mindset of environmental spoliation taking over the country. Step-by-step gobbling up of countries, largely through economic means, but with military aggression always an option and held in reserve, is the pattern now, from Trump’s record and pronouncements, the wave of the future. Isolationism is a mask to cover aggrandizement; an active foreign policy hardly comports with the drawing inward he alleges.

Trump has his Gauleiters, his Goebbels, Goring, and Himmler whether as individuals throughout the appointments, or as each a composite of the three when the surface is scratched, all adept at, and fully in agreement with, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and assorted tortures, Guantanamo as well as globally situated Black Sites if not refurbished then at least dusted off and ready for occupancy. This speaks to reciprocal intimidation, whetting the appetite of the sadist: what you can do to one, you can do to all captive to your wishes. Leniency is a disease. To show such to Mexico will give subversive ideas to others. Strength, and strength alone, is the name of the game.

America and Trump are locked into a power relationship with the world that affords the US no room for backing down, nor does it wish to. The projection of world domination, from Truman (or better yet, Kennedy) to current policy is remarkably continuous, little allowance for party differences, which in any case are grossly inflated, so that to be an American now practically ensures consensus, with even the Washington March noticeably lacking in fundamental criticism of foreign policy, race deprivations, or systemic (i.e., capitalist) integral practices of wealth concentration. A Trump would have no trouble handling this range and quality of protest, as in fact he didn’t seem particularly anxious about. America is domesticated, ready for a Strong Leader, after being softened up for 2/3rds of a century along these lines at the hands of both political parties.

Paradoxically, as Mexico goes (and possibly also Canada), so goes America, the turning inward of CONTROLS over the people for the benefit of a system which itself is designed and intended for the security, prosperity, and well-being of an infinitesimally small ruling elite. Palm Beach beckons, a siren song sucking in, via lese majesty (for who will dare to oppose Sovereign Power), the working stiff, employed or unemployed, minority person, immigrant, or others (the list is growing), in the throes of false consciousness, while Tea Time is an occasion for the favored few to delight in the suffering they are causing far and wide. Palm Beach at Tea Time, ah, wonderful, good for the soul, of those certified to properly appreciate it. Perhaps at some point, Buchenwald is not far behind—for those not so-certified by whatever criteria the Trumps of this world choose to offer.

MY NYT Comment on Azam Ahmed’s article, “As Trump Orders Wall, Mexico’s President Considers Canceling U.S. Trip, (1-26), follows:

Pena Nieto is certainly correct in his reluctance to come to the US. Trump is an international bully, if not worse. Forget interpreting actions in terms of symbolism–actions are real, and here, in substance, fascistic, arrogant, inhumane, criminal.

It is embarrassing. No one prominent in US political life has come out in condemnation–bipartisan cowardice (or conviction, it doesn’t matter, because so obviously ethnocentric and xenophobic on America’s part). But why any surprise? Trump has been peddling hate-filled garbage, and Americans eat it up.

His first week in office, and already unmistakable evidence of totalitarianism–with no comparable outcry on the American side for Mexican anger and indignation. Pena Nieto should above all show resolve. This is very like the late 1930s. You could not do business with Hitler when he put pressure on Western Europe. Similarly, Trump must be resisted.

Otherwise, a process of domestic appeasement sets in–and there may be no stopping Trump’s future policies. A wall is not a symbol, but a geopolitical statement. Insulting immigrants insults humanity.

There are no limits to how far this can go, in Trump’s case–and now that of all Americans, from immigrants abroad to dissidents at home, McCarthyism quite likely in the offing.

The US has no-one to blame but itself. It elected the man, and his opponent had already shown latent tendencies in the same direction, with Russia and China a substitute for Mexico.

More articles by:

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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