Thursday, July 29, 2010

Imagine There's No Country

After the announcement of yesterday's Federal court ruling enjoining the meat of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law, I was channel surfing and happened to stop at CNN for a few moments. What grabbed my attention was a kind of "man-on-the-street" interview some reporter was conducting in New York City. He was with a group of immigrants from the Dominican Republic gathering in part for the purpose of celebrating the judge's injunction. The reporter was careful not to ask any of them about their own immigration status, but as they were dressed more or less like professional people, one was in fact a doctor, I suspect they all were legal. At the end of the interview, however, he did ask them if they were bothered by the fact of illegal immigration at all. They weren't, and neither, did it seem, was the reporter.

There is something fundamentally dishonest about the Left's stated objections to the Arizona law. I'm not referring here to their tactic of deliberately refusing to use the word "illegal" when refering to it in order to imply that those who support it are against immigration altogether. Nor am I referring to the not-so-subtle charges of racism they routinely level at the law's supporters. I'm not even referring to their cynical use of both these tactics for the purpose of driving a wedge between Latinos and the Republican Party. To be sure, they do all this and more, and for just these reasons. But it's not their chief motivator.

The dishonesty of the Left is this: What really motivates them is a long-standing hostility to the existence of nation-states at all.

Among the important defining characteristics of a modern nation-state is territorial integrity. Without it, a nation-state exists in name only. That is, it doesn't exist really, as in real estate. Therefore, for the Left, a policy of "open borders", as it would erode and ultimately destroy territorial integrity altogether, and thereby the nation-state along with it, is a very useful strategy. But it's actually more than that for them, it's a moral imperative. Why? Because, as they see it, borders of any kind, territorial integrity of any kind, divides people.

To seek to ameliorate the many things that divide human beings and cause conflict among them, is, I suppose, a noble enough goal. But to seek to erase them altogether is foolishly naive, dangerous even. What the Left fails to understand is that the modern nation-state, as a historical phenomenon, developed largely to manage and mitigate those very divisions, not cause them. The nation-state emboddies the wisdom of the fence: "Good fences make good neighbors."

The cause for the divisions among men is not to be found in the existence of nation-states, rather, it is located in man's very nature. In Federalist #10, James Madison famously argued that the causes of "faction", that is, divisions among men, are "sown in the nature of man."
So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
That is, men are such that even without sufficient cause to divide, they'll invent reasons to do so nevertheless. Such, it would appear, is our sad lot.

Of course, the Left steadfastly refuses to recognize that nature and imagines that the divisions that exist can be successfully eliminated through new and improved human institutions. As a result, they eagerly anticipate and work hard for the extinction of the nation-state, especially, it seems, for the withering away of the nation-state that is the U.S.A. I just wish they were a bit more honest about it.

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