It all depends on the Tea Party
Sliding into the Banana Republican Abyss
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When Gen. Winfield Scott landed his troops on the beaches near Vera Cruz in what was to be the drive to capture Mexico City and end the Mexican War, he was happily surprised to encounter no resistance on the beachhead. Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana was engaged up north with Zachary Taylor, suffering an ignoble defeat at Buena Vista (which the Napoleon of the West, in a glorious display of chutzpah, announced as a victory over the American forces) and was unable to oppose Scott’s landing, but this does not explain why nobody managed to greet the U.S. troops on the beach and protect the Halls of Montezuma. The Americans met no opposition because the Mexican troops not accompanying Santa Ana were busy fighting to suppress the “Polko” rebellion.
Mexico could never come to a political consensus. This is true of all of Latin America, but particularly of Mexico. There are reasons for that, reasons having to do with the fundamental structure of Spanish colonial society and the way the colonies operated. Unlike the British colonies that were established in the north later, the Spanish conquered not one but three civilizations that already existed in America - two in Mexico and one in the Andes in South America. Spanish colonies were built over these existing cultures, with the Spanish colonists occupying the top of a quasi-feudal system, with a lengthy chart of privilege, starting with the Spanish born at the top, then the Creole, pureblood Spaniards born in the colony, on down to through mixed racial mestizo or mulatto,, to the bottom rung of pureblood Indian or African. This hierarchy was hardly surprising, given that a limited number of Spanish colonists were trying to absorb the Aztec Empire (and in South America the Incan Empire) and her many vassals as well as the city states of the Mayans, and the semi-civilized tribes in the north like the Pueblo. The English who came later merely brushed the aborigines aside as they occupied their lands. The Spanish did not come strictly to settle but to profit, seeking gold, silver, and other valuables, so merely imposed their power on those already there.
The Spanish also came bearing medieval thinking and the Catholic faith. The Spanish crown was born of the Reconquista, that long struggle to drive the Islamic Moors from the Iberian Peninsula and the final union of kingdoms under Castile and Aragon, and the Spanish king did not rule through constitution and assembly as the later English monarchy but by right of royal blood. The American colonies were but an extension of the medieval concept of kingship, with fealty being demanded of a ruling class put in place by royal patronage. Catholicism, too, influenced the shape of Latin America and particularly of Mexico, with a more communal structure dependent on the King, the priest and the mission; the English would actually move outward to settle the land, whereas the Spanish settlers were bound to the towns where they could receive the Sacraments. As a result, the priest and bishop had far greater influence than ever an English parson would hold, and the Church acted as an institution that would strongly influence the political shape of Latin America. In the United States the competing churches led to compromises that kept religion largely in the private sphere.
The Caste system in Mexico created a permanent divide between the aristocracy and the populace, and this divide made political stability nigh unto impossible. The father of Mexico was a priest named Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla y Gallaga Mondarte Villaseñor known simply as Miguel Hidalgo. Hidalgo led an uprising of mestizo and native Indians against the Creoles and Spanish authorities in 1811, and was promptly executed. His example encouraged others, notably José María Morelos and Agustín de Iturbide, and Mexico would attain her independence in 1821. But independence for such a fractured place as Mexico was problematic; Iturbide himself would be declared Emperor briefly in 1822, only to fall shortly thereafter to revolution. Mexico was never free from the threat of revolution.
In Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, there was a split between those who looked to the American experiment in Norte America and those who looked to maintain their personal privilege and retain the old Spanish system. That split led to endless civil war, with each faction attempting to purge the other as they assumed power, then being deposed. The Mexican Constitution of 1824, for example, was a model of enlightened democratic thinking (and a powerful enticement to settlers from Europe and the United States to Texas), but was dissolved when strongman Santa Ana deposed the government, dissolving the constitution and making himself dictator. Santa Ana would be deposed as a result of his bungling of the Texas rebellion, but, returned to power during the crisis leading to the Mexican War. But the strongman was not popular with the aristocracy (he was considered a liberal at that time), and the Polko Uprising was one of many rebellions against the excesses of his government.
By law Santa Ana could not be both a general and the chief executive, so he temporarily gave his power to his Vice President. Acting President Valentin Gomez Farias took steps to advance the Liberal cause, reducing the size of the military, ending fueros (special privileges for military officers) and soaking the Catholic Church, seizing Church land and monies. This led to the Polko Uprising, so called because the rebels played polka music while in formation. These rebels, a coalition of military, churchmen, and others, opposed ; the social engineering being conducted by Farias.
So no-one was available to stop the invading Gringos when they came Mexican radicals and Mexican elites were busily fighting each-other.
And neither Farias nor his enemies dared dream of arming the peasants; both feared the common people more than the hated invading Gringos.
This is reminiscent of the divide in modern America; we have on one side the radicals, as represented by Barack Hussein Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the People’s Republic of America versus the elites, as represented by the GOP insider coalition, of the Bush family, of Karl Rove, of John Boehner, etc. The people not being represented in our political wars are those who have become known as the Tea Party. Mexico was unfortunate because she had no experience with self government, had no individuals who believed they had the right to govern themselves. The United States does. There is the difference, and the reason why America has been able to keep a stable government and system; government is the servant, not the master. The Tea Party is an attempt to reassert that right of personal self-determination.
But that is something that both sides of the divide have labored to discard, and it has worked quite well on the radical side of the equation; the Democrats can take many votes for granted because they have worn the edges of independence off those voters, making them docile and willing to follow a strong man like Santa Ana. Barack Obama may not be a military man, but he is like Santa Ana in certain ways, or at least like most of the men who would take power in Mexico. People didn’t care what Santa Ana wanted to do, they just wanted someone dashing to tell them they would be cared for. Obama uses the force of government rather than the military to impose his will, but in the end he imposes his will as surely as did Santa Ana.
And on the other side the elites continue to battle, but only for their own personal privilege. They have told the angry public that they know best, and that they should not be opposed in what they want to do. But the natural conservatism of the American People can no longer be played, and the elites are finding the Tea Party an indigestible morsel.
But one must ask if the increasingly wide divide in the U.S. does not mean a descent into Latin American politics; this gulf has widened because the radicals have grown increasingly radical, advancing their agenda far beyond anything remotely American in character and scope. This breech has been driven by the Left as they have done “the work of remaking America” in the image of Social Democracy. There is no longer a middle ground, because the divide has widened too far, and the Left is now waging all-out war against the American experiment. Still, the elites on the other side continue to waffle, believing that they must protect their own privilege, even if it means the destruction of what the public holds dear. They place their own fueros over the good of the people they represent, and have shown their disregard for those people by choosing liberal “electable” candidates, ones who will play the game, keep the good times rolling. They have been arrogant and disdainful when their self-serving efforts have been opposed.
Writing in the American Thinker, Thomas Lifson argues that the Progressive agenda has taken the U.S. down the path toward feudalism. His description of the feudal order - and how it has been reinstated in the United States by the Left - was equally true of Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and his points dovetail with the point being made here.
”Under feudalism, the ruling class had few limits on its power and regarded the commoner classes as under their tutelage, hopelessly incompetent to make important decisions on their own. Many spheres of life were devoid of personal autonomy. What one wore and where one worked was closely regulated, and in feudal England or France, one could discern whether a person was a peasant, a blacksmith, a merchant, or a noble instantaneously, merely by dress.
In contrast, the bourgeois revolution, which overthrew the European feudal order, gave birth to the radical Enlightenment notion that each person should be the master of his or her own destiny, fit to make the important decisions in life autonomously. What one wore or ate was up to the individual.
In progressive America, personal decisions such as what to eat are now regarded as the proper concern of our government masters. Foie gras was forbidden by the city of Chicago for two years, and if you want to have your restaurant food cooked in trans fats like butter, you ought to know that New York City has a say in the matter.”
Indeed, modern America is increasingly feudal in it’s politics, it’s way of doing things, and it’s vision. Multiculturalism, that concept that many nations and peoples and tongues can occupy the same space as part of one nation (that has traditionally been considered an empire, not a nation) is a particularly feudal concept, and was part of the Spanish colonial tradition all along. What did that do for Mexico? For Latin America as a whole?
It abolished E Pluribus Unum. Instead of many becoming one, the one became many, fracturing like a champagne bottle on a ship’s hull. Each group, each micro-nation scrambled for power, raised champions to impose their will on the nation. The result has been civil war, revolution, instability of every kind. Between bouts of military dictatorships much of the Spanish-speaking world has enjoyed either Fascist states (like Peron in Argentina) or neo-Marxists like Allende in Chile or Chavez in Venezuela today.
And poverty has stalked Latin America to this day. Why is Mexico poor? Mexico is rich in natural resources, yet horribly impoverished because she has found political stability only in the 20th century, and that as a result of the establishment of a socialist state. Argentina, too; in the mid 20th century scholars believed Argentina would be one of the great powers because Argentina has all of the natural blessings that the Almighty favored the United States with, yet Argentina has never done very well because of their fascination with Peron and his “third path” between Capitalism and Communism. What is that path? A neo-fascist socialism.
Citizens of the United States used to laugh at what was mockingly termed “banana republics” - Latin nations ruled over by tinhorn dictators. But there was a reason for those dictators; they were the only ones who could maintain order in a place that was feudal and corrupt. Those conditions can be said to be maturating in the U.S. today. Will America’s future more nearly resemble Latin America’s past? Many latinos are entering the U.S. right now, and what they take for granted as normal is being passed along to a new generation of voters, ones who will feel at home with the programs of the Progressives and the pseudo-conservative ruling class. We are sliding into the abyss of banana republicanism.
We all know the end of the story; General Scott and his American troops successfully drove on to Mexico City, and the United Mexican States had to forfeit half of her territory to the U.S. The ever-bickering classes - the leftists and the elites - preferred to lose half of Mexico than to lose power. Is this the fate of that once great nation known as the United States of America?
It all depends on the Tea Party.