THOSE WHO WORRY about the integrity of our southern border rarely pay attention to the economic conditions in Mexico. They ought to. The wave of Mexican migration is a recent phenomenon, beginning only in the 1970s. Few expressed concern about the (mostly) unguarded Mexican border in the 1960s. In the 1940s and '50s we actively encouraged temporary Mexican agricultural workers to come north. The point is that something changed down there, relatively recently. What was it?
It is a drastic thing for a man to leave his wife, family, and home; to travel hundreds of miles to a strange land where he does not speak the language, there to engage in manual or menial labor; all the while running the risk that he will be arrested, imprisoned, turned back empty-handed, reduced to thumbing rides and trudging miles down dusty roads. When hundreds of thousands do it, there is something seriously amiss.
THE NEWS IN BRITAIN, where I visited in May, was dominated by the plight of the euro, the single currency adopted by 17 European countries. Greece has been a big problem, but it’s possible that Spain will be worse. Recent polls suggest that most Greeks want to stay with the euro, which makes sense. Within the eurozone, Greeks may reasonably expect the European Central Bank to bail them out. Spain is too large for that and looks set to cause the greater problem.
It’s risky to comment on still unfolding events. But the uniting of Europe has been the preeminent project of the ruling class since the 1950s. Now it’s in serious trouble. European leaders took a big risk by installing the euro and abolishing most national currencies a little over a decade ago. There’s a real question whether this grandiose, deceptive, and foolhardy project can survive. For those who distrust elitist schemes, it’s an interesting moment.