July 7, 2000


Vicente Fox's startling upset victory over the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (Institutional Revolutionary Party – PRI) – after seventy solid years of PRI rule in Mexico – seemed at first like good news. The corrupt and repressive ruling party, the instrument of drug lords and self-interested bureaucrats, deserved to go down to a humiliating defeat, since it had lost the confidence and respect of most Mexicans. With crime raging out of control, and the PRI increasingly resorting to election fraud and outright intimidation, the time was right for a charismatic leader to rise out of the opposition and lead Mexico to a new era. The six-foot-four Fox, with his jutting chin and fiery temperament, is a giant of a man, both physically and metaphorically, and his career up until this point already has about it an almost mythological aura. The heroic proportions of the man were matched by the size of his victory: the PRI was not only defeated in the race for the Mexican White House, but also pushed back on the legislative front: although lacking an outright majority in Mexico's Congress, his Partido Actione Nacional (National Action Party – PAN) has made big gains, and, while pledging not to upset the apple-cart all at once, clearly Fox has a mandate to make major changes. The problem, however, is that he does not have a mandate from the American people to make the biggest and (in his view) most necessary change – erasing Mexico's border with the US and creating a North American "Common Market" modeled on the European Union.


As one news report puts it: "Though Nafta has made Mexico the second-largest trade partner with the U.S., it's not enough. Fox envisions the free-flow of workers and a common currency among the US, Canada and Mexico." But it won't happen overnight: "Our idea," says Fox, "is to sell a long-term project where we can move upward from a trade agreement to a North American common market, which implies much more than just trade." Indeed it does. If NAFTA is seen as the first step along the road to economic and political union, then Fox is preparing to take the second step toward what some – including apparently Senor Fox – envision as the United States of North America: Mexico's new leader cites the example of the European Union, where the wage gap between Germany and Spain was closed as a prelude to opening the floodtide of immigration. A far wider gap would have to be closed between the wages of Mexican workers and those in the US, Fox averred, before a North American EU could become a reality. He has proposed the creation of a North American redevelopment bank – in effect, another foreign aid program – that would supposedly foster the growth of Mexican entrepreneurship. In addition, both Fox and Hillary Clinton have an interest in the so-called "microcredit" concept, in which banks' traditional "discrimination" against poor credit risks is replaced with government-subsidized "loans" to poor would-be entrepreneurs supposedly lacking only in capital. The record of this idea has been abysmal in the US, but the rhetoric of "empowerment" is so overpowering that such trivialities as the laws of the market, never mind those governing human nature, are swept aside – and not just on the Mexican side of the border.


In a speech to National Council of Raza, George W. Bush called for "a new culture of respect" at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS, he explained to the 1,200 Latino activists meeting in San Diego, California, "is too bureaucratic. It is too stuck in the past." The past – you know, back when the US actually had control of its southern border.. Deftly sprinkling his remarks with Spanish phrases, Bush criticized the INS for taking as long as five years to approve citizenship applications – and pledged to spend $500 million to speed up the process. Along with those pandering and painfully obvious TV ads featuring his nephew Georgie, and talk of replacing Trent Lott with Ricky Martin in Philadelphia, the GOP is doing its part to further the merger north of the Rio Grande. At the La Raza conclave, Dubya dragged out Georgie P. Bush and brayed that "we're proud to have Spanish blood in our family" – a gesture that seems to subtly echo Fox's call for a pan-American union. We're all just one big happy family after all.


In a prescient article predicting "The Next Mexican Revolution" published in 1996, Andrew Reding foresaw not only that Fox would be the rising star of Mexican politics, but also heralded the Pan-American concept as a policy proposal gaining strength in the US as well as Mexico:

"A helpful complement, if the US can be persuaded it is in its own long-term interest, would be to form a European-style regional development fund to improve communications and transportation infrastructure in Mexico, making the country more attractive to private investment. Either way, only a true partnership can transform NAFTA from its present anemic state into an effective competitor to the European and east Asian economic blocs."


Make no mistake: this "bloc" transcends economics and promises to become a full-fledged de facto political union. The coming merger is most immediately noticeable in the realm of foreign policy. Whereas under the PRI, the Mexican government was always quite critical of US intervention in the region, Fox is likely to execute an abrupt about-face: although he questioned the process of drug-certification that is, for Mexico, a painful yearly ritual – and a complete fraud – Fox is on board regarding US plans for Colombia. At his first post-election news conference, he made it clear that Mexico looked forward to a future as the American hegemon's junior partner and hemispheric cop. Fox, according to news reports,

"promised changes in Mexico's foreign policy of strictly opposing intervention – even by international organizations – in other countries' domestic conflicts. 'We can't just limit ourselves to unrestricted respect for other countries' decisions, without denouncing rights abuses or major crimes,' Fox said."


The installation of Fox in the Mexican White House, coinciding as it does with the passage of the $1.3 billion "Plan Colombia" to bolster President Andres Pastrana's tottering government, sets the stage for a wide-ranging military operation conducted throughout South and Central America, ostensibly targeted at the mysterious "drug lords" – but in reality aiming at the extension of the North American "bloc" by force of arms.


The idea of economic integration, a buzzword right up there with "globalization," is an ideal condition of an absolutely free market. The free passage of goods across borders without taxes or tariffs or indeed barriers of any kind is an idea on which all economists, even the few who advocate some protectionist measures, can agree. But to equate the passage of goods with the free passage of people is to fall into the error many alleged libertarians make, who look at the immigration question ahistorically. Naturally, libertarians are not very strong on history, existing as they do in the rarefied realm of High Theory, where A is always A and Axioms reign supreme. In such a world, specifics don't matter: it doesn't matter what nationality you are, or where you live, or what your history is – somehow, and more than a bit ironically, libertarians have talked themselves into believing that we are all the same.


In that case, why not just open the borders and let the Mexicans retake the American Southwest? That indeed is the dream of the original founders of the La Raza ("the Race") organization, who in their radical student days called for a separate nation of "Aztlan" in the American Southwest, as a kind of payback for the Mexican-American war. They vowed to take back California – and, with Republican help, they may yet succeed.


Well then, what's wrong with merging with Mexico, anyhow? Although this is what an open borders policy would amount to, in practice, Libertarians (capital-L) will rarely admit to the logical implications of their "open the borders" principle. But even given such a rare admission, I can just hear some Libertarian windbag raising this question, with the sly implication that opposition to merger amounts to "racism." In our culture, where "racism" is defined as the idea that cultural differences exist, history itself is a hate crime. To even recall that Mexico's 1910 "revolution" gave birth to a highly-centralized authoritarian one-party state, while ours gave birth to a constitutionally-limited government – to even think these thoughts is probably punishable as a "hate crime" in Canada, where poor Dr. Laura has been declared persona non grata.


For the past 71 years, Mexico has been in the grip of an unholy alliance of PRI party bosses and the drug cartels that thrived under their protection. Exhausted, and pushed to the brink of social revolution, the struggling Mexican middle class is looking to the north for its salvation. Economic integration and eventually political absorption into the North American colossus – or falling back into the Third World, along with Colombia and Peru: these are the only two alternatives that the voters who elevated Fox to power see for themselves. Who can blame them for seeking to maximize their freedom and throw off the rule of authoritarian thugs who murder their political opponents and make off with the national treasury? But the merger would not rid them of their problem – it would merely import it into the US. The political culture that gave rise to the PRI in Mexico – the traditions of the 1910 Revolution, the caudillo or leader principle, the complete absence of the concept of property rights, properly understood, the persistence of the feudal mindset – would soon reproduce itself (is, indeed, reproducing itself) in the US.


The American Revolution, whose victory inaugurated our old Republic, is not for export. It cannot be imposed, by fiat or force of arms, on a foreign people. Its principles, and the institutions that grew out of them, were rooted in the rich soil of a freethinking dissenters who came to the New World as colonists, not conquerors or slaves. The American Revolution grew out of specific – indeed, historically unique – circumstances; it was generated in a political culture as different from the Mexican mindset as it is from the Japanese or the Russians. As long as that political culture founded on individualism, political liberty, and the subordination of government to the people persisted, our old Republic remained intact: the infusion of a large immigrant population with no history or experience in the exercise of real democracy, no understanding of the American concept of limited government, would sweep away the last vestiges of republican government, drowned in a veritable tsunami of multiculturalizaton.


Back in 1996, Republicans were telling us that the speeded-up citizenship applications approved en masse by the Clinton administration was part of an election year ploy by the Democrats. Today, Bush is pledging to accelerate the process, a reversal of such stunning angularity that one can only wonder if some Republicans are suffering from a severe case of immigration whiplash.


This whiplash is sure to create a backlash – one made to order for Pat Buchanan to take full advantage of. As the only candidate (so far) who has paid attention to this vital issue, Buchanan stands to get his poll numbers up if he can counterpose his America First foreign policy to the Pan-American Bush-Fox vision of a multiculturalized United States of North America. This requires, however, a clear stand on the Colombian intervention, which will be the linchpin of a growing US-Mexican convergence, and some critique of the internationalization of the "war on drugs" in which Colombian peasants and the people of Burma are blamed for the drug habits of American teenagers.


Every empire is, by definition, "multicultural," and to make this a virtue is to elevate one of the cardinal principles of imperialism to the canon of received wisdom. Looked at from this perspective, the new "Hispanic" flavor of the GOP takes on a somewhat sinister aspect. As we shickey boom boom to the crooning voice of Ricky Martin at the Republican convention, and Dubya speaks to the American people in a foreign tongue, I can't help but wonder if they aren't priming us for something big. Esthetics aside, the choice of the popular Puerto Rican entertainer is significant, on some level, in the sense that here is someone born on the last remnant of our old colonial empire. As Ricky shakes it to that Latin beat, the music drowns out all possible objections, we celebrate the "diversity" of the ever-expanding American Empire. But will Republicans sing along?


I don't think so. Bush is alienating his base and taking a big gamble that he can win over Hispanics, traditionally a Democratic constituency – who are not necessarily pro-open borders or even pro-immigration. Naturalized Americans who went through the long legal process of applying rightly resent the illegals, and recent polls show that 84 percent of Hispanic voters are inclined to vote for Gore. Bush is going out on a limb – and Buchanan is gleefully getting out the chainsaw. If, at the end of this election, Buchanan costs them the White House – and succeeds in building a populist alternative to the GOP – then the Republican leaders will have no one to blame but themselves and the dotty neoconservative theoreticians who got them into this mess in the first place.

An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
Order NOW!
Advance copies
$10 off!

Text-only printable version of this article

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

Archived Columns

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

Sign up for our Mailing List


Please Support Antiwar.com

A contribution of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print classic study of the Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism. Send contributions to

520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form


Have an e-gold account?
Contribute to Antiwar.com via e-gold.
Our account number is 130325

Your Contributions are now Tax-Deductible

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us