Saturday, October 02, 2010

Immigration, Sparta, and democracy

Sparta was a military society based upon maintaining a large non-citizen slave class to do the real work of society and a smaller citizen class that had the rights we typically associate with citizens in a democracy. This system eventually failed because the slave class got larger and larger and the citizen class, due to losses in wars, became smaller and smaller, until eventually Sparta became a military dictatorship to keep the slaves down as the slaves, fed up with having no real representation, revolted and put an end to Spartan democracy.

Sparta's slaves were the result of military conquests. To a certain extent so are America's slaves -- the illegal immigrant class which is kept deliberately impoverished and disenfranchised in order to prevent them from having the rights of citizens. American military intervention in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America has been near-continuous, there have been few years in my lifetime when there were not U.S. military troops conducting "peace keeping" or "advisor" operations in one Latin American nation or another. The result, intentional or not, is to keep the majority of these nations poor and dependent upon the United States for their existence, markets for American goods, sources for the impoverished no-rights slave class needed to do the real work of America and sources for the natural resources needed for America's factories. Which, BTW, is why U.S. military intervention in Central and South America has tapered off recently... since America has outsourced most of her factories to China, natural resources are no longer as much of a driving issue. Well, other than oil, which is why Hugo Chavez keeps being called "a dictator" despite being elected multiple times as President of Venezuela in elections which international observers have confirmed are free and fair, but that's another story.

The problem is that this is not a long-term sustainable solution unless there is a provision for the slave class to become part of the citizen class. Otherwise you get the unrest and disorder that characterizes immigrant communities in Europe -- if you are a North African immigrant in France, for example, you cannot obtain citizenship even if you were born in France and your mother and grandmother were born in France unless you can show that you possess that all-important "French" blood. Why doesn't that happen here? Simple. The children of our slaves, if born upon our soil, become citizens under the terms of the 14th Amendment. So their parents may be slaves, but they know their children will not be, and so they keep silent for the sake of their children. Well, until recently. Our slaves have been getting a bit uppity, asking for the same rights as everybody else who lives in America, and in response the Glenn Becks and Ann Coulters of the world have been ranting that the 14th Amendment doesn't *really* make the children of our slaves citizens, despite the clear wording that if you're born on American soil, you're a citizen. And those morons Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham have even proposed repealing the 14th Amendment. Ah yes, those modern Republican values: Slavery good. Huh.

So anyhow, do you understand now why I think the Republican charge against the 14th Amendment is not only ignorant and hateful, but endangers the future of America if it gets any traction? That right-wing gay porn fest "300" may have had its leather stud top Spartan shouting "FREEEDOM!" at the top of his lungs, but there was no freedom involved if you were one of the huge slave class that did all the work in Sparta -- and who eventually revolted and slaughtered the Spartans pretty much to the last man, woman, and child. Military slave states simply aren't sustainable long-term. Not then, not now. Sorry.

-- Badtux the History Penguin


  1. Excellent post. Thank you. I think that the badly needed immigration reform won't happen because then the congress might have to look at just how devastating NAFTA and CAFTA have been on Latin American economies.

    Your thoughts?

    Also I would love to see you compare the US to the Roman Empire. I will be watching documentaries on it after I finish watching the National Geographic special "Guns, Germs and Steel" series.

  2. Kyl may indeed be a moron.

    Graham, OTOH, is a slimy, grubbing political opportunist, possessing neither principles nor decency.

    Damned if I can tell you which id worse.


  3. Don't worry, Tux. The new slaves will be the Merkin people. They will be enslaved though debt. You owe on your credit cards, your car, your house? Work for the Owner Class at whatever it decides to pay you, or its armed wing called "the police" will repossess whatever pitiful things you think you "own." The debtslaves will guard the Masters' mansions against other debtslaves, just so they will not be thrown out of their hovels. As you've said, welcome to Mexico Norte, Middle Ages feudal edition.


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