200. Progress (V)
Back in 2017, I noticed that my local park had acquired a shallow ditch and low earth wall. For so long as I could remember—at least thirty years—the park had been open and unfenced; now it had a very modest wall, a defensive measure. Meanwhile, in America, Trump’s administration had started work on the border wall. It was the year of the wall. Across the world, the barriers were raised and for much the same reasons. In my prosperous but ugly suburb, the council raised earthworks to protect the park from marauders, from gypsy convoys that might seize the park as a campground; as for America, the barriers were raised against the great mass of South America—and, indeed, the world; for anyone who can get to Mexico may join the great caravans on the road north.
If we accept that the world is interconnected through flows of energy, both psychic and material, then the wall in my park and the wall in America represented two moments of the same wave. It was another act in the millennia-long struggle between nomads and settlers—between Abel (the shepherd) and Cain (the farmer, the city-builder). The nomad is rough, virile, and poor; he only owns what he can carry—his art is the song and the poem, he has no use for books or science. The city-dweller is sophisticated, learned, and luxurious; but he is also corrupt. My gypsies are a brutal people, always ready to con and steal—a surly boy at my door who offers to sharpen my knives; for them, we settled people are prey. The settlers are not human; we are the mark—and perhaps deservedly so, we abandoned God for property and comfort. The nomad is the judgement.
Trump’s wall will never be completed. His moment passed and he has been reduced to brief communiques from his southern retreat in Florida; his momentum bled out. Soon, perhaps within a decade, a photojournalist will snap a lone militiaman next to the terminal section of the uncompleted border wall, by then a demarcation line between the factions of what was America. Trump built America’s last monument; in its incomplete state it is post-apocalyptic before the apocalypse has even happened.
In the early days of Rome, the city’s soldiers would build a camp with earthworks that featured wide entrances. If attacked, it was expected that the soldiers would rush to the openings, force the enemy back, and counterattack. The camp was left vulnerable because Rome expected courage and initiative from her men. As the empire grew decadent, the Roman camps featured narrow entrances and improved defensive bulwarks. The soldiers could sleep easy, but this was a sign of decline: Rome’s sons would no longer push back with vigour; they retreated behind their defences, sought a soft bed and easy sleep.
The same is true of America’s wall; the wall is a sign of decadence. In the time of Theodore Roosevelt, a little over a hundred years ago, America would have responded to the disorder in Mexico with an invasion. The territory would have been secured and governed responsibly, used as a buffer against further waves of migration. The healthy state swarms outwards to defend herself, as those Romans once did. Today, America can only cower and hold what she has; her leaders wasted blood and money on pretend wars in the Middle East, while a more bloody and relevant war burned right beneath the homeland.
Indeed, the cartel war in Mexico is symbiotic with America’s decadence; her tolerance of drugs fuelled the narco gangs. A vigorous America would hang her drug dealers, flog her addicts, and invade Mexico, with the most able officers rewarded with Mexican land to settle—these officers being the nomads within the civilised state. As stands, even the will to hold what America has is no more; the Democrats invite the caravans at any price, every migrant a new dependent vote—and the empire bleeds into a dusky red sun.