Seinfeld has already sparked books about nihilism, philosophy, bible study, and sociology, and a website on economics. And now, the ongoing narco-war violence in Mexico:
The Mexican narco-war may be the first real 21st-century war—a war that is, in the end, about nothing. Yes, there are regional and clan identities involved—loyalties of a sort to Tamaulipas, to Michoacan, to Sinaloa—but they are too fluid, too subject to betrayal, for the war to be defined as tribal. Yes, the Mexicans are torturing and killing one another over money and the smuggling routes that provide it, but much of the savagery, as noted, is over the smaller profits of the domestic market, the street corner, the sprawling colonia—savagery perpetrated for little real reward, and mainly for its own sake. Mexico’s war has no single propelling cause, no single objective, and certainly no grand ideology. It is a conflict of a post-political era. It belongs to an age of aggressive hyper-materialism. The drug lords are of course not alone in this. There are “legitimate” corporations all over the world whose only credo is greed and whose only iconic value is “the brand.”
In short, ‘why they fight‘ might be irrelevant. It might not even have a real answer, or a real reason – it is “a war of the digital age, fought as much on YouTube and mobile phones as it is in city streets and backroom torture chambers.” Even if it is a ‘narco-war’, drugs almost seem a byproduct, rather than a means or an end. They might just be another symptom. How do you even begin to combat such a phenomenon? Are there underlying root causes to be addressed?
Or is this just yet another sign of impending systemic breakdown? I’m leaning towards that. It’s sort of a ‘what’s the goddamn point?’ approach, which seems to explain more each day. Better stock up on your Toyota Hiluxes and your Gerber “hedge trimmer” machetes now.
Gunmen killed an American consulate worker and her husband in Ciudad Juárez. Their baby was found in the back seat.
News comes that the cartels in Ciudad Juarez have finally started targeting U.S. nationals, murdering three last night. One was a pregnant consulate worker and her husband, the other was the husband of another consulate employee. I’m suprised only that it took so long (and that only now is the violence in Mexico “provoking an angry reaction from the White House”).
If we don’t end the War on Drugs, the impetus and justification for organized crime and narcotics trafficking will only increase, as will the profitability of murder. As the Times reminds us, “more than 2,000 people were killed there last year, giving it one of the highest murder rates in the world.” American students are arriving in Acupulco now for spring break. And for the cartels, the risk-reward benefit right now is too large to ignore.
But violence itself isn’t the only thing to fear here. The cartels and gangs (this particular shooting was blamed on Los Aztecas, who only get more impudent) have effective control over much of northern Mexico. The crippling government weakness is now affecting the very legitimacy of the Mexican state. The catastrophic death toll has:
prompted the government to shift course after three years of its military-led crackdown on drug cartels and acknowledge that it has to involve citizens in the fight and deal with the social breakdown fueling the violence. [emphasis mine]
For now, those efforts will be government-coordinated. But in the future, who’s to say that the citizenry won’t take matters into their own hands, like in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro? Chirol thinks that the future of the border patrol will be a similiar, civilian, militia-style solution, at least on this side of the border. The key, though, is probably fixing that whole ‘social breakdown’ thing. Restore faith, restore legitimacy.
At least the problem is finally back on the radar again.