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.