February 2021
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An Argument You Probably Won’t Understand On Why You Should Be For the Wall

The fact is that most Americans have only a vague, hazy intuition what the wall fight is about, if their understanding even extends that far. Trump’s arguments for it are really standard-issue politician’s bullshit. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong. It doesn’t even mean he’s wrong to be bullshitting. Attempts to paint his arguments as something more sinister are either disingenuous, ignorant, or both. Here’s a comment I wrote about it elsewhere:

[Your] discussion of the value of the “wall” above would have done better to have run all the way to a conclusion, but since it seems likely it won’t, [so I will add this to it]:

When you dismiss the wall above as unworkable, your arguments are more-or-less sound, as far as they go, but the problem with them is: they don’t go far enough. Not nearly.

It’s true that Mexican drug cartels will still get their products across the southern border, wall or no wall. And as they’ve opened up a side business in human smuggling, as that Federalist article points out, it’s more than likely that will continue as well. Where the supply and demand curves will meet after the wall imposes its extra costs on the supply side is an open question, but not a particularly interesting one, I think. Neither is it a particularly interesting question how elastic or inelastic the demand is either for Mexican-smuggled drugs or for drug-lord smuggled Mexicans.

I think you’re also right to condemn “empty symbolism.” If the “wall” were that, I’d probably condemn it myself. But I don’t, partly because while the wall is mostly about symbolism, it’s not empty. I think it would be prohibitively difficult for you, or anyone, to make the case that the wall wouldn’t *marginally* improve border security, especially with respect to the most casual foot crossings. And if you grant that it would marginally improve security, even in one area of lesser significance, then building it is not an empty gesture, and the structure itself is not an empty symbol.

If that’s the case, and it is, then your objection is really about the wall’s costs. You’ve done a cost/benefit analysis of some kind, and concluded that the wall’s costs must outweigh its benefits. (After all, if the wall would cost nothing, then even the most absurdly insignificant value it offered would be a bargain.)

Of course, the true costs of a purchase include opportunity costs. And, on the surface, this might seem to be the economic heart of your argument: the opportunity costs of building the wall, combined with its low or questionable value as a security measure, make it a bad deal. You suggest that any efforts to achieve the real values that the wall is meant to advance would be better spent on getting drugs legalized. Legalized drugs cripple the cartels. Crippled cartels will quit the coyote business. Less organized coyotes will be easier to turn back, wall or no wall. Makes sense, as far as it goes.

But that’s not actually the economic heart of your argument. It’s this: you think the wall’s symbolic value is not important, or at least you think it’s not important enough. This is where you are wrong, and you’re wrong here because the context from which you are approaching this question is not broad enough. As Billy might say, “You need to expand your conceptual range.”

Trump’s fight over the wall is civilization-defining in scope. I’m not a bookmaker, but with that disclaimer aside, if Trump wins this political fight and builds his wall, I’d put the odds that we still have a recognizable American civilization in 40 years at 1 For to 1000 Against. If he fails, and if he doesn’t recover before his presidency expires, they’ll be worse by at least a power of 10.

The wall fight isn’t fundamentally about America’s territorial integrity; it’s about America’s integrity, period. If the wall goes up, it will be a symbolic statement that Americans still intend to preserve the integrity, the character, and the specific, unique, and peerless value that this country embodies and represents. If the wall is stopped, it will be a symbolic statement that America is open to dissolution and disintegration, ready and willing to return to the muck of common savagery. That’s what it is.

And Schumer and Pelosi know it. Boy do they know it. Billy was right to point out Schumer howling “We want the symbol of America to stay as the Statue of Liberty, not a big concrete wall.” Schumer doesn’t mean that the symbol of America has, or should have, anything to do with liberty. No, he means the symbol of American should be, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses …” and *fuck* their yearnings to be free.

“So what?” you might ask. Commies are going to commie. And Schumer and Pelosi and their ilk have been carrying on, and winning, with their miserable, dreary, crypto-misanthropic Gramsci-Fabianism since before the ink on the _Declaration_ was dry.

But this isn’t 1999 anymore. Things have profoundly changed. It seems to me that most of those of us who value human civilization have not caught up. They are still living in their heads, humming along with the old deal, which was going up until just about November 8, 2016. The old deal was: The commies win almost every time and our civilization dies by feet and inches. But now we have a new deal, and this is it: their “progress” has been unexpectedly, almost unaccountably, interrupted by a man who was never supposed to win the White House. And this happened, note well, in a political system where there’s not supposed to be anyone who is *not supposed to win* the White House.

Now, it’s often the case, especially if you don’t know what to look for, that by the time a serious problem finally comes to your notice, it’s about to become a disaster. Dry rot. Infestations. Some people don’t know what an oil light indicates. There are outsize consequences that come from not having recognized, faced, and fixed these problems when they were small, and so we try to learn, unless we’re idiots, to do that going forward.

That it would have been an absolute disaster if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency was not news to me. After all, I’d been watching our civilization’s solid-red oil light with great interest for at least twenty years prior. But that near disaster was an awakening for me nonetheless. Her candidacy was like an awful work of great art, that took a slow-moving and abstract horror and made it immediate and concrete. I’d sum up what I took from it this way: “The bastards *are really going to* blow it all up!”

But somehow Trump got his big orange foot stuck under the detonation plunger. This is where we are right now. Team Blue is scrapping to get their grip back. The odds are in their favor. But the outcome is uncertain.

What does this mean? It means every hill is the hill to die on. It means Trump has to win every major conflict with the Gramsci-Fabianist mandarins or we’re fucked. It means that his chosen signature issue — the issue that symbolizes both Trump, who himself symbolizes the first no-kidding “FUCK YOU” Americans have yet managed to croak out at their would-be masters, and which also symbolizes the idea that America is worth keeping as an integrated whole — the “wall” — has to succeed. Because if it fails, it means “Yes, masters.”

There’s much more to be said. That’s all I have for now.

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