Portrait of a Failed Society

Letter From Mexico

To paraphrase one observer of Albanians, “Mexico is not a society with corruption; Mexico is a corrupt society.”  Mexico has been undergoing a social crisis since the end of the Partido Revolutionario Institucional’s 71-year monopoly on political power.  Gone is the state’s patronage of competing interests, populism that succeeded by co-opting all opponents.  The coffers have run dry, and a culture that has long been raised to take, not make—to steal, not deal—is finding itself ill adapted to the modern world.

Recently, Mexican news editorials cried “racism!” lambasting Californians for daring to elect a governor who protects their interests.  “Mexicans built that country,” claimed one commentator on a leading nightly news program.  “We fed your cattle, harvested your crops, washed your dishes.  You owe your wealth to us.”

He failed to mention the illegal immigrants who have bankrupted California’s social services, the jobs they have taken away from Americans, the billions of dollars repatriated annually to Mexico, and the extensive crime inflicted on Americans.

The Mexican nation suffers a pathological contradiction in self-perception, a reverse Napoleonic complex of sorts.  They perceive themselves as grander than the statistics tell—in culture, geostrategic position,...

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