Inputs from the Politics of Today
Inputs from History
The Future of New/Old Nations
|What we think about migration and nationality in North
America, now, cannot be separated from what we know about the conflicts
of the 1840s.
The indigenous and mixed-race populations of the continent have long been
on the move -- in every sense of the word "movement." In the 1840s
they were producing acts of rebellion that revealed much of what migration
On the surface, the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848 was a collision between
two white governments, out to determine which would have priority in ruling
the non-white populations of the continent. The deeper, "real" war
was therefore that waged by both these governments together, on the one
hand, against the whole dominated population on the other.
During the war, the political classes in Mexico made some effort to think
seriously about the nationalities that made up their society. (U.S.
leaders made little effort, aside from the negotiations between slaveholding
and non-slaveholding whites.) This debate in Mexico did not reach
any satisfactory conclusion at the time. As a result, the debate
has resurfaced again and again in Mexican life. At the end of the
20th century, it has become a focus of concerns, over the whole continent,
about the meaning of nationality.
Citizens now, in both Mexico and the United States, have an option that
they also had 150 years ago, but did not act on then. They can leave
the policy goals of the popular nations to the people involved.