As three human caravans snake their way through Mexico, two different visions of America emerge.
The first vision can be represented by several metaphors that reflect a materialistic, mechanical mindset. Thus, some see America as a giant shareholding company in which immigrants, legal or otherwise, are seen from a purely economic perspective of new workers or potential shareholders. Others might see America as a gigantic cruise ship where they invite immigrants to join a great party in which everyone chases after happiness.
Everything is centered upon the individual and the frenetic pursuit of material well-being. This vision thrives in an atmosphere of unrestraint, sensations and emotions. It naturally finds resonance in liberal media and politics.
America as a Nation
However, a second vision is represented by those who see America as a nation. Those in this latter group can evoke organic metaphors to express their view.
Thus, we might say that America represents a community with a shared history, calling and set of social values. America is similar to a family that loves, shelters and nurtures its members. America is a special land that is the object of sovereignty, identity and patriotism. All these elements unite and forge us into a people. The emphasis of this vision is the symbiosis between a nation and its people. While including social cooperation, its foundations are cultural and spiritual values. The nation bestows blessings upon members but also exacts duties and sacrifices.
These two visions clash in the present caravan debate. The caravans are just the latest expression of the dispute in the general public over what America should be as a nation. And they further divide and polarize the country.
The problem begins with the correct notion of what a society is. The shareholding vision thinks of society as a mere collection of individuals in which all seek their self-interest. It has no common goal or purpose other than coordinating the ambitions of its members.
However, the traditional notion of society is different. Society starts with informal groupings of individuals, families, and intermediary associations mostly dedicated to furthering their individual good. A people and a nation are born when this collection of social units coalesces into a distinctive whole.
By definition, a nation forms when a cultural, social, economic, and political unity is unable to be included or federated into any other one. The goal of this new social unit is no longer only furthering the individual good of each member, but the common good of all. This common good ensures the peace of the community, allows virtuous co-existence, and favors the material and spiritual good of all community members.
The State arises as the nation’s political organization and order. Its role is to safeguard the common good and facilitate virtuous life in common. The State, therefore, presupposes a people, intermediary associations, territory, organized political power and the acknowledgment of God and a higher law.
This classical notion of society is turned upside down by those who favor the forcing of American borders with the illegal entry of thousands of Central Americans and other nationals.
Two Differing Notions
Applying these two notions of America to the caravans, the first sees the invasion as a matter of processing individuals into the country. It involves coordinating, and if necessary, supplying the means for the illegal immigrants’ individual material happiness. There are few intermediaries between the individual and the State, which usurps overwhelming tasks and functions that rightly belong to others in society.
However, the second school of thought holds that becoming part of the nation involves more than just being physically present. It must also include full integration and assimilation into the life of the nation. It must include obedience to the State and its laws which exist for the ordering of society the common good of all. Such a relationship facilitates greater happiness but demands sacrifice and duty. Citizenship is not a document, but a participation in the nation’s rich social life full of intermediary associations of family, community, work and faith that facilitate unity and virtuous life together. There is also a very vibrant notion of the role of God who blesses a nation that respects His law.
One vision favors a selfish fragmentation of the nation. The other provides for a shared and healthy framework of principles and values that allows for great diversity but only within the constraints of a unity that is vital and desired. Countless Americans hold these values sacred and see them as the foundation of our well-being and prosperity.
Why Many Americans Oppose the Caravans
That is why many Americans oppose the caravans. The premises of the migrant rights movement—and the Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders) and other leftist organizations making it happen—are opposed to the traditional understanding of nation and people.
Few Americans oppose the healthy immigration that has always characterized and revitalized our society throughout our history. However, historically, waves of integration and assimilation took place inside the framework of a nation striving for unity and respectful of the common good.
What Americans see now are caravans that destroy the common good by disrespecting the law. They impose themselves upon the nation and its communities without any organic process of assimilation. America becomes a processing center for individuals desiring to enter at the expense of all.
There is no attempt to maintain unity or honor in this chaotic march to the border. Indeed, liberals have weaponized these poor people to serve their purposes of promoting open borders and the dissolution of the American order. Some caravan participants even burned the American flag and cursed our government. Criminal elements have infiltrated the caravans and will bring harm to the nation when they enter. This is not immigration, but an asymmetric invasion of the country.
Why the Caravans Are Unacceptable
Accepting these caravans will force the government into disordering the common good. America will endorse the violation of its sovereignty that it is obliged to uphold. America would dishonor its past by betraying that sacred trust to uphold the rule of law that assures that order is to be maintained.
Above all, America must remain true to herself. We are a nation, not a processing center, a shareholding company or a collection of individuals on a cruise ship pursuing their individual material happiness. We welcome those who wish to unite themselves to the nation, assimilating into our society under the generous conditions set up for this purpose. Nothing has changed in this regard.
However, a nation means we are like a community and family that exist not only for individual benefit but that of the common good. We have history, identity and purpose. We are a sovereign nation under God and His law. Thus, we cannot accept a suicidal travesty that imperils America.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.