How long until this agglomeration of misfortuntes can be admitted in public? Mexico's inefficient state-owned oil industry barely beats out remittances as the greatest boon to the public weal; the triumph of Vicente Fox, over 71 years of institutionalized rule by the duly named Institutional Revolutionary Party, has not prevented the collapse of towns like Juarez into the violent corruption of authority and humanity alike. Of those still around to answer, three fourths of all Mexicans would enjoy being Americans.
Small wonder. Law erodes, with no end in sight; the law builds its own failures into the system.
Exhibit A -- the new bill intended to decriminalize drug possession on a sweeping scale. "Small amounts of drugs" may be had and indulged unpunished -- with two pounds of peyote qualifying as small. There are costs and benefits associated with every drug enforcement regimen, and I will not be caught in these pages insisting that an absolute ban on all drugs is necessarily anything more than a moral ideal. It may well be that the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana, for example, would offer if not increased socioeconomic benefits then at least significantly reduced costs.
But this possibility, which was floated without embarrssment in my Criminal Law class, was also offered in lecture as an extremely weak justification for a correlated idea: the decriminalization of drugs like heroin and cocaine. Mexico in its infinite wisdom has neglected to draw the line -- whereas even strong supporters of soft drug legalization, who have had occasion to think through the issue properly, can understand that some drugs are so dangerous -- to the fabric of social and personal order -- that no amount of socioeconomic cost reduction is worth their decriminalization.
The Mexican standard of order appears low enough to alter this calculus. And Mexico is fast becoming the place, bar none, where young Americans can indulge in luxuriously episodic fashion their desire to enter a failed state of their own -- a place of debauch and defeat meant to resonate on the same level of dramatic threat as a roller coaster, their own private Mexico. But dipping into the darkness and coming out clean gets harder every time, abroad no less than at home. There are always ingrates, artists and prowling wolves for whom such activity has always been recreational. But now, like all our therapeutic debasements, it becomes mainstreamed, it becomes an industry. The democratization of edginess forgets that the shape with the most edges is -- the sphere, the shape that cannot cut, the shape that rolls whichever way you kick it, the shape with no edges. In the meanwhile, our remaining Marxists would do well to complete their journey into conservatism and grasp that the worst gradient of capitalist exploitation could become a moral-ethical one.