March 30, 2013

Race Trumps Class: Happy Cesar Chavez's Birthday

Union boss Cesar Chavez was one of the leading class warriors of my youth, but today he is remembered only as the patron saint of La Raza. As I wrote in The American Conservative in 2006:
In California, only three birthdays are official state holidays: Jesus Christ’s, Martin Luther King’s, and Cesar Chavez’s (March 31st). ...
Chavez was a more interesting figure than either the plaster idol worshipped in the public schools or the celebrity control-freak he turned into as he aged. 
Chavez embodied both the old class politics and the new identity politics. Out of this duality grew the fundamental conflict of his life. What was more important, la causa or la raza? The UFW union or the Mexican race? This irresolvable contradiction culminated in the terrible ironies of his tragic later years and the uselessness of the UFW ever since. 
During his prime, Chavez, a third-generation American citizen from Yuma, Arizona and Navy veteran, was an American labor leader fighting against the importation of strikebreakers from Mexico. But as power and praise went to his head, his image morphed into that of a Mexican mestizo racial emblem, the patron saint of the reconquista of Alta California by la raza. 
In 2006, we automatically assume that America’s self-appointed Latino leaders—the politicians, campaign consultants, media mouthpieces, and identity-politics warriors—favor ever more immigration. Their influence and income flow from their claim to represent vast numbers of Hispanics, so the more warm bodies they can get across the border, the larger will be the ethnic quotas upon which their careers are based. But the union leader who is honestly battling for the welfare of his members—as opposed to the boss merely attempting to maximize the number of dues-paying workers—wants less competition for them. 
Chavez’s essential problem was straight out of Econ 101, the law of supply and demand. He needed to limit the supply of labor in order to drive up wages. Just as American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gompers, himself a Jewish immigrant, was one of the most influential voices calling for the successful immigration-restriction law of 1924, Chavez, during his effectual years, was a ferocious opponent of illegal immigration. 
His success stemmed from the long-term decline in the farm labor supply. According to agricultural economist Philip L. Martin of the University of California, Davis, migrant farm workers in the U.S. numbered 2 million in the 1920s. Eisenhower cracked down on Mexican illegal immigrants, shipping one million home in 1954 alone. The famous 1960 “Harvest of Shame” documentary by CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow inspired liberal Democrats in Congress to abolish the bracero guest-worker program in 1964. 
The supply of migrant workers dropped to about 200,000, most of them American citizens, making unionization and better contracts feasible—as long as what Marx called “the reserve army of the unemployed” could be bottled up south of the border. The next year, Chavez began his storied organizing campaign. 
Growers fought back by busing the reserve army up from Mexico. In 1979, Chavez bitterly testified to Congress: 
… when the farm workers strike and their strike is successful, the employers go to Mexico and have unlimited, unrestricted use of illegal alien strikebreakers to break the strike. And, for over 30 years, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has looked the other way and assisted in the strikebreaking. I do not remember one single instance in 30 years where the Immigration service has removed strikebreakers. … The employers use professional smugglers to recruit and transport human contraband across the Mexican border for the specific act of strikebreaking… 
In 1969, Chavez led a march to the Mexican border to protest illegal immigration. Joining him were Sen. Walter Mondale and Martin Luther King’s successor as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Ralph Abernathy. 
The UFW picketed INS offices to demand closure of the border. Chavez also finked on illegal alien scabs to la migra. Columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. reported in the Arizona Republic, “Cesar Chavez, a labor leader intent on protecting union membership, was as effective a surrogate for the INS as ever existed. Indeed, Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union he headed routinely reported, to the INS, for deportation, suspected illegal immigrants who served as strikebreakers or refused to unionize.” 
Like today’s Minutemen, UFW staffers under the command of Chavez’s brother Manuel patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border to keep out illegal aliens. Unlike the well-behaved Minutemen, however, Chavez’s boys sometimes beat up intruders.

It's fascinating how today race trumps class so unquestionably that almost nobody can even imagine that a Mexican-American union boss would oppose illegal immigration.


Claudia Z said...

Look at it from their point of view: the Anglos stole Texas, and California via illegal warfare. Can you blame them for wanting it back?

Discard said...

Claudia: Texas and California fell into American hands because the Mexicans let what the Spanish had built fall apart. Well before the territories were transferred to the United States, they were being taken over by stray Americans who were willing to get up in the morning and do something. The governor of Mexican California was giving land grants to FOB Americans because they'd actually build up and maintain a ranch or some other enterprise. The wars simply ratified the economic and social facts. We didn't take anything that Mexico hadn't thrown away. I do blame them for being dumb and indolent.

Southern Pacific Railroader said...

At the time that Chavez died, his organization was using a piece of property alongside the Southern Pacific tracks on the Tehatchapi grade. They were about to be kicked out because they made the place into a public health menace. There were over 200 abandoned cars on the property, harboring large numbers of wild and feral animals. Dozens of them were beige State cars, given to them by Governor Jerry Brown.
So they buried him on the property, alongside the tracks. Who would dare to disturb the grave of a saint? The health department backed off. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

So the Democratic coalition isn't pro- any of its myriad factions. They are just anti-straight White men.

I never understood how pro-Black and La Raza get along politically.

Anonymous said...

It is also fascinating that virtually all of today's Marxists and other assorted leftists absolutely and completely ignore Marx's dictum on the 'reserve army of unemployed' - which actually and in fact happens to be the pivot on which ALL of Marxist class and economic theory happens to swing.
To call yourself a Marxist you can happily ignore all the rest of his voluminous writings, but you just simply CANNOT ignore his dogma on the 'reserve army of unemployed' - basically it is the central doctrine which explains why the working class are structurally disadvantaged and unable to break out of a helot like existence in a capitalist society. If this caveat never existed and the wotking class were able to bid up a fair wage according to a fair valuation of their labor, then the entire Marxist critique of capitalism would have no sting. It is the inherent, structural disadvantage of workers, their maginalization and pauperization by an iherently vicious system that is the central core of Marxism.
Ironically today's lefty wankers with theur fetish for uncontroled, unlimited immigration are the biggest exponents and facilitators of this vicious and exploitative system.

PropagandistHacker said...

the amount of multiculti propaganda pumped into american minds over the past few decades has indeed wrought many changes and has created mythologies. MLK is the prime example of a quasi-god, a near-mythological figure, created by the propaganda of Capital, created by Capital's ruthless quest for cheap labor and it's thirst for a populace divided by race and nationality. Look for MLK and other quasi-gods of the pantheon of multiculti demigods to become true religious figures sometime in the distant future.

All this mythologizing of nonwhites is part of the domestication process of the white majority by the propaganda organs of Capital. The white majority stood in the way of cheap labor and a divided populace, two things that give Capital increased profits. I use the past-tense word 'stood' here because the white majority has now been domesticate to such a degree that it no longer stands in the way of Capital.

Anonymous said...

The Mexicans stole California from the Indians. They have no right whine about losing stolen property.

Anonymous said...

Anon that's because most Marxists aren't Marxists they are Maoists, to the extent that they aren't just trying to be edgy, and the reserve army of the unemployed is also the recruiting ground of the peasant insurrection. That said the idea that the reserve army of the unemployed is the sine qua non of Marxism is absurd. If anything it is far more Malthusian than some uniquely Marxist idea like quantative changes becoming qualitative.

Remember paleocons when you write that the National Review/ mainstream right weeps for MLK to add that Steve weeps for Ceasar Chavez. You can take the writer out of the National Review but you can't take the NR out of the writer. That our maybe you could learn how to play the high IQ game of sealing off your weak flank before attacking. A few crocodile tears, or even sincere tears, for MLK makes opposition to quotas seem less racialist.

Anonymous said...

I think that straight men who are members of the underclass will follow trends towards metrosexuality. Lots of men apparently have been led to believe that doing obviously gay things makes them more masculine. Do a Google image search for "masculine," and you see mostly young men with coiffed hair posing shirtless in soft light.

Honestly, what straight men want is to be with women. If that means being a little careless about our appearance, that's a bonus. If being with women means striking those covergirl poses from the Google image search, it's worth it. If it means getting married, even when getting married is gayer than ever, it's worth it.

The real threat to straight marriage is that women are now often willing to be promiscuous or be long-term girlfriends without the hope of getting married. Straight people started embracing gay relationship models (partnership, promiscuity) before gay people decided to embrace a straight relationship model (monogamy, marriage).

Truth said...

I'm happy with Cesar Chavez day; his fights with Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor were EPIC!

countenance said...

Anonymous at 12:54 AM wrote:

I never understood how pro-Black and La Raza get along politically.

It's KKKrazy Glue. It's what prevents the weird intersectionalities between one Democrat/left coalition constituency and other from becoming car wrecks for the most part.

alexis said...

Look at it from their point of view: the Anglos stole Texas, and California via illegal warfare. Can you blame them for wanting it back?

So a few conquistadors in 1540 with some fellow travelers stopping every few miles to declare to the cacti and juniper that they belong to the the new claim of the King of Spain constitutes possession?

I'd rather say that actually building infrastructure makes a stronger claim, which outside of a few missions was all Spain/Mexico could claim in the 19th century for entire chunks of California, Nevada, Texas, and the rest of the Southwest after having 300 years to do something more substantial. And I'm sure that my logic wouldn't be lost on the local Don musing on his enslaved Paiutes.

But we must be sympathetic: trying to keep an empire all the way to the Terra del Fuego stretches resources a bit thin, doesn't it?

anony-mouse said...

Yuma, Arizona and a Navy veteran.

Another contradiction?

Anonymous said...

Ah, but were he alive today, Steve, we know what he'd be doing.

Anonymous said...

Cesar Chavez
Julio Cesar Chavez
Hugo Chavez

Chavezes are taking over the world.

Anonymous said...

Look at it from their point of view: the Anglos stole Texas, and California via illegal warfare. Can you blame them for wanting it back?

And how did the Mexicans come to possess Texas and California?

Steve, could you do a post sometime discussing the ownership question about the American Southwest. Too many Americans are buying into the default, PC position that the US stole this land from Mexico.

It would be nice to flesh out which natives resided there and whether they have any relevance to Mexico or not. For example, I don't think Aztecs settled much farther north than present day Mexico City. So I don't think the Mexicans have a claim from that angle.

I think their only claim is that they believe they won the territories of New Spain after their revolution. Since New Spain included parts of Central America, Florida, Cuba and the Philippines, why don't they claim those too?

It is my understanding that outside of the actual natives who lived in the New World, several nations claimed various parts of New World territory at one time or another, and their holdings went up or down depending upon the fortunes of war.

Mexico crying about wanting back the Southwest would be like France complaining that they should still have most of Canada, or the British claiming they should still have their North American colonies.

alexis said...

Mexico crying about wanting back the Southwest would be like France complaining that they should still have most of Canada, or the British claiming they should still have their North American colonies.

The entire Arab world should demand reparations from Mongolia for the sacking of Baghdad in 1258, which historians consider the "end of the Golden Age of Islam". A strong voice for justice is needed, but when and where will their Louis Farakhan appear?

Anonymous said...

Of course, politicians bemoan the fact that the supply of voters is not high enough, and companies that sell stuff bemoan the fact that the supply of buyers is not enough.

Seems like a confluence of interests.

David said...

All true Americans know "class" doesn't exist and "race" isn't important. Steve, I shall report your anti-Americanism to the Free Speech Ministry in Washington, DC.


CJ said...

"I never understood how pro-Black and La Raza get along politically."

Elementary. Democrats give stuff to blacks. The more of La Raza there are, the more likely Democrats are to be elected and continue giving stuff to blacks. If blacks want jobs, they want government jobs, not jobs on farms or in hotels or around golf courses. Clashes between browns and blacks aren't going to change this dynamic, especially since whitey of course pays for everything.

This is entirely in accord with the worldwide fundamentals of multicultural politics regularly discussed on this site. Remember, underperforming minorities of color don't vote for leftists because they're in favor of gay marriage or unisex bathrooms or organic lettuce. They vote for socialists in order to (1) get handouts (2) express tribal solidarity (3) stick it to whitey.

Anonymous said...

Humans seemed to have been mighty thin on the ground in early California. Makes you wonder it there were giant tsunamis or droughts or something. For instance, here's the Russian take (Fort Ross means "Fort Russ"):

"Subsequent reports by the Russian hunting parties of uncolonized stretches of coast encouraged Baranov, the Chief Administrator of the Russian-American Company (RAC), to consider a settlement in California north of the limit of Spanish occupation in San Francisco.

...named the Russian River ...

Fort Ross was established as an agricultural base from which the northern settlements could be supplied with food...

...the hub of a number of smaller Russian settlements..."

Did you know the Russians built the first windmills in California? The were Green before it was cool!

Anonymous said...

"Look at it from their point of view: the Anglos stole Texas, and California via illegal warfare. Can you blame them for wanting it back? "

I've posted to this point before. It's a fundamental misconception. Mexico lost control of Texas because Mexico didn't control Texas:

"... By the time the American army invaded northern Mexico in 1846 during the Mexican-American War the region was devastated.

... `... the whole country from New Mexico to the borders of Durango is almost entirely depopulated. The haciendas and ranchos have been mostly abandoned,...' ...

When American troops invaded northern Mexico in 1846 they found a devastated landscape and a demoralized people. There was little resistance...

...The Comanches had turned northern Mexico into a “semicolonized landscape of extraction from which they could mine resources with little cost.”"

Ironically, at least initially:

"The United States pledged in the treaty that it would police the border to prevent Indian invasions of Mexico. The US had little more success in curtailing Comanche and Apache raids than Mexico."

The Comanche were raiding in force as far down as within a 150 miles of Mexico City. This ended after revolvers and repeating rifles were invented. Previously, a Comanche horseback charge and the ability to rapidly fire arrows would overwhelm defenders before they could reload. The Spanish had a trade route from New Mexico to the Kansas City area. They only travelled it occasionally and they did so as a small army. The inhabitants along the path did not consider themselves subject to Spanish or Mexican law, to say the least.

The same thing happened in inland California and Arizona. Mexico was not in control of southern Arizona, for example, the land called the "Gadsen Purchase".

"... a potential benefit to Mexico, in that the US pledged to suppress the Comanche and Apache raids that had ravaged northern Mexico and pay restitutions to the victims of raids it could not prevent. However, the Indian raids did not cease for several decades after the treaty, although a cholera epidemic reduced the numbers of the Comanche in 1849. Robert Letcher, U.S. Minister to Mexico in 1850, was certain "that miserable 11th article" would lead to the financial ruin of the US if it could not be released from its obligations. The US was released from all obligations of Article XI five years later by Article II of the Gadsden Purchase of 1853."

"Stolen by illegal warfare" is oft-iterated anti-American PC propaganda.

Maybe we should give it all back to the Comanche, Apache, and a few of their allies. Though I think before they got horses the Comanche were a central Canadian tribe...

Anonymous said...

There are some interesting quotes in a Washington Post article today on public sentiment in Britain against immigration:

(1) The WaPo headlines the phenomenon as "wave of anti-immigrant populism."

Note the use of "immigrant" rather than "immigration" and the pejorative "populism."

(2) "The anti-immigrant Independence party took up the challenge, setting up offices next to a Turkish kebab shop and narrowly losing its bid to win its first elected seat in the British Parliament....The outcome of the Feb. 28 vote, coupled with national polls showing UKIP support at an all-time high, seemed to terrify Britain’s three traditional parties."

Why was is British nationalist sentiment "terrifying" to the three major British parties?

(3) "That fear is surging as countries including Britain, Germany and France prepare for new flows of migrants from two of Europe’s poorest countries — Bulgaria and Romania, whose citizens will win unlimited access to the E.U.’s labor market as of Jan. 1."

What a disaster this all is for the Northern European peoples.


"Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labor Party, has offered a mea culpa for lax immigration policies during his party’s rule from 1997 to 2010, a period when net migration to Britain soared. In an apparent reference to then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s campaign gaffe in 2010 — when the Labor leader was caught off camera describing an elderly white woman as “bigoted” for complaining about immigration — Miliband said: “It’s not prejudiced when people worry about immigration. It’s understandable. And we were wrong in the past when we dismissed people’s concerns.”"

It seems an accepted fact that Labor deliberately pursued lax immigration policies. A question is, why did they do so?


"“There is no doubting the influence of UKIP is now being felt in our immigration debate, partly because the main parties have refused to have a debate about this before,” said Keith Vaz, a Labor Party lawmaker. “We should stamp out illegal immigration, but we also need to avoid an arms race between the parties as they react to UKIP support.”"

Why have all three parties avoided discussing an issue that could be a political winner? If this is some kind of cartel, who is pulling the strings and why?


"“Cameron is Mr. Slippery, you wouldn’t want to buy a used car from that man,” said Farage, who had the highest “satisfaction rating” — 35 percent — among all British political leaders in a recent Ipsos MORI poll."

The anti-immigration leader has the highest ratings among political leaders. Wow. This issue has legs. Why hasn't supply followed demand?


"“You think we could get an English person to work here?” he said, pointing at a pungent rotisserie of well-oiled lamb with a laugh. “They don’t want to do this kind of work. They only want to sit in nice office jobs and spin around in their chairs all day. They go on benefits if they can’t find that kind of work. Immigrants are not the problem.”"

Jobs Britons won't do.

Anonymous said...


The only thing that has changed in British poltics is that establishment politicians are in serious danger of losing their jobs - and heir big salaries and allied perks. There is nothing like the threat of losing one's job in galvanizing politicians into junking previous 'heart-felt' one world ideology.

Perhaps America could do with an 'American Independence Party'.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never understood how pro-Black and La Raza get along politically."

Blacks, as a group, haven't cared much about employment issues because so many of them are: a.) granted special access to government jobs, which are barred to illegals, b.) are life-long welfare spongers, or c.) are (or will soon be) career felons. Blacks have largely checked out of the job-market, which is why jobs are not a big issue with them. Sticking it to whitey - that's a big issue with them.

They might become so, however, because of a change in category a. With the growing number of hispanics, some fraction of whom are legal US citizens, a lot of white government managers have realized that they can hire hispanics in place of blacks, score almost as high in diversity brownie-points, and actually get an employee who isn't completely useless.

Anonymous said...

Blacks, as a group, haven't cared much about employment issues because so many of them are: a.) granted special access to government jobs, which are barred to illegals, b.) are life-long welfare spongers, or c.) are (or will soon be) career felons. Blacks have largely checked out of the job-market, which is why jobs are not a big issue with them.

This is a very interesting observation and could explain one of the motivations behind affirmative action. If blacks cared about jobs, they would oppose mass immigration and form engage in solidarity with White Americans against the invasion. The government jobs, the affirmative action, cushion them from the costs of mass immigration and nullify them as political opponents.

Anonymous said...

To Claudia Z;

1) Mexico never really owned Texas or California. Not in any real sense of the term. Demographically and in terms of development, the southwest was a barren wasteland in the middle of the nineteenth century. Mexico simply inherited Spain's even emptiery claim to the southwest through a technicality.

2) Also have you never heard of the Gadsen purchase?

Anonymous said...

Anybody know where I can read more about how anti-union blacks were recruited from the American South to work in the North ahead of the 1960s?

The racial conflicts of strikebreaking are more complicated than I thought. You get the white business class complaining about the racism of the white working class against the cheap / scab labor they help import.