The Blue Wound - part IV - looking down on the Earth
Chapter 9 applies the lessons of Chapters 3 and 4 (and others) to the Earth as a whole. The characters stand inside a mysterious domed structure looking down on the Earth watching the 19th century take shape. The characters observe the industrialized countries becoming dependant on the third world for labor and raw materials, much like the cities of Chapter 3 depended on the outside world for sustenance, and could thus be destroyed by marauding barbarians.
The characters watched plumes of smoke emerge where cities had become industrialized. They watched ships travel oceans and become more advanced as the years passed quickly before their eyes. They watched armies push against each other as the famous wars of the 19th century unfolded.
The European powers were vulnerable because they depended on virtual slave labor in the colonies for raw materials. The United States avoided this fate because the native populations of North America would not be enslaved. The Europeans could not use them the way they used the Chinese, Indians or Africans. The colonists found that they had virtual unfettered access to the continent. This access produced control and independence from Europe and the old world.
The threat to this independence comes from political attempts to obtain cheap labor through unfettered immigration. Remember that Garrett wrote these words in 1921 (and remember what I wrote in Part II about Garrett's predictive abilities):
"Meanwhile, finding more drudgery to do than it had the patience or time to perform for itself, your country imported tame slaves from all over the world, in vast numbers, to make railroads, build highways, dig in the mines, tend the furnaces and gut the forests - calling it immigration."pp. 75-76
"Immigrants are not slaves, however," I said. "They are admitted to citizenship and enjoy full political rights."
"They are free to come and go," said Mered. "Therefore you do not call them slaves. But they call themselves slaves - wage slaves. Their part is drudgery. Upon it you have reared an edifice of wealth unique. It is insecure. Those whose toil it consumes in a reckless manor have eyes to see and hearts wherewith to be envious and revengeful. They pity themselves as oppressed. They complain, then demand, and at length revolt. Then the terrifying discovery is made that their toil, though it has been despised, is vital. If the sultry masses who dig the coal and mine the iron suddenly refuse to be docile hewers and bringers, what will happen? You may say they will in that case destroy
themselves. That is nothing. People are continually destroying themselves, and yet they go on forever. But civilization is rare and fragile. The power to destroy it lies in the hands of those whose labour it wastes contemptuously and by whom it is hated accordingly."
This speech addresses the real problems with immigration - problems that cut to the heart of any civilization. I believe that many of today's ordinary opponents of increased immigration somehow feel the danger to our culture and civilization - even though the issues end up being expressed in terms of minutiae and explanations that mean little after today's headlines fade.
update - click here for part V.