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March 22, 2014


Your point is valid, but thew thesis about the frontier is somewhat incorrect. The frontier did not funnel immigrants. Instead, the movement was more like: immigrants onto the East Coast, assimilated second- or more generation folks to the West.

Most immigrants could not afford moving to the West directly. It required, even with the homestead acts, a surprising amount of capital, both social and monetary. An off-the-boat immigrant had neither. (Getting the necessary tools, supplies and means of movement to found a homestead would be even today a major investment for an average American.)

That's a good point. I wasn't thinking that it was the same people, I was thinking of the pressure that immigration put and how it 'pushed' people West. Kind of like being in a crowded hallway and as more people come, you either get pushed someplace without much volition, or you end up trying to find a place where you've got a little more space.

On the other hand, the crowded hallway theory fits the plight of the Native American.

For a time in the 19th century, in the West Texas region and surrounding and wide ranging environs, idiots forced themselves, following an expansionist Spain and Mexico, and more innocently, other Native American tribes, into some millions of square miles of open high prairie filled with Comanche and millions of buffalo.

For the idiots, and much to their feigned, not-so-innocent surprise, the interlopers found themselves in a cage of their own making filled with velociraptors on horseback.

The idiots, as usual, turned out to be the more lethal predator.

At least for me, it's hard not to draw a parallel between the conquest of the US frontier, where we basically funneled immigrants out to take over the rest of the country and the way China is sending people everywhere to build, though I don't know who the Chinese equivalents of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Judge Roy Bean are.

China is not funneling immigrants to the frontier, they are funneling their overabundance of rural poor into the maw of untrammeled urban capitalism guided by the Party and the central bank.

Judge Bean and 'sheriff Earp are most likely somewhere in a Shanghai industrial zone.

China is, however, channelling people into Tibet**. Which is actually a pretty good parallel to the American West. Including natives getting slowly but steadily marginalized in their own lands.

** And into Xinjiang as well. Although perhaps not quite as vigorously.

Also there is the old Russian fear that the Chinese will one day take over Siberia by that method.

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