state laws remain valid under its terms:rnthe degree to which Americans mayrnmake, enforce, or repeal the laws underrnwhich they live and work. Both are essentiallyrnnationalist issues, the latter obviouslyrnso, but the former no less so. Itrnwas the unique accomplishment of thernbest known opponent of the agreement,rnRoss Perot, to muff his implicit grasp ofrnthese nationalist issues in his disastrousrndebate with Vice President Gore just beforernthe vote. By his useless chatterrnabout the environmental depredations ofrnAmerican corporations in Mexico, Mr.rnPerot dropped the nationalist ball andrnsucceeded only in showing that he didn’trnunderstand his own argument, whichrnoriginally spoke to the effects of thernagreement on his own country and itsrnpeople.rnYet despite Mr. Perot’s fumbling,rnNAFTA remained for most of its opponentsrna nationalist issue, and the conjunctionrnof the Middle American economicrncrisis with the matter ofrnsovereignty for the first time raises thernlevel of the Middle American conflictrnby a notch or two. Sovereignty, ofrncourse, has been an issue at the heart ofrnAmerican foreign involvement in thernGulf War, the Balkans, and Somalia underrnUnited Nations authority, althoughrnfor most Americans it has been a ratherrnabstract and elusive concern. Only whenrnPresident Clinton actually transferredrnmilitary command of American troops tornforeign officers under U.N. authority lastrnyear and onlv when body bags began torncome back to the United States from Somaliarnwas the issue of national sovereignt’rnin the continuing adventures of NewrnWbdd globalism rendered concrete. ThernNAFTA debate not only renderedrnsovereignty concrete but also made it arnmatter of dollars and cents, because it atrnonce became clear that the managedrnerosion and violation of nationalrnsovereignt’ that NAFTA enshrines werernclosely linked to the loss of Americanrnjobs and the economic ruination of thernmiddle class. It suddenly dawned onrnmillions of Middle Americans that therndiminution of national sovereigntyrnwould march in step with the decline ofrntheir own economic position. Finally,rnNAFTA also made clear that if the materialrninterests of Middle Americans werernlinked to national sovereignty, they werernat odds with the interests of the transnationalrnmanagerial elite, just as the interestsrnof the elite are closely linked to thernabandonment of sovereignty.rnWhat NAFTA showed, then, was thatrntwo sociopolitical blocs have nowrnemerged in American polities. On thernone hand, there is a Middle Americanrncore that not only remains culturally andrnemotionally loyal to the institutions ofrnAmerican nationality but also is materiallyrninterested in a strong, independent,rnand sovereign nation and accurately seesrnits material interests in conflict withrnthose of the dominant elites in thernAmerican economy, state, and culture.rnOn the other hand, there is an elite drivenrnby its multinational corporate andrncommercial interests to dilute, erode,rnand compromise the sovereignty of thernAmerican nation and at the same timernand for the same material reasons tornweaken the economic position of MiddlernAmerica.rnThe latter is not merely a side-effectrnbut a deliberate strategy on behalf of therncorporate structures the elite controls.rnIn a previous Chronicles column, I quotedrnthe remark of Donald V. Fites, chairmanrnof Caterpillar Inc., to the effect thatrn”there is a narrowing of the gap betweenrnthe average American’s income and thatrnof the Mexicans. As a human being, Irnthink what is going on is positive. I don’trnthink it is realistic for 250 million Americansrnto control so much of the worid’srnGNP.” The jury may still be out as tornwhether Mr. Fites is really a human being,rnthough it’s pretty clear he’s notrnmuch of an American, but his view is notrnexceptional among other “American”rncorporate leaders. “For the first time,”rnthe Neil’ York Times reported as long agornas 1987, “American manufacturers arerntalking openly about a new and startlingrnwage goal: They want to greatly narrowrnthe gap between what they pay their factoryrnworkers and the earnings of workersrnin South Korea, Brazil, and a handful ofrnother third world countries.” Robert E.rnMercer, chairman of Goodyear, echoesrnthis sentiment. “In one way or another,”rnhe vows, “the gap will have to close.”rnThe reason the gap will have to close isrnintimately connected to the economicrnlogic of world trade. American firmsrncannot afford to pass up the bonanza ofrnforeign markets, but they find themselvesrnpriced out of those markets byrngoods produced by the cheap labor ofrnthe Third World. They cannot swallowrnthe rock of trade protectionism, by whichrnthe wage level of their American employeesrncould be salvaged, since thatrnwould provoke retaliations by foreign nationsrnthat could close off access to worldrnmarkets; but neither can they keep sittingrnin the uncompetitive hard placernwhere the payment of high Americanrnwages puts them. Hence, something hasrnto give, and of course what the corporaternelite is eager to give is the economic positionrnof Middle America, which the corporaternmanagers have decided to convertrninto a Third World work force.rnHence NAFTA, which will achievernthis goal in part by simply moving jobs tornthe Third Worid and in part by using thernthreat of movement as a club with whichrnto hammer wage negotiations into acceptablernshape. Hence also mass immigration,rnwhich imports a cheap workrnforce in competition with Americanrnworkers as well as a new urban underclassrnwith which the governmental managerialrnelite can play its social-therapeuticrnLIBERAL ARTSrnPVI RIO’I ISI VM) MAMIOOOrnTil (lulcr Id he a reip(.rtril)lf DIK: iiiii.’;! l)c :i goiid son, mjoci luislxincl, and goodrnfather; in otherworcl,s, one must combitit ill! tlie piihlic ..iiui private irt’.its…. Thereinrnlies the tnie definition of the word p.itriotisiii.”rn— I he i’rcnch RffmbUcan tnrnthe citizen o/ VlvLuMfihia ch qiiutecl /;y Witria- lli^onnet inrn”Scins-culottes,” fiorn hmrd aiiil<.)z’iiil’>. Dii.tioiiiLiiic critique.rnFEBRUARY 1994/9rnrnrn