A few decades back, Isaiah Berlin, one of the great pragmatic philosophers of the 20th Century, wrote an essay entitled “The Hedgehog and The Fox.” The title comes from a poem by Archilochus, written in the 7th Century, B.C.E. in which the ancient fabler noted, “The Fox knows many things, but the Hedgehog knows one big thing.” The original intent of the tale was that, notwithstanding the Fox’s many wiles and means of attack, the Hedgehog knew he could always just curl up in his ball and remain impervious to the claws of the his adversaries.

Berlin applied this tale to the different minds of men. He noted that there are those, the Hedgehogs of human existence, who bury themselves in a fortress of fundamental belief, convinced of the surety of their one big idea, and the conviction that everything in the world must conform, or be made to conform, to that worldview. The Foxes of the intellectual world, on the other hand, don’t have “one big belief,” but they “know many things.” They are natural pragmatists who look to find solutions through observation, trial and error — and an understanding that nothing is ever going to be perfect. They know the world is far too complex to fit into any one idea, and try always to be on top of their game — understanding, most likely, that they stand a better chance of outliving, or out voting, the Hedgehogs of this world than changing their minds.

Berlin, expounding elsewhere on this theme, observed that the Twentieth Century was a “Century of Final Solutions.” A century of Hedgehogs, if you will. The inflection of the plural was poignant and purposeful, coming from a Russian Jew who lost many members of his extended family to both Hitler’s ovens and Stalin’s gulags. Whereas we all know that Nazism offered a Final Solution, and Hitler was clearly a Hedgehog, Berlin wanted us to reflect that it was only one expression of a certain type of linear, unitary and ahistorical thought which brooks no opposition to its fundamental truthfulness. To Berlin, Italian Fascism was as much a Final Solution as German Nazism, even without the sheer number of death camps. Market Fundamentalism was as much a final solution as Soviet Communism, even without the state forced labor. To Berlin, Christian Fundamentalism carried with it as much a final solution as did Radical Islam, even if the methods to achieve its ends were dramatically different. In his view, the Final Solution of Hitler wasn’t only the gas chambers and the mechanized murder of millions, it was the belief that the world should be something that it is not; and furthermore, by the application of force, that it can be made to take the imagined form. To Berlin the final solution of Nazism lived in the dogma that told a party member that he or she was justified and right to fulfill Nazi doctrine. To Berlin, all final solutions are formed in a mind that says “I am not cruel to do this; I am an agent of a higher righteousness, and it must be so. God, or the world, wants it to be so; I am just an angel of revealed truth.”

The same could be said of stalwarts of the Washington Consensus or the Soviet International. And it can be said of many supporters of the new law in Arizona, which demands that the police request to see the papers of anyone, if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she might be in the United States illegally.

There has been much written in the past weeks about the new law in Arizona, and I was reluctant to take it on as a column for La Cuadra, as it has received so much attention elsewhere. But the need to do so crystallized while watching a video of California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, sounding every bit like a man who holds, deep in his Hedgehog heart, a “final solution” of sorts.

Hunter said, in reference to the issues around illegal immigration into America, “There can be no amnesty, that’s a given.” Further, he observed, “It’s not complicated, you just need the political will to [end illegal immigration] and we’re gathering that political will now and this Arizona law is a fantastic starting point.”

Then, when asked if he would support the deportation of children, born as legal citizens in the United States to parents that were undocumented, he declared, “I would have to say, yes.” Further noting that people might think, “You’re a mean guy. That’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do,” Hunter defended himself by saying, “We’re not being mean, we’re just saying that it takes more than walking across the border to become an American citizen. It’s what’s in our souls.”

  1. Crazy Yo. Crazy. I can’t even finish reading this.
    “we’re just saying that it takes more than walking across the border to become an American citizen. It’s what’s in our souls.” Greed? Is that what he is saying? You have to have a greedy, lecherous soul in order to be an American? Sounds about right.
    So, his grandparents came to the United States before mine did. Whatever. Keep it.
    Posession is 9/10ths of the Law, right? So then – GIVE US BACK Mexico…meaning; Texas, California, Nevada, Utah.. Don’t forget most of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. there are more of US then there are of you.
    And please, don’t let us forget THIS guy and his ENTIRE family: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Salazar#Early_life_and_family

    Sank yew.
    oh yeah, and give us back our cholo, the freekin United States Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar….he should come with the deal. he is one of us.

  2. You thought that the economy was bad? Kick them out and see how fast this economy goes to shit. The services they provide to society are immense! Who do you think does all the farming, raising(nannies), cooking, and cleaning? They do. These low paying jobs are jobs that American’s never wanted and they had to fill that void with their own dreams of America. Lets see how fast your household products go up in price now that you don’t have “the amigos” working. Point being increase in prices are imminent and will probably happen over night if we continue pursuing action on this issue.

    Your great-grandparents or your grandparents were welcomed in the U.S. back in the industrial revolution ( or from whatever time period they came from) they were giving an opportunity to be a part of America. As Duncan Hunter stated that the children of immigrants should be kicked out, he should be first in line. We were all immigrants once. If thats the case then lets leave it to the Native Americans and lets all go back from where we came from!

  3. As usual a fine article Mike, although I had to Google GIITEM to make sure you were serious – unreal that anyone can be so crass as to come up with a name like that!

  4. Great article Mike. If the US wants less illegals then they should make the process for obtaining a work/resident Visa easier. At the very least. IMHO
    However, I do have to take issue with one of your points; “Consider this: if a crime is committed (a robbery, a mugging, a rape, gang activity in a neighborhood, human trafficking, et. al.) and a witness is without papers, does this law make it more or less likely that they will come forward?”
    Although it sounds good as a point, I would ASSUME that as is, illegal immigrants are very unlikely to come forward. I have zero facts to back this up, but that’s why I’m not publishing it as my opinion without knowing. Can you shed any light…?

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About the Author

Michael Tallon, Editor-in-Chief, head writer and delivery boy, of La Cuadra Magazine, expatriated from the States 11 years ago. After spending a year in Antigua gasbagging about wanting to start an English Language magazine, he hit the road and wandered about South America, India and Nepal before finding himself sipping tea in Darjeeling and realizing that maybe it was time to head home and pick up the career path. That ill-fated adventure in New York lasted about 6 weeks before he headed back to Antigua, Guatemala, where John Rexer had actually started the magazine in his absence.

After a few months, Mike took over the magazine and has been going slowly broke since. On that note, Mike would like to invite advertisers, readers and potential patrons to send him free money.