A Short Prologue on the Evolution of Smugglers and Contraband
(Or should I say: Devolution)
The smuggling profession has been around for a long time. Not as long as the infamous “oldest profession” i.e. prostitution that predates government itself. But it has been around for a long time that is for sure. As soon as government and taxes reared their twin ugly heads, contraband was their bastard child. “Contrabandistas” as smugglers are called in the Romance languages, have served as an important and integral part of underground commerce for millennia. Alternately glorified, and alternately vilified, their only real allegiance was to the law of supply and demand, their one motivation, the profit motive.
Many societies and systems could not function without the underground economy, brought to you in part by smugglers.
Goods are prohibitively taxed, or even banned by despots and democracies alike. And by whatever other shade of autocracy there is. Despots are at times able to follow their whims, but the so-called “governments of the people” have to come up with cover stories on why they are taxing, or even banning a certain product, or consensual commercial activity; But rest assured it always comes down to the money at the end.
From the hillbilly up in the hills making the moonshine, to the Afghan Farmer cultivating his poppy field , to the South American peasant swinging a machete, those that do the most work receive the least. The drug mule often receives ridiculously little in remuneration. And now in this latest incarnation of prohibition, the enforcers and assassins in Mexico are paid only a pittance for their crimes…While facing an almost certain eventuality of a horrific death, or many years in prison.
When commerce and profits are small, most of the time the life of a contabandista is, though hard, not completely bad or hellish, and I might add, it is always consistently adventurous. Many years ago, what were called “Contrabandidos” flew from the border towns of the United States and into Mexico. Due to Mexico’s draconian protectionist import taxes, it was profitable to fly electronics and appliances and other prohibitively taxed goods into Mexico. The Mexicans desperately needed the contrabandidos and their products. When the American pilots were caught they payed a substantial, but not outrageous fine, and were sold back their plane. Then the game could be played all over again. There was little violence, and everyone had a very good time. There were of course, quite a few plane crashes. But while profitable, it was not outrageously profitable. Everything has now changed.
The prohibitionists have upped the ante. The harder the authorities crack down, the more the law of supply and demand cracks back at them… The following review of the movie “Savages” follows the evolution of the drug war, and how it has turned into what it is today. The prohibitionists escalate fines and prison and enforcement and the contrabandistas evolve, even as their fellows are mostly killed off, into a kind of super bacteria, or virus , or bug…Now we have what was once for the most part,, a non-violent profession , turned into a flesh eating, death dealing to a democracy, practitioner of ultimate violence monster that it is today. And we have governments, especially the United States government, that have grown a gulag type prison system, and manufactured a whole police state around cracking down on the “drug pushers” and the “King Pins”.
The movie “Savages” gives us a not just a view of the present, but a peek into the future as well.
Review of “Savages” directed by Oliver Stone