The Great Transformation
From 1910 to 1920 the social volcano blew away huge pieces of its cone, but the crater remained. Many of the Revolutionary army's generals began to behave like officers of the nineteenth century: they enriched themselves and shot protesting civilians. In doing so, military men followed an old tradition. Since the War of Independence against Spain, a thousand attacks on the Mexican government had taken place. In 1920 many generals mouthed the old threats and demanded high salaries: a starving nation dug into its pockets to pay.
In 1920 the Church towered over Mexico, cast shadows of superstition across the country, and preached disobedience to Álvaro Obregón's new government. The Church was the inheritor of the tradition of the Spanish Inquisition, of the fanatical War against Reform, and of the landowning bishops.
In 1920 foreigners and hacendados clung to much of Mexico's land, though there were fresh faces among the landowners—the brown faces of mestizos. These were revolutionaries-turned-rich. Mexico still needed a land reform.
The old crater remained—the army, the Church, and the oligarchy. In 1920 the volcano stopped erupting, but had it gone dead? There were rumblings down below. Everyone knew its power: for ten years the nation had suffered chaos; more than 2 million Mexicans had died; and a ruling class had lost the government. In the National Palace, Mexico's new bureaucrat-professionals wanted to avoid a similar fate.