Revolution within the Revolution: Cotton Textile Workers and the Mexican Labor Regime, 1910-1923

Revolution within the Revolution: Cotton Textile Workers and the Mexican Labor Regime, 1910-1923

Revolution within the Revolution: Cotton Textile Workers and the Mexican Labor Regime, 1910-1923

Revolution within the Revolution: Cotton Textile Workers and the Mexican Labor Regime, 1910-1923

Synopsis

Mexico's revolution of 1910 ushered in a revolutionary era: during the twentieth century, Mexican, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Iranian revolutions shaped local, regional, and world history. Because Mexico was at the time a rural and agrarian country, it is not surprising that historians have concentrated on the revolution in the countryside where the rural underclass fought for land. This book uncovers a previously unknown workers' revolution within the broader revolution. Working in Mexico's largest factory industry, cotton textile operatives fought their own fight, one that challenged and overthrew the old labor regime and changed the social relations of work. Their struggle created the most progressive labor regime in Latin America, including but not limited to the famous Article 123 of the 1917 Constitution. Revolution within the Revolution analyzes the rules of labor and explains how they became a pillar of the country's political system. Through the rest of the twentieth century, Mexico's land reform and revolutionary labor regime allowed it to avoid the revolution and repression experienced elsewhere in Latin America.

Excerpt

Through most of the twentieth century, Mexico's history differed sharply from the rest of Latin America. When military dictatorships gripped the Southern Cone and dictatorship and revolution swept through Central America, Mexico was an oasis of stable and relatively tolerant, if not exactly, democratic governments. With peace and stability came economic growth, industrialization, and modernization. Without revolution from below or dictatorship from above, Mexico was an island of relative harmony in a Latin American sea of turbulence.

Political harmony is a product of hegemony, which raises the question of what created a hegemonic political system in Mexico. What happened in Mexico that did not happen in other Latin American countries of relatively similar social, economic, and cultural processes? While the obvious answer is the Mexican Revolution of 1910, it is less clear how “the Mexican agrarian revolution,” as Frank Tannenbaum aptly named it, could bring lasting peace to a country whose immediate future lay in industry and cities. Mexico needed urban as well as rural peace if it were to emerge from the chaos of revolution. Without doubt, the liquidation of the old land-owning class and the extension of land ownership to millions of campesinos, a process made possible by the rural violence of Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, and other agraristas, contributed to postrevolutionary hegemony. By itself, however, land reform could not have produced close to a century of stability in rapidly urbanizing Mexico.

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