The Mexican Revolution: Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940

The Mexican Revolution: Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940

The Mexican Revolution: Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940

The Mexican Revolution: Conflict and Consolidation, 1910-1940

Synopsis

In 1910 insurgent leaders crushed the Porfirian dictatorship, but in the years that followed fought among themselves, until a nationalist consensus produced the 1917 Constitution. This in turn provided the basis for a reform agenda that transformed Mexico in the modern era. The civil war and the reforms that followed receive new and insightful attention in this book.

These essays, the result of the 45th annual Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, presented by the University of Texas at Arlington in March 2010, commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of the revolution.

A potent mix of factors--including the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few thousand hacienda owners, rancheros, and foreign capitalists; the ideological conflict between the Diaz government and the dissident regional reformers; and the grinding poverty afflicting the majority of the nation's eleven million industrial and rural laborers--provided the volatile fuel that produced the first major political and social revolution of the twentieth century. The conflagration soon swept across the Rio Grande; indeed, The Mexican Revolution shows clearly that the struggle in Mexico had tremendous implications for the American Southwest. During the years of revolution, hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens crossed the border into the United States. As a result, the region experienced waves of ethnically motivated violence, economic tensions, and the mass expulsions of Mexicans and US citizens of Mexican descent.

Excerpt

This fine collection of essays provides an essential understanding of the twentieth century’s first monumental social and political upheaval. The deeper nature of the revolution—the altering of class relationships, immigration and its influence on the border population, the survival strategies of the oligarchy, the fate of revolutionary peasants and workers, the depth and extent of nationalism, the nature of genderized outcomes, and the transformation of the Mexican regime—are all discussed here with vivid insights.

The Mexican Revolution resonates today as one of the fateful episodes in the nation’s history, second only to the Spanish invasion of the early sixteenth century, in which the conquistadores and those who immediately followed defeated a complex of civilizations. The Spaniards brought new economies, technologies, ethnic relationships, language, and religion to the masses. That process, as it relates to the revolution, resulted in social and political inequalities that were contradicted by the higher ideals of the village padres, with their role in the creation of the municipio libre and its asamblea popular, and by the rise of secular intellectual pluralism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The material conditions that led to the revolution became acute during the porfiriato (1876–1910), when the regime’s notion of bifurcated development resulted in formal education for the few but continued illiteracy for the masses, as well as the construction of infrastructure to provide transportation for rural products in agriculture, mining, and timber, which were produced on a large scale, while leaving rural settlements with ages-old trails. This unequal system concentrated wealth in the hands of 7,200 hacienda owners and some 45,000 rancheros, less than 1 percent of the rural population, while leaving more than 11,000,000 rural workers underemployed, destitute, and oppressed by debt peonage and even slavery. At the same time, some 162 foreign capitalists came to control more than 80 percent of the nation’s frontiers and coastlines and, with concentrated investments, 22 percent of the national surface, including . . .

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