The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940

The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940

The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940

The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940

Synopsis

"O'Malley uses concepts of myth derived from Roland Barthe's Mythologies (1972) to analyze the institutionalization of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Basic to this idea is the assumption that mystification produces myth, which is not a fable, but instead a confusion of the way one thinks about facts. O'Malley contends that the revolution was guided through this mystification by the government in order to perpetuate the bourgeois character of the regime. He explains the emergence of the myth through an anlysis of hero cults for Francisco Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Emiliano Zapata, and Pancho Villa. Propaganda surrounding these four heroes had several common traits: 'the claim that the government was revolutionary; the promotion of nationalism; the obfuscation of history; the denigration of politics; Christian imagery and the promotion of Catholic values; and patriarchal values.' All of these traits were used, according to O'Malley, to co-opt opposition to the middle-class revolution. The author introduces concepts used to study the French Revolution to the Mexican context in an interesting and innovative fashion.... Mexican newspapers are used effectively.... O'Malley's work is important for promoting the study of myth in revolution. One hopes it will be followed by similar studies. College and university libraries." - Choice

Excerpt

What the world supplies to myth is historical reality, defined, even if this goes back quite a while, by the way in which men have produced or used it; and what myth gives in return is a natural image of this reality. and just as bourgeois ideology is defined by the abandonment of the name "bourgeois," myth is constituted by the loss of the historical quality of things.

Roland Barthes, Mythologies

The preceding chapters traced the evolution of the posthumous public images of four leaders of the Mexican revolution as part of the post- revolutionary government's struggle to consolidate a war-torn, divided nation. the men's real personalities and actions were only the raw material out of which their heroic images were fashioned. Although the journalists and propagandists may have preferred one political tendency to another, as a whole they were males belonging to the middle classes, from which the government and the chief opposition groups of the 1920s and 1930s were formed. in addition to conscious attempts to shape the heroes to suit their own factional preferences, they inevitably imbued them with the values and character of the dominant culture. the public images of Carranza, Madero, Zapata, and, with qualifications, Villa, became vehicles for reinforcing that culture.

The propaganda surrounding these four heroes had a number of common traits: the claim that the government was revolutionary; the promotion of nationalism; the obfuscation of history; the denigration of politics; Christian imagery and the promotion of Catholic . . .

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