While watching this weeks video I found myself interested by the suggestions that the appearance of modernity and true modernization are two very different things. I think when most of us imagine a modern society we do think of outward organization, the latest technology and an ever growing presence on the world stage. Even more nowadays we see modern societies as those with an active population of politically concerned youth. Millennials are quickly becoming one of the most influential groups of people in terms of modernizing their societies. Modernization is seen as a good thing, it indicates improvement, better lives all around. More than anything I think modern society indicates prosperity. Sometimes however I think that when we think of modernization we don’t consider the advance of equality. I believe progress should be synonymous with modernity. Progress is a more encompassing word, it does in fact mean a better life for all those it influences, not just an appearance of advancement. Progress means moving forward in all aspects, whether it is protection for the surrounding environment, more rights for people or advancement in scientific technology to allow us to know more about our world as a whole.
I think that when we consider the modernization of Latin America and in this case specifically the modernization of Mexico it is worth thinking about appearance versus reality. Mexico appeared to modernize quickly as it put up impressive architecture and cemented itself in military ventures. However while these actions were impressive they by no means guaranteed any change in lifestyle or prospects for the average civilian, many of who were extremely oppressed by an elite white ruling class. For the ruling class modernity was about imitating Western European culture. This ideal was one of a sanitized and organized bureaucracy. It makes sense that liberal democracy which allows independent rights for each person has been the cornerstone of the “modern” society.
However in their hesitation to allow society at large to enjoy a broader set of rights the ruling class halted progress in favour of “modernizing” in terms of aesthetic and impression. While the natural next steps would have been to gravitate towards a more liberal society, fears of chaos and violence lingered. These eruptions of chaos would not have meshed well with the ideal picture of a modern society. I think when we consider developed nations or modern cities it is absolutely vital to look beyond infrastructure and achievements in technology and the like. In the quest for progress we must look to how the people, the majority working class are advancing if they are at all.
2 Responses to Modernizing Mexico
I quite appreciated your blog post. One question that came to mind when I was reading your text was whether you think that the political, economic and social issues surrounding modernization and technology advancement that we currently have in the Western World will affect Latin America, and if so, to what degree? For instance, there is a lot of debate regarding renewable energies and green technologies, as well as automation.
I totally agree with you there regarding the appearance of modernity as opposed to true modernisation. It may very well have been the case that outsiders (such as Creelman) may have been distracted by and focussed too heavily upon the outward appearance of modernity as opposed to the more abstract and underlying factors of modernisation such as democracy and equality.
Thanks for your response this week!