Week 8: Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age

I think that this week’s topic was another example of the multiplicity within Latin America and how different periods can mean such different things depending on who’s speaking. This is especially complex in reference to the Mexican revolution. When we think of “revolution,” we usually expect there to be a clear goal, yet this isn’t quite the case. There were the Zapatistas and the Villistas, who had more in common with each other than some of the other groups, yet they were still distinct from one another, each with their own hopes for the outcome of the revolution. Many Constitutionalists hoped that with the overthrow of Díaz, who had been in power for decades, their dreams of a democratic society could be attained.

Political upheaval wasn’t unique to Mexico, however. I thought that the formation of political groups in Argentina was really interesting and the idea of a “general strike” having such extreme implications. Those that benefited from the economic situation and didn’t want the transformations demanded by laborers on strike were quick to point to outsiders as being the issue. This, paired with the influx of immigrants, intensified the dynamic of xenophobia, racism, and anti-semitism. Time and time again this is the case in societies with a diversity of groups that have clashing interests. How can this be seen today?

José Carlos Mariátegui has a unique perspective, blending the localism of indigenous communities with the wider hopes of communism. He is a liberal intellectual from Peru, ideologically aligned with Marx, yet does not believe Peru needs to follow the route of capitalism to achieve an egalitarian society. Mariátegui, unlike Vasconcelos, thought that education and policy were actually not the solutions; he recognized that forced indigenous integration was against the harmony of the society and led Peru farther from the hopes of communism.