Going from the relative stability from the last chapter to chapter 5, what I would like to address in this posting was the growing power of the middle class and its relations with the various countries and nation states and the growing concerns for workers rights. Like how in Mexico, a revolution stated because of the failed transition to a democracy from the dictatorship of Díaz and how the Argentina middle class aided with a raise of racial politics within the country. Finally, will conclude with a discussion on the struggle for workers rights in countries like Peru and Argentina.
First, Mexico and how the middle class sparked the revolution of that country. At the first glimpse of it, Mexico was stable and able without any powerful struggles within itself. However, with the middle class and it political wants leaning toward democracy, it was no wonder that when Díaz come back into government in a rigged election, the middle class erupted and revolt. Although it is unfair to say that the middle class lead to the revolution (I would argue that Díaz’s failure to stay out of government was the main cause) it did however lead to an explosive results. This uproar from a class of people lead to other uprisings ranging from the indigenous people revolting against the government to Catholic peasants fighting to defend their preferred practice of faith against the hands of the government. It is amazing how a failed promise can lead to such a dissolution. This moment alone makes all of Díaz’s success in the country all seem worthless or destroyed.
The second country I would like to talk about is Argentina and the power that the middle class had in that country and its relations to worker rights. It is interesting to see how the middle with the aid of the Church and the elites in the country help give rise to wave of anti-immigration and far-right politics that dominated the country for a long period of time. It is an interesting contrast to Mexico, when one country’s middle class lead to the destruction and revolt of a dictatorial leadership and anti-equality in its government, Argentina’s seemed to the opposite with supporting those two concepts mentioned above.
Finally, ending with Peru and its revolt for worker rights and a small note on Mariátegui essay. Peru is interesting because of its hotbed for political activity and its push for worker’s rights. Mariátegui for example represents a Marxist element present at the time and writing about the future for a Communist world that overthrows the corrupt capitalist society present at that time. Although rather then present the revolution coming out of the worker class proletarian overcoming capitalism, it will be the Indian in the country side that will do this. This is the theme of the peasant overcoming the capitalist world seems to be very Proto-Maoist and a forerunner to the communist military forces that will raise in Peru’s country side in the 20th century.
Coming off from chapter 3 in Dawson’s textbook, the themes and the historical notes presented in Chapter 4 around Latin Americas development out of the never ceasing chaos that was the first hundred years of the post-independence era where strong man rather then solid governments rule. From that to countries with actually have state government and can provide laws and codes for the majority to abide by. The two main topics I will argue are the most important about this time is Latina America’s relations (economic or otherwise) with Europe and other Northern states and the internal changes happening with in the countries themselves.
It is interesting to note that countries within the continent were trying to bring immigrants to there countries, mainly European. There was also an influx of Asian immigrants but the governments at that time were mainly trying to get Europeans to come to their nations. In cases like Argentina and Brazil, not only did they want Europeans to come but they also tried to be European in a way. In Brazil, the nations flag has to motto of the positivistic founder Augustine Comte and among the elite of all the countries at this time looked fondly at the ideas of Herbert Spencer. Sadly, these movements were also antidemocratic and were used as a intellectual tool for the elites to not promote the welfare of the lower classes or at least try to spread democratic values. Although economically, trade with Europe and Northern Nations like the US for Latina American foods and resources gave somethings states in the continent did not have for a while, finances which were used to urbanized and industrialized.
That brings me to my second point on chapter I wish to argue is important, the internal changes. In countries from Mexico to Argentina, urbanization and industrialization was process that was in full force during that time. Although this process did not have immediate effects on such issues like women, workers, or native rights, it did provide a fertile ground for such movements to grow out of. Literacy increased during this time, more trains were constructed connecting people more, and more people lived in urban areas which lead to better connected comers. The power of older institutions was also reduced around this time as well, a noted example is the church. In Mexico as an example from the document written James Creelman (a Canadian born WASP) stated that the church had to be cut off from the state because it needed to break with the past to truly become its own and yet he states that for progress to continue, a nation should have a real religion, which I found a bit contradiction to his first statement. Either way, Creelman document is noticeable due to his praise on Diaz but also noting the issues surrounding politics, like the fact that Mexico was not at the time a multiple-party system of government but rather ruled by a single group.
The readings from chapter six contain many interesting and examined conclusions about Latin American in the late 19th century. The impact of western science, indigenous and rural rights, and the slow and sometimes tedious path towards the end of slavery.
The impact of science is a interesting topic and especially how it relates to the continents history of trying to categorize all the different races on the continent. The way in which Scientific racism was used to try to reestablished or conclude with the idea that whites are more rational and smarter then all the other races and should be considered the heads of government and what not. This is also like or has similarities to the Casta paintings where the Spanish tried to used measures to try to fit all the different races and ethnicities into their “rightful” places in society. But like the Casta paintings, the real world got in the way. There were mixed people like the Mulattoes who populated varies countries and were just as intellectual insightful as the full whites but were considered nether less to the be blew.
The indigenous population during that time also mirrors the colonial past in a strange way. After the Wars of Independence, stats on the population of indigenous people are not taken until the mid 20th century and that in places like Argentina and Peru there were campaigns to take land from the indigenous people of the continent. This almost mirrors the Spanish conquest of the continent that took place only a few hundred years ago but rather then covering their actions with the pursuit of gold and conversations, it is rather the pursuit to modernize and bring the countries resources into use for social progress. The indigenous populations were not the only people in the country side to be forced into a wave of modernism and modernization but also the peasants who at times rebelled and revolted against such measures as reaction.
But what I found was interesting and provided no close mirror to the past is the slow elimination of the practice of slavery on the continent. Brazil and Cuba are interesting examples because there were the last places on the continent to outlaw slavery and did it through close to peaceful means. Yes, there was slave revolts in those countries that did lead to the death of many people but when compared to the States and the way they got rid of their slavery, the history of these countries are something to be looked. Brazil is a interesting in the way which it allowed free blacks and mulattos were allowed some political rights when compared to nations like the South of the US. Cuba as well was close to this but yet was able before Brazil to free all the slaves and outlaw the the practice all together.
To summarize, I would argue that this time saw parallels to Spanish colonialism with the categorization of ethnicities and races with the use of scientific racism and looks a lot like the measures used in the Casta paintings. The taking of land from the indigenous and peasants in the country side also parallel the Spanish conquest of the populations of the continent. Yet finally, the slow liberation of slave on the continent was something that was slow and long but at least was not as violent as the US elimination of slavery.