The Limits of State Autonomy

The Limits of State Autonomy: Post-Revolutionary Mexico

Nora Hamilton
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 412
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  • Book Info
    The Limits of State Autonomy
    Book Description:

    In a historical treatment of Mexico beginning with the pre-Revolutionary period and focusing on the administration of Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940), Nora Hamilton explores the possibilities and limits of reform in a capitalist society.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5533-9
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xv-xv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-1)
  7. [Illustration]
    (pp. 2-2)
  8. One State Autonomy and Peripheral Capitalism in Mexico
    (pp. 3-39)

    The problem of the Mexican state derives from the apparent contradiction between its historical origins in the Mexican revolution and its contemporary function of maintaining conditions for peripheral capitalist development. The revolution of 1910 destroyed the pre-existing state apparatus and enabled the revolutionary leadership to form a new state within the context of structural options resulting from Mexico’s prior development as well as new forces, alliances, and conflicts emerging from the revolution itself. The constitution of 1917 incorporated the ideal of a strong interventionist state which would eliminate privileges of foreign monopolies and national political elites, affirm national control over...

  9. Two The Mexican State and the Revolution
    (pp. 40-66)

    The contemporary Mexican state can be understood only in the context of changes resulting from the Mexican revolution. There is considerable debate, however, regarding the effects of the revolution. It has customarily been regarded as a turning point in Mexican history through which the antiquated institutions of the previous order were destroyed and new directions established for Mexico’s development. Even after it became evident that Mexico’s post-revolutionary experience contradicted the alleged revolutionary goals of social justice and independent development, the belief remained that the revolution itself—however much deflected from its original purposes—had been a decisive event which changed...

  10. Three The State and Class Formation in Post-Revolutionary Mexico: 1920-1934
    (pp. 67-103)

    One of the hypothetical conditions facilitating state autonomy suggested in Chapter One is a revolution in which the dominant class is destroyed or considerably weakened and the mode of production itself may be threatened. At the same time, it was noted, the options of the new revolutionary state are historically constrained by the previous development of the productive forces and remnants of pre-revolutionary structures. Several of the constraints affecting the post-revolutionary Mexican state were noted in the last chapter. Here we are concerned with the efforts of those who controlled the state apparatus to operate within these constraints and how...

  11. Four Cárdenas and the New Alliance
    (pp. 104-141)

    When a new president was inaugurated in Mexico at the end of November, 1934, most business interests expected a continuation of the Maximato. General Lázaro Cárdenas was known to be a protégé of Calles; as described by U.S. Ambassador Daniels he was a “loyal soldier” who would be guided by orders from a “superior authority” (Daniels, 1934). When a representative of General Motors took an informal survey among Embassy personnel and U.S. businessmen in Mexico, the general consensus was that Mexico was a good place to do business, and the assumption was that Calles would remain in control (Norweb, 1935)....

  12. Five The Contradictions of the Progressive Alliance
    (pp. 142-183)

    The victory over the Calles faction and the subsequent achievements of the Cárdenas government in alliance with mobilized workers and peasants tended to obscure the contradictions of such an alliance. Not only the government, but also the peasants, workers, and their leaders acted with the assumption that the goals of these groups were identical with those of the state.

    For the Cárdenas government, the mobilization of these groups had two purposes. On the one hand, the mobilization of urban/industrial workers would take place within the institutions of the capitalist system. Strikes of individual firms and industries had the purpose of...

  13. Six The State and Private Capital
    (pp. 184-215)

    In October 1936 Manuel Gómez Morín, a Mexican lawyer and banker, wrote enthusiastically to a friend in France about the resurgence of private enterprise in Mexico. The emergence of new “systems of cooperation and collaboration” among Mexican business groups was “making it possible to achieve things which would have seemed impossible” five years before—the formation of new insurance companies to replace the foreign ones which left the country, the establishment of banks and financial societies which were multiplying credit opportunities, and the placement of long-term securities in the market, and “many other activities of this nature” (Gómez Morín, 21...

  14. Seven External Limits to State Autonomy: The Petroleum Conflict
    (pp. 216-240)

    In July 1936 the newly formed Union of Mexican Petroleum Workers opened negotiations with the foreign-owned petroleum companies for a collective contract. This was the first stage of a conflict which would culminate nearly two years later, on March 18, 1938, with the expropriation of the petroleum companies, an action which challenged the hegemony of foreign capital in the Mexican export sector.

    Petroleum was of course not the only industry controlled by foreign capital in Mexico, nor was it the most important in terms of export earnings and state revenues. Petroleum exports accounted for approximately 18 percent of Mexico’s export...

  15. Eight The Limits of the Progressive Alliance
    (pp. 241-270)

    The repercussions of the petroleum conflict and the expropriation of the petroleum companies demonstrated both the extent and the limits of state autonomy in relation to foreign capital in the specific historical and structural conditions of post-revolutionary Mexico. It also had the paradoxical effect of deepening the polarization between conservative and progressive forces, with economic reprisals by the companies and their governments further limiting the sphere of action of the state, while at the same time broadening internal support for the government around the specific issue of national sovereignty. Conservative groups within the state took advantage of the situation to...

  16. Nine State Autonomy: A Reconsideration
    (pp. 271-286)

    What insight does the specific experience of Mexico under Cárdenas provide into the general theoretical issue of state autonomy within a peripheral capitalist country? Before we return to this question, it will be helpful to review and analyze the specific conditions favoring and limiting state autonomy in the Mexican case. What were the structural options and constraints (internal and external) which confronted the new Mexican state following the revolution? How did the interaction between the state, internal social classes, and foreign interests shape the new social order? What conditions account for the emergence of a relatively autonomous state, based on...

  17. Appendix A. Private Banks and Financial Groups: 1932-1941
    (pp. 287-306)
  18. Appendix B. The Garza Sada Investment Group: The Origins of the Cuauhtémoc and Vidriera Groups
    (pp. 307-316)
  19. Appendix C. Banco de Londres-Sofimex Group
    (pp. 317-336)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 337-366)
  21. Index
    (pp. 367-392)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 393-393)