Response paper: Cardenas’ Legacy

The readings of the excerpts from Hamilton’s New Alliance and Becker’s Everyday Forms of State Formation address the period leading to and after the leadership of Cardenas from different socio-economic and political perspectives. The perspective taken by Hamilton emphasizes on the economic and political implications associated with this leadership, whereas, Becker focuses on the controversies that emanated from this line of thinking. A keen analysis of both readings reveals a shared interest in determining the massive impact the leadership of Cardenas had on the transformation of post-revolutionary Mexico, especially the peasants. The basis on which Hamilton positively describes Cardenas is the same one used by Becker to portray his regime negatively. The legacy of a regime is therefore significantly impacted by the extent to which they perceive and react to the plight of the vulnerable classes within in their society.

Hamilton’s New Alliance portrays Cardenas as a leader of choice who was backed by many, friends and foes alike, although for different interests. His rise to the post of the presidency is accompanied by several success and set-backs which makes him difficult to understand. The author describes his two-dimensional political personality as ‘the progressive governor who had reinforced the nation’s land distribution radical traditions to the benefit of the peasants’ and ‘the loyal soldier who oversaw the destruction of peasant militia in Veracruz (119).’ However, following his ascendancy to the presidency in 1935, Cardenas managed to oversee the economic transition of the state. His remarkable achievements under a six-year plan included positive mobilization of peasants and workers in a major economic shift.

The impact of the Cardenista regime is negatively portrayed through Becker’s reading. I believe by reading this excerpt one can easily understand one can understand the downside of the peasant-targeted policies that the president adopted. According to Becker, various scholars have raised concerns about the ‘limitation of the peasant participation in political activities and state construction’ (249) and instead subject them to issues such as religious crises. In what is compares with the religious standoff on the anti-cleric notions by the Cardenistas, Becker suggests that Cardenas’ actions created a hegemonic state where violence and the means of production were monopolized. According to the author, key issues such as gender roles and the plight of the women are best defined under a religious perspective and not within their contribution towards state building. I partially share her perceptions that such important gender roles should be defined within more productive positions. However, I do not believe this can be entirely be blamed on the Cardena’s policies regarding peasants. The line of thinking among the Cardenistas and the opposing religious groups is a perception that is self-imparted and can change. I believe, the position upon which Cardena’s administration set these individuals was a powerful one and they should have constructively used it for their progress.

I believe the success or failure of Cardenas is aided by how he effectively identified that the transformation of the Mexican state was dependent on handling the plight of the peasants and workers among other interventions. These interventions were significant especially following the disorganization in the country due to the United States-Mexican conflicts in the previous years. The legacy of Cardenas through the eyes of Hamilton is a positive one that transformed post-revolutionary Mexico. However, from Becker’s perspective Cardenas’ actions led to a hegemonic state that monopolizes violence and production ways. From both readings, one can easily depict that Cardenas’ involvement in the Mexican history in the 1930s was a massive one with various implications on the state.



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