When the dust of the battles of the Bajío settled and the victorious Constitutionalists found themselves —loosely—in control of Mexico’s national destiny, they confronted a country bled by civil war, ravaged by disease, and plagued by economic problems.1Reconstruction became the watchword of the new regime, which espoused ostensibly radical means in order to achieve more traditional ends: namely, the achievement of economic development and political stability.2 Hence the revolutionary regime’s apparent ambivalence; its contradictory blend of conservative and revolutionary elements, which has created headaches for historians (especially those who want to segregate Mexicans neatly into revolutionary sheep and conservative goats). The picture, as this article will suggest, is more complex. The revolutionaries emulated their Porfirian (old regime) predecessors, hence revisionist historiography shows a fondness for Tocquevillean notions of revolutionary continuity; but they did so in radically changed circumstances, in the wake of a civil war that not only had ravaged the country, but also—and more importantly—had mobilized the masses. With this mobilization came new popular forces, manifested in social banditry, guerrilla and conventional armies, sindicatos and mutualist societies, peasant leagues, and embryonic political parties of both Right and Left. Popular mobilization also brought a genuine shift in popular mentalité (or, more likely, it brought into the open popular attitudes that, before the revolutionary annus mirabilis of 1910, had been latent, covert, and dissimulated, after the manner described by James C. Scott).3

Thus, even if the socioeconomic structure of Mexico retained the lineaments of the old regime—the hacienda still existed; foreign companies still dominated mining, much of industry, and exports—the revolution marked a sea change in Mexican politics and political attitudes. Furthermore, as the Constitutionalists took power nationally, this change was far from complete. A national regime was in place and—as we know in hindsight— it survived, despite some close calls (especially 1923-24). But the nature of that regime, its personnel and policies, and, above all, its relationship to Mexican civil society were all imponderables; hence they were to be fought over, literally and figuratively, for at least a generation to come.

This paper reviews the struggle, focusing on the cultural project of the nascent revolutionary state. It divides into three sections, each dealing with a theme that is more difficult—although perhaps more interesting— than its predecessor. First, it addresses the nature of the revolutionary cultural project; second, it tries to explain that project’s rationale and appeal to policymakers; and finally, more briefly and tentatively, it tries to gauge the success of the project as an engine of social change—in which respect I offer rough hypotheses rather than considered conclusions. En route, some comparisons with other revolutionary projects of cultural change are suggested.4


The new regime was an activist, “Bourbon” regime.5 It sought to mold minds, to create citizens, to nationalize and rationalize the wayward, recalcitrant, diverse peoples of Mexico. “To be a revolutionary today,” declared the anticlerical enragé Arnulfo Pérez H., “means to forge minds and to construct wills.”6 Policies such as agrarian reform that, according to the traditional view, responded to demands of social justice were also exercises in state building and social engineering.7 Yet more clearly, revolutionary educational policy sought to inculcate literacy, nationalism, notions of citizenship, sobriety, hygiene, and hard work.8 Art, rhetoric, and (by the 1930s) radio were enlisted for the same purposes.9 In Mexico, as in revolutionary France or Cuba, the revolutionaries sought to create a “new man”—and, with more difficulty, a new woman.10 Most important of all, they had to create a new child. For, in the eyes of many reformers, Mexican adults were too far gone, and hope lay not with the proles, but with the children of the proles. Hence the importance of the school and the schoolteacher: “The nation of the future will be what the school has been able to make of its children.” 11 It was the task of teachers to “mold and model that youthful material, purifying it of the blemishes and vices that affect it.”12

A key item of this project of cultural transformation was anticlericalism. In revolutionary eyes, the Catholic church was an antinational force, in thrall to the Vatican, hostile to the new regime and its reformist program, allied to conservative vested interests, and supportive of superstition and backwardness. Priests were “vassals of the Vatican,” “enemies in our own house.”13 Only by overcoming the church could Mexico achieve integration, progress, and development.

Before analyzing this project in somewhat greater detail, it is important to establish its genealogy. It would be a mistake to exaggerate its novelty. State projects of “modernization”—embracing education, anticlericalism, nationalism, and “developmentalism”—were nothing new in Mexican history. They can be traced back to the Bourbons at least.14 And, as recent historiography stresses, the liberal project of the nineteenth century owed a good deal to Bourbon precedent.15 Similarly, the revolutionaries of 1910 harked back to the liberals, both wittingly and unwittingly. Arguably more important, though less emphasized by today’s politically minded historians, was the continuity of “developmentalism,” by which I mean the current of ideas that stressed the need to develop Mexican society and economy, above all by disciplining, educating, and moralizing the degenerate Mexican masses.16

This current crossed both party lines and the great chronological divide of the Revolution: it was enunciated by conservatives as well as liberals, liberals as well as Catholics, businessmen as well as ideologues, local officials as well as national leaders. In short, this was a form of “class project,” espoused by those who wanted Mexico to emulate developed Western Europe and North America and who believed that the vices of the people—drink, dirt, disease (especially venereal disease), sloth, blood sports, and prostitution—were major impediments to civic virtue and social development.17 Some, seduced by Social Darwinism, threw up their hands and decided that Mexico’s mongrel people were beyond hope, that immigration on Argentine lines was the only hope; others believed that Indians and mestizos were redeemable, given sufficient time, education, and discipline.18

Thus, many of the key items of the “revolutionary” project can be discerned well before 1910: the campaigns against drink and alcoholism; the concern for prostitution and blood sports; the association (by liberal anticlericals) of these vices with the perverse influence of the Catholic church; the desire for clean streets, populated by a clean, sober people; the rehabilitation, rhetorical at least, of the Indian; the creation of a meaningful national identity—forjando patria (“forging a fatherland”), as Gamio phrased it.19 These themes surfaced not only in the ratiocinations of científico intellectuals like Sierra or Bulnes, but also in the discourse of the liberal opposition, including Madero; in the program of Catholic Action (the commonality of liberal and Catholic elite preoccupations is a theme I will return to); and in small-town Porfirian politics, especially in the fast-developing north.20 Most revolutionaries ignored this ideological parentage; a few, more honest or open-minded, recognized Porfirian precedents for their project of national integration and development.21 Meanwhile, foreign examples and models—French radicalism, Rhineland social Catholicism, U.S. Progressivism—were often cited, and interpolated with domestic traditions, both liberal and Catholic.22 After 1920, fascism and communism were added to the roster of international models suitable for citation and emulation.

Very evident continuities therefore linked the revolutionary project to the past in respect not only of formal politics and political organization— which François-Xavier Guerra rightly stresses—but also of broader socioeconomic (“developmentalist”) concerns, which he largely neglects.23 This continuity of ideas, however, does not mean that the Revolution represented simply a smooth shift of gears or, to use another popular technical metaphor, a “blip” on the screen of Mexican history.24 Nor does it mean that the very term revolution is inappropriate.25 It is true that revolutionary projects were not conceived de novo: unlike their French counterparts, the Mexican revolutionaries were not trying to fill a tabula rasa.26 They often resembled more those English revolutionaries who justified regicide and radicalism in terms of the “Norman yoke” and the rights of freeborn Englishmen.27 In other words, images and allegiances drawn from a (partly mythic) past helped shape discourse, policy, and political affiliation, and did so across a wide ideological spectrum. Prescription was not the monopoly of the Right. Indeed, such images and allegiances—cultural baggage handed down across generations—tended to be bulky and inert, resistant to (or, we should say, ingeniously compatible with) rapid social and political change. Laws, political institutions, property relations all changed—were “revolutionized,” perhaps—but they often managed to coexist with inherited traditions. Radicals like Adalberto Tejeda were at pains to place themselves within old historical traditions: in this case, the liberal tradition of Lerdo, Juárez, and Ocampo.28 Thus, tradition often served not as an iron bulwark against change but rather as a cosmetic, making change more seductive; or as a seasoning, making it more palatable.

Hence, if we focus too much on cultural continuities, on the persistence of tradition, we may risk exaggerating the stability of postrevolutionary Mexican society and underestimating the transformations that the Revolution set in motion. For, despite its hoary and ponderous image, tradition proved remarkably nimble. It could shift and mutate in response to circumstances. In some cases, we witness the outright “invention of tradition”; but more often we see genuinely old traditions being pragmatically and selectively invoked to justify new practices, new allegiances, and new policies.29 Agrarismo is given a Catholic veneer; radical sentiments are expressed in traditional forms (such as corridos, popular ballads); and revolutionary heroes are admitted to the old liberal-patriotic pantheon. Thus, traditional cultural baggage was often the last item to be discarded along the path of “modernization.” Often, it was never discarded at all; for example, in Mexico as in France, it seems, urbanization and industrialization did not neatly result in secularization.30 Such an argument suggests why old ideas survived lustily through—and despite—periods of rapid social change, such as 1910-40. It also suggests that the motor of social change was to be found in the material rather than the ideological realm. The motor’s machinery was replaced, overhauled, redesigned; but the ghost in the machine lingered. Much of Mexico changed during, after, and often because of the Revolution, and this change was sometimes brusque and far-reaching (that is, revolutionary). But ideas and customs changed (if they changed at all) at a more glacial pace.31

For a variety of reasons, the experience of the Revolution reinforced certain long-standing objectives of successive Mexican regimes. These are usually subsumed under the twin headings of economic development and political stability (the latter usually bracketed with centralization: even the liberal federalists of the nineteenth century had ditched their federalism once in power). Economic development implied building an infrastructure (railways with Díaz, roads with Calles and Cárdenas); progressively nationalizing Mexican resources (hence the moderate economic nationalism of the Porfirians—overlooked by many historians—and the more radical economic nationalism of the revolutionaries, which historians, in contrast, have tended to exaggerate); and using selective state interventions (railway subsidies during the Porfiriato, irrigation and banking reform in the 1920s) to stimulate economic growth, according to broadly capitalist principles (hence state intervention in no sense implied a command economy). Politically, regimes sought to centralize power; to tame the wayward provinces and the dissident military; to encourage notions of national identity; and, in the wake of widespread popular insurgency, to inculcate “habits of obedience,” thereby to resolve the “crisis of order.”32

These aims were broad, however, and could be pursued by quite varied methods. Protagonists of the continuity thesis overlook how significantly the Mexico of Calles and Cárdenas differed from the Mexico of don Porfirio. The toppling of first Díaz and then Huerta had involved a mass mobilization unprecedented in Mexican or even Latin American history. Popular demands—especially for land—were vocal. They were manifested in de facto land seizures, running battles between campesinos and landlords, and embryonic peasant leagues and parties. Politicians, even—perhaps especially—those of cynical bent, realized that a pro-peasant agrarista platform might win big dividends.33 So too with organized labor, which, though small in numbers, exercised disproportionate influence through the medium of the the CROM and the Partido Laborista—Mexico’s first national labor confederation and first genuine mass party, respectively. The camarilla politics of the Porfiriato thus gave way to a new form of mass—which is not to say liberal-democratic—politics.

The revolutionary políticos therefore had to cultivate a demotic political style. At the national level, some—like Obregón—posed, not entirely spuriously, as men of the people.34 Locally, the caciques of the postrevolutionary period had to affect the manners and proclaim the interests of the common people. Unlike their French counterparts, it seems, they had to “dress down,” had to present themselves as campesinos (or rancheros), not bourgeois notables or squires (hobereaux).35 Some even lived up to their proclamations, in the sense that they championed peasant struggles for land or workers’ attempts at unionization. In this respect, the Revolution brought about a form of “democratization” of politics—in the sense not of installing a functioning liberal democracy, but rather of broadening political participation and forging links—caciquista rather than electoral— between governors and governed.

At the same time, the revolutionary regime aimed at social transformation, which in turn implied a substantial degree of social engineering. Salvadòr Alvarado, sent to govern Yucatán in 1915, launched a “blitzkrieg upon the region’s manners and morals,” combating peonage, prostitution, liquor, and gambling while promoting reform, education, feminism (of a sort), and that great engine of social change, the Boy Scouts.36 Through the 1920s and 1930s, lesser officials strove to bring about a “transformation of customs” along broadly similar lines.37 Some social engineering— for example, much of the agrarian reform—represented a combination of “top-down” and “bottom-up” pressures. In other words, the revolutionary leaders championed agrarian reform (a) because it bought support, furthered careers, and enhanced the power of the central government and (b) because they faced strong popular agrarian demands that were both risky to ignore and—looping back to (a)—politically profitable to espouse. As regards other policies—which will concern us more in this essay—the pressures tended to be “top-down”; they represented impositions by the elite on a sometimes indifferent, even hostile people.

The classic case was anticlericalism, discussion of which necessarily involves educational and cultural policy more generally. After an initial skirmish in 1918, the precarious national government avoided major conflict with the church until the mid-1920s. Then, with the regime stabilized, the major military rebellion of 1923-24 defeated, U.S. recognition assured, and the economy buoyant, President Calles felt confident to give free rein to his deep-seated anticlericalism. Of course, this was not the decision of a single political actor, although Calles’ “very definite and inflexible views on the question of religion and education” were clearly crucial factors.38 It reflected a broad—though not unanimous—current of opinion among the revolutionary elite, and it responded in particular to the demands of organized labor, whose leadership feared the mounting competition of Catholic unions and the political and ideological challenge of “social Catholicism.”39

In addition to these factors—which have been stressed by recent revisionist scholarship—it must be recognized that the Mexican church contained powerful conservative as well as progressive elements and that the revolutionaries’ indictment of the church for conniving with “reaction”— especially with anti-agrarista landlords—was by no means wholly spurious. It must also be recognized that some of the Catholic laity—less so the hierarchy and less still the Vatican—were spoiling for a fight, and welcomed this opportunity to test their strength against the revolutionary Antichrist.40 Accordingly, the Calles government undertook to curtail church education (especially at the primary level), to enforce the constitutional provisions banning public manifestations of Catholic ritual, and, perhaps most important, to subordinate church to state by requiring priests to be registered by the government. An attempt was even made to establish a Mexican schismatic church, loyal to the state and hostile to Rome.41 In response, the church ceased its services and the faithful took up arms against the regime. The result was the bloody Cristero War (1926-29), which has been seen, with some justification, as Mexico’s Vendée. After three years of carnage a deal was patched up, with both church and state recognizing the futility of a continued guerre à outrance.

The agreement, however, did not end the story. After 1931 the conflict flared up again. The Callista government, alleging that the church had not complied with its part of the 1929 bargain, renewed its attack.42 The new ruling party—the PNR—adopted a radical program that embodied anticlericalism, agrarianism, economic nationalism, and a commitment to “socialist education”—an education that would impart scientific knowledge, practical skills, class consciousness, and international solidarity.43 In his famous Grito de Guadalajara, Calles called for a “psychological revolution” that would involve “taking over the consciences of children and of young people” in order to “banish prejudices and create a new national soul.”44

The renewed anticlericalism of the 1930s spurred a second, more limited Cristero revolt and, more seriously, provoked widespread popular resistance, involving considerable local violence and yet more foot dragging, boycotts, and noncompliance—in other words, all the “weapons of the weak” analyzed by James C. Seott.45 Now international alignments also became significant. The Spanish Civil War polarized the Mexican political nation. The 1938 petroleum nationalization became a test case not only of economic nationalist policy but also of official mass mobilization, not least through the agency of the school.

It is on this later period that I want to concentrate. How and why did the state seek to transform Mexican society, particularly popular culture? How did the people” react? And, very briefly, what was the outcome? These are difficult, often neglected, and sometimes almost unanswerable questions.46 Yet they are crucial to our understanding of the Revolution, especially in its “institutional” phase (1920-40). That such answers must be tentative and incomplete does not mean that they should avoided altogether.

While presenting themselves as men of the people, many revolutionary leaders often entertained a dim view of “the people.”47 Like their English revolutionary counterparts, they were torn between the competing goals of emancipating and enlightening the people: the first implied trust; the second seemed to require strong-arming.48 And, like their nineteenth-century predecessors, they saw the Mexicans as prey to drink, dirt, and disease. Indians, especially, languished in ignorance and sought consolation in drink. Without energetic government action, the Totonacs of Veracruz would remain mired in “indolence and apathy,” as they had since colonial times.49 The campesinos of Morelos, Zapata’s homeland, were no better: “The sad and naked truth of what we have seen in these people who personally knew Emiliano Zapata is that the Morelos peasant continues to possess the soul of a peon: in religion a pagan-Christian, he is fanatical and stupid, he blindly obeys the orders of the clergy, without perceiving whether they are good or bad; in civic terms he is a systematic enemy of all governments and social organizations, suspicious of any outside influence, apathetic when it comes to any social organization or undertaking.” In short, “the tendency toward progress, which is one of the characteristics of humankind, is, in him, highly atrophied.”50

Rural proletarians were little better. Those of Nueva Italia—the scene of a major agrarian reform and collectivization in the tierra caliente of Michoacán—were dirty, drunken, diseased, and promiscuous. Three-quarters of them, a social worker reported, suffered from venereal disease; “they are completely ignorant of the meaning of the word moral.”51 Urban proletarians showed similar signs of degeneracy. Labor Department officials reckoned that half the population of Mexico City was prey to the endemic vice and disease that flourished in the “pigsties and tenements” of the metropolis. This was a degenerate proletariat, “expelled from the morbid atmosphere of the factory into the vice-ridden and degraded ambiente of cantinas, pulque shops, and brothels.”52

Reformers readily linked the baneful influence of the Catholic church to Mexican degeneracy. The church inculcated superstition, retarded the advance of science, and encouraged idleness and inebriation (most obviously by means of the religious fiestas that littered the calendar).53 Thanks to the church, Mexicans were to be seen crawling on bloodied knees to ancient shrines, or—lepers and syphilitics included—kissing the feet of graven images.54 By claiming allegiance to a foreign potentate, the church compromised Mexican sovereignty and the authority of the revolutionary state. And, revolutionaries claimed, priests—“the eternal enemies of progress”—connived with landlords to obstruct agrarian reform, to repress popular forces, ultimately to overthrow the state.55 All these allegations, obsessive and exaggerated though they often were, contained a substantial measure of truth.

In response, the state sought to clip clerical wings by eliminating Catholic primary education, regulating Catholic secondary education, limiting the number of priests allowed to practice, and harming overt demonstrations of religiosity (for example, religious processions and open-air services). These were provocative measures that incurred strenuous Catholic resistance. But they were essentially negative; and the revolutionaries realized that positive steps also had to be taken to counter the hegemony of the church and enhance that of the state. The state and its servants would have to take “consistent and persistent action” involving regular contact with the people, especially the campesinos, and above all, penetrating the inner sanctum of the campesino household, that tenebrous den of vice and ignorance.56

Thus, although they did not precisely use the term, the revolutionaries subscribed to a clear notion of popular “false consciousness”—and clerical “hegemony”—and they set out to subvert both. This meant an ideological battle, conducted on quasi-military lines with crusading zeal. “We were apostles and missionaries in the new crusade to integrate the Mexicans,” Moisés Sáenz wrote; rural pedagogy was “a true crusade of conversion (cruzada de convencimiento),” involving “red advances,” “pioneers of hygiene,” a variety of “brigades” (sanitary brigades, brigades of social action, “Red Star” brigades), “songs of war,” and a welter of “campaigns”: “Antialcohólica, Pro-higiene, Pro-pajarito, Pro-Baja California, Pro-árbol, de comprensión del Código Agrario, del salario mínimo, en contra de las uniones prematuras, de la vagancia, y de los juegos de azar.”57 Revolutionary acculturation also involved a barrage of secular rituals, some modeled on Catholic precedent. This was not, of course, an entirely new strategem: Mexico’s liberals had created a set of rituals and heroes in the course of their long struggle against domestic enemies and foreign invaders; further back, in the century of the conquest, Catholic priests had ideologically quarried pagan symbols and rituals, just as they physically quarried pagan temples in order to raise Christian churches. Revolutionary syncretism was thus the third in a series of acculturating processes, each of which reacted against—but also built on—its predecessor.58

While transcending liberalism, the revolutionaries saw themselves as continuing the liberal-patriotic tradition. Schools were therefore named after liberal as well as revolutionary heroes: Juárez, Ocampo, and Santos Degollado consorted with Ricardo Flores Magón, Cárdenas, Garrido Canabál, Carrillo Puerto, Ursulo Galván, and occasional foreign interlopers, such as Karl Marx and Francisco Ferrer. The revolutionaries sustained the old liberal-patriotic fiestas (Constitution Day in February; the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla on May 5; Independence Day in September), fiestas that had served to inculcate appropriate allegiances whose roots, historians have recently shown, were deep and extensive.59 But after 1910 these celebrations were supplemented by new revolutionary rituals and symbols, manifestations of a new species of “red folklore,” to use Agulhon’s phrase.60

Revolutionary heroes were commemorated, especially those who were Martyrs to Reaction: Madero, whose assassination was recalled in a día de luto on February 22; Zapata, commemorated every April 10; Obregón, the anniversary of whose death, at the hands of a Catholic activist on July 17, 1928, afforded ample scope for anticlerical rhetoric.61 There were regional and local martyrs to be commemorated too: Carrillo Puerto, victim of Yucateco reaction; Primo Tapia, the Michoacán agrarian martyr; and the many more anonymous “maestros rurales sacrificados por el clericalismo y capitalismo” or “maestros sacrificados por el ideal de la Escuela Socialista,” some of whom gave their names posthumously to local schools.62 In addition, street and place names were changed wholesale, with saints replaced by “heroes, teachers, and regional liberators,” or by suitable abstract concepts, laws, manifestos, and constitutions. In Tabasco, “adios” was banned in favor of “salud,” and the state capital, San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), became Villa Hermosa (Beautiful Town)—something of a misnomer.63

Schools were at pains to celebrate both secular anniversaries and those that honored worthy collectivities or entities: the Day of the Mother, of the Soldier, of the Race, of the Tree, of the Child. May was a particularly busy month, beginning with Labor Day on May 1, continuing with the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, the birth of Hidalgo on May 8, Mother’s Day on May 10, and Corn Day—El Día del Maíz—on May 21.64 In Tabasco, where, under the aegis of Tomás Garrido Canabál, official anticlericalism reached its apogee, the government encouraged a whole barrage of secular fiestas, linked to local commodities: the fiesta of the orange, of the coconut, of tobacco, corn, and cacao.65 Fruits would supplant saints as symbols of parochial identity. Tabasco also witnessed satirical displays designed to lampoon the church: the parading of a stud bull called “the bishop,” of an ass labeled “the pope.”66 In Chiapas, which somewhat aped Garrido’s antics, secular festivals were days for burning religious relics or displaying pictures of the pope wearing the ears of a donkey; in Yucatán, which shared in this wave of southeastern Jacobinism, a theater in Mérida was “virtually demolished” during an anticlerical play in which “an actor destroyed the cross of Christ.”67 Meanwhile, the anticlericals continued the old practice of putting confiscated churches to good secular use: as schools, museums, libraries, union headquarters, even proletarian theaters.68 One radical proposed that the Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico’s most revered shrine, become a museum of the Revolution.69

Perhaps most outrageous, especially to the devout (not necessarily the orthodox devout), was revolutionary iconoclasm: the destruction of the sacred images that densely populated the Mexican liturgical landscape, especially in the countryside. As the Garridistas smashed the idols of Tabasco, the faithful carried them for safekeeping out of the state; in the Mayo Valley of Sonora, the wholesale confiscation of churches and destruction of images (“the Little Children”) provoked armed rebellion and further reinforced the Mayo Indians’ historical religious revivalism.70 But revolutionary iconoclasm was not mindlessly destructive. Just as the conversion of churches into schools made a political point, so the destruction of images was deliberate and didactic. The broken image of Santa Teodora of Jalapa was displayed to the people in order to prove that it was mere cotton and wax, not “flesh and blood, miraculously preserved.”71 Didactic Jacobinism went a good deal further. The state encouraged regular conscious-raising sessions, analogous to church services. Red Mondays or Red Saturdays were to be days of speeches, music, and study. Teachers were told to conduct “revolutionary reading hours” (horas de lectura revolucionaria) in the villages.72 Garrido broadcast both an “anticlerical” and an “anti-alcohol” hour on Tabascan radio.73 The teachers themselves, whose radical credentials and preparation were often suspect, received instruction in “the socioeconomic doctrines that agitate the world, in the interpretation of socialism, as well as in the history of religions.”74

Forms of secular celebration and recreation were deliberately set against their Catholic counterparts. Holy Week—traditionally gloomy— was the appropriate time for secular diversions. In Michoacán the Workers’ Revolutionary Confederation shifted its spring holiday to Eastertime, “to take advantage,” as one activist explained, “of the so-called ‘Holy’ week for our antireligious campaign. All the more when it is considered by Catholics as a week in which one must mourn, therefore we must devote all our efforts so that the period. . . be devoted to social and sporting festivals.”75

Sport and recreation were therefore encouraged (but not drink: temperance and anticlericalism went hand in hand, just as, in the minds of the anticlericals, church and cantina were allies in the exploitation of the Mexican people).76 The revolutionaries aimed at spatial as well as chronological juxtaposition: the anticlericals of Morelia—a strongly Catholic city— celebrated their first manifestación antireligiosa by marching from their cultural center to the cathedral, where they held a basketball match in the atrium. (The match, incidentally, had to be halted “since, in the strong wind, one of the baskets fell down.” We can guess what the faithful of Morelia made of that.77)

Sport in general was considered a crucial weapon in the struggle against the chureh as well as related popular vices. Hitherto, the church—along with the cantina and the brothel—had monopolized rural recreation; by providing alternatives, the state could both weaken clerical hegemony and help extirpate popular vices 78 Sport offered a means to “counter the clerical campaign” as well as “a very effective method to draw the peasant away from vice” and “to distance youth from centers of vice.”79 Here again the revolutionaries built on Porfirian precedent, but they did so with a zeal and commitment that the Porfirians had never entertained, in part because the Porfirian state, while capable of banning popular diversions it did not like (such as Judas burnings), was institutionally incapable of encouraging those it did. Cycling might attract the gente decente of Mexico City, but few campesinos were to be seen pedaling through the hilly countryside.80

In this as in other areas of policy, the revolutionaries displayed more commitment, positive as well as negative, and they possessed greater clout. The PNR established a Secretaría de Acción Educativa y Deportiva, which held an inaugural parade in November 1934 (“It is not an athletic parade,” warned Catholic broadsheets, “but a display of adhesion to the immoral atheistic school”).81 Presidents led by example; Calles kicked off football matches; Cárdenas rode and swam.82 Baseball, which already had a foothold in Mexico, was further encouraged (in Tabasco, it is said, they played with the heads of decapitated saints; certainly the state boasted a team called the Macuspana Atheists). Basketball and volleyball (“bolibol”) were introduced, often to communities that had never seen these sports.83 In Baja California, a progressive northern district, the authorities mounted “district Olympiads,” in which local communities competed against each other.84 Even traditional violence assumed new recreational and ideological forms. Battles between rival communities—nothing new in the factious Mexican countryside—were now fought according to new rituals, with new slogans. On Maundy Thursday 1937, several hundred agrarians from the Zacapu Valley and the Eleven Pueblos gathered on the outskirts of the conservative community of Cherán. Red and black banners waved, and two locally famous bands played “indigenous tunes.” This demonstration, “a show—literally a sort of fiesta—of anticlerical force,” provoked the people of Cherán, and a major affray ensued, in which more than 40 people died.85

The school and the home were seen as the chief agencies for socialization. At school, rituals were carefully prescribed and, it seems, carried out. Twice a week, if not once a day, the pupils gathered for a salute to the flag (flags were among the material assets most requested by schoolteachers). The salute might be accompanied by a patriotic pledge, whereby pupils offered their lives to the patria (as Hidalgo and Juárez had done) and resolved to “combat the three mighty enemies that our Nation faces; namely, the Clergy, Ignorance, and Capital.”86 These evil abstractions, as we will see, were given pictorial form by schoolchildren. Meanwhile, the heroes of the nation adorned the schoolroom wall. “Because of the approaching Independence Day fiestas,” reported a rural school inspector from northern Veracruz, “various communities of this zone have requested from this office portraits of the principal Heroes of Independence, in order to decorate the places where they celebrate this anniversary. . . therefore I urge that these petitions, which I consider very appropriate, be met, since they display that patriotic sentiments have been aroused in the various communities.”87

Throughout, teachers were required to answer detailed questionnaires evidencing the level of political and patriotic awareness in their districts and reporting on the labor social they had accomplished by way of enhancing such awareness. Replies were often perfunctory and ambiguous; but there were also respondents who carefully filled in their scoresheets, or who proudly recorded their pupils’ output: “The children of both sexes have learned 39 recitations, 18 stories, 14 dramatizations, and 13 dances, all of socialist tendencies.”88

It was one thing to organize such collective activities; another to penetrate the home and the hearts and minds of men, women, and children. The home, so policymakers reckoned, was the basic social unit (la sociedad elemental); it was in the home that ideological formation took place: “At the root of every social transformation has been and always will be the transformation of the home and the family.”89 Hitherto, the home had been the preserve of archaic notions and practices characteristic of peasant society and of clerical domination. The latter was strongly reinforced through the confessional, whereby priests exercised their sway over—and vented their lust on—ignorant women, lasciviously extracting from them the innermost secrets of their wedding nights.90

By limiting—or even eliminating—the clergy, such clerical domination could be curbed. But positive alternatives had also to be found, some of which involved robbing the opponents’ armory.91 Civil marriage and divorce had been established (and teachers were at pains to encourage the former), but the radicals now went further and instituted socialist weddings and baptisms.92 The formula for a socialist baptism in Veracruz went; “In the name of the sacred cause of the proletariat and as a just protest for the centuries of ignorance in which we have been held by the priestly class, and as a positive revindicating act of liberty of thought, I baptize thee in the waters of the river [well, fountain, and so on] in the same way as, at another time, John did with Jesus, the socialist of Nazareth, in the waters of the Jordan. I name thee___, because the brothers of your class so desire, and with this ceremony I emancipate you from the secular error that the nefarious clerical element maliciously inculcated in the brain of your ancestors.”93 If we believe the conservative press, truckloads of children, allegedly destined for picnics in the Veracruz countryside, were baptized according to this radical rite.94 Children also paid for parental zeal by bearing bizarre first names. Garrido named his son Lenin; two children born in Veracruz in 1932 were christened 66 and 323, these being the numbers of the state laws that regulated the clergy and sanctioned the expropriation of private property.95

Meanwhile, teachers were required to keep in close touch with the peasants of their area. In the Indian zones of Veracruz they “visited homes, propagating hygiene and striving to transform the lifestyle of the aborigines.”96 Throughout Mexico, they were to encourage regular bathing; vaccination; correct prenatal care; short haircuts; the use of individual beds, tables, and drinking glasses (el vaso individual); and the separation of humans and animals (who habitually slept together).97 Again, the frequency and success of such visits had to be carefully reported; points were scored for each social, academic, or material advance, and school inspectors tallied the points for the communities under their supervision.

Music and art offered means to penetrate the recalcitrant peasant psyche, it was thought. At secular fiestas, regional songs and dances were interspersed with educational talks. A typical program involved a talk, The Concept of the Personality of Christ”; a hot country tune (son tierracalienteño); a talk, “The Woman and the Confessional”; a cowboy ballad (canción ranchera); a talk, “Critique of the Catholic Religious Sacraments”; and a Jaliscan dance (jarabe tapatío).98 Teachers were collectively enjoined to provide new lyrics “consonant with socialist tendencies” for old popular ballads.99 And, of course, a good many “socialist” corridos—“impíos corridos”—were penned and sung, whether as a result of schoolmasterly exhortation or not.100 Teachers were to promote not only socialist “choirs and songs” but also “revolutionary pictures and placards”; schools duly draped themselves in “revolutionary pictures,” and children drew politically correct—and sometimes very skillful—drawings of fat bourgeois and skinny peasants.101

Not all ideological infusions were so palatable to their infant consumers (we might presume). Appropriate motifs were introduced into teaching—and tests. Children wrote compositions about broken images whose miraculous powers had been disproved; they recited learned responses: “The saints do not exist, and those made of wood are good only for burning”; they refuted the notion of God (“some old man with whiskers who, they say, lives in the sky”), since “if he did live in the sky he would fall to earth as all bodies that are heavier than air do.”102 Even when teaching arithmetic, teachers had “to justify the Mexican Revolution by referring frequently, among the problems to be solved, to those questions which coincide with the proposed object[ive]” (“foreign debt, for instance,” minuted a cynical U.S. State Department official).103

The celebrated petroleum nationalization of March 1938 afforded a splendid pedagogical opportunity. Teachers paraded phalanxes of children through the streets, flags waving; schools made donations to the petroleum debt.104 The second- through sixth-grade examinations of that summer were awash with oil, as language and social studies questions dwelt on the oppression of the companies and the tribulations of the workers, and mathematics questions required students to calculate petroleum consumption, contributions to the petroleum debt, even the cost of painting oil storage tanks.105 Half the questions, it was reckoned, had a petroleum content. Spain was another topical theme: a comprehension test, citing a donation to the petroleum fund made by the daughters of the Spanish ambassador, asked, Why did they help? and What would you do if Spain needed your help? (which, of course, it did).


It is easy to criticize these proselytizing efforts—as utopian, dogmatic, even authoritarian—and the trend of recent historiography has been critical.106 Of course, criticism is nothing new; Catholics, conservatives, and some classic liberals denounced socialist pretensions.107 Graham Greene carried his Catholic prejudices to Mexico and proceeded to equate Mexican radicalism with “Herbert Spencer, the Thinkers’ Library, alpaca jackets, and bookshops on Ludgate Hill.’’108 Certainly, the radical agenda was quixotic, paternalist, even patriarchal. As was the counteragenda of many Catholic activists. Indeed, a certain irony lay in the fact that anticlerical and Catholic reformers, bitter enemies in their campaigns for cultural hegemony, often agreed on the popular vices—drink, idleness, gambling— that needed to be extirpated. Catholic attempts to clean up, educate, and moralize the Mexican masses were nothing new, and they united both conservative and reformist wings of the church.109 The church also had a long history of combating popular religious activities that combined drink, superstition, revelry, and licensed.110 The construction of a “rational” religion, as Geertz describes it, involved some of the same social engineering as the construction of a “rational” society and nation.111 What is more, clerical critics of the socialist agenda blamed it for “brutalizing, dragging down, and ruining” the common people, who, once godless, would be left “without any brake on vice”; and, like their anticlerical counterparts, those critics lamented the absenteeism, indifference, and backsliding of their supposed converts.112 Across this great ideological divide, therefore, rival elites echoed each other: the people were wayward, filthy, and feckless; they were refractory to improvement; and they succumbed to the demoralizing appeal of the enemy. In Mexico as elsewhere, the battle for cultural hegemony was essentially a three-way struggle, involving church, state, and people; it was not a simple tug-of-war between church and state.113

Thus, it is neither difficult nor original to criticize, even to mock, the high-flown radical agenda of the 1930s—its optimistic goals, bizarre innovations, and dogmatic practices. To understand it requires a certain empathic effort, analogous to that which historians have made in their attempts to understand Cristeros or Zapatistas.114 Radical anticlericalism derived from a particular milieu, within which it made sense and exerted a strong appeal, particularly, though not exclusively, to educated middle- and working-class groups—above all, those whose education was in part homegrown, the product of reading by candlelight rather than attending centers of higher education.

The cultural and ideological dominance of the Catholic church was marked, especially in certain areas of Mexico (such as the center-west). Just as the church, commanding the central plaza, was usually the dominant landmark in town, so parish priests were often the most influential figures in rural communities, eclipsing the secular mayor or prefect. As already mentioned, their connivance with the landed elite, while not invariable, was common; hence, in regions where agrarian tensions ran high, the cura was often a key ally of the hacendado and an enemy of agrarismo.115 “God is the counterrevolution,” as one radical put it, echoing Barbusse.116 More generally, social life was governed by religious fiestas; the year was counted off according to the church calendar; the church bells—whose “monotonous and miserable tolling” matched the “lugubrious and sad voice of the cura”—were often the only form of timekeeping (they were used to call the peons to the field, for example) as well as the traditional tocsin, summoning the townspeople in time of emergency.117

Some anticlericals therefore wanted to ban bell ringing altogether, and in the Mayo Valley they made off not just with the Indians’ saints but with their church bells, too.118 The church played an important role in education and, even in the growing public school system, “teachers of strong clerical affiliation” were common.119 Public libraries also were stocked with religious texts.120

In the home, Catholic influence was pervasive, a condition some revolutionaries (like the maverick Vasconcelos) found spiritually nourishing, many (like Múgica) intellectually stifling. In many homes, it seems, devout mothers competed with liberal fathers; the children’s ultimate choice was perhaps determined as much by familial and psychological pressures as by rational political calculation. (Calles, the arch-clerophobe, was a bastard, and perhaps translated his resentment at illegitimacy into anti-Catholic politics.121) As the adolescent emerged—literally and figuratively—from the home, so he (and the cases we know tend to be male) faced a sociopolitical choice between the Catholic world of priest, confessional, mass, pilgrimage, ACJM, PCN, and LNDR and the liberal, anticlerical alternative, which revolved around the schoolteacher, the pharmacist or town printer, the local poolroom, Masonic lodge, mutualist society, or sindicato.122

Richard Cobb, no friend of socioeconomic generalization, has produced a neat cultural portrait of the “average” French revolutionary, one of the bons sansculottes révolutionnaires, who, he says, “do not constitute a class but. . . do represent an identifiable group.” Membership is premised on their “general attitude to life”; thus, “sans-culottisme can be defined. . . not so much in terms of wealth as of moral and civic utility.”123 In similar fashion, Mexican radicalism (or Jacobinism, anticlericalism—the precise label may be disputed) should be seen as a moral and cultural product, albeit a product closely linked—which is not to say reducible—to certain socioeconomic positions: “petty bourgeois” professionals and retailers, artisans, literate workers, some rancheros, and members of the “peasant bourgeoisie.”124

In this social and cultural milieu a distinctive philosophy, a particular variant of the “Great Tradition,” was nurtured. It was liberal (and liberalism easily mutated into forms of radicalism and anarchism).125 It was anticlerical, patriotic, and nationalist.126 It maintained a positivistic faith in objective science and a contempt for Catholic superstition.127 It was convinced of the truth of evolution, biological and social.128 Its viewpoint was sometimes Social Darwinian and racist.129 It was also morally austere, prone to temperance and Puritanism (like its Spanish and French counterparts).130 It possessed considerable faith in book learning and the power of both the printed and the spoken word, especially words spoken in veladas and speeches in the plaza. Graduates of this cultural academy were fond of quoting authorities (Henry George and Victor Hugo had been favorites in the 1900s; by the 1930s Lenin and Bukharin figured more prominently) and grand principles of social science.131

Socialist education—whose very objective was the inculcation of a “rational and exact concept of the universe and of social life”—involved talks expounding, for example, the “scientific explanation of miracles” or the scientific basis of natural phenomena; anticlerical newspapers, partisans in the “historic struggle between Religion and Science,” set out to refute Genesis. A calendar of 44 secular festivals included only one non-Mexican event (the fall of the Bastille) and only one non-Mexican: James Watt, celebrated as the “inventor of the steamship.”132 Aviation, too, figured as a powerful symbol of human ingenuity, technological advancement, and social integration.133 Governor Garrido traversed Tabasco in an airplane painted in the red and black colors of radicalism; an anticlerical poem, directed at the clergy, rejoiced that “now man, burgeoning with force and power, violates your heaven in a bird: the airplane.”134 Calles, the doyen of Jacobinism, summed up the secular-scientific position well.

The General replied that no religion would be taught in the schools; that the school would combine general education with technical training; that definite, natural, and scientific knowledge would be imparted, to replace the obscure and nontechnical education previously given by the Catholic clergy. As an example, he stated that most of the peasants believed a certain Saint produced the rain and they were eternally hunting up images before which to pray for rain. He also said that the peasants were taught to believe that earthquakes were sent by God to punish people for their sins. In the future, children would be taught that rain and earthquakes were phenomena of nature.135

The “hegemony” of the church, in other words, was a powerful, visible force; hence those who rebuffed it logically sought to oppose it with their own counterinstitutions’ philosophy and rituals. Families and communities, also logically, were often profoundly divided along these sectarian lines. Quixotic they were, perhaps, but the anticlericals were not stupid. They knew what they were up against. Agraristas faced real threats of clerical and landlord reprisals; excommunication and, perhaps, social ostracism in the first case; unemployment, intimidation, and even assassination (sometimes committed with sadistic zeal) in the second.136 Sometimes they enjoyed the backing of the central government, but the central government—recent talk of “Leviathans” notwithstanding—was far from omnipotent or consistent. Local authorities were often leery of anticlericalism and socialism, hence lukewarm—at best—in their support of beleaguered rural schools. In La Piedad, Michoacán, the municipal authorities stood by while the schools remained empty and the churches were “full of children who are attending ceremonies prepared by the clergy to celebrate the Month of María.”137 Such complaints were common.138 Nor was it just a question of local officials: powerful state bosses like Cedillo (San Luis), Yocupicio (Sonora), and Avila Camacho (Puebla) were indifferent, even hostile, to radical education.139

The secular crusade therefore was an uphill struggle. Its protagonists on the ground did not—as some critics have suggested—embark on their task with the arrogance of power; they recognized, rather, the risks and failings of their project.140 Socialist teachers urged and practiced “prudence” (a recurrent term) and “exquisite tact.”141 It was one thing for an authoritarian state boss like Garrido to flaunt his anticlericalism in the easy environment of Tabasco; quite another for isolated rural teachers to do so in hostile regions like the “hard and rugged” Sierra Norte de Puebla.142 Gratuitous anticlericalism à la Garrido gave offense, incurred opposition, and compromised the broader objective of winning campesino hearts and minds. Many teachers soft-pedaled anticlericalism in favor of less contentious economic projects; in doing so, they could cite the august authority of Lenin and, after 1936, follow the lead of President Cárdenas.143 State authorities, such as those of Durango, also sought compromise rather than confrontation, as did Cárdenas after 1936.144 If the Revolution was to create a new man, it would have to do so gradually, incrementally, and laboriously; material would have to precede moral transformation.145

This diffidence was justified. If we consider the effect of “socialist” proselytization—the campaign to “rationalize and nationalize” the Mexican people—it is, in general, the failings and failures that claim attention.146 Resistance was widespread and, at times, insuperable. Most obvious was violent resistance: the attacks on schools, arson, intimidation, and assassination, which led to many deaths, fearful resignations, the “concentration” of teachers in safer zones, and, in 1938, a government decision to issue small arms to all teachers. (Many had already equipped themselves; the first thing a rural teacher often did was to acquire a pistol.147 Land-owners, white guards, and so-called “liquor lords” were responsible; but so, too, were Catholic (“fanatical”) campesinos.148

No less important, however, was the low-key, quotidian, and “spontaneous” resistance that the Jacobin project encountered. Sometimes this took the form of overt but peaceful protests, in which women were frequently prominent. At Veracruz, women protected persecuted priests; at Orizaba they heckled a radical teachers’ meeting and were arrested for “creating a disturbance”; at Jalapa, where the anticlericals “began a systematic campaign of putting cartoons, posters, etc. on the walls of buildings throughout the city, the posters were removed almost as fast. . . by the Catholic organizations, usually women.”149 In these cases the pro testers were urban and, it would seem, mostly middle-class.150 But rural women, in villages and haciendas, also combated Jacobinism, resorting to demonstrations, social ostracism, and even violence.151 Such overt protests rode on the back of a pervasive “apathy” or “passive resistance,” of which teachers constantly complained.152 Among 30 schools in Colima, “the attendance is very thin and in some schools the teacher was to be found alone.” Inspectors recorded the dismal experience of finding a school deserted “because the community was having a fiesta, on account of the visit of the parish priest.”153 It was galling, too, when sacred images, taken out of Tabasco to the greater security of Veracruz, at once became busy—and profitable—foci of pilgrimage.154

In many regions, the school was actively boycotted; parents refused to send their children, offended by official anticlericalism, socialism, and sex education, which they tended to lump together—and which were all subject to wild rumor mongering.155 Clerical encouragement and threats— denial of absolution, excommunication, hellfire—played their part; and, of course, they spurred anticlerical responses. (Primo Tapia, the agraristas of Naranja recalled, “used to explain everything to us, that such-and-such ideas were false, that such-and-such ideas were good, and that it was a pure lie that we would be sent to hell for taking part in agrarianism.”156) But it would probably be wrong to see the school boycott as a simple clerical device or the peasants as malleable instruments of the clergy.157 Attendance suffered for other reasons: children had to work in the fields, especially during the summer planting and harvesting season. They stayed away when disease prevailed or the rivers ran high; because the teachers were mediocre and the classes ineffective; or, parents claimed, because of the family’s “lack of clothes and extreme poverty.”158

For similar reasons, adult night schools suffered. These classes, designed to impart literacy, tended to be male preserves (which, from the revolutionaries’ point of view, was regrettable, since women were seen as the chief victims and carriers of clerical hegemony). Women avoided night classes given by male teachers, not least because their husbands objected to this infringement of patriarchal control. Indeed, the patriarchal leaders of the revolutionary regime faced a dilemma: anxious to emancipate women from the trammels of clergy and confessional (as already described), they did not necessarily want their women to fall prey to school and schoolmaster, which, too, could represent a threat to patriarchal power in the home. In Mexico, as in France, Jacobin feminism was distinctly ambivalent.159

Schools also suffered from chronic shortages of resources and staff The national government increased educational spending, but never enough to fund the ambitious program of school building, especially rural school building, that it had conceived.160 In many cases, the construction, improvement, and maintenance of the school—as well as its ancillary units, the casa del maestro, the open-air theater, the garden, and the sports field—devolved to the community and became a test of communal commitment to secular schooling. Some, we shall see, passed the test. But, not surprisingly, some communities were reluctant to part with their hard-earned pesos. They begrudged money or labor; they charged market rates—or above market rates—for their work; they refused the school its plot of ejidal land and instead rented it out on a shares basis 161 Teachers therefore labored under harsh conditions. They taught in gloomy, cramped rooms in the presidencia municipal, in ramshackle huts, in old hacienda barns or confiscated churches (as uncomfortable for the pupils as it was offensive to the devout). In some cases, they perforce taught under a tree—a manifestation of the Rousseauesque ideal, which, like most of that ideal, did not translate well into practice.162

Teachers’ accommodations were poor, and their pay was frequently in arrears. They worked long hours, playing multiple roles—“teacher, lawyer, engineer, secretary”—under the aegis of a growing, and sometimes despotic, bureaucracy.163 Staff turnover was rapid: some schools had three, even four teachers in a single year.164 Many were young; the average age in Morelos ejidal communities was 24.165 Young women teachers—symbols of female emancipation from clergy and confessional—were particularly vulnerable, as they were pitched into the rough, macho, violent ambiente of the Mexican countryside.166

In light of these conditions, it is not surprising that results were limited. Literacy rates rose, but they may have done so despite rather than because of the radical curriculum of the 1930s. In the following decade, as radicalism faded, literacy rates rose more quickly: the school was now less a mechanism for overt social engineering than a means to impart skills increasingly necessary in an urbanizing and industrializing Mexico.167 And the quixotic vision of a new man (and woman) proved, of course, a chimera. Nevertheless, the radical project had its successes; that is to say, in some cases it excited a positive reaction and was enthusiastically taken up—and in the process, subtly altered—by popular groups: by “militant folk (gente de lucha) of revolutionary spirit,” those who “with many sacrifices” built their own schools, revered the teacher, displayed “enthusiasm and interest” for the radical project, and whose “children [were] avid for learning.”168 To that extent, anticlericalism and socialist education exerted a genuine appeal and were not simply “top-down” impositions on a reluctant, God-fearing people. The Mexican people—like the Mexican elite— were divided; they responded differently to these new messages and opportunities, and they did so as positive actors, not mere recipients or victims of “top-down” manipulation.


Can we go beyond this modest conclusion? Can we map Mexican popular culture, gauging the impact of the revolutionary project, the progress, perhaps, of literacy, secularization, radicalization? Such a political topography is problematic even in the well-researched case of France.169 It is difficult, certainly premature, and perhaps impossible in the Mexican case: the parish records have not been worked; electoral and party statistics are of very limited use; and the data on literacy are, at present, too vague and general.170 At best—and pending further research—only informed suggestions can be hazarded. First, agrarismo and anticlericalism formed an organizational tandem, although it was agrarismo that—pursuing the metaphor—sat at the back and pedaled. Although there is some evidence of “top-down,” imposed, even unpopular agrarian reform, it should not be exaggerated. Most of the agrarian reform of the 1920s and 1930s depended on a significant degree of prior popular mobilization, including autonomous mobilization during the years of armed revolution.171 This does not mean the reform was uniformly welcomed. On the contrary, it polarized classes, regions, and communities. For every beneficiary there was also a victim (or, we should perhaps say, a self-perceived victim); and the victims were not all opulent hacendados. Nevertheless, the period witnessed the formation and consolidation of a powerful agrarista lobby that embraced peasants, políticos, and other sympathetic groups, such as urban artisans and workers (indeed, the latter were often important allies of the peasantry).172

Agrarismo was intimately associated with other radical policies. Whether, for example, the church came to oppose agrarismo chiefly because it was the work of an abominated anticlerical state is a moot point (in my view, the church’s hostility went deeper and often reflected clerical sympathy for and association with the propertied class). The important point, however, is that by the 1920s, agrarismo and anticlericalism were coupled in both practice and perception. Teachers were active in supporting eijdal solicitations, organizing sindicatos, forming consumer cooperatives, and campaigning for the implementation of the minimum wage or pro-peasant legislation (such as Jalisco’s Ley de Tierras Ociosas).173 This incurred opposition on the part of the provincial well-to-do and fostered trust on the part of the peasantry, or at least that part of the peasantry aligned with the agraristas.174

Against those communities that repudiated socialist education we must set those that eagerly sought the establishment of a school, called for the federalization of existing state schools, or petitioned for teachers who might serve as “counselors and mentors” of the peopled.175 Thus, just as the church denounced the agraristas, so, too, the agraristas came to espouse anticlericalism—even if their initial stance in the matter was ambivalent. Agrarian leaders like Primo Tapia made great play of their opposition to the church, and a popular anticlerical tradition—which had prerevolutionary roots—was thus solidified.176 It survived despite opposition within the peasant community, even within the peasant family (peasant, like middle-class, households were often split between devout wives and anticlerical husbands). Long after the conflict cooled, diehard anticlericals were to be found in the villages, lamenting the new respectability of the clergy and the continued religiosity of the women.177

In general, therefore, agrarian communities—beneficiaries of the agrarian reform, possessed of ejidos—were frequently the keenest supporters of the socialist school. Furthermore, the exceptions—that is, agrarian communities hostile to socialist education and loyal to the church —were recognized as such.178 Apart from their ideological complimentarity, school and ejido also formed an organizational pair; agrarian communities had more discretionary resources with which to support the school (the provision of a “parcel” of land for the school was automatic with every ejidal grant). They even had the guns with which to defend embattled teachers.179 For its part, the school celebrated the ejido in song, ritual, and fiesta.180 In certain cases the school became the hub of the community, and the teachers were “the soul” of the ejido.181

Agrarian struggle thus encouraged the dissemination and espousal of radical (in this case. Jacobin) ideas. Of course, popular espousal of an “elite” ideology was an old story. Mexican Catholicism had taken a similar route; so, too, had Mexican liberalism. French history reveals similar mutations: the Provençal peasantry’s shift, under pressure of historical circumstances, from “Right” to “Left,” “white” to “red.”182 Furthermore, each of these artifacts of the “Great Tradition”—Catholicism, liberalism. Jacobinism—once taken up by calloused campesino hands, was significantly refashioned. Tridentine Catholicism became “folk Catholicism,” replete with pagan, pre-Columbian elements; “folk liberalism” (as it has been called) diverged from the cerebral, elite liberalism of Mora and others and established itself as a heterodox but powerful set of ideas, symbols, and myths.183

So, too, the message of the (elite) Revolution was appropriated and refashioned afer 1910. (We should recall that a good deal of the revolutionary agenda responded to “spontaneous” popular demands in the first place). It assumed popular forms: corridos, clubs, fiestas, local memories and traditions. The result was often ideologically heterodox—consistency was assuredly not the hobgoblin of popular minds—but it was effective. Anticlericalism, for example, could consort with popular religiosity, a contradiction that is only superficial and that has many precedents, such as Lollardy.184 Anticlerical and agrarian heroes were depicted in Christlike poses. Christ was portrayed as the first agrarista (“Cristo no era como los patrones” [Christ was not like the bosses], as a song went); or was depicted giving his blessing to the agraristas. “Jesus the Socialist of Nazareth,” as we have seen, figured in radical baptisms.185 Traditional religious fiestas— such as All Souls, the Day of the Dead—were incorporated into the radical calendar; in Aguascalientes the feast of San Marcos became the Festival of Spring, endowed with “revolutionary and socialist content.”186

Radicalism also plagiarized religious terminology more generally. Governor Tejeda was “the anointed of the gods”; Garrido’s followers sang the “hymn of the red-shirts”; the confiscation of churches meant that “temples of obscurantism, perfidy, and evil are today temples of idealism, light, and truth.”187 The impact of such rhetoric is hard to gauge. The “civil religion” of the Revolution remained resolutely secular and did not, in the main, acquire transcendental qualities.188 Nor did the cult of the caudillo spill over into outright idolatry—Madero did not go the way of Marat.189 But revolutionary radicalism certainly borrowed from religious forms and built on traditional rituals. Thus, in some cases, “fanatical anticlericalism was converted into a surrogate religion.”190 Similarly, the socialist project of the 1930s could be presented not as some abstract and alien doctrine, but rather in terms of an old, comprehensible polarity—rich and poor, exploiters and exploited. For teachers, many of poor background themselves, “socialism. . .was more a feeling than a theory.”191

Ethnic themes were also invoked. The Revolution inaugurated a major rehabilitation and exaltation of Indian culture. Like anticlericalism, this was largely an elite construct (indigenismo was not the work of Indians).192 Also like anticlericalism, the construct had prerevolutionary roots; a pallid, cerebral, and arty indigenismo had been evident during the Porfiriato and even earlier. The Revolution, however, served to pump red blood into this anemic corpus of ideas. To the parvenu nation- and state-building populists of the 1920s and 1930s, indigenismo was a major ideological resource (which is not to say that they espoused it simply cynically and instrumentally). Accordingly, they harked back to Mexico’s Aztec past, glorified Cuauhtémoc (the given name of Cárdenas’ son), and vilified Cortés. The supposed anniversary of the foundation of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, was celebrated on December 12, traditionally the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Even the radical labor confederation, the CROM, boasted an Aztec logo as its letterhead. Nor was this simply an elite imposition (or, if it began as one, it soon acquired added dimensions of meaning). A humble Veracruz schoolteacher emulated Diego Rivera, painting “Aztec allegories” on the plaster walls of his schoolhouse; local agrarian activists capitalized on their ethnic roots and asserted their ethnic identity in pursuit of political power.193

Like Geertz’s Javanese nationalists, who blended Hinduist-animist beliefs with “secular nationalism and Marxism,” so Mexico’s postrevolutionary indigenistas married traditional “nativist” images to radical new messages. Meanwhile, their sworn enemies, the Catholic radicals, offered a more austere, “rationalized” Christianity, a close parallel to the “Islamic modernism” that, in Java, confronted resurgent Hindu nationalism.194 Thus, although anticlericalism, “socialism,” and even indigenismo began as elite dogmas, lacking popular bases and often offending popular sensibilities, they acquired genuine support—and were subtly reworked—in the process of popular struggle and conflict.195

Although this can be put forward as a general proposition, it is not easy to map the process of assimilation and syncretism, nor to attempt a topography of popular radicalism. As already mentioned, the conventional (that is, European) indices—elections and party membership—are poor, if not useless, guides to the labyrinth of Mexican politics.196 Second, the political map was highly localized, and depended to some degree on the random distribution of individuals. Just as patterns of rebellion in 1910 depended in part on the distribution of oppressive officials and abusive landlords, so, too, adherence to radicalism—or its most obvious converse, adherence to the church—depended on the distribution, across space and time, of radical caciques and governors or influential parish priests. Yucatán, for example, underwent a brief radical phase under Carrillo Puerto, followed by a severe reaction.197 Radical movements experienced similar, if less pronounced, vicissitudes in Michoacán (as Cárdenas gave way to Serrato) and Veracruz (with the rise and fall of Tejeda).198 At the community level, both teachers and priests came and went, made progress or failed. Some teachers were “dynamic and capable,” others negligent, absent, or corrupt; some curas became significant community leaders, some remained cyphers, or were confounded in their attempts at proselytization.199

Nevertheless, some patterns can be teased out. The protagonists themselves recognized categories. According to educational officials, Mexico’s myriad communities could be divided into three groups: (1) those that displayed no prejudice against secular, state education; (2) those that manifested suspicion (desconfianza); (3) those that mounted “real opposition” (verdadera oposición).200

The third category, embracing Colima, Michoacán, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, and parts of Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Durango, precisely followed the battle lines of the Cristero War.201 An explanation of that war would imply, to a considerable extent, an explanation of cultural and political divisions throughout the postrevolutionary period. Unfortunately, there is no consensus concerning the Cristiada; we may therefore reverse the explanatory arrow and suggest that the tentative hypotheses put forward here may also help explain that conflict.202

First, in general terms, central Mexico was more conservative and Catholic than the north or the Gulf coast, and the center-west was particularly wedded to Catholic institutions and dogma. Compare, for example, Baja California, Chihuahua, Sonora, or the Laguna with Colima, Jalisco, much of Michoacán, even Morelos.203 Should this be attributed to socioeconomic conditions? to earlier Catholic proselytization? to historical events? Here we enter a debate that parallels the one surrounding the “political geography of revolution” (and counterrevolution) in France.204 Like Charles Tilly, we might argue that Mexico’s center-west consisted of scattered communities held together primarily by parish networks and clerical authority (in contrast to the tightly knit, more self-governing communities of, say, Morelos, which parallels Provence).205 We might also argue that the center-west had witnessed, during the Porfiriato, a form of second “spiritual conquest,” whereby priests and churches had increased in number and influence—partly in response to an advancing (internal) frontier.206 Certainly some communities existed, such as San José de Gracia, which were, in some senses, petty theocracies.207

Third, it is important to note that the center-west had been less directly involved in the armed revolution than the center or north; thus, the revolutionary regime, when it came bearing unwanted gifts, appeared as an alien intruder. For the peasants of Morelos, the heartland of Zapatismo, anticlericalism was not particularly welcome (Zapata’s own relations with the curas had been amicable); but the revolutionary state offered certain benefits—land above all—and opposition did not crystallize around the church question.208 For many—though by no means all—Michoacanos, by contrast, the revolutionary state offered few such offsetting benefits. Anticlericalism was the defining characteristic of the Revolution and, thus arrayed in the robes of blasphemy, the Revolution was repudiated.209 In Mexico, as in France, the religious question became so contentious because it subsumed a wealth of conflicts—landlord versus peasant, state versus locality, insider versus outsider—and touched deep questions of cultural identity, as well as political power and material livelihood.210

These broad regional breakdowns, however, are only a start. Within states—and within localities—communities reacted differently (schismatics were even found on the outskirts of Catholic Guadalajara!).211 Again, rough patterns can sometimes be discerned at this lower level. In the small state of Colima, the highlands tended to be clerical, the hot coastal lowlands radical and anticlerical.212 So, too, in Puebla, where the sierra was the seat of conservatism, the llano of agrarismo; in Sonora, where, similarly, the northeastern sierra produced Cristeros, the valley lowlands agraristas; in Chiapas, where highland San Cristóbal was the clerical headquarters and coastal Soconusco the hub of Chiapaneco socialism; and finally in Veracruz, where, for example, the would-be iconoclasts of Catemaco were confounded when “serranos from the nearby mountains marched to the town with the purpose of guarding the [threatened] image.” 213

Patterns of settlement, of ethnicity, and of Catholic “church building” (both literal and figurative) all contributed to this dichotomy. In part, the split reflected the strength of religion in “Indian” communities of long standing; these communities, concentrated in the temperate, maize-growing highlands, were notoriously difficult to penetrate (cerrado, closed, was the adjective most often applied to them).214 They were not necessarily under the thumb of the cura—for in many cases the cura was a transient figure—but they were strongly wedded to local religious practices and symbols that, like the “Little Children” of the Mayo Indians, served as foci of community and ethnic identity, as well as rallying points for community resistance.215 As in parts of Central and Andean America, such resistance was popular and religious, but often independent of clerical control. Again, we witness the three-way struggle between church, state, and communities—in this case, Indian communities—that still enjoyed a real measure of political and cultural autonomy. For the church, too, had great difficulty in penetrating and acculturating these “closed” highland people.

Still, ethnicity is no explanatory passe-partout. Some Indian communities were receptive to the state’s educational project, while some mestizo, Hispanized communities stood in the van of the clerical, conservative forces—and did so precisely because of clerical mobilization.216 The center-west region of the Cristiada is the obvious case: here, Jean Meyer argues, resistance derived from a profound Catholic (not pagan-syncretic) religiosity.217 Here, we may hypothesize, were communities that had constructed their identity on the basis of institutional Catholicism; priests and churches were thick on the ground, and the priests were often eager activists (when the church wanted aggressive missionaries for Chiapas, it found them in Michoacán).218 Within this region, however, were plenty of dissidents, some of them Indian. The “red” communities of Michoacán— Naranja, Tarejero, Tiríndaro—were also heavily Indian; mestizo San José was conservative and clerical; neighboring Mazamitla, across the state line in Jalisco, was both more Indian and more radical and receptive to socialist education.219

A principal determinant of this pattern was landholding and agrarian conflict. Whereas the agrarismo of Zapata and the Morelenses—manifested in the great, spontaneous uprising of 1910-20—did not carry over into anticlericalism, Michoacano agrarianism, forged in the politicking and power struggles of the 1920s and 1930s, inevitably acquired an anticlerical, Jacobin temper. Naranja, scene of a bitter land dispute, became agrarista and anticlerical; Cherán—also Indian but less economically afflicted—remained largely conservative, and thus fell victim to the Maundy Thursday massacre. In similar fashion, rural communities and regions possessed of (non-Catholic) trade unions were on the fast track to radicalism and Jacobinism (for example, Veracruz, Soconusco, the Laguna), while regions of Catholic smallholding—such as the Calvillo district of Aguascalientes, the Colotlán region of Jalisco, or the northeastern Sierra Madre of Sonora—constituted Cristero bastions, bitterly hostile to the revolutionary project.220

In addition to these loosely “structural” explanations—relating to agrarianism, ethnicity, and prior proselytization—we should finally note contingent “historical” factors. First, no student of Mexican society can ignore the pervasive importance of factionalism and clientelism. In numerous cases, political allegiances—for or against agrarian reform, for or against the church, even for or against “progress”—depended on the logic of local factionalism.221 Groups and individuals made tactical choices, which were then set in ideological cement. The Molina Betancourt family espoused federal and socialist education as a means, it would seem, to reinforce their political sway in northern Puebla; their enemies sought to confound it.222 At the highest level, education, agrarian reform, indigenismo, and trade unionism were all weapons the central government could use to topple or constrain wayward state bosses—Grajales in Chiapas, Cedillo in San Luis, Yocupicio in Sonora.223 And, at the lowest level, the municipal factionalism that pervaded the country—evidence of which also pervades the SEP archive—had a lot to do not with neat class or ideological affiliations, but with questions of power and clientele: “ins” versus “outs,” caciques versus caciques, families versus families, barrios versus barrios.224

These “contingent” alliances were both old and new, and, as they aged and matured, thereby perhaps became “structural” features of community life, cultural “givens” that strongly determined subsequent political options. For, as Paul Bois argues for the Sarthe, political allegiances forged—perhaps contingently—in the heat of war, revolution, and crisis can have enduring consequences.225 So, too, in Mexico, traditionally liberal pueblos—those that had backed the liberals against their conservative and French enemies—tended to be receptive to the radical message of the Revolution, which, as we have seen, was often couched in “neoliberal” terms. Their conservative, clerical foes were logically hostile. Old dyadic enmities were thus redefined in terms of the new revolutionary situation. Liberal Jiquilpan became radical Jiquilpan (being Cárdenas’ birthplace helped, of course), hence the old feud with (conservative) Sahuayo took a new twist.226 Juchitan, the traditionally liberal opponent of Tehuantepec, shed its liberalism in favor of radicalism, later socialism.227 Matamoros, a beacon of liberalism in the Laguna, became a center of radicalism in the 1920s and 1930s.228 Similar continuities can be seen in families (and, perhaps, barrios). A detailed prosopography of the revolutionary generation might confirm the impression that many of its leaders—such as Zapata and Cárdenas—had grandfathers who had fought with the liberals against the conservatives and the French.

Thus, any map of the “geography of revolution” seeking to capture popular allegiances and identities is likely to resemble a Seurat more than a Mondrian. No uniform colors and stark outlines; rather, countless dabs of contrasting color: red here, white here, pink there. If we stand back, the picture assumes a rough pattern; the north and parts of the Gulf coast are redder; the center—whose politics are as convoluted as its landscape— appears pink; the center-west is white. But close up, the pattern dissolves into a host of local particularities. In Mexico as in France, it seems, popular political culture is something of a myth; we should talk instead of numerous popular political cultures, many of them specific to individual communities.229

These local particularities strongly conditioned popular reception of— or participation in—the Revolution. In communities possessed of a strong liberal-patriotic lineage, the Revolution—with its new messages of radicalism and anticlericalism—could be more easily assimilated into local lore and myths. Assimilation was certainly not guaranteed, but it stood a better chance than in communities that lacked such historical traditions or whose historical traditions were conservative and Catholic. Here again, the role of the local teacher—the local tinterillo or “village intellectual”— was often crucial.230 The “best” (that is, the most effective) teachers, one inspector ruefully admitted, were not those most primed in pedagogical theory and socialist dogma but those who came from the locality, who knew it, and who could establish a ready dialogue with the people.231 In truth, the most successful (that is, popular) teachers were often those least attuned to the new socialist dogma, while, conversely, many of the fresh-faced (blanquito) new graduates of the teacher-training program preferred to pursue careers in the towns and cities, away from the benighted rural backwoods. They were keen for promotion, and they took their diplomas and ran.232 Again, the church shows a parallel. Like the hedge-priests of the Middle Ages or the rabble-rousing curas of late colonial Mexico, it was often the heterodox clergy who enjoyed the closest relationship with their flock, while those who—like their anticlerical counterparts—tried to reform popular customs and manners were rebuflied.233

Just as, in the past, elite projects (Catholicism, liberalism) elicited different responses according to local and contingent criteria, so, too, the Revolution generated new pressures, to which local people had to react: the incursions first of armed forces, later of revolutionary políticos and officials, representatives of parties, ministries, and agencies. In the absence of powerful alternative determinants—such as agrarian demands or prior political commitments—people often reacted tactically, contingently, and selectively. The revolutionary message—land, schools, anticlericalism, nationalism—became a resource in the ancient conflict between communities and clans. As such, it was received, judged, espoused, or rejected on the grounds of expediency as well as principle. It was a question of “ask not what you can do for your Revolution, but what your Revolution can do for you”—by way of jobs, power, patronage, and connections to “the center.”

Accordingly, the community’s response was selective. Agrarian reform was sometimes rejected, often enthusiastically espoused; it offered material betterment, economic security (perhaps), sometimes a strengthening of the community. The agrarian reform transformed rural Mexico and created powerful loyalties—for example, to Cárdenas and Cardenismo—that are still apparent today.234 In this respect, the radical project, articulated by the school and socialist education, left an enduring legacy. But these loyalties were premised on a material struggle and, in some respects, a class victory—of peasants over landlords. In addition—a more mundane but nonetheless important point—along with the school and the ejido often came further material improvements: paved roads, piped water, powered corn grinders, radio, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds.235 Indeed, the growth of sport represented a significant change. Basketball, in particular, caught on: it was easy to introduce; it offered a new, convenient, enjoyable form of recreation for rural youth; it may even have countered the appeal of the cantina, as its proponents hoped. In some pueblos, it became a source of social status and an avenue of political mobility.236

What did not take root and endure was the radical cultural project of the Revolution, its anticlericalism and commitment to socialism. Agrarismo could carry anticlericalism on its coattails, at least for a time, and especially while the cura inveighed against the ejido; but once the ejido was secured and the cura had, to some extent, been silenced, the coattails were cut off. In Mexico as elsewhere, post-reform peasantries tended to cultivate their own gardens: the momentum of mobilization faded, and the radical peasantry of the pre-reform period, disposed to militancy, became the (relatively) quiescent smallholders of the post-reform era, disposed to clientelist alliances with the burgeoning state.237

Meanwhile, the revolutionaries’ ambitious program of cultural transformation made limited (though not minimal) progress. Essentially, it was the product of a distinct time and cultural milieu, especially that of the radical autodidacts of the revolutionary generation—men (and occasionally women) of the cities and small towns, readers of the radical—sometimes the anarchist—press, who sought to bring enlightenment and progress to a rural population they both pitied and patronized. Their achievements were by no means inconsequential, especially with regard to agrarian reform, material betterment, and—although this is hard to estimate— nation building. Of these three goals, however, only agrarian reform was genuinely new; in promoting material improvement and nationalism the revolutionary generation followed Porfirian goals, which the post-1940 Alemanista generation, in turn, pursued iurther.238 In contrast, the distinctive features of the revolutionary cultural project—the anticlericalism, egalitarianism, and commitment to class conflict—proved more ephemeral. Sex education was curtailed when—to the delight of the Catholics— Bassols fell from power in 1934.239 Anticlericalism was throttled back after 1936 and virtually eliminated after 1938; socialist education, already in full retreat, was officially wound up by President Avila Camacho. The crowded calendar of secular fiestas was reduced, simplified, and deradicalized.240 The revolutionary “new man”—and “new woman” and “new child”—did not materialize.

This relative failure derived from a multiplicity of reasons, but three general causes are obvious: the limits of state power (which contrasted with the grandiosity of state objectives); the selective resistance of civil society; and the overriding long-term influence of socioeconomic factors (over which the state exercised only limited control). As already noted, literacy rates rose faster in the 1940s than in the 1930s, chiefly because the demand for literacy was stimulated by industrialization and migration; secondarily because the state, while continuing to stress education, dropped its commitment to radical social engineering. Henceforth, schools would still inculcate nationalism and loyalty to state and revolution, but it was a different state and a different revolution. This outcome could hardly be foreseen in the 1930s.

The 1940 presidential succession and the onset of World War II brought major, unpredictable changes; and, as contemporaries recognized, educational and cultural change was necessarily slow and could not be calibrated on a yearly basis. Even under Cárdenas, however, the retreat had begun. The uphill struggle of many rural teachers bespoke the recalcitrance of popular customs and culture. The latter were not inert; they shifted, mutated, and reacted. But they did so chiefly in reponse to major socioeconomic pressures; industrialization, urbanization, migration, population growth, proletarianization. The village cargo system—the ancient civil-religious hierarchy—was more likely to be undone by commercial accumulation than by radical preaching.241 Even then, some aspects of “popular culture” remained remarkably durable; compatible, it would seem, with fast-changing social milieus. Proletarianization and urbanization, for example, do not appear to have produced a predominantly secular society— nor even a “rational” religious one, perhaps because the vicissitudes of life in Mexico’s teeming cities are as volatile and unpredictable as those faced by the campesinos.242

Compared to these profound socioeconomic trends, government programs and educational campaigns were much weaker forces for social change; they proved particularly ineffectual when they went against the grain of economic “development.” It is not surprising, therefore, that they failed to create a new, secular, scientific, progressive man (and woman). The rural community’s preference for heterodox teachers (and priests) was, in this respect, symptomatic: the teacher, some said, was a “faithful reflection” of the community, sometimes a local boy or girl made good.243 Many teachers never internalized the radical message of socialism; they spurned official textbooks and programs of study; and telling them to read El Nacional was a counsel of despair.244 Given their own cultural makeup and that of the communities they inhabited, they were chary of radical social engineering. “Understanding the conditions he has to work under,” an observer commented about one maestro, “he is neither impatient nor ambitious to change them, at least quickly. He has still something to learn from the federal doctrinaires who might also learn something from him and men of his class.”245 Thus, many continued in their old ways, as did the communities in their charge. Bourbon projects for radical social change once again surrendered to Hapsburg inertia: obedezco pero no cumplo (“I obey but I do not carry out”) remained as relevant as it had been in colonial times.

Similarly, the educated, go-ahead teacher, who upped sticks and used the teaching credential as a passport to urban employment—in Mexico or the United States—was representative of a stream of city-bound and U.S.-bound migrants, which by in the 1940s and 1950s had become a torrent. It was not that rural Mexico refused to change, but rather that, having refused to obey many of the dictates and exhortations of radical government in the 1930s, it obeyed instead the imperatives of the capitalist market in the 1940s and 1950s. It did so, above all, because its inhabitants had to survive, had to gain their livelihood in an urbanizing, industrializing, “de-peasantizing” world. Ejidatarios—recipients of land grants—did not become virtuous citizens overnight (if at all). At Nueva Italia, scene of a major agrarian collectivization, a social worker commented, “the majority of the workers daily earn more money, so that they can nourish their vices,” particularly hard liquor and marijuana.246

Meanwhile, the regime built roads and distributed radios, and in doing so undoubtedly strengthened national integration and national markets. But the roads and the radio brought a different culture: Americanized, consumerist, aural (and later visual) rather than oral and written—yet still strongly Catholic. Over time, this new “Great Tradition”—if that is not an oxymoron—established itself, in defiance of the high hopes and elaborate projects of the 1930s radicals. The latter were more realistically circumspect and less ruthlessly dogmatic than some observers suggest.247 They had not been blind to these dangers: “the action of the school,” they recognized, “could be easily destroyed by other factors, such as the home, the movies, the press, and so on”; but, they optimistically believed, government policy would work “to get all of these agencies to cooperate in a clearly outlined program with a socialistic purpose.”248 They were wrong. They overestimated the power of the state and its transient “petty-bourgeois” Jacobinism, and they underestimated both the recalcitrance of the people and the resourcefulness of the market.


The battles of the Bajío in the spring and summer of 1915 marked the triumph of the Constitutionalists of Venustiano Carranza over the forces of Francisco Villa. See Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 2:321 ff.


Ibid., 498, 500, 511.


James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1990).


These comparisons chiefly involve the English and (more so) the French Revolution. Partly because of the constraints of space and expertise, I do not address the socialist revolutions of the twentieth century. However, while comparisons with Soviet, Chinese, or Cuban “cultural projects” would no doubt be illuminating, I suspect they would be less fruitful— since, notwithstanding the “socialist” emphasis of the Mexican project, it was conceived and carried out in a developing capitalist society, in the wake, it could be argued, of a “bourgeois” revolution. For this argument, see Alan Knight, “Social Revolution; A Latin American Perspective,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 9:2 (1990), 175-202.


For a brief discussion of the “ideal-type” Hapsburg and Bourbon states (the former a more modest state, mirroring society, dedicated to the status quo and maintaining a qualified consensus; the latter an ambitious state, seeking to mold society, committed to social change, and productive of dissension), see Alan Knight, “State Power and Political Stability in Mexico,” in Mexico: Dilemmas of Transition, ed. Neil Harvey (London; Institute of Latin American Studies, 1993), 42-44.


Pérez H. equipped himself with an unusual business card that read: “First Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. Deputy to the Federal Congress. Member of the PNR. Personal Enemy of God.” See Carlos Martínez Assad, El laboratorio de la revolución. El Tabasco garridista (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, 1979), 85, 198.


By “traditional” I refer to the view, initially espoused by the revolutionary regime and apparent in many of the major studies of the Revolution, that depicts the latter as a disinterested movement for social justice and reform. Against this may be set the more recent “revisionist” interpretation, which stresses the corrupt, power-hungry, careerist aspects of the Revolution.


See Mary Kay Vaughan, The State, Education, and Social Class in Mexico, 1880-1928 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 1982).


Radio was considered especially important not only because listeners did not need to be literate but also because it was accessible to rural women. See, for example, the programs and services listed in Secretaría de Educación Pública, “Extensión educativa por radio,” Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, Mexico City (henceforth SEP), caja 1086, expediente 12 (Morelos). (All SEP reports cited are from rural schoolteachers or federal school inspectors to the SEP, unless otherwise stated. Caja and expediente will be cited thus: 1086/12).


Ibid., including didactic programs on “el nuevo papel de la mujer campesina”; Mariano Isunza, Tantoyucan, Veracruz, Feb. 8, 1933, SEP 1071/2, stressing that “la educación de la mujer es sumamente importante”; Serafín Sánchez, Veracruz, June 30, 1934, SEP 1071/6, reporting his exhortations to peasant parents “que mandan a sus hijas grandes a clase, demostrándoles las ventajes de la mujer ilustrada sobre la ignorante.”


Slogan of El Niño Mexicano, Apr. 15, 1935, in Froylán E. Cuenca, Galeana, Morelos, SEP 202/5. See also José C. López, Papantla, May 11, 1935, SEP 208/16.


Eve Toledo Arteaga, social worker, Nueva Italia, Michoacán, Nov. 20, 1939, to SEP, Michoacán, Escuela Rural Federal, 1938 (IV/161[IV-14]), 3633.


According to the radical, anticlerical governor of Veracruz, Adalberto Tejeda, in Myers to State Department (henceforth SD), Veracruz, July 1 and Sept. 30, 1931, 812.00/Veracruz/22, 27.


If not the Hapsburgs. See Juan Pedro Viqueiro Albán, ¿Relajados о reprimidos? Diversiones públicas y vida social en la ciudad de México durante el Siglo de las Luces (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1987).


Jean Meyer, La Cristiada, 3 vols. (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, [1980] 1985), 2:11 ff.


Knight, Mexican Revolution, 2:500-511.


The “bipartisan” character of this “developmental” project—that is, its espousal by elite groups that, while bitterly hostile to each other, tacitly agreed on the failings of the poor—is not peculiar to Mexico. In analyzing the Puritan project for the reformation of popular culture, David Underdown similarly notes, “the concern for order was not unique to Puritans, but was a product of the widening gulf between the substantial people ‘of credit and reputation’ and the disorderly poor.” Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603—1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 48. This argument will be developed later.


Charles A. Hale, The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1989), 220-22.


Manuel Gamio, Forjando Patria (Mexico City: Porrúa, 1916).


For the liberal discourse, see Justo Sierra, The Political Evolution of the Mexican People, trans. Charles Ramsdell (1902; new edition, Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1969), esp. 342-68; Francisco Bulnes, Porvenir de las naciones hispano americanas ante las conquistas recientes de Europa y los Estados Unidos (Mexico City: El Pensamiento Vivo de América, 1899); Hale, Transformation of Liberalism, chap. 7; and Knight, Mexican Revolution, 1:30-31, 56-57, 443-44. For the Catholic view, see Jorge Adame Goddard, El pensamiento politico y social de los católicos mexicanos, 1867-1914 (Mexico City: UNAM, 1981), chap. 8; see also note 111. For the Porfirian trends, see the pioneering study by William E. French, “Peaceful and Working People: The Inculcation of the Capitalist Work Ethic in a Mexican Mining District (Hidalgo District, Chihuahua, 1880—1920)” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Texas, 1990).


Moisés Sáenz, Carapán: bosquejo de una experiencia (Lima: Imprenta Gil, 1936), 14.


Meyer, La Cristiada, 2:49, 89; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 73; Knight, Mexican Revolution, 1:69-70. The first edition of the Partido Liberal Mexicano newspaper, Regeneración, carried a slogan not from Marx or Proudhon, but from Gambetta.


François-Xavier Guerra, Le Mexique: de l’ancien regime à la révolution, 2 vols. (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985).


Paul J. Vanderwood, “Explaining the Mexican Revolution,” in The Revolutionary Process in Mexico: Essays in Political and Social Change, ed. Jaime E. Rodríguez O. (Los Angeles: Latin American Center, UCLA, 1990), 98.


Cf. Ramón Ruiz, The Great Rebellion: Mexico, 1905-1924 (New York, W. W. Norton, 1980), 3-7.


Cf. Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), 27-31. In practice, the French revolutionary cultural project was quite eclectic and did involve some invocation of the past. See Mona Ozouf Festivals and the French Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988), 34, 117. The cultural rupture, however, was certainly much more pronounced in the French than the Mexican case, which calls into question Guerra’s close identification of the two revolutions. Whereas the French revolutionaries were conscious of building anew on the rubble of a “feudal” and monarchical ancien régime that had just fallen, their Mexican counterparts were no less conscious of working within an old liberal, popular, and revolutionary tradition, which, they believed, had achieved its first triumph with the overthrow of the colonial ancien régime a century earlier.


E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class ([New York: Vintage Books, 1966] Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), chap. 4; Christopher Hill, Puritanism and Revolution (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1958), 50-122.


Myers, Veracruz, July 1, 1931, SD 812.00/Veracruz/22.


Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge; Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985); Irene Vázquez Valle, La cultura popular vista por los elites (Mexico City: Popular Culture, 1989), 4-5.


Alan Knight, “Revolutionary Project, Recalcitrant People,” in Rodríguez, The Revolutionary Process, 256-58; Theodore Zeldin, France, 1848-1945: Anxiety and Hypocrisy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1981), 222-23.


For this reason, among others, it is difficult to measure change in the span of a sexenio (1934-40) or even a decade; in this essay, therefore, I discuss official policy and objectives with more confidence than I do popular responses and reactions.


The phrases are taken from Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 33-34. Note that the parallel with the Porfiriato again holds, mutatis mutandis. Díaz came to power in 1876 after 20 years of civil war, popular insurgency, and foreign invasion; this experience, roughly analogous to the Revolution of 1910–20, both encouraged and—by leaving a legacy of war-weariness—facilitated the subsequent rebuilding of central authority.


See, for example. Heather Fowler Salamini, “Tamaulipas; Land Reform and the State,” and Raymond Th. J. Buve, “Tlaxcala; Consolidating a Cacicazgo,” in Provinces of the Revolution: Essays on Regional Mexican History, 1910-1929, ed. Thomas Benjamin and Mark Wasserman (Albuqnerque; Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1990), 185-217, 237-69.


Knight, Mexican Revolution, 2:522.


For examples of sartorial populism, see Elsie Clews Parsons, Mitla: Town of the Souls (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1936), 179; Frans J. Schryer, The Rancheros of Pisaflores: The History of a Peasant Bourgeoisie in Twentieth-Century Mexico (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1980), 15. Note also Paul Friedrich, The Princes of Naranja: An Essay in Anthrohistorical Method (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1986), 188. Compare this to the French experience, where local elites sartorially distanced themselves from their plebeian neighbors: “Above all else the rustic bourgeois gentilhomme sought to look the part. . . Dress and toilet were crucial matters, for they emitted unmistakable signals to neighbors clad in grubby, homespun smocks and straw-filled clogs.” P. M. Jones, Politics and Rural Society: The Southern Massif Central, ca. 1750-1880 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 81.


Gilbert M. Joseph, Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880-1924 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982 [Paperback ed., Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1988]), 106.


For example, López, Papantla, Apr. 30, 1936, SEP 208/16.


Josephus Daniels, U.S. Ambassador, Mexico City, Nov. 5, 1934, SD 812.00/303. See also the French chargé’s graphic description of Calles’ exalted, even apocalyptic, state of mind, in Meyer, La Cristiada, 2:273.


Meyer, La Cristiada, 2:46-53, 212-31.


Ibid., 303.


Ibid., 148ff.


The “Callista government” refers to the administrations of the “Maximato” (1928-34), during which period Calles, having left the presidency, continued to exert major political influence, whether he occupied a cabinet position or not. In terms of policy and ideology, the Maximato is usually seen as an extension of Calles’ presidency.


Since comparisons with France are being introduced, it is worth clarifying that while the methods of state cultural engineering were often strikingly similar—for example, the stress on nationalism, integration, and republicanism; the reliance on the school, the schoolmaster, civic rituals and festivals, icons, songs, and textbooks—the content was not necessarily similar. The Mexican project, especially that of the 1930s, with its “socialist” emphasis, its recognition of class conflict, and its overt anticlericalism, was more radical than its French counterpart (which is hardly surprising, since it postdated 1917).


Quoted in Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 83.


James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1985).


Underdown raises similar questions for seventeenth-century England, advising that the wisest course. . . might well be to abandon the enterprise and consign questions about popular allegiance to the extensive category of the interesting but unanswerable” (although, fortunately, he does not follow his own advice). Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, ix. P. M. Jones notes that for postrevolutionary France, “studies of the process of prise de conscience in the countryside are few and far between.” Politics and Rural Society, 1. And what is true for France is all the more true for Mexico. We have good studies of elite ideology: Arnaldo Córdova, La ideología de la Revolución Mexicana (Mexico City: Ediciones ERA, 1973); Enrique Krauze, Caudillos culturales en la Revolución Mexicana (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, 1976); Víctor Díaz Arcienega, Querella por la cultura “revolucionaria” (1925) (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989). But the impact and reception of elite ideology among the people remain unclear and largely unstudied. Compare Cordova’s “Ideología dominante y cultura popular en el México de los años treinta,” in his Revolución y el estado en México (Mexico City: Ediciones ERA, 1989), much of which consists of a shopping list of novels and films.


Which “leaders” ? The Revolution embraced a variety of leaders, movements, and projects. Not all leaders subscribed to the kind of Puritan ethic I am discussing; recall Palafox’s criticism of Zapata for being over-fond of “good horses, fighting cocks, flashy women, card games, and intoxicating liquor.” John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1968), 342. A combination of political and military “natural selection,” however, tended to eliminate these more Rabelaisian revolutionaries; those who survived (for example, Cedillo) found themselves out of place in the increasingly civilian, bureaucratic, and educated political environment of state and national politics. See Dudley Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord: Saturnino Cedillo and the Mexican Revolution in San Luis Potosí (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 1984). In addition, ideological fashion—strongly influenced by global trends—favored Puritanism, Jacobinism, and more schematic forms of socialism. By the 1930s these were the official norms, even if they were not always sincerely believed or thoroughly implemented.


“The Saints were soon to discover that the corruption of the majority ensured that the translation to liberty could be achieved only by force.” Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 240. Robespierre likewise was fond of invoking the crowd; but when confronted by crowd insurgency, he reacted like an “ancien régime administrator.” Peter Jones, “Presentation,” in The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture, vol. 2, The Political Culture of the French Revolution, ed. Colin Lucas (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1988), 210.


López, Papantla, Feb. 29, 1936, SEP 208/16.


Donaciano Munguía, Cuernavaca, Aug. 20, 1935, SEP 202/6. For further references to the Morelenses’ backwardness and apathy, see Conrado R. García, Mazatepec, Morelos, Oct. 29, 1935, SEP 202/7; and Bernardo Leñero, Xochitlan, Morelos, Aug. 29, 1935, SEP 202/8. On the other hand, the informe general of Ramón García Ruiz, director of federal education, is much more sanguine. García Ruiz, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Oct. 30, 1933, SEP 1086/13.


Toledo Arteaga, Nueva Italia, Nov. 20, 1939. A similar picture of moral degradation—coupled with endemic violence—comes from the hot country of Guerrero. See Juan Rodríguez Fraustro, Acapulco, May 18, 1938, SEP 2053/15.


Esperanza Tuñón Pablos, “Vida cotidiana y cultura obrera en el cardenismo,” in Coloquio sobre cultura obrera, coord. Victoria Novelo (Mexico City: CIESAS, 1987), 93. As will become apparent, this essay focuses on rural society rather than urban, on peasants and peons rather than workers, in part because the thrust of policy was directed more toward the countryside (which still harbored a majority of the Mexican population); in part because the SEP archive is rich in rural documentation; and in part because some limitations of focus are unavoidable, given the scope of the topic. I suspect that official attitudes toward—and popular reactions from—urban plebeians would be broadly similar, although probably less dramatic and conflictual.


Benjamín Avilés, maestro rural federal, refers to “[las] prolongadas fiestas religiosas que no eran más que pretexto para escandalosas embriagueses y otros desmanes inmorales.” Avilés, Nahautzen, Michoacán, “Reseña histórica. . .,” Nov. 1933, SEP 1085/12. Many more examples could be given. Compare the English Puritans’ condemnation of “heathenish” and “popish revelings.” Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 47.


Daniels, Memorandum of conversation with Rodolfo Calles [ex-governor of Sonora, minister of communications, and son of Plutarco Calles] on the penitentes, Mexico City, Dec. 11, 1934, SD 812.42/318, On image-kissing, see Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 49; see also Ernest Gruening, Mexico and Its Heritage (London; Century Company, 1928), 257.


Federico A. Corzo, Colima, Jalisco, Apr. 23, 1935, SEP 199/2; Amador Silva, Cuadalajara, Sept. 27, 1934, SEP 1083/8.


Federico A. Corzo, Guadalajara, Apr. 6, 1935, SEP 199/2.


Sáenz, Carapán, 34; Sánchez, Veracruz, Nov, 20, 1935, SEP 208/15; Gonzalo Ramírez, Altotonga, Veracruz, Mar. 13, 1935. SEP 208/7. Of 217 rural primary schools in Tabasco (1934), 88 had organized “Red Star” brigades, which were juvenile versions of the Red Cross (but could not, of course, use that name). Rafael Bolio Yenro, May 21, 1934, SEP 1093/s.n.


This, of course, is a highly schematic description of the process of syncretization. Furthermore, we should guard against the tendency, evident in many studies (for example, Parsons, Mitla), to attempt a neat separation between “Indian” and “Spanish” elements, “pagan” and “Christian”—or, by extension, “liberal” and “revolutionary” or “traditional” and “modern,” (Cf. Guerra, Le Mexique, which places great faith in this latter dichotomy.) These supposed antinomies cohere in complex, dynamic, sometimes mutually congenial patterns; they are rarely amenable to dichotomous analysis; and to separate out the “Indian” from the “Spanish” or the “traditional” from the “modern” may be to engage in armchair abstractions. See the perceptive study by Judith Friedlander, Being Indian in Hueyapan (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), esp. chap. 4.


For a good example, see Guy P. C. Thomson, “Bulwarks of Patriotic Liberalism: The National Guard, Philharmonic Corps, and Patriotic Juntas in Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Studies 22:1 (Feb. 1990), 31-68; and Margarita Loera, Mi pueblo: su historia y sus tradiciones (Mexico City: Gobierno del Estado de México, 1987), 35-36.


Maurice Agulhon, The Republic in the Village: The People of the Var from the French Revolution to the Second Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982), 164. The French radicals of the nineteenth century appear to have been more successful than their seventeenth-century English counterparts, whose Puritan rituals—reliant on verbal communication and neglectful of, or downright hostile to, visual iconography—lacked popular appeal and stamina. Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 68, 70-71, 257.


Dawson, Veracruz, Aug. 1, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/23, citing bloodcurdling rhetoric coming out of Veracruz on the occasion of the commemoration of Obregón’s death. See also Judith Friedlander, “The Secularization of the Cargo System: An Example from Postrevolutionary Central Mexico,” Latin American Research Review 16:2 (1981), 132-43.


Corzo, Guadalajara, July 19, 1935, SEP 199/2; Manuel Malpica, Jalapa, July 5, 1935, SEP 208/8.


Dawson, Veracruz, Aug. 31, 1932, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/40; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 38, 198; Knight, “Revolutionary Project,” 246.


Daniels, Mexico City, June 28, 1935, SD 812.42/359.


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 46, 125. Tabasco was an extreme but not unique case; in Catholic Jalisco, efforts were made to promote fiestas of com, beans, and tomatoes. Samuel Pérez M., Ocotlán, Jalisco, Feb. 1, 1934. SEP 1083/1.


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 47-48. Ozouf offers French revolutionary examples of monkeys wearing mitres and donkeys sporting papal tiaras, apropos of which she wonders whether “Freud, who suggests that the displacement of the figure of the father toward the animal figure is one of the themes of infantile neurosis, [would] agree that the expression of the royal or papal image by the animal figure may be a theme of collective neurosis”—a triumph of whimsy over common sense unusual even by French historiographical standards. Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, 88, 213.


Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 9, 1935, SD 812.42/304; La Prensa (Mexico City), Nov. 27, 1934, cited in SD 812.42/312.


Williams, Veracruz, Apr. 2, 1935, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/72; Knight, “Revolutionary Project,” 246.


Dawson, Veracruz, Dec. 31, 1935, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/29.


Idem, May 29, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/19. Adrian Bantjes offers an excellent analysis of this and other aspects of politico-cultural conflict in Sonora in the 1930s in “Politics, Class, and Culture in Postrevolutionary Mexico: Cardenismo and Sonora, 1929-1940” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Texas, 1991), 98-105.


Dawson, Veracruz, Sept. 2, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/26.


Emiliano Pérez Rosa et al., “Proyecto de organización de las brigadas de acción socialista dependientes del sindicato ‘Trabajadores de la Enseñanza,’” Morelia, Micboacán, July 16, 1935. SEP 202/1.


Martínez Assad. El laboratorio, 47, 148. Such phenomena were not confined to Tabasco.


Corzo, Guadalajara, July 19, 1935, SEP 199/2.


José Ventura González, Morelia, Apr. 17, 1935, SEP 202/1. Compare the Free Thought Society of Le Mans, which similarly held a street celebration every Good Friday. Jean-Marie Mayeur and Madeleine Reberioux, The Third Republic: From Its Origins to the Great War, 1871-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), 109.


López, Papantla, Apr. 30, 1936, SEP 208/16; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 46-47, 148-49; Knight, Mexican Revolution, 2:501-3.


Ventura González, Morelia, Apr. 20, 1935, SEP 202/1.


“The rural environment in Michoacán, as elsewhere, has always had, as its only form of recreation, the Church, the cantina, and the brothel.” Pérez Rosa et al, “Proyecto de organización.”


López, Papantla, Nov. 12, 1935, SEP 208/16; Samuel Hernández, Cuitzeo, Michoacán. Sept. 3, 1935, SEP 202/3; Roberto Yáñez, Puente de Ixtla, Morelos, SEP 202/7.


William H. Beezley, Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Episodes of Porfirian Mexico (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1987).


Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 16, 1934, SD 812.42/306.


Gruening, Mexico and Its Heritage, facing p. 321; William Cameron Townsend, Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexican Democrat (Ann Arbor: G. Wahr, 1952), 226.


Gilbert M. Joseph, “Forging the Regional Pastime: Baseball and Class in Yucatán,” in Sport and Society in Latin America, ed. Joseph L, Arbena (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), 29-61; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 198; Program for Feria Escolar, Pueblo de Tierra Colorada, Macuspana, Tabasco, June 22-25, 1934, SEP 1093/s.n. Teachers’ and inspectors’ reports for the 1930s are full of references to “basquetbol” and “bolibol.” Baseball and football (soccer) figure much less.


Corzo, Guadalajara, July 25, 1935, SEP 199/2. (Corzo, a federal inspector, had recently moved from Baja to Jalisco).


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 162-63.


Alberto Terán Ortiz, Antonio Plaza, Veracruz, May 26, 1935, SEP 208/8.


López, Papantla, Aug. 24, 1936, SEP 208/16.


Andrés Méndez, Escuela Federal Miguel Medellín, Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala, report on Jan.-Aug. 1939, SEP, Tlaxcala, 1939 (IV/1 00[64]IV-12). Many questions in these lengthy questionnaires went unanswered. Some were answered ambiguously; for example, in reply to the question, Do the local authorities assist or obstruct your efforts? a good many teachers wrote simply yes or no. A pair of questions asked, To what race do the local people belong? and To what ethnic group? In several cases, teachers replied Indian to the first and mestizo to the second. As much as reflecting the teachers’ incapacity or confusion, such answers were probably a comment on the vaulting bureaucratic ambition that had inspired these elaborate questionnaires.


Pérez Rosa et al., “Proyecto de organización.”


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 43, 287-88. Cf. Zeldin, Anxiety and Hypocrisy, 266.


“Advocates of moral reformation were quite willing to borrow cultural forms whose use in other hands they were trying to eliminate.” Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 71. In the Mexican case the form was borrowed but not the substance; as good anticlericals, the Mexican revolutionaries did not try to enlist the church or Catholicism as overt props of the new regime (as their French counterparts sometimes did; see Ozouf Festivals and the French Revolution, 51, 94). In this sense, Phillip E. Hammond is right to argue that Mexico’s revolutionary discourse and ritual did not constitute a civil religion in the strict sense; they remained thoroughly secular, even antireligious, and claimed no transcendental validity. Robert E. Bellah and Phillip E. Hammond, Varieties of Civil Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980), 51-52.


At the same time, they sought to encourage the proper naming of children; particularly Indian children, since many Indians had no apellido and were known by a single given name (Juan, for example), so that a small community might contain half a dozen undifferentiated Juans, All of which made education—not to mention bureaucratic control or political mobilization—somewhat problematic. Mariano Ysunza, Jalapa, Dec. 22, 1933, SEP 1071/2.


Dawson, May 29, 1931, SD 812.00/Veracruz/19. Compare the “civic baptisms” conducted by cockaded godfathers in revolutionary France (Ozouf Festivals and the French Revolution, 268) and, a yet closer parallel, the socialist baptism “in the Holy Name of Oppressed Humanity” at the “Altar of the Universal Fraternity of United Workers,” enacted in Líbano (Tolima, Colombia) in 1929. James D. Henderson, When Colombia Bled: A History of the Violencia in Tolima (Tuscaloosa; Univ. of Alabama Press, 1985), 70.


Dawson, May 29, 1931, SD 812.00/Veracruz/19, citing El Dictamen (Veracruz). The truth of this story should be judged in light of the rumors, scare stories, and “versiones tendenciosas that both sex and socialist education provoked and that teachers worked hard to dispel. See, for example, Yáñez, Puente de Ixtla, Morelos, Nov. 24, 1934, SEP 1086/7. See also notes 107 and 155.


J. M. Ortiz Monasterio, memo, Feb. 12, 1932, in SD 812. 00/Tabasco/3; Dawson, Veracruz, Jan. 31, 1933, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/46.


López, Papantla, Aug. 24, 1936, SEP 208/16.


For example, see Serafín Sánchez on actual and future hygienic improvements in the seventh zone of Veracruz, including “la instalación del excusado, cuya importancia moral e higiénico es irrefutable.” Sánchez, Veracruz, June 30, 1934, SEP 1071/6. See also Mary Kay Vaughan, “The Implementation of National Policy in the Countryside: Socialist Education in Puebla in the Cárdenas Period” (Paper presented to the 7th Conference of Mexican and U.S. Historians, Oaxaca, Oct. 1985).


Ventura González, Morelia, Apr. 20, 1935, SEP 202/1. For examples of “revolutionary music, see George C. Booth, Mexico’s School-made Society (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1941), 123-41.


Salvador Hermoso Nájera, La Piedad, Michoacán, Apr. 20, 1935, SEP 202/4.


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 277-79, 287. Two examples of rousing radical lyrics set to old tunes are enclosed in Hermoso Nájera’s report. La Piedad, Apr. 20, 1935.


Circular no. 13, May 2, 1935, Morelia, SEP 202/1; Corzo, Guadalajara, July 25, 1935, SEP 199/2; Booth, Mexico’s School-made Society, facing p. 83.


Dawson, Veracruz, Sept. 2, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/26; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 71; Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 55.


Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 16, 1934, SD 812.42/307.


Alan Knight, “The Politics of the Expropriation,” in The Mexican Petroleum Industry in the Twentieth Century, ed. Jonathan C. Brown and Alan Knight (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1992), 105-13.


Daniels, Mexico City, Sept. 1, 1938, SD 812.42/338; see also Engracia Loyo, “Lectura para el pueblo, 1921-1940,” Historia Mexicana 33:3 (Jan.-Mar. 1984), 338.


Marjorie R. Becker, “Lázaro Cárdenas, Cultural Cartographers, and the Limits of Everyday Resistance in Michoacán, 1934-1940” (Paper presented at the 46th International Congress of Americanists, Amsterdam, July 1988). Becker’s more recent work, notably her interesting Setting the Virgin on Fire: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán Campesinos, and the Redemption of the Mexican Revolution (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, forthcoming), while still critical of Cardenista dogmatism, is more even-handed. For a succinct list of critics, many of whom are foremost “revisionists” (cf. note 7), see Salvador Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa entre la ideología y la fe: la educación socialista en la historia de Aguascalientes (Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1991), 17, n. 3.


A good deal of recent “revisionism” (see notes 7, 106) echoes contemporary Catholic-conservative rhetoric just as much as “traditional” historians echo the official “revolutionary” view; the notion that revisionism represents some kind of bold historiographical breakthrough is, therefore, exaggerated and, at times, quite misleading. For an example of Catholic-conservative diatribes, see the pamphlet “La educación sexual, complemento de la Escuela Racionalista,” put out by El Grupo “Alerta” to parents. Sept. 1934, along with related propaganda from Jalisco, in SEP 1083/1, These texts stress the perils of bolshevism, denounce estadolatría, threaten excommunication, allege that the public schools will produce “a generation of atheists, deicides, slaves, and prostitutes,” and offer a socialist version of the Ten Commandments in which, for example, the original fifth commandment, “no matarás,” becomes “mata sin escrúpulo,” and the sixth, “no fornicarás,” urges “adultera a tu placer.”


Graham Greene, The Lawless Roads (1939, 1950; reprint, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), 21. Greene’s sour portrait of Mexico and dyspeptic critique of revolutionary policy should be read in light of that general rejection of mass society and materialism on the one hand and corresponding exaltation of individual, intellectual, elitist values on the other that affected Britain’s early twentieth-century intelligentsia and that have been highlighted by John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (London: Faber and Faber, 1992).


It is worth recalling that El Correo de Chihuahua, one of the main reformist critics of the Porfirian old regime, which has been productively mined by several historians, was a Catholic paper, as was the leading national newspaper, El País. Popular vices figured prominently in the pages of both; see, for example, French, Peaceful and Working People, chap. 4. Note also Refugio Galindo, “Informe presentado al Segundo Congreso Agrícola de Tulancingo,” in La servidumbre agraria en México en la época porfiriana, by Friedrich Katz (Mexico City: Ediciones ERA, 1980), 83-103.


For example, Viqueiro Albán, ¿Relajados о reprimidos?, chap. 3. Again, there are plenty of Old World parallels; for example, Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1976), 363-70.


Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 171-75.


El Sembrado. Hoja catequística 4:8, s.f, cited by Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 69-71; see also note 107.


For similar French clerical alarmism, see Mona Ozouf, L’Ecole, l’église, et la République, 1871-1914 (Paris: A. Colin, 1963), 79.


Meyer, La Cristiada; Womack, Zapata.


Ann L. Craig, The First Agraristas: An Oral History of a Mexican Agrarian Reform Movement (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1983), 70–71; Paul Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1977), 48, 120; Luis González, Pueblo en vilo: microhistoria de San José de Gracia (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, [1972] 1984), 173-74; Gruening, Mexico and Its Heritage, 216-17.


Germán List Arzubide, quoted in Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 69.


Augusto Hernández, quoted in ibid., 46.


Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 9, 1934, SD 812.42/304; Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 102.


Corzo, Colima, Apr. 23, 1935, SEP 199/2; Pérez M., Ocotlán, Mar. 20, 1934, SEP 1083/1. “Clericals” were also to be found in the educational bureaucracy.


Samuel Hernández, Cuitzeo, Michoacán, Sept. 3, 1935, SEP 202/3.


Enrique Krauze, Reformar desde el origen: Plutarco Elías Calles (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1987). Parallels with Eva Perón and Augusto César Sandino spring to mind.


Cárdenas’ (liberal) father ran a pool hall (a “much-frequented place for men to while away their time”) in Jiquilpan; Carrillo Puerto’s father “supported his large family with a small neighborhood grocery store attached to a bustling billiard parlor” in Motul, Yucatán; at Naranja, a prominent “prince,” agrarian activist, ex-teacher, and local político, Camilo, managed the town pool hall. Townsend, Lázaro Cárdenas, il; Joseph, Revolution from Without, 188; Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 36. I mention this partly to illustrate that liberals and revolutionaries, like Catholics and conservatives, had their own forms of (“traditional”) sociabilité and were not necessarily practitioners of some new, cerebral, “modern” form of association. Cf. Guerra, Le Mexique. The acronyms refer to Asociación Católica de la Juventud Mexicana, Partido Católico Nacional, and Liga Nacional Defensora de la Religión.


Richard Cobb, “The Revolutionary Mentality in France,” in A Second Identity: Essays on France and French History (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1969), 128-29. Cf. Raymond Carr’s view: “Anarchism in Andalusia remained less an organization than a state of mind.” Carr, Spain, 1808-1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 443. For further parallels with Spanish anarchism, see note 130.


For example, Schryer, Rancheros of Pisaflores, 70, 77. The sociology of Mexican anticlericalism remains to be written. Meyer, La Cristiada, 2:193-206, offers some useful ideas, but his heart is elsewhere. As for radicalism, in the course of this paper— and elsewhere—I have wittingly used various labels (anticlericalism, Jacobinism, radicalism, developmentalism), each of which captures certain key aspects of the revolutionary project. Obviously, not all revolutionaries subscribed in equal measure to all these postulates; however, it can be argued that each postulate was integral to the project as a whole, and that collectively they displayed a functional compatibility (or “elective affinity”), not least in the minds, discourse, and policies of the revolutionaries themselves. Note the parallel with “Puritanism”; see Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 41.


As this brief sketch suggests, a strong anarchist strain runs through revolutionary cultural politics, albeit wedded anomalously to an ambitious state-building project. Apart from the general commitment to education, enlightenment, science, anticlericalism, and clean living (see note 130), it displays more specific elements, such as schools named after Ferrer, citations of Kropotkin, or theatrical performances of plays by Ricardo Flores Magón. See Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 204, 238; and Concha Michel, “Pastorela о coloquio,” Mexican Folkways 6:1 (1932), 30. Thus, despite its obvious supercession by statist forms of socialism, and by virtue of its pioneer mobilization, anarchism remained a significant influence on the Mexican Left at least a generation after the Revolution. See Barry Carr, “Marxism and Anarchism in the Formation of the Mexican Communist Party, 1910—1919,” HAHR 63:2 (May 1983), 277-305.


For the patriot-nationalist distinction, see Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relations, 1910—1940: An Interpretation (La Jolla: Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, Univ. of California, San Diego, 1987), 31-89.


See, for example, the statement of rigorous scientific purpose in Sáenz, Carapán, 14, 36-38; and notes 132-35 in this article.


Francisco Múgica, a leading radical and anticlerical, could not look at a pretty woman (which he did often enough) without reflecting that she was “the product of gradual evolution that guides nature toward beauty.” Múgica, diary, July 31, 1926, p. 11, in Múgica Archive, Centro de Estudios de la Revolución Mexicana “Lázaro Cárdenas,” Jiquilpan, Michoacán. Eugenics also figured in radical thought (such as Tejeda’s). See Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 142-43; Nancy Leys Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991), 55-57, 129-33.


Narciso Bassols, the radical education minister, exalted Mexico’s “valores raciales,” which he sought to promote. Bassols to María Elvia Gamas, Liga de Maestros Ateos, Feb. 9, 1934, SEP 1093. This equation of nationality and race was standard. See Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo: Mexico, 1910-1940,” in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 187o—1940, ed. Richard Graham (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1990), 71–113.


In France, Zeldin notes, “the anticlericals’ leaders were almost as Puritan as the Jansenists.” Anxiety and Hypocrisy, 266-67. The parallel with Spanish anarchism can be pressed further, for there are similarities in respect of “Puritanism,” faith in science and education, hopes of creating a “new human nature,” ideological links to liberalism, and proselytizing by means of “traditional” (including quasi-religious) methods, such as ritual and biblical language. Temma Kaplan, Orígenes sociales del anarquismo en Andalucía (Barcelona: Gribaljo, 1977), 107-8, 232, 236.


Pérez Rosa et al., “Proyecto de organización.”


Victoria Lerner, Historia de la Revolución Mexicana: período 1934-40, la educación socialista (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1979), 82; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 42; Daniels, Mexico City, June 28, 1938, SD 812,42/359.


“The aerostats of a scientific century” also figured in French revolutionary ritual. See Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, 53, 13г.


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 291. Garrido also reportedly built 62 airstrips in his state—not one of Mexico’s biggest. Bowman, Frontera, Mar. 16, 1934, SD 812.00/Tabasco/4.


Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 5, 1934, SD 812.42/303. For similar textbook didactics—showing that hard work beats praying—see Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 212.


See, for example, Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 100, 104, 120, 130; David Raby, Educación у revolución social en México (1921-1940) (Mexico City: SepSetentas, 1974), 191; Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 137-38, 156-60; John Gledhill, Casi Nada: A Study of Agrarian Reform in the Homeland of Cardenismo (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), 80-81.


Hermoso Nájera, La Piedad, Michoacán, May 14, 1935, SEP 202/4.


Corzo, Colima, Apr. 23, 1935, SEP 199/2; Yáñez, Puente de Ixtla, Nov. 2, 1935, SEP 202/7; Pérez M., Ocotlán, Mar. 20, 1934, SEP 1083/1; Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 165–66.


On Cedillo, see Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 142, 152-53; on Yocupicio, see Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture”; on Avila Camacho, see Vaughan, “Implementation of National Policy.”


Marjorie Becker stresses the arrogance and dogmatism of Cardenismo. See “Lázaro Cárdenas, Cultural Cartographers,” and “Black and White and Color: Cardenismo and the Search for a Campesino Ideology,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 29:3 (July 1987), 453-65. Ben Eklof depicts a similarly diffident and vulnerable teaching profession in rural czarist Russia. Russian Peasant Schools: Officialdom, Village Culture, and Popular Pedagogy, 1861—1914 (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), 244.


For example, Ramón García Ruiz, SEP circular, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Nov. 1, 1933, SEP 1086/7.


On the problems (educational and otherwise) of the Puebla Sierra, see Narciso Bassols, Obras (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1964), 167-69; and Vaughan, “Implementation of National Policy.”


Pérez Rosa et al., “Proyecto de organización”; Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 182-87.


Eaton, Durango, May 21, 1936, Mar. 31 and Apr. 30, 1937, SD 812.00/Durango/200, 234, 237.


I borrow the term from Ozouf, who characterizes French revolutionary cultural engineering as either “miraculous” (that is, dogmatic, utopian, committed to sudden and sweeping change) or “laborious” (pragmatic, flexible, aware that “the ‘prison of history’ did exist and could not be simply willed away,” hence ready for the long haul). The first set of attitudes is heavily stressed in recent historical analyses of both French and Mexican revolutionary cultural engineering, where it fits very comfortably with “revisionist” critiques of revolutionary extremism, arrogance, authoritarianism, and attachment to abstract principle; that is, within the old Burkean tradition. The second—“laborious”—interpretation is historiographically less evident and, of course, less spectacular; however, it fits the (Mexican) facts rather better. See Jones, “Presentation”; and Ozouf, “La Révolution française et l’idée de l’homme nouveau,” 207-32.


The phrase derives from Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class, 205. “Failure” is, of course, very hard to measure. Although the SEP archive is voluminous—and offers the potential for statistical analysis of cultural change over time—the research has scarcely begun; furthermore, cultural change can be very resistant to positivistic calibration. A good example of how both “hard” and “soft” data may be effectively combined is Mary Kay Vaughan, “Rural Women’s Literacy and Education in the Mexican Revolution: Subverting a Patriarchal Event?” (Paper presented at the conference “Crossing Borders, Creating Spaces: Mexican and Chicana Women, 1848—1992,” University of Illinois, Chicago, Apr. 9–11, 1992). As I suggest in conclusion, the “failure” of the revolutionary project was partial, not total; and it must be seen in light of the ambitious goals that the revolutionaries had set themselves. By way of comparison, see the arguments of Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, 91, 217, 261; and Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 49, 55, 58, 68, 88, 257, 280, 286, who—Ozouf especially—point out the obstacles to and failures of revolutionary cultural reformation.


Raby, Educación y revolución social, 181-97; Froylán E. Cuenca, Galeana, Morelos, Dec. 25, 1935, SEP 202/5; Daniels, Mexico City, July 26, 1938, SD 812.42/454. Again, we may note that priests also sometimes carried guns. Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 107.


Williams, Veracruz, Apr. 30, 1936, SD 812.oo/Veracruz/87; Booth, Mexicos School-made Society, 36-37.


Dawson, Veracruz, June 22, 1931, Aug, 1, 1931, Nov. 4, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/22, 23, 28.


The names of those arrested at Orizaba were not released, “as the women are believed to belong to prominent Catholic families of Orizaba.” Dawson, Veracruz, Nov. 4, 1931, SD 812.oo/Veracruz/28. For an overview of church mobilization of women (and the state’s response), see Shirlene Soto, Emergence of the Modern Mexican Woman: Her Participation in Revolution and Struggle for Equality, 1910-1940 (Denver: Arden Press, 1990), 113-18, 123-33.


For example, Sáenz, Carapán, 48-52; Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 150, 155-58.


For example, Sánchez, Veracruz, Mar. 10, 1935, SEP 208/15. Sáenz talks of peasant “passive resistance” in terms strongly reminiscent of James C. Scott. Sáenz, Carapán, 47. 51.


Corzo, Colima, Apr. 23, 1935, SEP 199/2; López, Papantla, Aug. 24, 1936, SEP 208/16.


A Tabascan image that found refuge in Puerto México—a place not noted for its religiosity—received two thousand pesos in six weeks. Dawson, Veracruz, May 29, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/29.


Daniels, memo of conversation with Education Minister Ignacio García Téllez, Mexico City, Dec. 12, 1934, SD 812.42/322, in which the latter downplayed the need for sex education for peasant children, “inasmuch as from their lifelong association with animals they learned this side of life unconsciously.” Ambassador Daniels, seeking further reassurance, asked “if it were true that children were exhibited in the nude as a means of demonstrating the differences between the sexes?” to which the minister replied that “if this were the case he was not aware of it.” Rumors circulating in Aguascalientes suggested that prostitutes were being recruited as public school teachers, and that children sent to the socialist school would be shipped to the Soviet Union, where they would be made into soap, Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 139, 151.


Friedrich, Princes оf Naranja, 6.


J. Melquiades Vergara paints a rather bleak picture of local schooling, stressing poor attendance, lack of labor social (that is, cultural reform), and popular apathy; but he makes no mention of clerical influence or culpability. Melquiades Vergara, Orizaba, July 16, 1934, SEP 1071/8.


Munguía, Cuernavaca, Aug. 6, 1935, SEP 202/6; Sánchez, Veracruz, Mar. 10 and Nov. 20, 1935, SEP 208/15. In this case the school inspector was skeptical about the alleged “lack of clothes and extreme poverty,” which he believed were excuses for absenteeism (more “weapons of the weak”?). Whatever their validity, these reasons were still being invoked 20 years later—after socialist education had been dropped. Similar causes of popular indifference and pupil absenteeism have been cited in the cases of republican France and czarist Russia. Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, 319-22; Eklof, Russian Peasant Schools, 326-27.


Cf. Zeldin, Anxiety and Hypocrisy, 229.


The government planned to devote 15 percent of total expenditures to education in 1935, raising the level to 20 percent in 1940. In actuality, spending hovered between 11.7 percent and 13.6 percent. The number of schools, both public and “incorporated” (that is, approved, private) increased 40 percent; the number of primary pupils perhaps 30 percent. For these and other statistics, see Lerner, La educación socialista, 118–31.


Sánchez, Veracruz, Sept. 30, 1935, SEP 208/15; Munguía, Cuernavaca, July 25, 1935, SEP 202/6.


For an example of teaching en campo raso, see Leonides Ayala, Cuamancingo, Tlaxcala, Mar. 16, 1937, SEP, Tlaxcala, 1937-38 (IV/161[IV-14]), 21303. For the Rousseauesque ideal, see Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 63. Possibly the roof of heaven was preferable to the “techos de carton asbesto [sic]” that were used at Zempoala, Veracruz. Sánchez, Veracruz, June 30, 1934, SEP 1071/6.


Carlson, Veracruz, Oct. 1, 1935, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/78 (pay); Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 196, 222 (roles); Erasto Valle, Guadalajara, Aug. 18, 1933, SEP 1083/2 (“despotic” inspectors).


On teacher turnover at Moreno Sur, see Sánchez, Veracruz, Mar. 10, 1935, SEP 208/15.


Ignacio Ramírez, Cuernavaca, May 11, 1934, SEP 1086/13.


See Mary Kay Vaughan, “Women Schoolteachers in the Mexican Revolution; The Story of Reyna’s Braids,” Journal of Womens History 2:1 (1990), 143-68. José C. López cites the case of Paulina Becerra, victim of an attack by unknown persons believed to be vecinos (locals). She begged to be transferred, and was; and her school was placed under armed guard. López, Papantla, Sept. 5, 1935, SEP 208/16.


Of course, the school still “engineered”; in particular, it engineered nationalism and respect for the PRI and the state. This, however, was a less radical, less ambitious, and less contentious project than that of the 1930s, not least because it did not go against the economic grain and did not advocate class mobilization. It is for this reason (among others) that it is possible to distinguish between the “Bourbon” regimes of the 1920-40 period and the “Hapsburg” regime of post-1940. Knight, “State Power.” Vaughan shows how female literacy increased more rapidly after the late 1930s—after, that is, the more violent and radical phase of the institutional revolution had passed and a new era of market involvement, prosperity— and inequality—had dawned. Vaughan, “Rural Women’s Literacy.” For aggregate statistics on literacy (which are necessarily ballpark figures), see James W. Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change Since 1910 (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1970), 207-14, which suggests that the illiterate proportion of the population declined by some 13 percent in the 1930s, 27 percent in the 1940s, and 11 percent in the 1950s.


Ayala, Cuamancingo, Mar. 16, 1937, SEP, Tlaxcala, 1937-38 (IV/161[IV-14]), 21303; J Socorro Vázquez, Ario de Rosales, Michoacán, July 31, 1942, SEP, Michoacán, Escuela Rural Federal, 1938 (IV/161[IV-14]), 3620; Petition of Eugenio Pérez and 20 others to President Cárdenas, El Agostedero, Atengo, Jalisco, Dec. 28, 1937, SEP, Jalisco, Escuela Rural Federal, 1938–39 (IV/161[IV-14]), 11228; and, for a case study of a successful school, Eyler N. Simpson, The Ejido: Mexico’s Way Out (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1937). 311-15. In light of this evidence, it is an exaggeration to call this a “desolate and fruitless” period in terms of rural educational effort. John Britton, Educación y radicalismo en México, 2 vols. (Mexico City: SEP, Dirección General de Divulgación, 1976), vol. 2, Los años de Cárdenas (1934-1940), 61.


Thus the illustrative maps depicting electoral participation or patriotic sentiments in Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, 106-7, 272-73; Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class, 131; or Theodore Zeldin, France, 1848-1945: Politics and Anger (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1979), 3-11, would be impossible to replicate for Mexico with any degree of confidence.


Cf. Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, 309-10, on the problems of defining and measuring literacy; and Eklof, Russian Peasant Schools, 3-9, on the significance of schooling and literacy; again, questions that have been little discussed in the historiography of Mexican education and social change.


Alan Knight, “Land and Society in Revolutionary Mexico: The Destruction of the Great Haciendas,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 7:1 (Winter 1991), 73–104.


For example, Craig, First Agraristas, 61-52, 97; Heather Fowler Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism in Veracruz, 1920-1938 (Lincoln: Univ, of Nebraska Press, 1978), 26-33.


García, Mazatepec, Oct. 30, 1935, SEP 202/7 (ejidal solicitation); Yáñez, Puente de Ixtla, May 21, 1935, SEP 202/7 (two sindicatos organized); Leñero, Xochitlan, Aug. 29, 1935, SEP 202/8 (a flour mill cooperative); Diego Huizar Martínez, Tecolotlan, Jalisco, Aug. 7 and Oct. 5, 1935, SEP 199/3 (Ley de Tierras Ociosas and minimum wage); Erasto Valle, Guadalajara, Aug. 18, 1933, SEP 1083/2 (school inspectors “helped the agraristas in every way possible to get lands or to solve their problems”).


On opposition to agrarista mobilization, see García, Mazatepec, Oct. 30, 1935, SEP 202/7; on the opposition of local com merchants. Leñero, Xochitlan, Aug. 29, 1935, SEP 202/8. In the 1950s there were still “elements of the bourgeoisie [who] again opposed the Ejidal School [of Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala], saying that the Federal Ejidal School belonged to the thieving agrarista rabble [era de los pelados y ladrones agraristas].” Isaias García, Ejidal Committee President, Calpulalpan, Oct. 6, 1952, SEP, Escuela Federal Tlaxcala (IV[100/64]IV-12).


Fidencio Campos, Comisario Ejidal, n.d., rec’d. June 1939, SEP, Jalisco, Escuela Rural Federal, 1938-39 (IV/161[IV-14]), 11218. A 1933 review of schools in Morelos refers to the “overt sympathy of the peasants who see in them a bastion of redemption and progress.” García Ruiz, Cuernavaca, Oct. 30, 1933, SEP 1086/13. While in light of other, more pessimistic reports from the same state (see note 50) we may regard this with suspicion, some harder evidence from 1934 shows that of 143 ejidal communities possessing schools in Morelos, 13 percent had entirely paid for and built the schools themselves, and 36 percent had partially done so. Ignacio Ramírez, Cuernavaca, May 11, 1934.


Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, 62-63, 74-75, 91-92; see also Gledhill, Casi Nada, 80–81, 92. Prerevolutionary popular anticlericalism has been little studied. The revolutionary period saw recurrent examples of ostensible Catholics (that is, men wearing Virgin of Guadalupe insignia) maltreating priests; a few priests were killed. Villa, the preeminent popular revolutionary of the north, had no love for the clergy. These phenomena had deep roots. For years, carnival had afforded an opportunity to lampoon priests—“popes, bishops, cardinals, and friars.” Parsons, Mitla, 264; see also Roberto Montenegro, “El carnaval en Zaachila, Oaxaca,” Mexican Folkways 5:1 (1929), 28-29. In some parts of the country, such as the northwest, the church’s institutional presence was feeble; in the south its presence was felt, but—partly because of steep fees for marriage, baptism, and other rites—it was not uniformly venerated. Popular religiosity of a somewhat heterodox kind could thus consort with popular indifference or even antipathy to the clergy (the Lollard syndrome; see note 184). The Mexicans, as a priest once put it, were “very good Catholics but very bad Christians.” H. G. Ward, Mexico in 1827, 2 vols. (1828; reprint, London: H. Colburn, 1929), 1:222.


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 25.


For example, Sánchez, Veracruz, Dec. 27, 1935, SEP 208/15.


“Fortunately, in the majority of [agrarian] Communities we receive a great deal of help from the Agrarian Committees, since it is these that attend to the most urgent expenditures.” Sánchez, Veracruz, Nov. 20, 1935, SEP 208/15. “There are places that are divided into ejidatarios and non-ejidatarios, the former being the only ones who share revolutionary ideals; hence they are always very concerned for their schools and keen that they should function normally.” Erasto Valle, Guadalajara, May 8, 1934, SEP 1083/8. On the armed agraristas’ defense of schoolteachers, see Eaton, Durango, May 29, 1936, SD 812.oo/Durango/202; and also Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 157, 224.


Donaciano Munguía, La Junta, Chihuahua, n.d., report on Sept.-Oct. 1934, SEP 202/5; see also “El ejido: comedia en un acto,” by maestro rural José Montero, in Montero, Donaciano Ojeda, Michoacán, Mar. 14, 1934, SEP 1085/6.


Munguía, La Junta, report on Sept.-Oct. 1934, describing how at La Ciénaga de Ojos Azules, Chihuahua, three maestras “have been the soul of the ejido where they work, they are the hub (eje) and center of the life of the peasants, who love and venerate them (las quieren con veneración); their little school is the justifiable pride of all the region.” Such encomia carry more weight, I think, because they are interspersed with bleak reports of apathy and failure.


Agulhon, Republic in the Village.


Alan Knight, “El liberalismo mexicano desde la Reforma hasta la Revolución (una interpretación),” Historia Mexicana 35:1 (July-Sept. 1985), 59-91.


M. E. Aston, “Lollardy and Sedition, 1381-1431,” Past and Present 17 (1960), 1-44, esp. 7-16.


Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 43; Loyo, “Lectura para el pueblo,” 329; Gruening, Mexico and Its Heritage, facing p. 265; Knight, “Revolutionary Project,” 249; Dawson, Veracruz, May 29, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/19.


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 20, and Agrarian Revolt, 93, 121; Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 246.


Dawson, Veracruz, Aug, 1, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/23; Martínez Assad, El laboratorio, 278-79. See also llene V. O’Malley, The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940 (Westport; Greenwood Press, 1986), 27-28, 46, 82.


Bellah and Hammond, Varieties of Civil Religion, 45-64; cf. O’Malley, Myth of the Revolution, 130–32, although O’Malley goes too far in homogenizing revolutionary ideology, equating it with (a homogenized) Catholicism and thereby denying its emancipatory power while exaggerating its genuinely transcendental qualities.


Albert Soboul, “Sentiments religieux et luttes populaires pendant la Révolution; saintes patriotes et martyrs de la liberté,” Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française 148 (1957). 200-203.


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 156.


Doña Socorro Meléndez, quoted by Vaughan, “Implementation of National Policy,” 17.


Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo,” 76-77.


Sánchez, Veracruz, June 30, 1934, SEP 1071/6; Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 142, and Agrarian Revolt, 127.


Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures, 148–49.


The same would be true of economic nationalism, which, initially lacking a popular base, was diffused by revolutionary rhetoric and reinforced by historical events (notably the long tussle between the state, the petroleum workers, and the Anglo-American oil companies), thus making possible the nationalist ralliement of March 1938. Knight, “U.S.-Mexican Relations,” 84-86, and “Politics of the Expropriation.”


Although elections are not meaningless as exercises in political mobilization, they are poor indicators of political opinion. Membership of the official party, the PNR, is an equally indifferent guide: the PNR claimed 5.7 percent of the country’s population as members in 1934; the Federal District, at 7.7 percent, had the highest membership relative to population, as might be expected; and San Luis, at 3.4 percent, had the lowest (a reflection, perhaps, of the strength of the Cedillo machine). Yet Catholic Jalisco stood at a high 7.2 percent, radical Tabasco at a low 4.7 percent. See Norweb, Mexico City, June 12, 1934, SD 812.00/30058. An alternative “European’’ approach—which has the advantage of avoiding electoral data—is offered by Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, esp. chap. 4, which relates patterns of popular culture and politics to economic and ecological determinants (for example, wood pasture as against arable farming). Although the Mexican empirical data are inferior, this approach is potentially fruitful; and some of my tentative arguments are cast in this explanatory mold.


Joseph, Revolution from Without, chaps. 7-9; Timothy J. Henderson, “Unraveling Revolution: Yucatán, 1924—1930” (Master’s thesis, Univ. of Texas, 1988).


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 145-55; Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism; Romana Falcón and Soledad García, La semilla en el surco: Adalberto Tejeda y el radicalismo en Veracruz, 1883-1960 (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1986).


Corzo, Guadalajara, July 19, 1935, SEP 199/2; Sánchez, Veracruz, Aug. 1, 1935, SEP 208/15; González, Pueblo en vilo, 91, 96, 100, 123; and Parsons, Mitla, 17-18, on the impact of successive curas.


Corzo, Guadalajara, Mar. 6, 1935, SEP 199/2.


Meyer, La Cristiada, 1: map facing p. 13.


Meyer, La Cristiada, is the revisionist locus classicus, stressing the autonomous power of religion (for example, 3:259). John Tutino adheres to a more traditional (materialist) explanation, emphasizing rural class relations, in From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico: Social Bases of Agrarian Violence, 1750-1920 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986), 7, 343. Ramón Jrade suggests a broader set of sociopolitical interests underlying an ostensibly religious conflict. Jrade, “Religion, Politics, and the State: The Rural-Urban Alliance in Mexico’s Cristero Insurrection” (Paper presented at the 15th Latin American Studies Association Conference, Miami, Dec. 1989).


Federico A. Corzo, Report on Baja California Sur, July 25, 1935, SEP 199/2, is distinctly bullish. On the Laguna, see María Candelaria Valdés Silva, “La Comarca Lagunera: educación socialista y reparto agrario” (Master’s thesis. Instituto Politécnico Nacional, 1990). Mary Kay Vaughan shows that Puebla was a tougher nut to crack than Sonora, and even Sonora was a tough proposition. “El papel político del magisterio socialista de México, 1934-40: un estudio comparativo de los casos de Puebla y Sonora” (Unpublished paper, 1987). See also Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,’’ part 1. Other comparisons are based on my selective reading of the SEP archive.


Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class, chap. 4.


Charles Tilly, The Vendée (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1964), esp. chap. 4.


Meyer, La Cristiada, 2:45. Douglass Sullivan-González shows that between 1895 and 1910 the number of priests officiating in Mexico rose by 31 percent, while population rose only 20 percent. “The Struggle for Hegemony: An Analysis of the Mexican Catholic Church, 1877–1911” (Unpublished paper, Univ. of Texas, Austin). In 1910 the ratio of priests to population was highest in Aguascalientes, Campeche(!), Colima, Jalisco, and Michoacán (in descending order); and lowest in Chiapas, Baja California, Sinaloa, Guerrero, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Tabasco (in ascending order). With the exception of Campeche, this confirms “impressionistic” evidence of clerical influence.


González, Pueblo en vilo, 87.


This is an inference. A somewhat corroborative example comes from the puehlo of Nextlalpán, Mexico State, which supplied a large contingent of revolutionaries. There, a local man recounts, “the Cristero movement had no echo. . . our fathers tell us that the curas made out that they were persecuted in order to incite the people,” and, he immediately comments, “the great benefits that the Revolution brought Nextlalpán were, of course, the ejidos, produced by the division of the Hacienda Santa Inés.” Loera, Mi pueblo, 106.


Becker, Setting the Virgin on Fire.


“All work in this domain emphasizes that popular support for the refractory church frequently articulated an affirmation of community identity, of its norms and values against the intrusion of revolutionary authority and its demands.” Colin Lucas, “Presentation,” in The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture, vol. 3, The Transformation of Political Culture, 1789-1848, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989), 350.


At San Martín delas Flores, Tlaquepaque. Corzo, Guadalajara, Apr, 10, 1935, SEP 199/2.


Corzo, Colima, Apr. 23, 1935, SEP 199/2.


Vaughan, “Implementation of National Policy”; Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” chaps. 3, 8; Thomas Benjamin, A Rich Land, A Poor People: Politics and Society in Modern Chiapas (Albuquerque; Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1989), 79, 82-83, 108, 153-54; Dawson, Veracruz, Sept. 30, 1931, SD 812. 00/Veracruz/27. Cf also Quito and Guayaquil, Bogotá and Barranquilla.


See, for example. Parsons, Mitla, 14, 237, 515.


Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 94-110.


For receptive examples, see Melquiades Vergara on the success of schools in the Indian zone of Atzompa; although, his report adds, “the local people. . . are entirely hostile to anything to do with cleanliness, they have a horror of water. . ., and are utterly dirty.” Orizaba, Sept. 8, 1934, SEP 1071/8.


Meyer, La Cristiada, 3:272-82.


Antonio García de León, Resistencia y utopía, 2 vols. (Mexico City: Ediciones ERA, 1985), 2:23, 24.


González, Pueblo en vilo, 44, 73, 109, 175. Samuel Pérez M., on the relative success of schools in the Mazamitla region, which the inspector attributed in part to his reactive policy, observed: “A school must not he offered; the communities must solicit one.” Ocotlán, Mar. 20, 1934, SEP 1083/1.


[Our] social work [labor social] should turn out very well here because it takes place in an already socialized context [medio socializado], since this is a working-class and unionized community.” Sánchez, Veracruz, Sept. 30, 1935, SEP 208/15, concerning the Ingenio de San Francisco, Lerdo municipio, Veracruz. For Catholic and smallholder resistance, see Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 29, 118, 147, 158, 163, 219; Tomás Rubalcaba, Guadalajara, Mar. 20, 1934, SEP 1083/1; Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 119-33.


Cf. Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 242, 265, 267, on the “splintering of parish unity” that accompanied the rise of Puritanism. Ozouf quotes a newspaper comment of 1890 concerning the local impact of church-state conflict: “The hamlets? They are like Pisa in the evil days of the Guelfs and Ghibellines, sliced into two factions that threaten each other with knife and dagger.” L’Ecole, l’église, et la République, 161. For a Mexican example, see Simpson, Ejido, 358-74; Gledhill, Casi Nada, 62–63; and Robert Redfield, Tepoztlan: A Mexican Village (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, [1930] 1946), 68, 209, 218-23.


Vaughan, “Implementation of National Policy.”


For example, Benjamin, A Rich Land, 191–92; Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord; Bantjes, “Politics, Class, and Culture,” part 3.


Such conflicts are neatly summarized in the phrase cited by Bantjes, “Es pleito entre los mismos, hombre, de quítate tu para ponerme yo.” “Politics, Class, and Culture,” 79. For graphic detail and cogent analysis of such “pleitos entre los mismos,” see Friedrich, Princes of Naranja. Ironically, while the spread of federal (especially socialist) education often tended to foster local divisions and factions, teachers and education officials repeatedly stressed that such divisions represented formidable barriers to educational advance, while community cohesion was a major asset. See, for example, Juan Rodriguez Fraustro, Acapulco, May 18, 1938, SEP 2053/15.


Paul Bois, Paysans de l’ouest (Paris: Flammarion, 1960).


On Sahuayo—“el foco de esa nefasta propaganda [clerical]”—see Amador Silva, Guadalajara, Sept, 27, 1934, SEP 1083/8.


Jeffrey W. Rubin, “Popular Mobilization and the Myth of State Corporatism,” in Popular Movements and Political Change in Mexico, ed. Joe Foweraker and Ann L, Craig (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1990), 247-67.


Ann L. Craig, “Legal Constraints and Mobilization Strategies in the Countryside,” in Foweraker and Craig, Popular Movements, 72.


P. M. Jones convincingly postulates “a meridional ‘culture’ embracing the entire southern Massif Central [of France] and specific local ‘cultures’ differentiated from the common cultural heritage by neighborhood allegiances.” Politics and Rural Society, 107. Underdown notes a “bewilderingly varied nature of local circumstances” making for a “parochial patchwork with dedicated Puritans in a few places, quiescent conformists in many other places.” Revel, Riot, and Rebellion, 81, 244.


Alan Knight. “Los intelectuales en la Revolución Mexicana,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 51:2 (Apr.-June 1989), 25-66.


Sánchez, Veracruz, Nov. 20, 1935, SEP 208/15. On categories of teachers, cf. Eklof, Russian Peasant Schools, 225, including those “who fit snugly into the village culture, but only by spurning the ways they had learned outside the village.”


Thereby conforming to “the widespread tendency for teachers in developing countries to flee the countryside for more lucrative employment elsewhere.” Ibid., 480. Cf. Sánchez, Veracruz, Mar. 10, 1935, SEP 208/15, on the “not very proficient” teacher of Puerta de Mata Anona who had not even achieved the sixth grade himself, but “who is much esteemed by all the locals”; and Carlos Mercado, Jalapa, Feb. 10, 1935, SEP 208/9, on those teachers who, hardly having got their Honorific Diploma in their hands, turn their backs on their people.” Blanquito is derived from Angel Alvarado to Rafael Ramírez, June 10, 1934, SEP 1083/3, which describes new young teachers who “stick indoors, so you would find them all pallid (blanquito), the sun doesn’t touch them, they’re afraid of getting ill. . .”


Compare the more recent complaint; “Unfortunately, the clergy put an end to this beautiful tradition [of dancing and singing Nahuatl songs on All Souls Day or the Fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe], since they thought these were pagan dances, because they involved ridiculing the Spaniards. Loera, Mi pueblo, 94. Many similar examples could be given. This is not to say that more “rational” or ascetic religious appeals were invariably unpopular: Protestantism (defined in 1930s Mitla as the creed of “people who do not know the saints,” Parsons, Mitla, 206) made some progress in (chiefly southern) Mexico, although less than in Guatemala. In revolutionary Chiapas, an apparently successful Catholic “rationalization,” imparted by keen reformist priests from Michoacán, finally stimulated a heterodox Indian revivalist cult. See García de León, Resistencia y utopía, 2:23-33.


See Adolfo Gilly, coord., Cartas a Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (Mexico City: Ediciones ERA, 1989).


The list (of items and sources) is impressively long, and bespeaks a degree of incremental material improvement that armchair critics of federal education—who seem more impressed by the closing of a shrine than the opening of a road—tend to neglect.


José C. López laments the failure of night classes “due to the indifference of the local people,” but reports that “basketball matches with other communities take place frequently.” López, Papantla, Sept. 5, 1936, SEP 208/16. In Mitla, basketball even became a political force: the team ran and elected a candidate to municipal office. Parsons, Mitla, 92, 166, 249-50. Sport also furthered political careers in Naranja. See Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 47, 193.


After the Bolivian Revolution and agrarian reform of 1952-53, Laurence Whitehead notes, “the newly enfranchised peasantry delivered a massive and apparently uncritical vote of support to the officially approved or incumbent candidate.” General Barrientos, who overthrew the “revolutionary” MNR regime in 1964, consequently “derived his electoral strength from a peasant base that the MNR had handed him on a plate.” Whitehead, “Bolivia After 1930,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, vol. 8, Latin America Since 1930. Spanish South America (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991), 549, 555. Since the 1930s, Mexican ejidatarios have formed the backbone of the PRI vote (at least before 1988); nineteenth-century France saw the emergence grosso modo of the so-called république paysanne. Zeldin, Politics and Anger, 17.


It should be stressed, however, that while the goals may have been similar (and therefore, talk of Porfirian-revolutionary continuity has a broad and superficial validity), the means differed (for example, Porfirio Díaz never attempted mass mobilization through party or sindicato). And the revolutionary state’s degree of success was very much greater: post-1940 Mexico became an integrated, thoroughly capitalist society, which it had not been under Díaz.


“La renuncia de Bassols,” El Amigo del Pueblo (Guadalajara), 2:28 (May 27, 1934), in SEP 1083/3. For the context, see Britton, Educación y radicalismo, vol. 1, Los años de Bassols (1931-1934), 100-108, 112.


A 1957 calendar for the federal school at Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala, reveals (as compared to calendars of 20 years earlier) a less congested schedule; the omission of several radical dates (for example, May Day); continued homage to nineteenth-century heroes (Juárez, the niños héroes); the interpolation of a couple of new celebrations (Pan-American Day and United Nations Day); and more stress on local or regional commemorations (Tlaxcalan statehood, “the 83rd anniversary of the annexation of the municipality of Calpulalpan to the state of Tlaxcala”). The only revolutionary event to be commemorated was the 1938 petroleum nationalization. See Leonor Nájera y Hernández, Nov. 30, 1957, SEP, Tlaxcala, 1937-38 (IV/161[IV–12]), 1031. For the ideological shift in Aguascalientes, see Camacho Sandoval, Controversia educativa, 249–54; from a national perspective, Britton, Educación y radicalismo, 2:112-19.


Parsons, Mitla, 164, 178. So, too, in early modern England, traditional ceremonies like Rogationtide “fell into desuetude less from any growth of rationalism than because of the social changes which broke up the community.” Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York: Scribner, 1970; reprint Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), 74.


Knight, “Revolutionary Project,” 257-58. Thomas relates religious and magical beliefs to “the hazards of an intensely insecure environment.” Religion and the Decline of Magic, 5.


Munguía, Cuernavaca, Aug. 20, 1935, SEP 202/6; also, for example, Friedrich, Princes of Naranja, 29, 58.


Jesús Brambila Ohva, Los Tuxtlas, Veracraz, May 6, 1934, SEP 1071/3 (neglect of official texts); García, Mazatepec, Oct. 26, 1935, SEP 202/7 (El Nacional).


Parsons, Mitla, 478.


Toledo Arteaga, Nueva Italia, Nov. 20, 1939.


Becker, “Lázaro Cárdenas, Cultural Cartographers,” and “Black and White and Color” are trenchant examples, which I choose simply because they are trenchant.


Anonymous, “An Explanation of the Essence and Basis of the Socialistic School in Force in the State of Sonora,” translated and enclosed in Daniels, Mexico City, Nov. 16, 1934, SD 812.42/307. On the school’s work of enlightenment, “in the face of the tremendous disorientation [wrought by] the contradictory and false news of the mercenary press,” see Guadalupe Zavaleta, “Informe general de labores de la Escuela Regional Campesina de Roque,’’ Guanajuato, Dec. 1, 1940, SEP 2053/62.