Revolutionary Mexico and the world economy - The 1920s in theoretical perspective Article

Tardanico, R. (1984). Revolutionary Mexico and the world economy - The 1920s in theoretical perspective . 13(6), 757-772. 10.1007/BF00209212

cited authors

  • Tardanico, R

fiu authors


  • Obregón and Calles encountered intense but disunited resistance at home and abroad. They responded with land and labor reforms to coopt campesinos and urban workers, thereby undercutting popular opposition and enlisting the masses in the campaign against regionalist bosses, Porfirian oligarchs, and foreign investors. These populist alliances helped the Sonoran diarchy build more loyal and professional military and civilian bureaucracies, which in turn helped regulate local and metropolitan firms, increase and stabilize tax revenues, and develop the economy's infrastructure. Following Obregón assasination in 1928, Calles forestalled collapse by integrating many military and civilian bosses into a central party organization. Yet the state remained only partially consolidated. At the end of the Calles administration, regionalist cliques retained considerable political autonomy, and a major campesino rebellion challenged federal authority. Furthermore, dependence on foreign petroleum and mining companies limited government revenue and spending. In mid-1927, Calles inaugurated several years of conservative domestic policies and open collaboration with North Americans. But Calles did not purge all progressive elements from the state machinery. His quest for political stability led him to enroll in the official party many elites who depended on mass followings and who opposed the rightward shift of government policy. During the Great Depression, these elites formed a coalition with intellectuals, small business, and the lower classes that after electing Lázaro Cardenas president, ended Callista hegemony and undertook far-reaching reforms. Thus the Cardenistas completed what Obregón and Calles had begun: the Mexican state's transformation from the poorly centralized oligarchic structure of the Porfiriato to the highly centralized, mass-inclusionary structure of the postrevolutionary era. In the next decade, Mexico joined the ranks of the world's intermediate, "semiperipheral" economies thanks to import-substitution and metropolitan capital. Since then, Mexican governments have maintained political stability and spurred industrialization by steering a pragmatic course between reformism and conservatism, nationalism and collaborationism. In regard to future research, this essay suggests that we consider not only Mexico's relationship to North Atlantic powers in the 1920s but also its standing vis-à-vis the states and classes of other late-industrializing countries. One possibility is to study the interplay of metropolitan actions to control the raw materials and markets of the periphery with the politics of resistance and accommodation throughout the Caribbean basin: How did international and local conflicts affect the distribution of United States and Western European investments in the Caribbean basin? What impact did metropolitan investments have on the region's struggles over state power and pattern of economic change? How did the state-building struggles and economic changes of the 1920s influence the region's nationalist break-throughs and defeats during the Great Depression and World War II? What were the consequences of nationalist successes and failures for the subsequent paths of state making and economic development in the Caribbean basin, as well as for North Atlantic investors and governments after World War II? © 1984 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.

publication date

  • November 1, 1984

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 757

end page

  • 772


  • 13


  • 6