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Unbroken Dependency: Mexico’s Passive and Bounded Revolution

Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-78973-592-5, eISBN: 978-1-78973-591-8

ISSN: 0161-7230

Publication date: 3 September 2019


Commenting on the Mexican Revolution in 1938, Trotsky argued that the country might achieve “national independence,” understood as a break with dependency relations. Whether this might occur depended – Trotsky continued – on “international factors.” Though not engaging with Mexico, Antonio Gramsci made a similar theoretical point. It is hence from this perspective that this chapter analyses the Mexican Revolution, asking whether it led to a break in dependency relations and the attainment of “national independence” or what I refer to as “relative geopolitical autonomy.” Presenting a framework of analysis largely based on the work of Gramsci that highlights its continuity with the thought of Marx, the chapter will answer negatively to this question. The chapter starts from the idea that Porfirio Díaz’s regime was unable to adapt the economic structure (still pre-capitalist) to the complex superstructures (capitalist), that is, to realize an historic bloc. It would be this job that the emergent Mexican bourgeoisie sought to finish. However, the situation is complicated by the powerful emergence of social movements from below, constituted largely by landless peasants, and to a lesser extent, the industrial proletariat. I will therefore argue that the revolution has been both “passive” and “bounded.” The term passive revolution will be applied to the last phase of the revolution as the emerging bourgeoisie successfully coopted the demands of the popular masses thereby “passivizing” them. But crucially, the revolution was also “bounded” because international factors, and especially US influence, played a conditioning role throughout the revolutionary process. At the same time, it would be the very “passive” nature of the revolution that would contribute to the reproduction of relations of dependency. Hence the chapter concludes that the period Trotsky commented upon (the Cárdenas period) is the highest level of “independence” Mexico achieved, only to decrease again over the years.




I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments and insightful suggestions.


Fusaro, L. (2019), "Unbroken Dependency: Mexico’s Passive and Bounded Revolution", Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 34), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 143-163.



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