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Explaining Sociopolitical Change in Latin America: The Case of Mexico Author(s): Viviane Brachet-Marquez Source: Latin American Research

Review, Vol. 27, No. 3 (1992), pp. 91-122 Published by: The Latin American Studies Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2503736 . Accessed: 29/09/2011 16:41
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EXPLAINING SOCIOPOLITICAL CHANGE IN LATIN AMERICA: The Case ofMexico* Viviane Brachet-Mdrquez
El Colegio Mexico de

Since Mexico declared its independence fromSpanish rule, the countryhas experienced two extended periods of political stability that are atypicalofLatinAmericansocieties.The first, known as thePorfiriato, extendedfrom 1875to 1910. The second, whichwas heraldedby theRevolution of 1910 and consolidated in the 1920s, stillholds sway in the last decade of the twentiethcentury.The weaknesses of the Porfiriato have been analyzed amply,thanks in greatpart to the hindsightprovided by therevolution thatended the era. Untilrecently, however,mostworkson twentieth-century Mexico have focused on the exceptionalstability the of postrevolutionary regime. This approach has leftlargely unresearched (Knight1989) or merelylabeled as "crises" (Needler 1987) the recurrent episodes of union insurgency, popular protest,electoralopposition, and othersigns ofpressureforpoliticalchange thathave punctuatedMexican historysince the Revolution. Consequently,analysts who have recently undertakenthe arduous task of diagnosing at what points this imposing edificemight"give" have been unable to benefitfrominsightsof work carriedout in previous decades. In the intervalbetween 1982 and 1988, the erosion of support for theofficial the party(from rightas well as theleft)graduallybecame more visible,culminatingin what has been called the "political earthquake of 1988" (Lerner de Sheinbaum 1989; Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith 1989). Since then, analyzing political change in Mexico has become as urgent as analyzing stabilitywas prevalent in the past. Yet unlike the process in previous decades, this new focus of research has not been accompaniedby a renewal ofthe conceptual arsenal thatmost effectively In explained stability. practice,thistendencyhas createda styleof analysis thateschews explicit reference the analyticalmodels in vogue in the to 1960s and 1970s yet cannot avoid using the key termscreated by these
*I would liketo thankDiane Davis, JoseAntonioAldrete,BarbaraHelfferich, RobertKaufman, LARR EditorGilbertMerkx,and the anonymousLARR readersfortheircommentson earlierversionsofthisarticle.

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LatinAmerican Research Review models. Such an approach leaves unclear which assumptions, key analyticaltools, and centralpropositionsofthese models are stillconsidered fruitful which ones are being questioned. and Despite visible signs of wear, the Mexican politicalsystemin the early 1990s stillappears to be defyingpoliticalchange. This description a fitseven after decade of accumulationcrisismarkedby massive capital inflaflight,toweringforeigndebt, record unemployment,three-digit and tion,rampantde-industrialization, a ruthlessmonetarystabilization but wages and salaries. Little programthathas "liberalized" everything arrangements thatdefinethe scope and has changed in the institutional promisesfrom above to democratize limits statepower,despitereiterated of and modernizepoliticalinstitutions. That is to say,nothinghas changed in the formalarrangementsthat ostensiblygovern Mexico. The Partido of RevolucionarioInstitucional(PRI) stilltallies the majority votes by the elecusual illegalmeans, as evidenced since 1986in various gubernatorial tionsand the 1988nationalpresidentialand legislativeelections.' And the new administration Carlos Salinas de Gortari(1988-1994) took office of righton cue, despite evidence of massive electoralfraud.This apparent to has, in some cases, encouraged a return the return previouspatterns to and continuity, which have been viewed alternatively as studyofstability toa "new presidentialism"(Salazar 1989; Monsivais 1990)2or as a drift ward a more exclusionaryregime (Meyer 1989). Until 1989 the general consensus held thata returnto the status quo ante was unlikely(Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith 1989; Garrido 1989; Loaeza 1989a, 1989b; Meyer 1989). Nevertheless,few observershave been willingto spell out what principlesofchange underliethe arrayoffuturescenarios thathave been proposed. One may therefore speak of a crisis in interpretation, to manifestedby the unwillingness to refersystematically an existing the fundofanalytical tools, despitethefactthatthesetools constitute only available. instruments presently what Mexico's to Ratherthanpursue the game oftrying first-guess to politicalfuturemightbe, this articleproposes first reassess the potential for analyzing political change of the models that were available to analysts when theybegan to turn to this problem. The discussion will next examine the ways in which these models have influencedcurrent
in 1. In orderto estimatetheextentoftheelectoralfraudperpetrated 1988,FranciscoBaez Rodriguez (1988) selected a random sample of 300 forthe 29,999 polling places forwhich figuresare available (out of a totalof55,000). He then substitutedthe resultswhere the PRI receiveda unanimous voteforthenearestpollingplace witha votecountsimilarto theaverage of the entirezone. The resultingvote forthe PRI varies between 41.3 percentand 38.8 thatitclaimsto have obtained (takenfrom percent,thatis, well shortoftheabsolute majority Meyer1989,326). Jornada, Oct. 1989; 17 2. See also AlbertoAziz Nassif, "Modernizacion presidencialista," and AdolfoAguilarZinser,"Desconcertanteaceptacion del nuevo presidencialismo,"Excel23 sior, Sept. 1989.

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debates on politicalchange and thenshow whatbenefitscould be derived from their more systematic use. This retrospective exerciseshould help to place thevariousconceptionsofpoliticalchange foundin theliterature in their proper theoretical perspectives, thereby clarifyingthe current debate over thatprocess. The goal here is to help overcomethe current theoretical impasse.
FOUR PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICAL PERMANENCE AND CHANGE

to Everycontribution the studyofMexican politicsimplicitly exor definesa set ofcentral in plicitly processes and structures Mexico'spolitical makeup based on a numberof conceptual tools and theoretical assumptions. This sectionproposes to definethese basic conceptions and examine theirimplicationsforanalyzing politicalchange. In the process, this concept will itselfassume different meanings according to the perspective fromwhich it is being investigated.3Four broad paradigms will be is defined.The first the clientelistic perspective,which locates the major mechanism of political integrationof Mexican society in the formation and continued reproductionof networksof patron-client relations. The second approach to be defined is the pluralistperspective,which gives in primacyto individualsas causal factors politicsand explains events as and values (Alfordand Friedland1985,4). This peroutcomesofinterests spectiveviews Mexican societyas a complexset ofinteracting aggregates thatcompeteforbenefits respectthegeneral"rules ofthegame" incoryet porated in common values. The third perspective is the authoritariancorporatist view, which focuses on the state as the dominant factorin explaining politicaloutcomes.Definedlast is theclass view,whichregards theprocess ofcapital accumulationon a world scale and theclass relations derivedfrom as the keyto understandingMexico's historicaltrajectory. it TheClientelistic Perspective Clientelismrefers the structuring politicalpower throughnetto of worksofinformal dyadicrelationsthatlinkindividualsofunequal power
3. The discussionin thissectionis based in parton a previouspublication thatI coauthored withKaren Kovacs (Brachet-Marquezand Kovacs 1990). The notionthatsociologicalinquiry is based on fundamental theoretical perspectivesthatspecifyunits of analysis, levels of aband key processes has been widely debated. This articleowes its main debt to straction, RobertAlfordand Roger Friedland (1985), who distinguishamong "pluralist," "managedifference rial,"and "class" perspectives.The fundamental between myapproach and theirs is thatI do not defineperspectivesin generalbut in reference the single empiricalcase of to Mexico. I am therefore definingnot metatheoretical tools but strategiesforanalyzing the Mexican case. Also, I make no claim thatthese strategies representthe sum totalofintellectual tools available,simplythattheyhave been and are stillbeing used de facto.

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in relationships exchange.4In clientelistic of of structures authority, power is vested in the top individual (the boss, sovereign,or head of clan) who personallydecides how to distribute resourcesaccordingto personal preferences. When applied to Mexico, thisperspectiverepresentsthe stateas a top-down pyramid headed by the chiefof the executivebranch, who directlyor indirectly dispenses favorsto those below throughcomplex networksthatlinkthetop ofthe social structure thebase. patron-client to Civil society,in contrast,is perceived as a fragmented of verticalreset lationships inhibitingthe formationof horizontal interest groupings, whether based on partyor social class. This form politicalorganization, of which was understood initially a typicaltraitof premodernoligarquic as societies, was finallyrecognized as a more or less permanentfeatureof LatinAmericanpoliticalsystems. as Whereas patron-client networkshave been identified a source of in praetorianism otherLatin Americansocieties(Chalmers 1977), in Mexand ico ithas been understoodas a keymechanismofpoliticalintegration a sui generismode ofbureaucratic rule (Grindle 1977a). AnalystsofMexican clientelismhave emphasized the key role played by patron-client networksin various aspects of the politicalsystem. Clientelismprovides theinformal backup ofpresidential power (Gonzalez Casanova 1970; Cosio Villegas 1973; Kaufman 1975) while articulating political demands from below via "power brokers"(Gonzalez Casanova 1970). Clientelismalso influencesprocesses of policy implementation (Poitras 1973; Greenberg 1970; Grindle1977b) and linkstheofficial partyto thecore stateapparatus as well as to the masses (Stevens 1977). In Brandenburg(1964), clientelismis the main theoretical insightemployed to analyze the nature of Mexican politics. Mexico is described as being governed by a powerful and tightly elite-the "revolutionary integrated family"-made up of the in caudilloswho participated theRevolution.This elitemakes all decisions in a consensual fashion,leaving few options forthe masses to voice their grievancesexceptby askingforpersonal favorsdispensed from top. the looked upon as channeling Whether demandsfrom bottom the the to top or as prompting responses fromabove, the mechanisms governing clientelism seem at first ill-chosen sources ofimpetusforchange. In the as first of instance,theinability thosemakingdemands to organizea constitulimitstheir encyhorizontally politicalstrength. Likewise,stateresponse to demands on a case-by-casebasis via clientelistic channels increases its thatwould meetthesedemands. capacityto postpone generalizedreforms Even in cases where organizinga constituency made possible through is official channels, as with labor interests,collectivedemands forchange have been viewed as periods of "lettingoffsteam" ratherthan as pres4. Clientelismand patrimonialism be considered synonymousin thisdiscussion. For will theanthropological approach to clientelism theMexican context, Foster(1967a, 1967b). in see

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sures likelyto effect change (Gonzailez Casanova 1970). Althoughthis real problemhas been exemplified more oftenin therelationship between the state and subordinateclasses, it seems an equally likelyconsequence of the structuring informal of linkages between privateenterprise and state officials (Fagen and Tuohy 1974). This outcomeleads to case-by-caseimplementationof rules regulatingeconomic activitiesand to the limited abilityof different business intereststo createrepresentative bodies and pressurethe stateintotakingspecificmeasures. When viewed as an institutional process manipulatedby the state, clientelism seems to offer moreways ofmanaginginequalityand thesocial it conflicts generatesthan ways of transforming society.When incorporated into the authoritarian-corporatist argument,as in Kaufman (1975), is clientelism said to accountfortheorientation Mexican politicstoward of maintainingthe status quo. The absence of interestgroups capable of exerting pressureson thestate,whichthisperspectivetakes as axiomatic, makes the initial impetus of reformist policies depend entirelyon the and values oftop elites,whetherthevalues ofthe revolutionpersonality ary family(Brandenburg1964) or the personalityand experienceof the president(Grindle 1977b). To examinethepotential clientelism analyzingchange,scholars of for must look forthe circumstances which clientelism in fails to functionas predicted.One mightask, forexample,whether survivalofclientelism the duringrecessions can generatepressuresforchange by retarding, rather thanoiling,themachinery statedomination of oversociety. This maybe the case whenthemachinery patronageand bribesslows down during of times ofeconomicscarcity, itundoubtedly as has since 1982.Because fewer goods and servicescan be distributed the through personal favors, battleswaged to obtainsuch favorsmay become fiercer and the resulting distribution of benefits even moreunequal. Undersuch conditions, clientelism resembles a lottery withfewer and fewer system winners.This perception certain is to reducethenumberofpersons willingto buy tickets voteforthePRI. Acor cordingto thishypothesis, clientelism createspressuresforchange bornof thefrustrations thosewho no longerhave access to scarcefavors.Clienof telismalso createscounterpressures the stateto overridevoterpreferfor ences or to propose reforms win back popular support. For studying to such pressures,the analytical framework clientelism of itself offers useful toolsthathave remainedlargelyunused. Analyststherefore need to study the conditionsunder which clientelism exacerbates,ratherthan pacifies, aspirationsfrombelow. A case in point may be the currentappeal of the standtakenby thePartidode AccionNacional (PAN) strong anti-corruption among the middle sectorshit hard by the economic crisis of the 1980s. the Similarly, appeal among votersof the PartidoRevolucionarioDemocratico and a new (PRD), despiteintimidation fraud, represents significant facet Mexicanpoliticsthatmaybe relatedto theerosionofclientelism. of 95

LatinAmerican Research Review In short,clientelism representsa logic ofpoliticalorganizationthat and vertical as emphasizes personalloyalties relationships thecentral principle of politicalorganization.To the extentthatthis logic has been successfullyintegratedinto formalrelations of political power in Mexican society(Grindle 1977a), it can therefore seen as reinforcing status be the relations quo. At the same time, politicalloyaltybased on patron-client containstheseeds ofitsown destruction-and hence ofpoliticalchangeto the extentthatit relies on the fiscalcapacity of the state to distribute favorsand benefits. ThePluralist Perspective Pluralismhas endured a long period of academic discreditfollowview ing thetriumph the authoritarian-corporatist in the 1970s. Neverof electoralprocesses in several theless,withthereturnofmorecompetitive has been put back on theagenda for LatinAmericancountries,democracy have rediscussion. The processes throughwhich democratic transitions wave of postwar democratizacentlyemerged differ vastlyfromthe first tion ofthe 1960s. Yetit is stillnecessary to recall earlierpronouncements to on democratization assess theimportancein contemporary analyses of these earlier the keyconcepts and fundamentalassumptions underlying views, if only to discover in what ways they have changed in present analyses. The pluralistperspectivewas initially exportedto LatinAmericaas the theoryof politicaland economic development,also known as "modernizationtheory"(Huntington1968; Almond and Powell 1966; Almond and Verba 1963; Pye 1966; Rustow 1967). Packenham (1973) discerned traditions modernization in threemajor intellectual theory:the economic tradition between economic development positing a positive correlation and the possibilityof democratization (Almond and Coleman 1960; Cutright1963; Dahl 1970; Hagen 1963); the social systemicapproach holding thata numberof global social conditionswill lead to democracy(urbanwelfaremeasures, and so ization,literacy, exposure to mass media, better on) (Coleman 1960); and the politicalcultureapproach thatemphasizes the importanceofvalues forthe developmentof democracy(Verba 1967; Almond and Verba 1963; Pye 1966). What makes these approaches "pluralist"is theirshared representation politicaldevelopmentas a process of of peaceful change toward democracyand stabilityrooted in economic developmentas well as in theircorrespondingnegativeevaluation of inand revolution.All three perspectivesare said to tense politicalconflict have been paradigmatically representedin Lipset's Political Man (1960). This work held that the conditions for the development of democracy were wealth, a capitalisteconomy,and literacy (the economic approach), an open class system and participationin voluntaryorganizations (the 96

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social systemicapproach), and an egalitarianvalue system(the political cultureapproach) (Packenham1973,208-9). Scholars adoptingthepluralistperspectivein studyingMexico initiallylooked forevidence of a general process of political development under the influenceof the Revolution.This debate centeredon whether the Revolutionhad accelerated the process of dislocation of the "uninstitutionalized" prerevolutionarypolitical system that had prevailed before 1917, or whether postrevolutionary politics represented a continuation theprerevolutionary of "praetorian"politicalprocess. Of particular interest these scholarswas thecreationoftheofficial to partythatwas a to perceived as reflecting change fromclientelistic democratic linkages and the general population. For those inclinedto between public officials this interpret developmentas a step towarddemocracy(Cline 1962; Scott 1964; Huntington1968),thePartidoNacional Revolucionario(PNR)-and its heirs,the Partidode la Revolucion Mexicana (PRM) and the PRI-was forcethatsatisfied"the majority the strongviewed as the aggregating of est influenceassociations,dissatisfying fewas possible" (Scott1964,8). as the Simultaneously, process ofacceleratedurbanizationand industrialization thatbegan in the 1940s was understood as a fundamentalfactorin preparingthe laboring masses of Mexico to become fullyparticipating citizens in a democraticsystem. For these observers of Mexican reality, what the Revolution had achieved was a transformation frompersonal uninstitutionalized premodern politicsto a "highlycomplex,autonomous, coherentand flexible politicalsystem. .. witha demonstrated capacityto combinethe reasonably high centralization power and the broadened of participation social groups in the system"(Huntington1968,316-17). of This synopsis of the underpinningsof pluralism as expressed by early theoristsdemonstratesthat political change lies at the heart of its claims. The logic underlying thisview is thatsocietyis the source of such based on the evolvingvalues of individuals as incorporatedinto change, interacting organizedgroups.To think thestateas theimpetusofdemocof ratization would therefore violatethebasic preceptsofthisparadigmunless analysts understand the state as an arena of competingelites following different "policy currents"(Maxfield 1990) and emergingstate decisions as theresultofthese internaldivisions. TheAuthoritarian-Corporatist Perspective and have expressed The debates overauthoritarianism corporatism but dimensions of the relationshipbedifferent, oftencomplementary, tween state and society in Latin America. These argumentshave been on virtuallycomingled in studies of Mexico, referring one hand to the of limitations politicalpluralism,the concentration power in the presion dency,and low levels of politicalmass mobilization(Linz 1975, 255) and 97

LatinAmerican Research Review on the otherto the creation and dominationby the state of "singular, orderedand differentiated units . .. granteda compulsoryhierarchically deliberaterepresentativemonopoly within theirrespective categories" (Schmitter 1974,93). In severalLatin Americancountries,the shift from modernizathe tion perspective to authoritarian corporatismwas prompted by violent regimechange. In Mexico itwas theconceptualfallout from these external thatled to a new readingofthenatureofthepolitical social conflagrations system. In contrastwith paradigmaticcases like Brazil and Argentina, Mexican authoritarianism could not be viewed as a sudden reactionto a turbulent populist period or a crisisof accumulation.Rather,it was created deliberately the state in securingits own consolidation afterthe by Revolution. Mexico'sauthoritarianism also viewed as havinginherited was some of the traitsof the personalistoligarchicorderthatpreceded it-the of absence ofmeaningful elections, practice electoral the fraud, predomthe inance of executivepower, and presidentialpaternalism(Meyer 1977)hence the importanceof clientelismas a principleofpoliticalintegration. At the same time,popular support of the official partywas essential (unlike the countriesruled by military a thatset dictatorships), characteristic Mexican authoritarianism apart (Stepan 1978; Kaufman1977; Reyna 1974, 1977). The principlesof centralizedpoliticalcontroland decision-making embodied in the authoritarian-corporatist perspectiveon Mexico would also appear at firstsight to ill equip this model for analyzing political have been identifiedas change (Kaufman 1973, 1975). Its characteristics demobilizingpopular sectors(Stavenhagen 1976; Stepan 1978; Kaufman 1975) and defusing social conflictsby providing selective responses to pressuresfrom below (Gonzalez Casanova 1970; Stevens 1977; Kaufman natureofMexico'sregime,rather thanopening up 1975).The inclusionary thepower structure themasses, has been interpreted co-optingpopto as ularleaders and thereby deprivingthegrassrootsoftheir capacityto voice Even organizedbusiness groupscan be relegatedto thelimited grievances. role of negotiating the "mere details" of presidentialdecisions (Kaufman 1975),while subordinategroups have been reduced to acceptingpassively the benefitsbestowed on themin the absence of any sustained demands (Grindle 1977b, 108). Opposition groups were bracketedas exceptional and therefore whetherthey originatedfrom theoretically insignificant, below (as in theperiodicresurgenceofunion activismin the 1940s, 1950s, and 1970s or the rural guerrillamovementsof the 1970s) or fromother groups (like Almazenismo in 1950, Henriquismo in 1952, or the student uprisingof 1968). The factthatmost of these commotionshave been sethe verelyrepressedseemed to confirm power ofthe stateand itscapacity to enforcethe status quo (Stevens 1974). The reforms thatfollowedsuch social explosions,rather thanundermining beliefin unlimitedstatepower, 98

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appeared to be clever maneuvers for manipulatingbasically weak and disorganizedfociofsocial dissentand bringing themunder control witha of mixture repressionand co-optation. These limitingaspects, combined with those contributedby the clientelistic view, have greatlyhampered the potentialof the authoritarian-corporatist perspectiveforforeshadowingthe complexity the presof sures forpoliticalchange thatMexico experiencedin the 1980s. This was particularly oftheexplosionofdemocratic true demands (CorderaCampos, TrejoDelarbre,and Vega 1988) thatthe statehas attempted unsuccessfully to controlvia limitedelectoralreforms since the late 1970s (Gomez-Tagle 1988).Yetdespitetheselimitations, authoritarian-corporatist still the view constitutes main theoretical the reference point of many recentanalyses (Story1986; Gentleman1987; Cornelius 1987). The reasons foritslongevityare not difficult fathom:despite the undeniable signs thatMexico's to politicalsystemis changing, authoritarian corporatismstillprovides the closestapproximation the main institutional to mechanismsthatare keeping Mexico's rulingregimein place in the early 1990s. The question that mustbe raised is whetherthis perspectivecan also help analystsunderstand what pressures forchange this systemof politicalorganizationis of undergoing,despite restoration tightstate controlfollowingthe 1988 presidential election. Althoughpeaceful democratictransitionsare no longer unthinkable after recentevents in Eastern Europe, it is neverthelessimprobable thata highlyentrenched systemlikethe one rulingMexico since the 1920s will be the willingarchitect its own dissolution. Thus the contribution of that the authoritarian corporatistview can make to studying political change must be sought in the strategiesadopted by the politicalelite to retainpower. Nevertheless,as with clientelism,analysts must also considertheconditionsunderwhichauthoritarian-corporatist controls would be weakened to the point of usheringin new formsof politicalorganization. Two kinds ofprocesses of politicalchange may therefore considbe ered: changes engineered fromthe presidency, which may be labeled as the transformation authoritarianism, the conditionsleading to the of and weakeningofauthoritarianism. In theinitialformation Mexico's postrevolutionary of regime,state managers (the presidentin most cases) were perceived as shaping the politicalsystem:creatingthe official party, changingits membership(by includingand excludingthe military, incorporating peasants and labor, and so on), introducing and restructuring economy.Yet althe reforms, thoughsuch actionsrepresent politicalchange, their overallobjecimplicit tiveis to consolidatestatepower.Nevertheless,systemreform, even ifits is mustclearly partoftheanalysisofpolitical be efficacy uncertain, change. the Presently, reformof the official party ostensiblyundertakenby the Salinas de Gortari administration at constitutes another yet attempt change 99

LatinAmerican Research Review fromabove, one thatrepresentspoliticalchange insofaras it implies the This reform effort may also have imtransformation authoritarianism. of portantimplicationsfor regime change if it fails to achieve its goal of restoring hegemonyofthe official the party. Alternatively, politicalchange can be predicatedon theweakening of the mechanisms that have heretoforecontributedto the stabilityof in authoritarian corporatism Mexico. Crises hold the potentialforregime thatprovideoppordissolutioninsofar theyare accompaniedby factors as tunitiesforthe entryof new politicalactors and the success of alternate strugglesand economicdifpoliticalexpressions.Examples are intra-elite As was drawing to a close, many ficulties. Miguel de la Madrid's sexenio But of breakthrough. as some signs suggested thepossibility a democratic authorshave noted, the erosion of a power systemdoes not usually pro1989). Actual vide sufficient reason foritsdemise (Stepan 1985; Foweraker breakdown can usually be pinpointed accuratelyonly afterit has taken place (Knight 1989, 459). Yet the analysis of political change cannot be limited to predictingactual changes, short of being a mere exercise in even ifthissympguessing. It mustbe able to defineregimedebilitation, tom is not followed immediatelyby regime dissolution. Analysis of the in corporatism weakeningofthe mechanismsthatmaintainauthoritarian Mexicomusttherefore an important be change. aspect ofassessing political In short, as authoritarian corporatism, ithas been applied to Mexico,refers to a logic of politicalpower thatplaces the source of change at the top of eitheras the direct resultofreforms as thefailure or thepolitical hierarchy, ofstatemanagersto controlthe systemduringparticular conjunctures. TheClass Perspective Capitalism as the centralobject of study of the class perspective denotes a global process of interactionbetween a material base and a superstructure "mode of production") thatsimultaneouslyproduces (or tensions forits its own conditionsof developmentand the contradictory own transformation. thesebroad principlesare insufficient explain Yet to thefact,unpredictedby Marx, thatcapitalistdevelopmentin the periphfromthat taken by WesternEurope. Why ery followed a path different thishas been so and how the lines ofinteraction between early-and latedevelopingcapitalismshould be conceptualized are questions at the core oftheclass debate regardingLatin America. This article's in interest extracting conceptionofpoliticalchange the thatmaybe derivedfrom thisgeneral debate mustexcludeall studiesthat failto consider politicsas theoretically those that(in Marxist significant, under the notion of mode of terms)entirelysubsume social formations production,understandingthem as mere instances of the global processes takingplace on a world scale. This criterion thus excludesfrom the 100

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thatwould conpresentdiscussion a substantialportionof the literature in siderMexico (or any otherformation thecapitalistperiphery)as a mere in withno capacityto transpointofarticulation a worldwide machinery, and foreitself affect course ofcapitalism.This approach first or the form most excludes the dependency approach as representedby the works of But it must also exclude Andre Gunder Frankand ImmanuelWallerstein. oriented approach to dependency,exemplifiedby the more historically Cardoso and Faletto (1968), because it has failed to yield any detailed studies of internalclass strugglesin Latin Americancountriesin general I engage in the debate overpolitiand Mexico in particular. shall therefore of cal change onlywithworksthatrecognizethespecificity Mexican politthe ical institutions-particularly state-or the capacityof class struggles the to "act decisivelyto affect characterand shape of the developmentof forceswithinsociety"(Petras1981, 152). productive The backdrop against which studies of Mexico fromthe class peris spectivemustbe interpreted thedebate overthebirthor transformation of the capitalistmode of productionunder the impetus of the Revolution of 1910, especially the problem of agency in this process. Although no to consensus existson whetherthe Revolutionrepresentedthe transition process,5nearlyeverycapitalismor simplya new phase ofthe historical deep social and economictransprecipitated one agreesthattheRevolution forcesthattransformed Mexico intoa predomiformations stimulating by The question of the politicalleadership of the nantlycapitalistsociety.6 however:thePorbourgeoisiein thatprocess remainshighlyproblematic, bourgeoisiethatheld barely10 percentofnationalwealth firian comprador which behind theinsurrection, in 1910(Gilly1971)was notthemajorforce was actually composed of peasant, worker,and "petty bourgeois" elemoregenments.What laterbecame theMexican bourgeoisieis therefore than the source oftheRevolution. erallyconsideredto be the heirrather In attemptingto solve this riddle, two possible interpretations have been offered.One attributes the state the main role in simulto taneously creatinga bourgeoisie and expanding capitalism. The second upholds theprincipleofthepoliticalleadershipofclasses in interpretation the conductof the state, albeit in the contextof a fragmenteddominant class that must make compromiseswith otherclasses or with the state
of 5. The world-systems approach contendsthatcapitalismcoincided withthe formation 1974). Accordingto this century(Wallerstein the international marketaround the sixteenth hypothesis, Mexico has been capitalistsince the hacienda systemwas createdin the seventeenthcentury. Consequently,the Revolutionin 1910 merelymarkeda new phase ofcapital commodities one on industo accumulationshifting from emphasis on exportagricultural an The trialproduction.Foreigncapital also presentsproblemsofinterpretation. miningsector in do hands. Some authorstherefore not in 1910 was fully capitalistbut also entirely foreign includethissectoras partofMexican capitalism. 6. Cordova (1985,1986) is theonly authorofMarxiststripeto disagree withtheconsensus thattheRevolutionrepresenteda major change. 101

LatinAmerican Research Review itself.In the first perspective,the Revolutionis considered a bourgeois revolutioninsofaras it ultimatelybenefitedthat class, but the state is perceived as exercisingleadership over all classes througha politicalbureaucracy,hence its being defined as either "Bonapartist" (Leal 1974, 1986; Hodges and Gandy 1979; Semo 1985) or "paternalist" (Cordova 1985,1986). The second interpretation tracesdifferent phases ofcapitalist of expansion since the Revolutionto the changingcharacter the class alliance undergirding state power (Cockroft1983). In both approaches, the relativeautonomyof the state-its capacityto manage the economy and withrelativeindependence fromdominantclasses-is perclass conflicts ceived as stemming from absence ofclass hegemonyin Mexico. the The majorpoliticalchanges in Mexican historycontemplatedfrom theclass perspectiveare those precipitated economicchanges: first the by from and second, the transition commodity exportto importsubstitution, shiftto export-ledindustrialization. While the first trendled to the rise of a national bourgeoisie allied with transnationalcapital, the second is viewed as having been dominated by transnationalizedmonopoly capital. Although the state can temporarilydelay these general economic changes and the class alignmentsassociated with them, it must eventuallygive in to market forcesor suffer consequences. This point has the been underscoredby thepoliticaland economiccrisesexperiencedduring the administration Luis Echeverria (1970-1976), which Americo Salof divarattributes theconflictive to coexistenceofvarious "class projects"in thepoliciesof"shared development."This unresolvedconflict eventually crystallizedmonopoly capital's opposition to the administration's policies, leading to the fiscaland politicalcrisisof 1976 (Saldivar 1985). Liketo wise, the statestrategy borrowin orderto carryout economicprojects and social reforms independentlyof the bourgeoisie (oftencited as evidence of state autonomyin otherperspectives) eventuallybackfiredby leading to fiscalcrisisand capital flight (Fitzgerald1978; Hamilton 1985) and finallyto the acute and protracteddebt crisis of the 1980s (Alvarez 1987). The class perspectivegenerallyviews politicalchange as a conseIn quence ofglobal economictransformations. theBonapartistinterpretation,thestatebecomesthehistorical subjectthatpursues objectives, forges itsown politicalcohesion through official the and generally party, imposes its conception of necessary interventions all classes alike (Leal 1986; on Cordova 1985, 1986). According to this view, class strugglesare indefinitely frozen,leavingto the statethetask ofensuringaccumulationabove and beyond the wills of dominantor dominated classes. Changes in the kind and directionof stateinterventions therefore are based on teleological assumptionsthattreatthe state as a monolithic entityendowed with an inherentrationality with respect to the overall requirementsof Mexican capitalism. The dismal failureof the administrations JoseLopez of 102

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Portillo(1976-1982)and Miguel de la Madrid (1982-1988) to ensure stable conditionsof capital accumulation,however,would seem to limitgreatly the potentialof this approach forstudyingpoliticalchange in the 1980s and beyond. The Bonapartist view ofMexico also failsto specifytheways in which dominantclasses are kept on the margins of politics. In other words, it overlooksMarx's stipulationthatBonapartismis an inherently in unstable formof government, resortedto only briefly times of crisis and with the explicitacquiescence of the bourgeoisie. Once the crisisis over,itis assumed thatthebourgeoisiewillregainitscapacityto influence statepolicies (Marx 1972). When theclass perspectivecenterson class strugglesas thecrucial withstrugdynamicsocial process,politicalchange becomes synonymous gles forhegemonyamong various fractions the dominantclass, as beof tween national and transnationalcapital duringthe import-substituting phase of capitalistdevelopment.Accordingto this perspective,the state is assumed to carryout a class "project,"which implicitly definesit as an instrument the victoriousfraction alliance. For example, state polof or icies are viewed as alternating between servingthe interests a coalitioil of of small business and labor on one hand and those of large national and transnational capital on the other(Cordera and Tello 1981). This thesis, however,is difficult reconcile with the generally accepted idea that to dominatedclasses in Mexico have no politicalrole,7mainlybecause Marxistorthodoxy rejectsthepossibility a proletarian of revolution takingplace beforecapitalismhas been fullydeveloped. Only a few dissidents assert thatthe proletariat played a role in shaping Mexican politicalinstitutions and thatits strugglesagainst capitalism were eitherdefeated (Cockroft subscribe 1972) or interrupted (Gilly1971). But even theseinterpretations to a passive role forthese classes once the Revolutionhas been institutionalized. This view impliesthatforthe most part,the literature analyza ingMexico from class perspectiveadopts foritsown use thecorporatistauthoritarian vision ofa docile and co-optedproletariat withlittle capacity to destabilizeor transform politicalsystem. the Despite these limitations, class perspectiveis an indispensable the in ingredient analyzingpoliticalchange in Mexico. By emphasizinggrowing inequalitieswithinMexican society, thisview focuses on the process ofclass polarizationthatrepresentsa potentialthreat the statusquo. to
POLITICAL CHANGE IN THE 1980S: IN SEARCH OF EXPLANATORY SCHEMES

Despite the opportunitiesfor studyingpolitical change open to studentsofMexicanpoliticsvia thesefour basic perspectives,thesepotenyet 7. Saldivar (1985), forexample, studies the decade of renewal of union insurgency, he devotesnota singlechapterto thatphenomenon.

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LatinAmerican Research Review tialitieswent largelyunexploiteduntilthe mid-1980s.By the 1970s, early attached to modernizationtheoryhad been displuralistformulations missed, at which point most studies began to focus on politicalstability, ratherthan change, an approach viewed as the fruitof the sui generis combinationof authoritarian-corporatist clientelistic and arrangements. Although dramatic or tragic moments in recent Mexican historywere noted,theywere notjudged serious enough to underminethe capacityof the system to overcome momentarycrises and make necessary adjustments. In particular,the student uprising of 1968, now considered by of manyas thefirst stirring democratic demand (Loaeza 1989a; Foweraker 1989; Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith, eds., 1989), was looked on as of just another tragic chapterin Mexico'shistory statedomination society. of Politicalchange eventuallyfound its way back onto the agenda of social scientistsstudyingMexico as a resultof the returnto civilianrule in some Latin American countriesin combinationwith the severe economiccrisisthatbefellMexico after debt moratorium August 1981. the of While the democratizing trend called into question the strongly entrenched beliefin theironcontrolofauthoritarian regimesover society, the social and economicupheavals triggered the economiccrisisshook by observers'faithin the crisismanagementcapabilityof the Mexican state. Yet fromthe start,the task of explainingpoliticalchange in Mexico differed radicallyfromthe analogous task regarding the countries of the SouthernCone, whichwere undergoingregimetransitions. Trueto form, Mexico again failedto followthe patternsnoted in otherLatin American countries.Despite undergoingthemost seriouseconomiccrisissince 1930 that (and perhaps since 1910),fewtangibleeventscould be detectedat first markedpoliticalchange, exceptfortheincreased electoralsuccesses ofthe PAN in 1982 and 1985. These events, however,could be considrightist ered a normal outcome of the political reformof 1977,which had been withoutjeopardizing the podesigned to combatelectoralabstentionism sitionofthe official party. Students of Mexico, ratherthan being faced with a sudden and set identifiable of changes to be explained "backward" by ex empirically were (and stillare) "previewing"change from a post factoreconstruction, forward-looking perspective. Neitherits nature nor its directioncan be specifiedwith any certainty. Ambiguous but visible signs of wear on the of rulingregimeincludedthecivicstrikes 1983 and 1985,teachermobilization since the 1980s, and PAN's increasingmilitancy from1982 to 1988, whichwas eventuallycrownedby the "politicalearthquake"ofJune1988, an explosion of electoralopposition to the official time partyforthe first since1940(Lernerde Scheinbaum1989; Cornelius,Gentleman,and Smith, eds., 1989). In response, analysts have begun to map out a varietyof rationalesforchange thatimplyvaryingfutures Mexico. for The first question to be addressed is the extentto which the choice 104

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of centralprocesses and conceptions of politicalchange found in recent discussions bear the markofthese previous formulations. Thus thequesof tionbeing asked is whetherdefinitions thecrisisand transformation of Mexico'spoliticalsystemcan be identified thatfollowthe internallogic of each of the fourperspectivesoutlined. The second question is whether such echoes provideusefultheoretical rationalesforpredicting change. TheAuthoritarian-Corporatist Argument Change for The failureof the Mexican state and the presidencyto controlor manage the fiscal crisis in the 1970s that blossomed into the economic crisisofthe1980sprovidedthestarting pointforreassessingtheresilience ofMexican authoritarianism (considered axiomaticin earlierstudies). As the 1980s ended, many authorswere questioning the viabilityof the old to give-and-take methods followedby the party-state overcomemomentarycrises(Cornelius, Gentleman,and Smith,eds., 1989; Meyer 1989). The logic of authoritarian corporatismwould dictatethatreforms are undertakento restore the power and prestige of the officialparty, which is considered indispensable forpoliticalcontinuity. Three central questions need to be answered. First,what changes are political elites preparedto make in orderto retainpower? Second, is the systemcapable ofmakingthose changes, despite entrenchedinterests? And third,is stability reestablishedor notas a resultofthese attempts reform? at What the logicofauthoritarianism does notdictateis thevoluntarydemocratization ofMexican politicsby establishedpoliticalelites, except on an extremely limited basis. Analystsare therefore dealing withtheprocess accompanying theplanned transformation fromabove of authoritarian corporatism, whichaims at politicalcontinuity. Beforethe presidentialelectionof 1988, most analystswere focusing on this kind of planned change within the regime, as opposed to regime change. In this context,it is clear that "none of the reformist/ elementswithintheregimeis interested pursuingchanges in modernizing thatmightput at risk the continued controlof the key positions in the politicalsystemby the present ruling group" (Cornelius 1987,16). Evidence oftheresilienceofMexican authoritarianism been perceivedin has the regime'scapacityto pursue liberalizationpolicies under the sting of economic crisis (Gentleman, ed., 1987), unlike othercontextsin which such criseshave triggered emergenceof brutalexclusionaryauthorithe tarianregimes.Since the1988election,reform Mexico has been viewed in as a way forthe PRI to reconquer lost ground (Bailey and Gomez 1990). is in The logicofauthoritarian corporatism omnipresent analyses in which thewisdom and foresight thepresidentis themajor explanationforthe of move towardliberalization(Middlebrook 1986) or in which the developmentofopposition movementsto the regimeis interpreted playingan as 105

LatinAmerican Research Review insignificant role in triggering the reformist mood of the government (Gentleman1987). In the most optimistic scenario,the Mexican state is characterized as capable of "energeticrevivaland remodelingofthe existing corporatist system,rebuilt upon a new set oforganizationsand alliances" (Cornelius, of Gentleman,and Smith,eds., 1989,40). Oblivious of the strictures the economic model embraced by the Salinas administration, this scenario envisionsas unproblematic successful"energizing"of grass generally the rootsthatwould simultaneously ensure the PRI's victory and weaken the the opposition. To succeed in recapturinga comfortable majority, PRI is envisioned as "modernizing" in the sense of becoming internally more competitive (Cornelius, Gentleman,and Smith,eds., 1989,41). A somewhatless optimistic scenario echoes the previous one's asof sumption of an elite reformist strategyyet questions the feasibility For example, it has been noted thatPRI leaders feara proposed reforms. weakeningof theirmembershipbase as a resultof the legalizationof opposition parties and that regional bosses oppose political liberalization because they fear losing controlover state and local elections (Middlebrook 1986). These fearsare notunfounded,as one analystnotes, considsince the 1970s in ensuringvoting ering the PRI's increasingdifficulties disciplinein its ranks and providingthe customary"votingbrigades" to the perform mandatoryvotingfrauds(Garrido 1987). A morepessimisticoutlookassertsthatthePRI's proposed reforms forthe 1990s are grosslyunrealistic because theyaim to make thePRI into it something has neverbeen before-a representative body (Meyer1989). This perspectivedefinesthePRI notas a docile instrument presidential of will but as an empty shell lacking members and militants,incapable of attracting grass-rootssupport. Hence the PRI's chances of becoming a participativeand representative body are termed "practicallynonexistent"(Garrido 1987,76) or a "mission impossible" (Meyer1989). Had the theoretical view been stated premises of the authoritarian withmore precisionin such discussions, analystswould probablynotbe faced with such a gamut of opinions. Authorswho borrowfromthe official discourse to describe the reform the PRI as "modernization"(for of example, Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith, eds., 1989) do not specify whethertheymean "democratization" the more systematic or use of cooptationand politicalsubjectionthatis consideredthehallmarkofauthoritarianism.In the firstinstance, even though political elites associated with the PRI may be hypothetically credited with initiallyopening the to gates to pluralism(perhaps in an ill-advisedeffort hold back thetide of democraticdemands), they must lose controlover the process at some For point or else the situationis one of authoritarianism. example, internal democratization the PRI could quicklylead to internalpoliticaldifof markedby major splitsover policy areas-precisely the kind ferentiation 106

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of outcometraditionally held in check by heavy-handedcorporatist conif trol.In contrast, "modernization"merelymeans having more than one officially appointed PRI pre-candidatefor every political slot while the choice ofcandidate remainsunsanctionedby internalelections(as seems to be true of the 1991 legislativeelection),then the logic remains thatof authoritarianism, albeita transformed version. A second aspect of the authoritarian perspectivethatis generally neglected in such analyses is the nature of the concessions that would have to be made to the grass roots to restoreconfidencein the official party. This issue raises thequestion ofhow "inclusionary"a transformed PRI would have to be. Would welfare expenditureshave to be signifihave to alterits policy of wage cantlyincreased?Would the government restraints? Would the market-oriented economic model be reopened for discussion? Or are the concessions to be highlypublicized, yetfactually In insignificant? thatcase, how successfulcan such a strategy aftera be decade of severe deprivationaccompanied by sporadic popular mobilizations? One more aspect thatis leftout ofthese discussions is the coercive Can analystsrealistically componentofauthoritarianism. expecttheMexican government revitalizethe PRI withoutsimultaneouslycrippling to the opposition? Can government-controlled media be expected to grant coverageto oppositionpartiesor PRI-dominatedelectoralcommissionsto reportfairly electoralreturns? short,can one reallyspeak ofa genuon In ine PRI victoryas long as the partyhas extensivemeans of repressionat itsdisposal? Each of these questions, drawn fromthe conceptual arsenal of auas from 1970s,suggestspreciseways thoritarian the corporatism inherited of empirically appraising the nature of the currentreforms.This set of with pluralism: concepts also warns against confusingauthoritarianism the task now before the PRI is not to become what it has never been but (democratic) to offer enough concessions to coax a significant proportionoftheelectorate intocastingtheirvotes in itsfavor. The goal is also to underminethepotentialofopposition partiesby less than fairmeans and by alteringelectionresults.Whetherthis objectiveis achieved in the old ways or with "modernized" techniquesis a mootpoint.

TheClientelistic inthe Cog MachineryAuthoritarianism of


Can thePRI reform itself withoutaltering natureofthe linkage the thathas been the basis of political integration Mexico? And if these in links are altered under the thrustof liberalizingreformism, can the regime survive?This question calls up the dark side of Mexico's political regime,which is implicitly acknowledged by all but rarelyexamined in recent discussions of political change. What is at stake is not just the 107

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composition theofficial of partybut theprinciple presidentialism, of whose power is solidly entrenchedin patron-client relations,starting with appointmentof the Comite Ejecutivo Nacional of the PRI (Bailey 1987). As Luis JavierGarrido has noted, the extensive appointive powers of the president leads to politicalunaccountability higherfunctionaries, of which in turnleads to inefficiency corruption(Garrido 1989,418). A coroland lary to this axiom is that any strategyaimed at making the PRI more accountableshould weaken bossism and corruption would politically but simultaneouslydeplete presidentialpower. The question of how farthe presidentis willingto go in reforming PRI is therefore the closely linked withhow much personal power the chiefexecutiveis willingto lose. Bossism also formsthe basis of PRI strengthas the basic mechanism throughwhich therank and fileare motivatedto vote forthe official to party.It is difficult imagine a more politicallyaccountable system in which the boss of the Confederacionde TrabajadoresMexicanos (CTM) would stillbe able to "appoint" union representatives congress. At the to to same time,it is difficult imagine thatunion bosses will continueto be willing to contain wage demands unless theirextralegal(patron-client) the powers are maintained.Underlying current governmental positionof is leaving corporatism unquestioned while underliningthe PRI's reform the desire to avoid a confrontation with official leaders who continueto of supportgovernmental wage policies despite curtailing theirprivileges (see Bizberg1990; Segovia 1990; Cornelius, Gentleman,and Smith,eds., 1989). of for Unless theimplications PRI reforms transforming clientelism and, in turn, the implicationsof changes in clientelismfor the overall stabilityof Mexico's political system are made explicit,analysts cannot will projecta precise image of the probable course thatreformism take in like authoritarianism, a theoretical Mexico. Althoughclientelism, is perthe spectivethatcannotfurnishthe answers, it can help formulate questions thatare crucialto understandingwhat lies under the mantleof current"modernization"policies.

The Pluralist toPolitical Path Change


of Earlyformulations the pluralistthesis on politicalchange failed to perceivethe significance existinginstitutional of obstacles to democratization in Mexico. In this context,the omnipresence of the state, the of strength the official party,and the absence of politicalpluralismwere all interpreted indicationsof an unfinishedprocess of democratization as thatwould eventuallybe completed. In contrast,more recent contributionsto thisview implicitly explicitly or includeweakening ofthe mechanisms sustainingtheauthoritarian stateas a prerequisite theliberation for of democratizing forces.As with the authoritarian perspective,the eco108

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nomiccrisisofthe 1980s appears to manyto offer auspicious preludeto an regimechange. Yet in this case, such conditionsare perceived as an opportunity liberating for pent-up demands foreffective politicalparticipation.Accordingto thisinterpretation, reform authoritarianism the of contemplatedearlierwould be insufficient resolve the crisisof credibility to suffered the regime,althoughit mighthelp strengthen forcesthat by the would eventuallyachieve a genuine democracy. At this point, it is importantto distinguishbetween two lines of argument thatimplyradicallydifferent kinds ofpoliticalchange. The first and most fullyanalyzed is the conservativereactionto the crisis of the state authoritarian-corporatist thatunfolded throughout the 1980s, leading to the strengthening the Partido de Accion Nacional. The kind of of democracy contemplated thisgroup is thecreationofa politicalmarket by based on the principleof competitive elections (Gilly 1990). The second line of argumentcalls forrenewal of the redistributive goals of the Mexican Revolution.It has acquired a definite institutional shape in the creationoftheFrenteDemocraticoNacional (FDN) out of a varietyofleftand centeropposition partiesthatchallenged the official PRI in the 1988 election. While the first argumentcalls forrepudiatingthe "social pact" and the interventionist state, the second seeks to renew these principlesvia democratization. will be shown, the latteris more closely associated As with the class debate on democratization than it is with the pluralistperspective. Considered a majorvoice ofconservativetendencies,PAN has traa of ditionally attracted variety social groups,from Catholictraditionalists to business elites and a small sectorof the urban middle classes (Tarres 1987). AlthoughPAN has been a permanentfixture Mexican politics in since the1940s (TorresRamirez 1971),itreceivedscant scholarly attention untilthe1980s.Its neglectwas due in greatpartto thedominancethroughout the 1970s ofthe authoritarian-corporatist thathas systematically view minimizedthe importanceof politicaldissidence. In the 1980s, however, the winds of democratization began to blow again throughseveral Latin Americancountries, and PAN's electoralstrength increasedsteadily(Molinar Horcasitas 1987; Gomez-Tagle1988, 1990). In the process, the conservativeright became thesubjectofspeculationregarding possibilities for the democratic change in Mexico. What links the analysis of this new developmentto the pluralist tradition thefocusingofmanyanalystson individualvalue changes and is the generationof a new politicalcultureas centralexplanationsfor the growing democraticdemands channeled by PAN in the 1980s (Loaeza 1989a,1989b;Tarres 1986,1990).Such changes are in turnsupportedby the classical pluralistargumentof increased urbanizationand education that are held responsibleforpolitically the activating urban middle strata.The crisis of the 1980s has therefore merelysharpened the level of political 109

LatinAmerican Research Review sciousness thathas grown steadily under the influenceof modernizing forces. PAN representsan impatientnew participative constituency that clamorsfor"unqualified democracy"(Krause 1987), yet one thatmerely aims at representingelectoralinterests.PAN has also become the focal point of demands foran end to the intervening state,thatis, the cornerstone on which Mexico's politicalinstitutions have rested since the Revolution. This approach would require the state to refrain fromdirecting the economy but also to cancel its commitment the popular classes, to whose lotwould be decided in thefuture market by forces.PAN can thereforebe regardedfrom pluralist a perspective a sourceofpoliticalchange as in two complementary ways: first, because its growingimportancerepresents a change in the "civic culture" of Mexico, and second, because it favorseconomic individualism,also an important componentof the pluralisttradition. While the organizationalform,politicalpractices,and ideological commitments theconservative of forcespressuringfordemocracyare relativelyclear, potentiallydemocratizinginfluences coming fromthe left end of the politicalspectrumare much more difficult capture analytito cally.Authorsinterestedin the potentialof social movementsfordemocraticchange have noted the break these movementsrepresentwith establishedpracticesof clientelismand state intermediation (RamfrezSaiz 1990; Carrillo1990; Cook 1990), and hence theirpotentialforerodingthe PRI's ideological hegemony.At the same time, however,these analysts recognizethe difficulties faced by such movementsin achievingeffective political change. On one hand, in order to gain institutional strength, these movementsmust establish an enduringconnectionwith the more stableorganizationalformsof the party, which threatentheirown identiinfluence. tiesand independenceand hence their potentialdemocratizing of coalitioncapable of On theotherhand, the sustainability a stableleftist challengingboth the PRI and the PAN has been questioned, despite the formidable campaign mounted by this coalition under the leadership of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas in the 1988 presidentialelection. The PRD that headed this coalition,while calling foran end to presidentialism and for the democratizationof labor and peasant organizations, is still closely associated withrevolutionary nationalism,which asserts the principleof state interventionism. The PRD has also been charged with replicating the as faithfully "dedazo" system(finger-pointing a method of selecting candidates) ofthePRI, ofwhichthePRD is thedirectideologicalheir(Carr the 1989). Furthermore, futureof the Cardenista coalition is considered uncertaindue to its failureto generate permanentorganizationalforms coalition. capable of sustaininga leftist How likelyis democratization, when perceived fromthe pluralist it forcesin perspective?Clearly, depends on thecapacityofdemocratizing 110

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societyto mount a serious enough challenge to established institutions either topple theofficial to partyby electoralmeans or to forcethegovernmentto definesome limitedinstitutional spaces withinwhich democratic processes may develop unencumberedby authoritarian corporatist structures.The first scenario presupposes the abilityof "pluralisticand democratic impulsesfrom society[to]overwhelm essentiallypeacefulmeans by the regime'sabilityto contain such forces" (Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith,eds., 1989,43). It also impliesthe inability thePRI eitherto carry of out its internal reform thoroughly enough to recoup its electoralstrength or to respond repressively and fraudulently theelectoralvictory rival to of parties.This optimistic scenario also ignoresthe profoundfragmentation of democratizing forcesin Mexico, especially the rift between the revolutionarynationalism of the democraticleftand the neoliberalismof the right,which would seem to preclude theirallyingagainst the PRI (Carr 1989). This fragmentation has been manifested in the incapacity of opposition partiesto establishstable structures and to offer specificalternatives to official policies followingthe 1988 election (Loaeza and Perez Gay 1989). The less optimisticscenario of partial democratizationat the local and regional levels runs into the same institutional and ideological obstacles arising fromthe deep regional fragmentation political alleof giances, an outcome thatis related to the PRI's reliance on local bosses (Asiz Nassif 1989b). Revival of the pluralisttraditionin recentanalyses of Mexico undoubtedlyrepresentsa gain in that it has renewed scholarlyinterestin as politicalphenomena issuing from society, opposed to reducingthemto the status of consequences of state actions. Yet this returnhas not been of accompaniedby thoroughreexamination the centralpropositionsthat have orientedpluralistthinking.As a result,the works inspired by this perspectivehave tended to endorse uncritically hypothesesbequeathed by earlypluralistanalyses withoutreaping the benefitof new evidence. For example, the economic approach in pluralisttheorythatviewed democracyas a natural consequence of economic development would appear to have been defeatedby historicalevidence. Most countriesin Latin America turned away fromdemocraticformsof governmentunder the spur ofeconomicgrowthin the 1960s but have come back to themamidst recession and debt crisisin the 1980s. In Mexico, economic downturnin the1980s,rather thaneconomicgrowth,appears to have accelerateddemocraticaspirations.Yetdespite thisevidence, the economicargumenthas made a comeback in a different disguise: it is now argued thatpolitical liberalizationis inextricably linked with modernizationof the economy because the corruptand inefficient structures inheritedfromauthoritarian corporatismhamper rational economic decision making. Although thisargument(whichis partofPAN's discourse)constitutes morean ideologicalpositionthana serious scholarly hypothesis,itis being diffused by 111

LatinAmerican Research Review intellectuals (Krause 1987; Zaid 1987) and takenseriouslyto task in scholarly analyses (Cornelius, Gentleman, and Smith, eds., 1989, 35). The in argument nevertheless different essence from is no DankwartRustow's hypothesisof a close relationshipbetween stages of economic developin mentand democracy. The rationaleimplicit both positions is that"premodern" (forRustow) or "corruptand inefficient" Krause and Zaid) (for structures inadequate formoderncapitalism.Both lines of reasoning are predictthat an archaic political system will or should be replaced by a one. This argumentthus disregardsthe posmodern,albeit democratic, thatauthoritarianism be "modernized." can sibility The "global conditions" approach to politicalliberalismalso finds itsnichein current discussions ofMexico'spoliticalfuture:electoraloppoin sitionhas been located primarily urban areas, where "large groups of the urban populace follow political developments events and . . . have access to more information than ever beforethroughthe press and electronic media" (Loaeza 1989b,351). Beneath thishypothesisis thepluralist credo thatindividuals develop civic capacities throughconstantcontact and collaboration,as typified with othersin situationsof communication by pluralistsin voluntaryassociations (Lipset 1960). But ifthiswere true, thenwhyhas thenow abundantliterature urban social movementsnot on yielded more evidence of pressures fordemocratic politicalchange? This in body ofworkprovides directinstancesofcitizeninvolvement practical like urban and land tenure,housing, local taxes, and public seraffairs vices. Yet most of those who have analyzed these movementsadmit that theirrole in effecting political change is limited (Foweraker1989, 1990; Street1991)and their (Munck linkagesto thepoliticalapparatus,uncertain 1990). Is it not possible thatelectoralpressures like those experiencedin 1988 are a passing phenomenon, with only shallow roots in permanent organizationalstructures capable of directing politicalaction? thatpostuthe Finally, culturalapproach to politicalmodernization lates a qualitativechange in the attitudes Mexicans towardtheirleaders of fromapathetic compliance to open defiance and participationalso deserves closer examination.Is this phenomenon traceableto the 1968 studentuprisingas some argue (Loaeza 1989a; Foweraker1989; Bartra1989; Cornelius, Gentleman,and Smith,eds., 1989)? Or should itbe treatedas a cyclicalphenomenon periodicallytriggered the internaltensions of by authoritarian corporatismand then eliminatedwhen these tensions are releasedby reforms? first The would allow analyststo speak interpretation of growingpressures forregime change, while the second entails pressure for authoritarianadjustments. Although the boundary between these two positions has oftenbeen blurredin recentanalyses, the consequences forpoliticalchange should be verydifferent.

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ClassandPolitical Change
The class perspectivehas undergone significant change worldwide in the past decade. Democracy,which aroused littleinterestin the past, became a major focus of nonorthodoxMarxists (Barros 1986; Chilcote 1988). In Latin America, the realization that popular mobilizations,far dictatorfrom bringingabout social revolutions,had ushered in military ships, led to revalidationof democracyas a means of popular empowerment (Chilcote 1988; Lechner 1986; Vasconi 1988; Brown 1988; Munck 1988).Yettheclass focuson democracyshould notbe confusedwitheither pluralistor authoritarian-reformist interestin this phenomenon. While and focuseson electoral thepluralist perspective competition authoritarianreformist authoritarian on structuresbecoming more flexible,the class of view looks upon democracyas the key to the equitable distribution resourcesto the majoritiesin Latin America (Harding and Petras 1988). Formaldemocratic rightsof freedomof speech and electoralcompetition are considered as mere means to these ends. Similarly, authoritarian reformism thatproposed by the Salinas administration like would be judged as simplyplacing the stamp of legitimacyon a formof capitalism that excludesthemajority from and exploitsto an unprecedented employment thatmakes up theformal degreethe minority labor force. The orthodoxview interprets Mexican crisisin the 1980s as a the new phase ofcapitalistrelationsofproductionrather than as a prelude to theirdemise. Consequently, the political changes associated with this new phase have no theoretical significance.They merelyreflect changes in thecompositionofthepower block resulting from thesemacro-changes (RiveraRios 1989). Thus now as before,rigidstagismin Marxistthinking impedes conceptualizingchange thatdoes notflowout ofa change in the mode ofproduction. A second school of thoughtremainsfaithful the idea of political to in change frombelow yet has difficulty detectingevidence of such processes in Mexico'srecentpast. When labor remainsidentified themajor as agent of change, the paradoxical factmust be faced thatMexican labor's increased exploitationhas not been accompanied by a recrudescenceof labor protest.The gradual opening of the Mexican economyto the international marketsince 1982 is said to have simultaneouslymarginalized official unions frommaking decisions about labor policy while further labor demands (de la Garza Toledo 1988). This process has in politicizing turnled to corporatismbecoming obsolete as an instrument mediating the relationsbetween labor and capital. The logical outcome of such a process should be mass desertionof official unions by the rank and file and renewed labor militancy independentunions. To explain the fact via thatsuch a shifthas not taken place, one analyst has proposed thatthe these deep changes is stillonly partialin thatit politicalcrisisunderlying 113

LatinAmerican Research Review union has involvedonly a crisisin relationsbetween the stateand official bosses (de la Garza Toledo 1988, 176). Yetthisexplanationleaves aside the question of why the rank and fileshould have stood by quietlywhile the away.Othershave explained bargaining poweroftheir bosses was frittered the relativelack of labor protestduringthe 1980s as displacementof the locus of discontentfrom workplaceto theneighborhoodand commuthe labor sectorin by nitylevels, a trendfacilitated thegrowthoftheinformal would acrelationto the formalsector(Davies 1990). This interpretation countforthefactthatthemajorchallengesto thepolicies ofeconomicauspopular organicame from terity duringthe de la Madrid administration zations headed by thecoordinadoras (Carr 1986).8 A thirdgroup of analysts has bypassed the question of socialism as altogether, focusingon permanence and change in identity a point of entryinto politicalchange. This currentis representedby Roger Bartra, who has focused on national cultureas the key to consolidatingpolitical in consensus in Mexico, notingthe break in this consensus starting 1968 (Bartra1989). Yet what this change portends, apart fromthe promise of clear.A less "alternative formsofexpression" (Bartra1989,69), is farfrom optimisticoutlook in this line of thinkinghas been adopted by Sergio who argues that mass pauperization in the 1980s has led to Zermento, general"decadence" and "anomie," and hence to a diminishedcapacityto 1990). organize on thepartof subordinateclasses (Zermento Given thecurrent questioningofthe majorconceptualinstruments that have guided class analysis in the past, constructionof alternative futurescenarios is greatly hampered. Having abandoned the concept of labor exploitationas the catalystof revolutionaryupheavals, the nonammuwithoutitstraditional theoretical orthodoxclass perspectiveis left nitionto predictpoliticalchange in the context crisis.As the same time, of thisperspectivehas not developed its argumenton democratization fully the a domain clearlydistinguishable from enough to formulate theoretical pluralistperspective.Earlyhopes forthe consolidationof Cardenismo as have been disappointed. theinstitutionalized expressionoftheleft political Yetno alternative organizationshave emergedto voice thedemands ofthe impoverishedMexican masses, despite continued pressures on wages, and the generalized pauperizationof the maincreasingunemployment, is jorityof Mexicans. The consequence of these difficulties thatmore attentionis being devoted to partial and micro changes, especially to the in pressures forinternaldemocratization popular organizations,than to
8. An exceptionto thatpattern theteachers'union, whichhas been internally is splitsince the 1970s between a militant "democratic tendency"struggling union democracyand a for traditionalist wing. This union has consistentlyand successfullyfoughtforhigherwages Marxist throughout the crisis years. Even so, it is not easy to classifywithin a traditional framework partoftheproletariat. detailson theteachers'movement,see Street(1986), as For Hernandez (1986), Salinas and Imaz (1989), and Cook (1990).

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macro politicalchanges (Otero 1989; Carrillo 1990; Cook 1990; Fox and Gordillo1989; Harvey 1990).
CONCLUSION

This article soughtto identify theoretical has the frameworks within whichtheMexican politicalsystemhas been analyzed in thepast in order to assess the difficulties each pose forstudyingpoliticalchange as well as theopportunities understanding for thisprocess. Fourbasic perspectives have been singled out-patron-client,pluralist,authoritarian-corporatist, and class-to demonstrate thateach containsa distinctive logic ofpolitical permanenceand change thathas orientedscholarlyworkin the past and remainspresentin morerecentworks. Today's analystsof politicalchange in Mexico are stillbeholden to theseearlierefforts, whetheror notthemore recentauthorsacknowledge theirdebt. The most importantcontrastfound in theirwork is thatbetween the logic of changes fromabove and thatof changes frombelow. is The first most explicitly incorporatedinto the authoritarian-corporatist and patron-client perspectives.The logic ofchange from below,whichhas and class perspectives, been associatedwithpluralist the mayarisefrom effects a restricted of or of democracy from politicalmobilization the masses. Recognizing the multiplicity sources of change implied by the of different logics explaining such change, however,does not necessarily mean thatthese insightsare interchangeableor can be combined indisin criminately. example,itis a contradiction termsto apply thevocabFor ularyofpluralismto the subject ofpresidentialreforms, in sayingthat as Mexico is becomingmore democratic because thepresidenthas decided it will. It is similarly erroneousto discuss democratic processes in theterms of authoritarianism, in speaking of the PRI leadership as "mobilizing" as the grass roots. Thus the demarcationof theoretical horizons suggested of by the presentanalysis underscoresthe complexity analyzing political change by flaggingthequestion ofhow different theoretical insightsmay be fruitfully and methodologicalimcombined,as well as the theoretical plicationsofsuch combinations. This discussion suggests thatno single theoretical framework can encompass the totalityof the social processes that must be taken into account in analyzing politicalchange in Mexico. For example, one may choose to analyze current institutional reforms engineeredby the Salinas administration fromthe authoritarian-corporatist perspective,given that the the theycome from top down and aim at preserving establishedorder littlein the (albeit in a different form).This perspective,however,offers ofexplanationofwhythe Salinas administration undertaking such is way reformsat all, especially in the face of stronginternalopposition. The pluralistand class perspectives,in contrast,may go a long way toward 115

LatinAmerican Research Review explainingthe resurgenceof urban movementsand the increasingclass polarizationof Mexican society.A mergerof the theoretical frameworks would suggestthatclass polarizationand political mobilization createpressure on theauthoritarian institutional framework, whose centralelitesare thenmoved to make changes to help themreinforce theirpower,whether throughrepressionor reform some combination the two. or of Thus the pluralist and class perspectives on social change offer explanationsforthe pressures and counterpressures which the domito nant orderis subjected. Understandingthese pressures provides insight intothereformist repressivestrategiesadopted by the governingelite, or even though the pluralistand class perspectivesare alien to the logic of and hence contribute authoritarian corporatism little the analysis ofthe to dominant institutional framework.For that analysis, the authoritarianand patron-client corporatist perspectiveshave more to offer. Taken by themselves,each of the fourperspectives offers only a partialand incompleteview of avenues of change. Analystsmay make a varietyof discoveries:thatMexican citizens are "ready" forparticipative structurescan be made more flexibleor have politics; that authoritarian become vulnerable; or thateconomic downturnhas deepened inequality and exploitation.But historyis full of instances when change has been held in check-despite thewillingnessofkeyactorsto effect change or the "readiness" of society for a new kind of regime. In Mexico, democratic mechaaspirationshave been contained by the controlledparticipatory nisms imposed by state corporatism.But they have also surfaced periodically at various historicaljunctures, although not necessarilyat the most favorabletimes, judging fromthe repression to which they have been subjected. In this sense, it may be said that the Mexican political systemhas always included importantelementstendingtoward democracy: in the election of Francisco Madero followingthirty years of a dictatorial for of regime;in the defeatedstruggles union democracy the 1940s; in the Henriquista movementof 1952; in the Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional (MLN) ofthe early1960s; or in the "democratic tendency"among electricalworkersin the 1970s. The student uprising of 1968, far from being a qualitativestep, is merelyanotherdramaticlandmark in a long process characterized contradictory tendencies. by In sum, reexaminationof the fourexplanatoryschemes analyzed in thisarticlesuggests thatthetaskbeforeus goes farbeyond formulating predictionson thebasis of one particularlogic of politicalchange, as has been thepracticein thepast. This task requiresthatwe distinguishclearly betweenforcespushing forand againstchange. It also requiresthe ability to deal withthe complexinteractions between the distinct mechanismsof affect politicalpermanence and change thatmay simultaneously political and actors. Following this path, we may begin to link the institutions scenarios ofpoliticalchange thathave been proposed to parhypothetical 116

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ticularconfigurations societal processes, and ultimately particular of to historical junctures.The resultofsuch an open-ended theoretical strategy should be historically oriented studies of Mexico's political system that map out the different "mixes" of dynamic factorsimpelled by internal logics thatalternatively reinforce and counteract one another, resulting in for complexpressuresand counterpressures change.

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