Adam David Morton: Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development.

Author:Nilsen, Alf Gunvald
Position::Book review

Adam David Morton Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011 ; 301 pp: 9789742554894 (hbk) 49.95 [pounds sterling]

In Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development, Adam Morton has produced a study that is nothing short of seminal. Building a compelling theoretical dialogue between the revolutionary theories of Gramsci and Trotsky, Morton argues that 'the struggle-driven course of uneven and combined development and modern state formation in Mexico can be best understood as a set of constructed and contested class practices characteristic of a passive revolution, that is, a condition in which capitalist development is either instituted and/or expanded, resulting in both a "revolutionary" rupture and a "restoration" of social relations' (p. 4).

The first part of the book presents a magisterial map of the contested trajectory of Mexican state formation from the revolution of the early 20th century, via developmentalism centred on import substitution industrialisation (ISI), to the contemporary regime of neoliberal capitalism.

In a context of long-standing feudal stagnation, the Mexican revolution of 1910 was 'the first passive revolution of the twentieth century in Latin America' (p. 47). Popular agency was a central driving force in the revolution, but its trajectory was ultimately defined by a state-directed expansion of capitalist relations of production. With the advent of Cardenismo, the project of national modernisation was expanded through a partial incorporation of peasants' and workers' organisations so as to ensure what Morton refers to as 'a bourgeois minimal hegemony under the single state-party system' (p. 58). In an effective analysis, the book brings out how the era of ISI developmentalism witnessed a continued deepening of capitalist property relations, driven by a state that rapidly became 'the fulcrum of capital accumulation' (p. 67). Morton details the spatial unevenness of capitalist development across Mexico's regions and argues that this period was one in which Mexico witnessed the emergence of a 'state in capitalist society' (p. 72) that--despite its limitations as a less than fully-functioning capitalist state--was capable of 'tying the nurturing and consolidation of a national bourgeoisie to state intervention, within a world context dominated by foreign capital' (p. 86).

Morton then details the unravelling...

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