In this world of today, nationhood is imagined to be as natural as rivers and mountain ranges  

rm_MexiDready 35M
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10/12/2005 11:47 pm

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3/5/2006 9:27 pm

In this world of today, nationhood is imagined to be as natural as rivers and mountain ranges

Concepts of nationhood and nationalism varied in the revolutionary struggles of Mexico, Russia, and China. In each of these cases one can see a relationship between, where one resides, and how that effects concepts of nationhood, or nationalism. So, in a sense ones concept of nationhood, and nationalism are natural, as they are tied to the natural environment that one interacts with on a daily basis. Different areas of the country in Mexico, Russia, and China produced distinctive revolutionary forces that were attempting to solve the grievances of their particular region. Through these struggles arose concepts of nationalism and nationhood that served the Revolutionary, in their attempt to stay allied amongst the people, as they were trying to solidify power.

In Mexico the Revolution of 1910 had its roots dating back to the times of Spanish rule. Mexican Independence gave birth to a search for a national identity. Before this their was a complicated system of castes that placed persons on a hierarchal schema based on their blood lineage. Of course persons with European blood were on the very top with those persons from Spain (native born) being at the very top. This created a systematic racist consciousness among the inhabitants of Spanish ruled Mexico. During the war for independence one of the major driving forces in this war was the peasantry. Hence after independence there was a proclamation to “an end to the discriminatory system of castas: henceforth all Mexicans--whether Indians, castas, or American-born Creoles of Spanish parents--were to be known simply as ‘Americans.’ There was to be an end to slavery and to special tribute. Land taken from Indain communities was to be restored to them. Property owned by Spaniards and Hispanophile Creoles was to be taken from them (Wolf, p..” Even directly after independence one sees the indigenous peoples of Mexico demanding their ancestral lands returned to them. A key issue that lay unresolved due to the lack of interest from those in power and the biased or corrupted legal system that oversaw these cases when they came to court. This decree of ending the racist casta system never fully developed. In the Porfiriato, “during the final decade of the nineteenth century, the leaders of this new controlling group formed a clique which soon came to be known as the Cientificos (Wolf, pp.13-14).” These cientificos believed that all indigenous influence had to be taken out of Mexico. The main goal of these cientificos was to make Mexico more like European society, which they believed to be the hallmark of a civilized society. “Claiming to be scientific positivists, they saw the future of Mexico in the reduction and obliteration of the Indian element, which they regarded as inferior and hence incapable of development, and in the furthermore of ‘white’ control, national or international (Wolf, p.14).” One can say that the cientificos environment of foreign schooling, higher social status, and various other factors contributed to the formation of a national identity or nationhood that was far removed from that of the average Mexican. The Porfiriato managed to alienate all sectors of society. There were four main groups that rose against Diaz in the Revolution of 1910. Their was Obregon a liberal constitutionalist, Carranza a conservative constitutionalist, Pancho Villa an urban rural figure, and Emiliano Zapata a rural tradionalist figure. These four groups were concentrated fairly independent from one another with the exception of Pancho Villa and Carranza. This led to four different revolutionary agendas or in other words a revolution of ideology after the initial defeat of Diaz. They all agreed on one issue and that was the removal of Diaz. The similarities pretty much ended there and caused a battle over national identity. These groups were fighting for representation of their ideologies in the constitution that was to be written anew. In the end the Zapatista’s were represented through a land reform claws, the Villista’s through a labor reform claws, the Carranzista’s through a anti-foreign investment quota claws, and the Obregonista’s won power retaining it for years to come through what later became the PRI political party.

In Russia one can see resemblances to Mexico in terms of how the environment one is resides in develops ones views of nationhood or nationalism. “In the black-soil areas where cultivation was productive and profitable it was in the interests of the landowners to appropriate as much of the arable land as they could, and to leave the peasant as little as possible, thus forcing him to labor on the noble estates. In the north agriculture was poor and land of little value, but where the landlord’s surplus had been derived form the payment of dues in kind or money, it was to the interest of the landlord to rid himself of unproductive land and to seek instead maximum compensation for the personal freedom of his serfs (Wolf, p.55).” This regional difference led to an emancipation of the serfs but this was an emancipation that differed greatly in the south and in the north. This led to very different grievances associated with ones identity of being either from the south or north of Russia. Communes were very popular in the South but almost non-existent in the South. This is an important aspect, because “with the peasant population compressed on reduced amounts of land, the communes began to function as veritable pressure cookers of demand and discontent (Wolf, p.65).” “They were, moreover, much less common in the non-black-soil areas where there existed alternative sources of employment in artisan and industrial work, but were at their most concentrated in the black-soil provinces which relied so heavily upon agriculture (Wolf, p.67).” These environments shaped grievances and the Russian Revolution. “In agricultural matters, they relied in the last instance upon their bailiffs and upon the elected representatives of the village commune. Thus they came to be dependent upon the state, ruling from above, and upon the peasant commune, with its customs and agricultural practices, constraining their ability to make decisions from below (Wolf, p.77).”

In China clans gave the peasantry or dissidents the ideology, belief systems, and basic tools for revolution. “The White Lotus, had raised the flag of rebellion against the Yuan dynasty, established by the Mongol invaders, coupling it nationalist appeal with messianic expectation so f a new Buddha-Matreya, a savior who would usher in a new reign of justice (Wolf, p.111).” This clan inspired a slew of other dissident forces “All of these societies--and there were many others--drew their members from disaffected gentry; from the peasantry, especially from dispossessed and marginal peasantry, and from artisans, petty merchants, smugglers, demobilized soldiers, and bandits (Wolf, p.111).” China was economically segregated and this was exploited by revolutionary forces after the collapse of the dynasty in 1911. “Some areas had banks, others--perhaps too uncertain politically-lacked them. Some landlords would invest their money in commercial enterprises, others--in a neighboring village--would bury their gold in the ground. These differentials produced great local variations and underwrote different social relations in one locality as against another, in one region as against another region (Wolf, pp.131-132).” Again another example of how ones environment effects the grievances one may have and therefore also affect views of nationhood or nationalism.

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