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MEXICO: The Ongoing Argument

Linda Nyquist, who insists she is not pro-Marcos but just trying to be fair, calls our attention to an important book:

"With regard to the remark about the Indians not being enterprising, may I suggest Erich Fromm's book, Social Character in a Mexican Village. This noted psychoanalyst talks a lot about peasant character. It is illuminating. And it is extremely important to consider the school system in Mexico. Many indigenous children do not go beyond the first couple of grades. Regardless, they are taught largely by rote, and teachers expect absolute compliance. Little individualism is encouraged. Are not "enterprising" and "individualism" related to one another? Are we not judging the behavior of this group by standards which apply more to us? "

My reply: Yes, but lack of a spirit of enterprise in peoples may explain why they are backward. Without it, no people will improve its lot. It can come and go in a people for complex reasons. Renaissance Europe had it, but so did the "enterprising" whites who conquered the American West at the expense of the Indians. It can be a mixed blessing.

Ronald Hilton - 3/11/01