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the laborer, particularly in the case of the peon, to a condition worse than under Diaz. Moreover, the plethora of laws and decrees issued by the Federal government and the various states in his behalf, has in many instances been a dead letter. Frequently they have done him downright harm since the possibility of their enforcement has discouraged the investment of new capital, the revival of industry and the employment of labor.


Yet in the final analysis it cannot be denied that Mexican labor has proceeded apace along the difficult road of social progWhatever the future may hold in store, a return to all of the conditions existing prior to 1910 is unthinkable. Neither the Mexican laborers nor their employers will tolerate again such abuses as regards hours and wages as formerly existed among many of the operatives in cotton factories. Moreover, the last remnants of peonage have been swept aside never to return. Yet save for these gains, the rural classes of Mexicans have profited little by the ten years of revolutions except in a few favored localities. Until some concerted intelligent effort is made to improve the lot of the peons one of Mexico's greatest social problems will remain unsolved.


Mexico, Secretaria de Fomento. Boletin de la Direccion General de Estadistica, (Mexico, 1914), containing the census returns for 1910 is the most important of these documents. Labor Conditions in Mexico, by Walter E. Weyl, Bulletin of the Department of Labor, January, 1912; Wallace Thompson, The People of Mexico (ch. X, "The Conditions of Labor''), (New York, 1921).



By ISAAC J. Cox, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

The Fundamental Factors: First and most important of all is the human factor. The Mexican population is a mixed one, formed of Iberian and aboriginal elements in varying ethnic combinations, in which, along some stretches of the coast one may occasionally detect a slight African tinge. Possibly two-fifths of this population would still be classed as Indian-an inaccurate and widely variant term-and one-tenth as European, largely descended from Spanish incomers; but the mestizo element is gaining in numbers and influence at the expense of the other two and at no distant day is destined to control the country. Physically and mentally this element has derived more from its aboriginal forebears than from any other source, and it may be well to consider what this heritage definitely means.

We may take for granted the existence of a relatively high capacity for culture among these aborigines. The Mayan and Aztec monuments prove that, not to mention evidences of commendable progress in sculpture, pottery, feather-work, weaving, wood-working, and certain household arts, whose vestiges still survive in remote portions of the country. While their political system had hardly advanced beyond the stage of tribal confederacies and their religion centered around attempts to propitiate unfriendly deities through human sacrifice, they had in most quarters developed a village community life that still remains. the most important social factor of primitive Mexican life.

The Spanish conqueror exerted his cultural influence mainly through two agencies-the church and the encomienda (labor trusteeship). As for the latter, we may say that it was a system of forced labor that made neither for efficiency nor moral uplift. Because of its repressive character the intellectual outlook of the native at the end of the colonial period was little, if any, higher than at the beginning. Such slight improvement as had occurred was due to the church. That organization provided for the native a milder system of worship, a stimulating ritual, certain restricted opportunities for elementary and higher instruction, and a new language. These cultural opportunities included some definite guidance in vocational training-in building, raising crops, caring for domestic animals-during the process of reducing" the warlike Indians to standards more closely approximating those of the conquerors. For the Spaniard the church afforded almost the only agency of social and intellectual expression. Nearly all important work in linguistics, literature, and science, and all of devotional and ritualistic character, was performed by churchmen or under church auspices.


A new day dawned with the nineteenth century and among its harbingers appeared the spirit of political idealism. To some extent, this originated in the United States, but the Spanish colonies derived their manifestations of it from France-a country that has generally exercised intellectual leadership among the Romance peoples. In time, this Gallic influence almost drove the church out of the secular field. Naturally, that organization struggled to maintain its ascendency in statecraft. The resulting conflict had an educational bent as well, but at the end of a half century of national existence, Mexico, intellectually and politically, was more free from ecclesiastical domination than any other portion of Latin-America. But that does not lessen the original debt to the Spanish ecclesiastic nor argue that the churchman will ever cease to wield a strong spiritual influence in Mexican life.

The struggle against clerical control was largely affected by the simultaneous attempt to break away from centralized political control and by a demand for fewer class distinctions. In neither respect has the result seemed as successful as the attempt to prescribe limits to ecclesiastical control, nor has this failure. been wholly unfortunate. The Latin-American has always been ready to recognize intellectual genius, whatever the social status. or the political affiliation of the possessor.

The intellectual side of political emancipation manifested itself in constitutional and legislative programs for public schools. These represented the ideals of a coterie rather than well-formulated popular aspirations and in the midst of continual political disturbance there were no funds to set them going. In this period of general need, public and private organizations alike had recourse to the Lancasterian system of instruction. In the national capital and in many of the state centers this system was established in the early twenties and maintained itself for upwards of a half century. With all its defects it proved a most welcome supplement to the meager educational resources for primary instruction.

In the secondary schools of this period, and indeed throughout the century, the most pronounced source of inspiration was the positive philosophy of August Comte. Very likely its enthusiastic devotees stretched its scientific implications too far, for the Latin mind-granted there is such a distinct intellectual entity is not prevailingly scientific and painstaking. But the type of thought exhibited by the Comtian devotees on this side of the Atlantic, even with its plethora of indigestible educational programs, was distinctly superior to the scholastic system it displaced. The name of Comte has been more than a pedagogic symbol.

With the advent of Diaz came the heyday of modern capitalism in Mexico. The school system, both public and private, gradually reacted to changed economic conditions. The coming of

the foreign capitalist often meant the presence of new educational agencies at least for the instruction of foreign children. These agencies aroused the imitative instinct of the native administrator who copied form if not spirit and achieved thereby a certain inward satisfaction. At the same time, German exponents introduced directly the principles of continental pedagogy, supplementing rather than supplanting the prevalent French influence, while those who moved back and forth across the northern border carried with them some impress of the American system. Thus France, Germany and the United States contributed their quotas to the intellectual advance of Modern Mexico. As the Diaz administration wore on, an increasing number of Mexican pedagogues sought in these countries a training that might fit them to preserve these initial gains. From this group has come the commendable advances of recent years in public instruction.

Intellectual progress must inevitably be accompanied by increasing discontent with an unfair social and economic system. It was but natural, therefore, that with the spread of literacy, this discontent should manifest itself in political revolt, and that the school teacher should often prove its most conspicuous exponent. Perhaps the gains through revolt, as measured by educational efficiency have not yet proved equal to the losses, but revolutionists are inclined to believe that the future educational prospects of the country justify the ambitious, if immediately destructive attempt at self expression.

Thus upon a native foundation has been raised a cultural superstructure composed of indigenous and foreign elements, and shaped in the stress of political and social revolt. A different development might have been more effective, but such were the main factors through which Mexico actually reached her present cultural development.

Early Aims and Opportunities: Until within the last half century the educational policy of Mexico was based on a relatively simple assumption-all classes of people should accept without question the lot in life which church and state, usually in accord, had determined for them. For some of the outlying Indian tribes the mission admirably served this purpose. In it, under the instruction of devoted ecclesiastics, the natives learned to build the substantial and charming structures that housed their teachers and themselves, and to keep them in order along with the appurtenant lands, flocks, and herds. Some of the brighter ones of these communities, especially among the males, might acquire a smattering in the "three R's," and all were trained in the simple formulas of "Christian Doctrine." After a generation or two of such indoctrination, the neophytes were turned over to parish priests, the government generally absorbing any surplus property of the establishment. In this secularizing process many traces of exotic culture disappeared.

While the more fortunate Indians measurably profited from the simple regimen of the mission, the greater part of them fell directly under a system of forced labor that has continued with little change to the present day. For their rude tasks in mine or on hacienda little instruction has been necessary. Even such chances for improvement as were afforded by casual contact with the dominant race were denied them by laws that provided for their maintenance in separate villages, from which outsiders were excluded. The more remote tribes were unaffected by mission or labor system and some two million of them in a total population of over fifteen millions, still speak their native dialects. Add to these double that number who under a system of forced labor have been taught just enough to be kept exploitable and one may judge the size of the task that awaits the modern successor of Las Casas.

From the earliest period there has been more provision, at least in the populous centers, for a fraction of the Mestizo children and for the Creoles. Some of the former had to be trained for subordinate positions of trust and the latter for a more or less innocuous leadership. Thus both classes received primary instruction of a rudimentary type in schools maintained by the church, and supplemented, toward the close of the colonial period, by a few maintained by municipalities. Favored boys might aspire to a course in a "colegio," where instruction in the humanities, in art, in mediaeval theology, or later in law, medicine, or engineering awaited them. These opportunities were neither broad nor deep, but they corresponded to the demands of life about them and compared not unfavorably with similar opportunities in neighboring European colonies. Save for the restrictive force of the Inquisition there was little to mark the system of the Spaniards as less liberal than that of their rivals.

Because of the Inquisition's crushing weight New Spain was affected even less than Old Spain by the new spirit of philosophy that Newton and Descartes introduced. The Bourbon sovereigns showed a more liberal spirit. Carlos III patronized an art school and an engineering school and housed them both sumptuously in the City of Mexico. Museums and botanical gardens also appeared in that city. Official periodicals and public literary functions became the order of the day. But these evidences of intellectual awakening affected comparatively few. The Inquisition still sought to keep from the elect those disturbing philosophical and political writings that emanated from Paris.

In its writings, at least, the movement for political independence gave promise of a genuine intellectual purpose-a purpose that the legislation of the first half of the nineteenth century did little to justify. None of the new state or national constitutions established religious toleration. All of them professed a deep interest in public instruction, but all measures of the sort that were really effective were furthered by the municipalities, the

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