Max Weber, the German sociologist, wrote that modernity –“the fate of our time”- consists of the advance of rationality and the retreat of the mystery, which he denominates “the disenchantment of the world.” Modernization implied, in his conception, the abandonment of magic in order to incorporate rationality into the making of decisions and the bureaucracy to implement them.
From the Revolution on, the Mexican government advanced the formalization of the political, governmental and bureaucratic structures, rationalizing decision-making and assimilating mechanisms of predictability above all in relation to economic policy making. In this manner there arose institutions such as the Banco de México, the regulatory entities in matters of insurance, securities and, eventually, energy and access to information. The same objective was followed through the negotiation of international treaties and lines of credit, as well as membership in multilateral organizations of diverse types. This entailed a process of institutionalization that from its initiation recognized the transcendence of informing and providing clarity of course to the citizenry as well as to the economic agents. Possessing information and transparent rules of the game builds the trust of the population in making decisions, above all in the era of infinite alternatives.
The objective: to consolidate the development of the economy and guarantee its continuity beyond the normal market highs and lows, changes in governments and unforeseen situations. The premise at the outset was that no government would attempt against what is “rational” in the sense of Weber: permanence and predictability in governmental decisions.
Recent events in economic as well as in security matters in Mexico make it plain that Weberian logic does not form part of the tool set and logic of President López Obrador. From his perspective, the systematic deterioration of the economic indicators and the growing violence in the country are insufficient evidence (and perhaps unnecessary in his view) of the lack of viability of the economic as well as the security strategy. His rationale is another and does not adhere to the traditional cannons of Mexico or the rest of the world.
The new rationality is political and comprises part of the rejection, not only of everything that has been accumulating in legislative matters and in the governmental decisions of the last four decades, but also of the way the world has changed during that same period. For the present government, the changes in matters of economic strategy, that the President calls, in pejorative terms, “the reforms,” were the result of internal decisions owing to ideological considerations and not as a consequence of the changes the world was undergoing, the product of trade liberalization, the transformation of the way of producing and the explosion of information (and its accessibility) all of this due principally to technology. Mexico is a sovereign nation and ought not attach itself to standards alien to its history.
From this perspective, the new rationality that guides governmental decisions breaks dramatically with the recent past, given that the government associates liberalization with corruption, technocrats with elitism and any counterweight with abuse. In this logic, Mexico has not experienced a democratic transformation, but rather a growing disorder that must be controlled. The “old” Constitution should be substituted with a new constitutional assembly which guarantees democracy, understanding the latter as a demarcation of the de facto powers that have only brought suffering, inequality and oppression. Thus, the current government did not win a clean and democratic election, but instead seized power and possesses the mandate and the obligation to transform the country, implying, to start with, the dismantling of all structures and institutions that mark off and delimit presidential power, thus impeding the consolidation of this new democratic State.
To put it in plain words, the government is not anguishing over the deterioration that characterizes the economy or the distress that the population is undergoing because of the flourishing insecurity. Its “higher” objectives transcend these conservative and elitist gauges. In a word, those who doubt the new rationality or the strategies the government pursues are part of the morally defeated opposition, thus not worthy of any legitimacy whatsoever. It is the government that establishes the rules of the game (such as that prescribing that economic decisions should be subordinated to politics) and, more importantly, it is the president who defines the yardstick by which the results of his actions will be evaluated. With this criterion, measurements such as economic growth, inflation or the number of deaths are inadequate units for determining the degree of advance or retreat of the government. What happens outside of Mexico and the options that citizens or investors have are irrelevant.
No government in the XXI Century can ordain its rules and advance development. It’s one or the other. To date, AMLO has been able to count on the support of the citizens; he has no idea what will hit him when that changes.