In the early nineties, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Enrique Krauze explored the implications of those events on Latin-American countries, arriving at the conclusion that the last Stalinist would not die in the USSR, but rather in a university cubicle in Latin America. His sole error concerned the venue: the last Stalinists are to be found in the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City and in its equivalents in other nations in the continent’s South. The messianism characterizing this wave of governments and their retinues is late, aberrant and nostalgic, but not for that less powerful. And destructive.
Victor Sebestyen, the Hungarian historian, writes, in his history of the Russian Revolution that “The men and women who made the Russian Revolution wanted to change the world… The intention at first may have been to overthrow the Tzar and a dynasty that had ruled Russia for three centuries as an autocracy… But it went way beyond that… their faith was no less than to perfect mankind and put an end to exploitation by one group of people -one class- by another… The appeal of Communism was religious, spiritual and the Party was t Church. Trotsky wrote: ‘Let future generations of people cleanse life of all evil, oppression and violence and enjoy it to the full.ˊ The messianic scale of the Bolsheviks’ ambition made the scale of their failure so vast and shocking.”
The Soviet Union did not collapse because it was a good idea but poorly implemented, as many Socialists argue, but instead because it was a bad idea that clashes(ed) with human nature. Worse yet, in order to put it into practice, the Bolsheviks resorted to a regime of terror that consisted of, in the words of Robert Conquest, another historian of the USSR, more of a nightmare than a dream. Although (fortunately) the plan of the Mexican messianic is less violent than that of those who inspired it, the obstinacy of denying human nature is always present in their manner of acting, as exemplified by their science policy, the new textbooks and, in general, their vision of excluding the citizenry from the diverse tasks and activities of the nation’s development.
Now that the twilight of this administration is under way, it is unavoidable to evaluate the costs of a project that did not come together (fortunately) because it did not fit with the reality of the XXI century, because it did not count on the natural creativity of the Mexican (our famous jacks of all trades), because the economy is infinitely more complex, deep and successful that the government considered and, above all, because it was a really bad idea. Additionally, as demonstrated by the way they assembled the new textbooks -by people driven by an attempt to preserve a vision that clashes with the world in which today’s children will have to live when they reach adulthood, as well as its vindictive nature- the project did not even entertain an objective of development, but rather a messianism whose only purpose is electoral: that everyone, today’s adults and, through the indoctrination of the children -the adults of the future- would vote for Morena.
The messianism of the project is evidenced in the expectation of a complete transformation without there being any groundwork to achieve it, except, perhaps, to polarize, disqualify and attack. The flip side of that coin is the triviality of the objective: staying in power. The contrast between the maximalist rhetoric and the baseness of its purpose speaks for itself.
But none of that lessens the damage or the consequences. Before anything else, there’s the opportunity cost: all the time and resources that were wasted instead of employing them in the construction of a better future. Then comes the destruction -literally- of assets, such as the new international airport, appropriate for the needs of a country that aspires to grow and enjoy life and, first and foremost, that their children would enjoy the prosperity for which increasingly more Mexicans scan the horizon and that which too many governments have ignored in terms of the imperative of smoothing the way in that direction (such as dealing intelligently, but effectively, with organized crime, the extortion and the local political bosses -caciques- opposed to progress that proliferate chiefly in the country’s South). Finally, maybe the greatest of the damages is the absurdity of attempting to go against the proven formulas for development that characterize nations as diverse as Canada, Vietnam, China and Spain.
Mexico finds itself at a unique moment in the history of humanity: technology has favored economic integration among nations, geography has gifted Mexicans with access to the largest world market and geopolitics have created the opportunity to come by hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, with the consequent potential for the creation of wealth, jobs and, in a word, future. All that is lacking is to focus on creating the conditions for this to materialize, so that the drip-by-drip of nearshoring turns into a cascade of investments.
The messianism of this government has led to the cancelling out the opportunity with its political strategy and its criminal weakening of the health and educational sectors, its attack on the judiciary and the destruction of the infrastructure. What it has not destroyed is the aspiration for a better Mexico and therein lies the true opportunity because that, in contrast with the other elements, does not depend on the government.