When one reads Kafka’s novels -The Trial, The Castle, The Metamorphosis - there is no way to avoid the sensation of confusion and fascination as one goes through those labyrinths of fear, uncertainty, anxiety, irony, and the every-present lacerating humor. Whoever looks through the pages of the Mexican-national newspapers or is brave enough to watch the early-morning presidential renderings could do nothing other than conclude that Kafka indeed lives in and resides in Mexico.
Mexico is a clinical case, on occasion a pathological one, and sometimes exceptionally healthy. Both realities coexist in all ambits: pacific regions and violent zones; a vigorous economy in some districts and depression in others; rising scholarship and extreme illiteracy; impressive wealth and acute poverty. Mexico is a cultural mosaic but also a cluster of benign and malignant contrasts. What works in some regions is spurned in others, and vice versa. The diversity is impacting, but so also are the disparities. Mexico is one thing and the other, all at the same time.
In this electoral season it is easy to fall back on simple phrases to attempt to explain exceedingly complex circumstances where, however much an individual aspiring to govern wishes, ready-made solutions that arise on short notice do not always work. The diversity, disparity, inequality and complexity of Mexico must be ministered to with viable strategies, not only for each one of them, but also for all of them, but without disdain toward the need to create conditions for these differences to find an exit channel. It is equally ingenuous to pretend that what constitutes a solution for a problematic in the Mexican state of Sonora is going to function, for example, in Chiapas State; each situation is different. Governing implies finding the golden mean between the general and the particular, a point intensely difficult to achieve.
The first great disquisition must be philosophical in character: attempt to control all of the processes or create conditions so that every Mexican can find the opportunities possible for them. The first pathway, Mexico’s history shows, leads us directly to the gallows. The second, duly structured, obliges the government to resolve problems at the same that it facilitates conditions for the citizenry to be productive and for the latter to make the process its own. Resolving problems so that progress could be possible is the most directly conducive path to development.
But resolving problems is not an easily obtained objective. Mexico’s problems are vast and complex but are not novel. At least from Andrés Molina Enríquez in his book The Great National Problems published a century ago, it is clear that Mexico confronts a plethora of circumstances, such as inequality and poverty, which have not been resolved. The past one hundred years have been witness to a diversity of attempts, limited and ambitious alike, to deal with these problems, but the result, on the whole, is not especially commendable. The current government tried a new version of the same -wagonloads of money- without the country coming to entertain a better possibility of advancing. I ask myself whether now would not be the time to scan the horizon for a different future.
Now that Mexicans find themselves in the face of a change of government, it would be desirable to procure novel ways of confronting the diverse problematics that the country comes up against, while those factors already nearly on track or that can almost function on their own are supported. There are no perfect solutions nor are there unambiguous ones, but there are indeed things that are known to function, while there are others that merit new ways of thinking and acting. The choice is very clear: pretending to control the uncontrollable given the diversity and dispersion of the population or focusing efforts and resources on the spaces and populations most susceptible to transforming themselves to join the process of development.
The problems facing Mexico, like those of other latitudes, are not incorrigible; in technical terms, everything has a solution. The problems are, deep down, political, because they respond to ideological interests, cultural interests or preferences that have nothing to do with the technical nature of the situation. These are the factors that differentiate nations in the way they face up to, or do not face to, their problems. These differences are also the factors that generate certainty or uncertainty.
Viewed from this perspective, the pertinent question would be, what is the best way to advance a long-term development project that additionally yields short-term tangible benefits, especially under rubrics such as poverty, income and growth? This question evidently presupposes that development is the objective, something that cannot be said for the outgoing administration, but that doubtlessly permeates the discourse of those aspiring to head up the next government. ln this context, it would not be impertinent to ask, for example, whether the attacks, mockeries and strategies aimed to polarize just for the mere fact of doing so contribute to that purpose. Polarization matches a government for which development is more a problem than an objective, but it is not so for government that wishes to promote it.
At the heart of the dilemma confronting Mexico in the next election lies a crucial factor, What is the government for: to control or to promote? To generate certainty or mistrust? In these dilemma Mexicans risk their future.