Scholasticism, Liberalism, Revolutionary Nationalism and Neoliberalism in Mexico
This paper attempts to sketch out a history of the (loosely) scholastic tradition that I encountered through ethnographic research in contemporary west Mexico, including its historical relation to the statist liberal tradition about which so many scholars have written. I asked my informants what it meant to them to be citizens. During the interviews, my informants sometimes talked of citizenship as a relationship with government, usually of individuals and mediated by rights. However, many were reluctant to reduce citizenship to a relationship with government, replying instead that citizens were, unlike hermits, people who lived in society, ideally in a civil way. In responding thus my informants sounded Aristotelian and I suggest that civil sociality had made its way via Aquinas and later scholastics such as the Jesuit Suárez and thence via colonial missionaries to modern Mexico. There it has offered, I suggest, one way of combating the statist liberalism that first developed in the mid-nineteenth century (and which included priests – hence my reluctance to conflate Catholic with scholastic). I am endeavouring to test and add nuance to that crude account. For one thing, the scholastic and liberal traditions have crossed over at certain points. My informants shifted from one notion of citizenship to the other, even within the space of an interview. The same was true of the most obvious source of their ideas about citizenship - the Civics textbooks used since the Revolution. The textbooks included chapters on liberal schemes of individual rights but invariably began with a chapter on the inescapable sociality of the person, also citing hermits as the antithesis. The paper therefore tries to tease out earlier points of contact between the scholastic and liberal traditions, in the long nineteenth century.
Stack, Trevor (2012) Scholasticism, Liberalism, Revolutionary Nationalism and Neoliberalism in Mexico. In: Liberalism and Religion: Secularisation and the Public Sphere in the Americas, 18 April 2012, Senate House, London. (Unpublished)
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