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At present, no set of competing theories of the morality of revolution is currently available for critical comparison. Consequently, the emphasis will be more on laying out the problems such theories should address, rather than on setting out all of the alternatives for addressing them. Some important empirical work relevant to the morality of revolutionary war is to be found in studies of civil war. The latter is sometimes defined as a large scale armed conflict between state forces and one or more nonstate parties.

This definition may be too restrictive, however, since it would exclude a large-scale armed conflict between two or more nonstate parties under conditions in which the government had disintegrated entirely or still existed but was not capable of fielding forces. A broader understanding of civil war that would encompass that kind of case would be simply that of a large-scale intrastate armed conflict. The preceding terms are not always sorted out in this way in actual political discourse.

For example, the government of the United States labeled the secession of the Southern states from the Union as a rebellion, while many Confederates called their enterprise the Second American Revolution; and the American colonists who strove to secede from the British Empire tended to call themselves revolutionaries, not secessionists or rebels. Similarly, the Algerian secession from France is often referred to as the Algerian Revolution and wars of colonial liberation are rarely called secessionist conflicts, though their goal is secession from a political order centered on a metropolitan state.

On this way of sorting out the various terms, secessionists and revolutionaries are necessarily rebels, while rebels need be neither secessionists nor revolutionaries they may be anarchists , and secessionists, as such are not revolutionaries. Thus some scholars on the Left have contended that the so-called American Revolution was not really a revolution, because it did not create or even aim at anything other than a new form of the bourgeois state—a state controlled by and in the interest of the class that controls the means of production Zinn , Jennings Many American historians have concluded otherwise, asserting that it was a revolution in the stronger sense because it replaced a monarchy with a republic Nash ; Wood On this stronger understanding of revolution as involving a fundamental change in the type of government, secessionists would also be revolutionaries, if the new government they attempt to establish in part of the territory of the state would be of a fundamentally different type.

It is worth noting, however, that the morality of revolution in the stronger sense is, if anything, more complex than that of the weaker sense, because the former involves not only the extra-constitutional overthrow of the existing government but also the extra-constitutional establishment of a new type of government. One more distinction is needed. Revolutions may be violent or nonviolent and may begin nonviolently and become violent. This distinction, though obviously important, is not so crisp as one might think, because what counts as violence may be disputed.

For example, attempts to overthrow a government by disruptive techniques for example conducting general strikes, disabling power grids, or blocking main transportation routes are not violent in the way in which discharging firearms or detonating explosives is, but they may nonetheless cause lethal harms. It is well worth noting, however, that there is a position on revolution that obviates the need for a theory of just revolutionary war, namely, the view that large-scale revolutionary violence is never morally justified because the risks of such an endeavor are so great and because nonviolent revolution is more efficacious.

If there are any such cases, there is a need for a theory of just revolutionary war. No attempt can be made here to conduct a survey of views on revolution across the history of Western Philosophy, much less one that encompasses other traditions. Instead, it must suffice to say that the typical attitude toward revolution of major figures in the Western tradition prior to the modern period was to condemn it or to acknowledge its moral permissibility only in very narrow circumstances Morkevicius Augustine City of God and Aquinas Summa theologiae , for example, both condemn rebellion and hence revolution, unambiguously urging obedience to the powers that be.

Hobbes , whom some consider the first truly modern political philosopher in the Western tradition, explicitly denied that revolution could ever be justified, holding instead that a subject could only rightly resist government authority as a matter of self-defense and then only when the perpetration of lethal harm against her was imminent. Views that reject revolution outright or hold it to be permissible in only the most extreme of circumstances typically have either or both of two rationales.

The first is an overriding aversion to the perceived risk of violent anarchy posed by attempts to overthrow a government the Undue Risk Argument. The second is the conviction that the requirement of rightful authority cannot, as a matter of logical necessity, be met in the case of revolutionary war The Conceptual Argument. Consider first the Undue Risk Argument for the conclusion that revolution is never or only rarely justified. Put most simply, the idea here is that virtually any government is better than none and that while it is true that revolutions as opposed to mere rebellions aim not merely to destroy existing government but to replace it with something better, they may succeed only in the first, destructive task, or not succeed in the second, constructive task until an unacceptable decrement in physical security has occurred.

Such views have often been grounded in a rather pessimistic view of human nature. On this interpretation of Hobbes, where there is no government—no power capable of enforcing rules conducive to physical security—it is rational for individuals to try to dominate others for purely defensive reasons, even if there is only a minority of individuals who seek domination for its own sake. At least in the classical liberal tradition, according to which individuals have rights prior to the institution of government and in which governments are viewed as trustees, agents of the people, the attitude toward revolution is generally more permissive.

There is a right to revolt when government violates those natural rights for the protection of which it was created. They could, for example, dissolve the government in order to form a new one that they simply thought was more efficient. Locke apparently attempts to dull the edge of this rather radical conclusion by assuming, quite gratuitously, that revolution will not occur unless the people as a whole have already suffered greatly at the hands of the government.

He might also have thought that in cases where the present government was not violating natural rights, dissolving it was only permissible if done through a constitutionally sanctioned process, not through revolution. Locke does not explicitly consider two possibilities that have frequently been realized in actual revolutionary circumstances: first, that governmental oppression may not be universal but instead may target only certain groups within society, for example, religious or ethnic or national minorities or those who criticize government; second, that even if there is general oppression there may not be a sufficient spontaneous mobilization of forces to overthrow the government.

Consequently, Locke conveniently sidesteps two questions that a theory of the morality of revolution ought to address: 1 whether revolution to end special as opposed to general oppression is justifiable; and 2 what means may those already committed to revolution employ to mobilize enough others to participate in revolution to make success possible.

The first question is significant because of the possibility that the harm to innocent people—including a general decrease in physical security—that revolution may entail, has somehow to be weighed against the benefit in terms of relief from injustice that the oppressed minority will get if the revolution ultimately succeeds. Even if the injustices done to the minority ought to be given greater weight in the balancing exercise, there may come a point at which revolution fails a proportionality test if the harms to others that will result from remedying minority rights-violations are great enough.

The second question arises because even where oppression is general there may not be sufficiently widespread participation in revolution to achieve success, either because significant portions of the population, in the grip of an ideology that purports to justify the existing political order, do not see themselves as seriously oppressed, or because of the failure to solve collective action problems. If either of these two conditions obtain, mobilizing enough people to have a good chance of successful revolution may require coercion under conditions in which those who would wield it lack legitimacy and in which the institutional resources that could confer legitimacy are unavailable.

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Locke took a more favorable stance toward revolution than Hobbes or his medieval predecessors, because he did not believe that the risks of physical insecurity attendant upon the destruction of an existing government were as high as those thinkers did. That more optimistic view as grounded, in turn, in his belief that the destruction of the political order need not entail the destruction of society—that is, of social practices and habits that effectively control the most serious forms of violence.

It is a mistake, however, to conclude either that Hobbes was right and Locke was wrong or vice versa about the consequences for physical security of the destruction of government. A generalization either way would be unhelpful. A more reasonable view is that the risks of the destruction of government and hence of revolution vary, depending upon the circumstances. If that is so, and if the justifiability of revolution depends even in part on the severity of the risks of physical insecurity it involves, then it appears that the content of a theory of just revolutionary war must be shaped by empirical considerations.

Yet it is fair to say that many philosophers who have had something to say about just revolutionary war, whether explicitly or by implication in their work on interstate wars, have not taken this point to heart. They have either not understood the importance of empirical assumptions about the risks of revolution or made the relevant empirical assumptions but without supplying sufficient evidence for their validity. Without a well-evidenced empirical account of the conditions under which attempts to overthrow the government are likely to cause violent anarchy, and an account of the conditions under which violent anarchy is likely to continue for some significant period of time, both pessimism and optimism about revolution, and the calculations of proportionality on which the justification for revolution is supposed to depend, will be more a matter of faith than reason.

The second or conceptual argument or denying that revolution is justifiable is attributed to Kant on what might be called the Rousseauian interpretation of his view, as articulated perhaps most clearly by Christine Korsgaard and Katrin Flikschuh This argument against revolution, unlike Hobbesian-style undue risk arguments, does not rely upon unsupported empirical assumptions about the uniformly dire consequences for physical insecurity of attempts to destroy existing governments.

It is vulnerable, however, to a different objection, namely, that when government is sufficiently tyrannical and destructive, the lesser of evils may be for someone to act without possessing authority—in other words, that the use of coercion, if it is necessary to achieve the conditions for basic justice and involves the minimal amount of coercion needed to accomplish that, can be morally justified even if it is not wielded by an agent that possesses legitimacy Buchanan , Framed in Kantian terms, this is the view that in extreme cases the imposition of the basic order needed for the realization of rights can be justified even if it is the imposition of a private will, so long as the object of that will is the common good of justice properly conceived, so long as the coercion employed is the least needed to do the job, and so long as the agent undertaking to create order is likely to be capable of succeeding in doing so.

In more contemporary terms, it is an argument against revolution based on a strong interpretation of the Natural Duty of Justice, the obligation to help bring about and sustain the conditions for justice.


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The Natural Duty Argument is vulnerable to an obvious objection: If the existing government is so awful as to thwart even a decent approximation of the realization of universal right, and if revolution presents a better prospect for doing so, then the moral obligation to create the conditions for the realization of universal right speaks in favor of revolution, not against it Finlay 19— On this interpretation, Marx held that the very concept of rights is an ideological construct that is fostered by and in turn reinforces the egoistic psychology of bourgeois society and will be discarded once the transition to developed communist society occurs.

If the very concept of rights is thus both tainted and fated for obsolescence, then the question arises as to how else the justification for proletarian revolution might be framed Finlay According to this account, the question of whether revolution is justified is idle; it will occur, because the revolution in the mode of production that marks the transition from capitalism to communism will produce a fundamental transformation of all social relationships that will carry human beings beyond the state and beyond politics Critique of the Gotha Programme , Part IV, in MER : — Call this the Amoralist interpretation of Marx on revolution.

To the extent that the Amoralist interpretation includes an account of the motivation as opposed to the justification of proletarian revolution [ 7 ] , it is simple and rationalistic: eventually the workers will realize that overthrow of the capitalist order is in their interests and will act accordingly.

There are two apparently fatal problems with such a view. Marx believes that this is bound to occur because the capitalist system gives every capitalist an overriding incentive to keep squeezing as much labor out of his workers as possible, even if every capitalist reads Capital and can foresee that that the aggregate effect of such behavior will result in the overthrow of the system. But this means that Marx assumed that the capitalists as a class were afflicted by a collective action problem they could not solve—that even though it is in their collective interests to avoid the immiseration of the proletariat, each will find it rational to act in a way that will contribute to immiseration.

On the contrary, it can be argued that the capitalists solved their collective action problem by the creation of the modern welfare state—a device that sufficiently alleviates the plight of the workers to thwart mobilization for revolution, but without destroying the dominance of the bourgeoisie. Second, while Marx gives us no good reason to think that the capitalists will succumb to an insoluble collective action problem, he fails to take seriously the collective action problem faced by the proletariat Cohen , Elster As with revolutions generally, each individual may reason that either enough others will mobilize to enable a successful revolution or they will not, that her own participation in revolution is likely to come at a significant cost, that she will reap the benefits of the revolution if it succeeds, and that therefore the rational course of action is to abstain from participation.

The key point here is that the workers lack the resource for solving their collective action problem that the capitalists can use to solve theirs: control over the state and hence access to enforcement of rules that can change incentives for refraining from contributing to a public good. A natural Marxian reply might be to abandon the claim that interest-based motivation is causally sufficient for successful proletarian revolution, holding instead that the proletariat can come to see that capitalism is incompatible with the dignity of human beings or with the full realization of their potential for harmonious, creative, collective control over the natural and social world and the abolition of all forms of exploitation and exploitation.

On this view, the motivation for revolution is a kind of perfectionist ethics or, more modestly, a desire to end human degradation. The idea would be that the proletarians only encounter an insoluble collective action problem if each worker or enough of them operates in the calculating mode, weighing the costs and benefits of participation, as they decide whether to revolt.

One might think that it is a distinctive feature of some types of moral motivation that they can lead individuals to escape the calculating mode that produces collective action problems. Not all types of moral motivation would do the trick, of course. If the workers were overall utility-maximizers, each might still decide to refrain from revolution, reasoning that either enough others will participate to enable the revolution to succeed or they will not, regardless of whether she participates and that her participation would simply be an unnecessary subtraction from overall utility.

But there would still remain two problems, one internal to the Marxist view and the other independent of it.

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Marx apparently thought that the curtain of ideology would be torn aside by the immiseration of the proletariat—that when they reached the full depths of deprivation and degradation they would come to see that capitalism had to go. But Marx was wrong in his prediction that immiseration would occur: in most societies under capitalism, real wages have risen and the welfare state has alleviated the plight of the workers--just enough.

The second problem is that recent empirical work on revolutions indicates that in many cases—perhaps most—what determines whether an individual will participate in the revolution or even support it in any way is whether the regime or the revolutionaries control the area in which the individual lives Kalyvas , Weinstein If that is so, then it appears that in many cases moral motivation is causally irrelevant; it is the interest in avoiding the costs imposed by those who wield coercive power over the individual, whether they be agents of the regime or those already committed to the revolution, that determines participation or nonparticipation in revolution.

But if that is so, then the topic of the morality of revolution cannot be avoided, because it will always be appropriate to ask whether those who possess coercive power ought to use it and if so how they ought to use it. As was suggested earlier, in many revolutionary contexts the people are caught in a destructive strategic interaction between the regime and those already committed to revolution, as the regime raises the costs of participation and the revolutionaries raise the cost of nonparticipation.

Some of the most difficult moral issues concerning revolution pertain to the permissibility of coercive means for solving the revolutionary collective action problem in the context of this strategic interaction.

By way of summary and as a broad generalization, it is fair to say that at least since the time of Locke , the dominant view on revolution in Western Political Philosophy, both in the Liberal and Marxist traditions, and perhaps in popular political culture as well, has been considerably more permissive than that of Hobbes and Kant and their medieval predecessors. For the remainder of this essay, I will focus on broadly liberal approaches to revolution on the assumption that, for the foreseeable future, the development of a genuine theory of just revolutionary war is most likely to develop by utilizing the resources of liberal political theory.

This strategy is perhaps not as restrictive as it might appear, since contemporary liberal thought accommodates not just the idea of individual rights, but also that of the collective right of self-determination. That is an important qualification, because from the s to the s revolution for many people in non-Western societies meant liberation from colonial rule; and in some cases liberation was framed more in terms of collective self-determination than in terms of the vindication of individual rights. One important question a theory of just revolutionary war ought to answer is whether the realization of the right of collective self-determination is in itself a just cause for revolutionary war or whether it is only so when collective self-determination is the remedy for violations of basic individual rights.

This issue is addressed in the next section. A key question that will arise at a number of points in this investigation is whether mainstream just war theory, in spite of its implicit focus on interstate wars provides an adequate account of the morality of revolutionary wars. To answer this question, there are at least seven potentially morally significant differences to keep in mind. In different terms, the problem is that revolutionaries claim to act on behalf of the people, but under conditions in which it is difficult to see how they could be authorized to do so.

Later we will see that attempts to solve this problem by invoking notions of consent, approval, or representation are inadequate in many of the circumstances in which revolutions actually occur—and ironically, especially under those conditions in which the just cause for revolution is most compelling. Even contemporary theorists acknowledge that the problem of rightful authority is especially difficult in the case of the waging of revolutionary war, the discussion is often at too abstract because it fails to distinguish between different domains of action in which legitimacy can be an issue.

Second, in interstate wars there is often only one claimant on each side to the role of initiating and directing the use of large-scale violence, namely, the state leadership. But in many revolutionary wars, at least at the outset and often far into the conflict, two or more parties engaging in revolutionary violence contend with one another often violently to be acknowledged, by the people and by other states and international organizations, as the sole legitimate revolutionary war-maker. So, one difficult moral issue concerns the means that rivals for leadership may use in competition with one another.

Revolutions frequently are characterized by violent struggles for leadership, under conditions in which no contender for leadership can claim exclusive legitimacy if any legitimacy at all. Third, as already noted, because those who attempt to launch revolutions do not possess standing armies or effective authority to raise them, they face a serious collective action problem that established states have already solved: they must mobilize a sufficient portion of the population to make war effectively, in spite of the fact that it will often be rational for any given individual to refrain from participating.

Any ordinary individual may reason as follows: whether I participate or not has virtually zero probability of determining the outcome; but participation is a cost, perhaps an extreme cost, to me and perhaps to my family or other close associates as well. So, regardless of what others do, the rational thing for me to do, whether I consider my own utility narrowly construed or include the utility of those I care most about, is to refrain from participating. If enough individuals reason in this way, an insufficient number of people will be mobilized to make the revolution succeed.

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Collective action problems are not always insoluble, of course. In other words, it is one thing to say the REMCAP can be solved, another to say it can be solved in a morally acceptable way. The resulting dynamic takes the game-theoretic structure of an arms race in which both the revolutionary forces and the regime use violence and often terrorism against the people Buchanan This spiral of strategic violence is not merely a theoretical possibility: some of the leading empirical work on revolutions indicates that it is typical of the revolutionary environment.

One especially interesting empirical finding is that the best predictor of whether an individual will support the revolution or the regime is which force controls the space the individual occupies. Kalyvas — Empirical studies document that the cycle of coercion and counter-coercion in revolutionary struggles is ubiquitous Kalyvas 10, 12, , — A just war theory designed for the quite different environment of interstate wars is not likely to address the moral problems raised by this feature of revolutionary wars.

A fourth morally relevant difference between the typical interstate war and revolutionary war is this: in the former, a change in their own government is not usually a goal of the contending parties though one or both may aim at imposing a new form of government on the other. Yet because revolutionaries have repudiated or cannot avail themselves of existing political processes for determining political aims and have not yet developed new processes for performing that task at least in the earlier stages of the struggle , there may be serious disagreement among revolutionaries as to what the goal of the revolution is, with no nonviolent, much less legitimate process for resolving it.

Many may agree that the regime must fall, but there may be deep—and violent--disagreements as to what should follow. This, too, makes revolution a more morally fraught enterprise. Suppose, as was suggested earlier, that revolution differs from mere rebellion in that the latter is simply a rejection of governmental authority while the former involves that plus a commitment to forming a new political order.

If that is so, and if revolutionaries lack the institutional resources to determine a common understanding of what the new political order is to be, then the task of evaluating the justness of a revolutionary struggle becomes more difficult. It is true, of course that a state that wars with another state will often have more than one war aim and may also have inconsistent aims, but at least in the case of reasonably well-functioning states there is an authoritative, that is, legitimacy-conferring process for determining what the aims of the conflict are and which are to be given priority if they conflict.

But revolutionary wars present a greater risk of literal anarchy, with all of the threats to human rights and well-being that this usually entails, because revolutionaries, even when they succeed in defeating the regime, may not yet have and in some cases may never develop the capacity to impose order. In that sense, the stakes are often higher in revolutionary wars and the traditional likelihood of success requirement of just war theory may be harder to satisfy.

There are two other factors, both of which are present in many violent revolutions, that make the problem of creating a new political order that can provide an acceptable level of physical security especially difficult. First, revolutionary conflicts, like other intrastate wars, are often especially brutal, because the lines between combatants and noncombatants tend to be blurred, because of the spiral of coercion stemming from strategic interaction regarding revolutionary mobilization characterized above, and because individuals and groups often use the general context of violence to settle private conflicts that have little or no connection to the issues for which revolution is supposedly undertaken Kalyvas So building a secure peace may be hindered by persisting animosity, allegations of atrocities, and the quest for vengeance, while social capital in the form of trust may be in short supply.

Second, in the contemporary context, it is often the case that in societies where the just cause for revolution is most compelling, namely, what could be called Resolute Severe Tyrannies, there are deep divisions along religious or ethno-national lines, in large part because the tyrants have fostered such divisions in order to prevent the people from achieving unified opposition to the regime.

Where such divisions exist and there is no culture of tolerance and power-sharing, the destruction of the tyrannical regime may result in violent intergroup conflicts, with no indigenous force capable of imposing a peace settlement and building a condition of persisting physical security. Under these conditions, to undertake revolution is to unleash forces that may result either in violent anarchy or unwanted foreign intervention undertaken on the pretext of establishing order. Sixth, at least under modern conditions, revolutionary wars have the potential to persist longer than interstate wars as they have traditionally been conducted, and hence are likely to involve more human and material destruction other things being equal, because of interventions that serve not to end them but rather to prolong them.

It is a feature of contemporary revolutionary wars that they are seldom left to the primary parties. Instead, rival states or groups of rival states often support different sides. But when revolutions become proxy wars between rival powers, one state is likely to intervene to resupply or otherwise support its proxy to break a stalemate or prevent the other side from achieving victor.

That is why most empirical theorists of intrastate war predict that there is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria Jenkins This problem is exacerbated by the fact that one or both of the sponsors of the conflicting sides may not have as its top strategic aim a victory for its side. Instead, the dominant goal may actually be to prolong the conflict. To the extent that revolutionaries or regimes who oppose them ought to take the traditional jus ad bellum requirement of likelihood of success into account and also ought to heed the requirement of proportionality, their task is complicated by strategic dynamic that occurs when revolutions are not simple two party affairs, but proxy contests between other parties as well.

Intervention makes calculations of both likelihood of success and proportionality more problematic. And if there is a presumption against war unless likelihood of success and proportionality are relatively certain, then it follows that the justification for revolutionary war is even more problematic, other things being equal, than for interstate war. Seventh, and finally, entrenched tyrannical regimes, the most morally compelling targets for revolution, typically use their control over education and the media to instill propaganda designed to prevent the people from recognizing just how rotten the regime is, how poorly the economy is performing, how inferior the quality of life is compared with that in better governed countries, and how widespread dissatisfaction with the regime actually is.

Hence, effective revolutionary action may require the dissipation of false consciousness on the part of the people. The aspiring revolutionary leadership thus may be faced with the task of trying to dismantle the false consciousness of those they hope to enlist in the revolutionary struggle. In actual cases, aspiring leaders have often used violence and sometimes terrorism in an effort to overcome the epistemic obstacles to widespread participation in revolution.

Another tactic often used by revolutionaries to overcome epistemic obstacles is to provoke the regime to undertake brutal responses to relatively peaceful demonstrations, in order to reveal to all just how ruthless the regime is. Such actions, which are condemned by mainstream jus in bello thinking, are said to be necessary to instill the sense of agency that false consciousness has undermined.

Now, though, Mexico is in crisis—beset from inside by corruption and drug violence, and from outside by the antagonism of the Trump Administration. If the polls can be believed, he is almost certain to win. He urged them to install Party observers at polling stations to prevent fraud, but cautioned against buying votes, a long-established habit of the PRI. He has a penchant for rhymes and repeated slogans, and at times the crowd joined in, like fans at a pop concert.

The Trump Administration has been similarly concerned.

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Roberta Jacobson, who until last month was the U. Ironically, his surging popularity can be attributed partly to Donald Trump. In the U. Instead, he will open it to the public, as a place for ordinary families to go and enjoy themselves. After Jacobson arrived in Mexico, in , she arranged meetings with local political leaders. Finally, he invited her to his home, in a distant, unfashionable corner of Mexico City. The conversation did little to settle the issue of whether he was an opportunistic radical or a principled reformer.

On the road, his style is strikingly different from that of most national politicians, who often arrive at campaign stops in helicopters and move through the streets surrounded by security details. One of his characteristic gestures during speeches is to demonstrate affection by hugging himself and leaning toward the crowd. Tabasco, on the Gulf of Mexico, is bisected by rivers that regularly flood its towns; in both its climate and the feistiness of its local politics, it can resemble Louisiana.

Elena Poniatowska, the doyenne of Mexican journalism, recalls meeting him when he was a young man. For a person with political aspirations, the PRI was then the only serious option. It had been founded in , to restore the country after the revolution. Presidents chose their successors, in a ritual called the dedazo , and the Party made sure that they were elected.

But he felt increasingly that the Party had strayed from its roots. In , he made his first attempt at electoral office, running for governor of the state. Although a court inquiry did not lead to a verdict, many Mexicans believed him; the PRI has a long record of rigging elections. In , he was elected mayor of Mexico City, a post that gave him considerable power, as well as national visibility.

In office, he built a reputation as a rumpled everyman; he drove an old Nissan to work, arriving before sunrise, and he reduced his own salary. When his wife died, of lupus, in , there was an outpouring of sympathy. He was not averse to political combat. But he also proved able to compromise.

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He succeeded in creating a pension fund for elderly residents, expanding highways to ease congestion, and devising a public-private scheme, with the telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, to restore the historic downtown. When he left office to prepare for the Presidential elections, he had high approval ratings and a reputation for getting things done.

The campaign was hard fought. He invited Trump to Mexico during his campaign and treated him as if he were already a head of state, only to have him return to the U. His base of support is in the poorer, more agrarian south, with its majority indigenous population. The north, near the border with Texas, is more conservative, tied both economically and culturally to the southern United States; his task there was not so different from presenting himself to the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

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This rhetoric was backed by more pragmatic measures. Poncho is the bridge. But none of that is true—this is a government made in Mexico. His campaign strategy seemed simple: make lots of promises and broker whatever alliances were necessary to get elected. He proposed establishing a thirty-kilometre duty-free zone along the entire northern border, and lowering taxes for companies, both Mexican and American, that set up factories there. He also offered government patronage, vowing to complete an unfinished dam project in Sinaloa and to provide agricultural subsidies.

In the United States they do it—up to a hundred per cent of the cost of production. Would he consider the legalization of drugs as a solution?


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They are seeing him as a man who will save Mexico from all of its evils. Even more important, he believes it, too. He could also exercise tighter control over the media, much of which is supported by state-sponsored advertising. It is imperfect, there is much to criticize, but there have also been positive changes. A few days earlier, Roberta Jacobson had announced that she was stepping down as Ambassador, and the Mexican government had immediately endorsed a prospective replacement: Edward Whitacre, a former C. He had recently argued with Slim over a multibillion-dollar plan for a new Mexico City airport, which Slim was involved in.

The government denies any malfeasance. In his launch speech, he said that he intended to develop the south of the country, where the agricultural economy has been devastated by inexpensive U. The tree-planting project alone would create four hundred thousand jobs, he predicted. With these initiatives, he said, people in the south would be able to stay in their villages and not have to travel north for work.

Across the country, he would encourage construction projects that used hand tools rather than modern machinery, in order to boost the economy in rural communities. Pensions for the elderly would double. Young people would be guaranteed scholarships, and then jobs after graduation. For many audiences, especially in the south, these proposals are appealingly simple. Last year, the former governor of Chihuahua, charged with embezzlement, fled to the U. More than a dozen other current and former state governors have faced criminal investigations.

The attorney general who led some of those inquiries was himself reported to have a Ferrari registered in his name at an unoccupied house in a different state, and, though his lawyer argued that it was an administrative error, he resigned not long afterward. The former head of the national oil company has been accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes. He denies this. It is more than anything a referendum against corruption, in which, as much by right as by cleverness, AMLO has presented himself as the only alternative.