Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 26, 2010

Post-materialist political culture?

Kevin James, who teaches at Albany High School (Albany, California), pointed out an article that I had skimmed over in The Economist. It describes the growing gap between the political culture in Mexico City and the political culture in most of the rest of Mexico (especially the north).

Metrosexuality: As the capital grows more liberal, conservatives are rallying elsewhere
BLOOD streaked the faces of the scores of young men dragging heavy wooden crosses up a hill in Iztapalapa, a suburb of Mexico City, on Good Friday. Looking on at this annual re-enactment of the crucifixion were tearful crowds of blue-veiled “town virgins”—and on a billboard in the background, a giant, nearly-nude model, advertising condoms with a wink. Religiosity and militant secularism have long rubbed along together in Mexico City and in the country as a whole. But the gap in attitudes between the freewheeling capital and deepest Mexico is widening, stoking culture wars of the sort more familiar north of the Rio Grande…

As Mexico City liberalises, much of the rest of the country is moving in the opposite direction. Since the 2007 abortion reform [in Mexico City], more than half of the country’s 31 other states have preventively amended their constitutions to define life as beginning at conception. Last year four states went further, introducing laws that double the penalty for abortion if it is found that the woman is of “ill repute”. Prison sentences can be lengthy: some states treat abortion as murder. And even when abortion is permitted, such as in cases of rape, the cumbersome authorisation required often makes it impossible…

Paradoxically, one reason for the rude health of social conservatism is the spread of political liberalism. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ran Mexico for seven decades until 2000, persecuted the church with varying vigour and imposed secularism. Divorce was notoriously free and easy… It is an irony that “the dismantling of an authoritarian regime has led to the emergence of intolerance” regarding homosexuality, reproductive rights and religious minorities, notes Soledad Loaeza, a political scientist at the Colegio de México, a graduate school…

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