John M. Ackerman
The essays collected in this issue of Política Común demonstrate that Mexico is an ideal site for the study of the contradictions and paradoxes which undergird the “rule of law” in post-colonial contexts. We should not be fooled by the disaster of contemporary Mexico: the gruesome “drug war” carnage, rampant poverty, increasing inequality, fraudulent elections, environmental destruction and runaway corruption. Even after three decades of relentless neoliberal attack, Mexico today still has one of the most progressive and powerful Constitutions in the world. And the legacy of the social revolution of 1910, partially embodied in the 1917 Constitution still with us today, continues to resist and subsist embedded in the “common sense” of millions of contemporary Mexicans.
In Mexico, the demand for the restauration of legality is therefore simultaneously a search to resurrect revolution and to mobilize society, or at least it can have such a subversive character. Legality always and everywhere potentially has at least two faces, as a tool of domination and as a shield against the abuse of power. But in Mexico it has a third: that of subversion and transformation of the status quo.
It is not common for law and legal discourse to hold the seeds of the creative destruction of the legal order that they simultaneously hold in place. Many legal systems, and almost all of those in the Americas, can trace their origins to revolutions, independence struggles or popular uprisings. Nevertheless, their central role today is to consolidate, institutionalize or otherwise fix in place the real or perceived achievements of the victorious struggles of the past. Incremental, or even profound, legal change is permitted in so far as it is necessary to respond to changing international, demographic and social conditions, but the legal order only rarely directly undermines itself.
In Mexico things are different. Here law is still of course “law” in so far as it can and is systematically used both to repress and to protect. But the radically unresolved and indeterminate outcome of post-revolutionary state building has created an internal rupture within the “rule of law” or “Estado de derecho” itself which opens up enormous possibilities for self-effacing creative destruction...
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