Abstract: Business Chambers and the Intellectual Foundations of Statist Industrialism in Mid-Twentieth-Century Mexico

Susan Gauss


The National Chamber of Manufacturing Industries, an organization of Mexico's small-scale, consumer manufacturers, and the Mexican Employers Association, a group dominated by conservative interests and large-scale business, engaged in spirited debates about the evolution of industrial protection in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s. While the former pressed heavily for aggressive state intervention, the latter portrayed intervention as an assault on individual property rights. This paper examines these debates over statist industrialism, focusing in particular on the rival visions of forms of rule and modern social relations that drove them. These distinctions take on meaning in light of the fact that scholars of mid-twentieth-century Mexico often have assumed a consensus among industrialists and the state around protected growth by the 1940s. This paper argues that their distinct visions for the state's role in industrial development were emblematic of rifts among groups close to the state. By examining these visions, it shows the malleability of statist industrialism as a nationalist political project, and the way in which it accommodated, or at least tolerated, the eclectic strains of industrialist resistance to the state's consolidating and centralizing pull.