The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 35
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Class and Consensus
informed by leftist critiques of capitalism, either overtly or implicitly.
The closest this working class comes to any type of "accommodative"
vision is in the Popular Front coalition pieced together by el Congreso del
Pueblo del Habla Espaiol, a leftist organization created in 1938 to seek
social reform by uniting progressives and the far left. Ultimately, the
Popular Front collapsed in light of increased pressures to conform
patriotically during World War II. One lesson implicit in the story of el
Congreso is that broad-based coalitions are doomed to failure. If Popular
Front tactics are difficult, or impossible to sustain, then what chance do
cross-class coalitions have? How do we explain subtle resistance that
took the form of what current historical theory and practice tells us was
accommodation and assimilation?
Historians should re-examine their vocabulary and question the use
and applicability of such words as "accommodation" and "resistance."
Such narrowly constructed linguistic parameters imply a natural binary
order in which historical actors are allowed only narrow ranges of behav-
ior. Such a dichotomous view lends itself well to materialist explanations
of historical events and dovetails nicely with other dichotomous analyti-
cal constructions such as power/powerlessness, male/female, bour-
geois/proletariat. Consequently, we explain middle class participation in
overt resistance as either unthinkable or anomalous. False consciousness
or cultural hegemony explains a lack of working-class resistance. These
pre-conceptions underestimate the ability of historical actors to look at
the world and rationally analyze it themselves. This article posits that
what has appeared as "accommodation" has often been subtle resistance
and that resistance can take many forms. How do we begin to free our-
selves from the shackles of binary materialist paradigms? There are sev-
eral works that offer hints.
The first step in creating a new way to conceptualize Mexican
American ideology can be found in the work of Stuart Blumin, who, in
studying nineteenth-century class formation, argues that we must keep
in mind the historicity of class experiences in temporal and geographic
terms. Blumin's work has limitations for understanding Victoria because
Victoria (and by extension other parts of Texas, and perhaps the
American Southwest) was rather different from San Antonio, and was
clearly very different from the northeastern United States. Also, unlike
Blumin's middle class, the Mexican American middle class has had to
struggle for acceptance by the dominant society on a more fundamental
level, as American citizens. Other works, such as Gary Gerstle's Working
Class Americanism, while telling a story complicated by the intersection of
ethnicity and class, are still driven by actors who are understood to have
one of the most fundamental requirements for American citizenship,
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/63/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.