A transcendental mission : Spiritism and the revolutionary politics of Francisco I. Madero, 1900 – 1911
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This study argues that Francisco I. Madero, a Spiritist and the thirty-third President of Mexico, understood his political action as the earthly component of spiritual struggle. In Madero's correspondence, "spirit writings," and pseudonymous Spiritist publications, we find a prescriptive Spiritist vision, in which democracy represents a triumph of human's "higher nature" over the "base, selfish passions" of Porfirio Díaz and his regime. This prescriptive vision is both characteristic of Kardecist Spiritism, the transnational metaphysical movement influential in the Americas since the mid-nineteenth century, and the outward expression of an inner struggle, in which self-discipline, charity, and hard work are thought to calm one's "animal passions," and in so doing attract "higher spirits" that aid in spiritual development. While reserved in the public presentation of his religiosity, the documentary evidence suggests that for Madero, the democratic struggle had "transcendental" significance. Analyzing his published work alongside his personal and political biography in the period between 1900-1911, this study briefly considers this prescriptive Spiritist vision and the ways it inflected Madero's political action and accommodated changing political circumstance.