Plotino Constantino Rhodakanaty (Greek: Πλωτίνος Ροδοκανάκης) was a Greek (or for others a Mexican) socialist and anarchist and a prominent Mormon pioneer who was an early activist in Mexico's mid-nineteenth century labor and campesino movement, foreshadowing the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
According to many, Rhodakanaty was born on October 14, 1828 in Athens, Greece to a member of Greek aristocracy and his Austrian wife. Rhodakanaty's father died after the Greek war for independence against the Turks, and his mother took him to Vienna. In 1848, Rhodakanaty traveled to Budapest to assist in the failed Hungarian uprising of that year. He supposed to traveled next to Berlin where he was exposed to the ideas of Hegel, Fourier, and Proudhon. In 1850, he visited Paris specifically to meet Proudhon after reading the latter's What Is Property? While in Paris, he learned of Mexico's rural system of relatively self-governing agricultural communities and of the threat to them presented by capitalism and privatization. He supported the effort to save them and went to Barcelona where he lived for at least two years in the large anarchist community there. Rhodakanaty planned to help save that way of life in Mexico.
In 1861, the same year he arrived in Mexico, he wrote Cartilla Socialista and began propagating the ideas of contemporary European thinkers, particularly Fourier, Proudhon, and Bakunin. He published other radical essays, characterized by his famous quote "Down with all governments" (abajo con todos los gobiernos). including Neopanteísmo, founded journals, and in 1870 helped establish an "escuela libre" at Chalco. The term "escuela libre" was used by anarchists to distinguish themselves from government- and church-influenced education. The school was run by a disciple of Francisco Zalacosta. A student of them with the name Julio Lopez Chavez went on to lead peasant insurrections involving as many as 1,500 armed guerilla forces at a time in central Mexico. It was the first revolt in Mexico with a political anti-government program.
To support himself, he taught at the Colegio de San Ildefonso in downtown Mexico City, where he organized like-minded students. A circle of followers emerged, including Santiago Villanueva, Francisco Zalacosta, Julio Chávez López, and José María Gonzales. These people and others would later form an important nucleus in the early Mexican labor and peasant movements.
In 1875 Rhodakanaty read some translated sections of the Book of Mormon, a scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and gained a conviction about it being "the word of God". In addition to the values advocated by the LDS Church, he was also attracted to their communitarian practices at the time, which included communal property and an emphasis on self-reliance. His petitioning the Church's leadership in Salt Lake City for missionaries to be sent to Mexico, as well as his efforts to convert his friends and acquaintances, were instrumental in the subsequent establishment of the LDS Church in Mexico. Plotino Rhodakanaty was baptized a Mormon on November 20, 1879 along with several other converts, and was appointed to lead the local congregation. After not receiving the Church's support for his plans to create the utopian communities he envisioned in Mexico, Rhodakanaty resigned as the head of the congregation in August 1880 and became disengaged from the LDS Church. There is no indication, however, that he also rescinded his membership.
In his older age he moved to Ajusco in the mountains southwest of Mexico City. He taught in that small school throughout the time that Otilio Montaño, the author of Emiliano Zapata's famous Plan de Ayala, attended as a young student. The Plan de Ayala closely related Rhodakanaty's goal of a democratic and self-governing society in rural Mexico.
Plotino Rhodakanaty is less known for his participation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, upon the arrival in Mexico of the Mormons and his proposal of social regeneration, was attractive to thinkers like Rhodakanaty, the country began to talk about the religious tolerance and the most important thing allowed it. Their approach was first given to the Protestants who sold their goods, to make them available to the church and then distribute them as an example of the spread of the Gospel. Despite this Plotinus considered the Protestants as materialistic, cold, fatalistic and monarchical when they made their division between the elect and the reprobate.
In 1879 he became the first Mexican Elder and President of the First Branch of the Mormon Church in Mexico City. However little lasted the taste, the relations between this and the Mormon church were decomposed to such a degree that in 1881 he was excommunicated. "The arrival of the Mormons in Mexico."
After suffering a degenerative disease and requesting employment from Porfirio Díaz as evidenced by his letters, he died of a fever in Mexico City on Sunday, February 2, 1890, as stated in his death certificate, as stated by the Civil Registry Judge Enrique Valle who records his death on Tuesday, February 4, 1890, due to a pernicious fever registered in the Civil Registry, page 466. With the above, the myth of his trip to Europe disappears, disappearing from the religious, journalistic and political scene in Mexico. (Mr. Sergio Pagaza Castillo).
Bibliography Death Certificate of the Civil Registry of the City of Mexico registering the Death on February 4, 1890 on page 466 by Judge Enrique Valle. He passed away on Sunday, February 2 at 11:00 P.M. Dolores Cemetery of Mexico City.
- Hart, John M. Anarchism & The Mexican Working Class, 1860-1931. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1987. 29-42.
- Reviewed Work: Rhodakanaty y la Formación del Pensamiento Socialista en México (Rhodakanaty and the Shaping of Socialist Thought in Mexico) by Carlos Illades Review by: Dale Beecher Journal of Mormon History Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring 2005), pp. 186-190 Published by: University of Illinois Press; Mormon History Association https://www.jstor.org/stable/23289258
- La rebelión de Julio López Chávez magazine Nosotros, Manuel Garcés Jiménez, retrieved 4/9/2018
- Rubio, José Luis. Las internacionales obreras en América. Madrid: 1971. p. 35
- Jason M. Brown and Christopher J. Nielsen: "Plotino Constantino Rhodakanaty: Introduction to a Mormon Anarchist"; available at https://themormonworkerdotnet.wordpress.com/past-issues/mw-issue-8/plotino-constantino-rhodakanaty-introduction-to-a-mormon-anarchist/
- Gerry R. Flake: "Mormons in Mexico: The First 96 Years"; available at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1972/09/mormons-in-mexico-the-first-96-years?lang=eng