Forwarded from Anthony (Brenner)

Michael Hoover hoov at
Fri Dec 1 09:35:51 MST 2000

> > Re. above, on surface one would have expected opposite given bureaucratic
> > centralism of Spanish colonial period and more decentralized pattern  in
> > British American colonies.

> Well, this is just skimming on the surface.
> To begin with, Spanish bureaucratic centralism was skirted more times than
> obeyed by residents in its American possessions. "Se obedece, pero no
> se cumple", that is "we obey but we do not accomplish" was the rule -brought
> down straight from Spanish Middle Ages- during teh 15th, 16th and part of
> the 18th Century.  Second, the true move towards centralization (the
> modernizing activity of the Spanish Borbons, particularly of Charles the
> Third) had the unlucky environment of an England which had just lost its
> main overseas possession, and Spain was no match to England (the Vice
> Royalty of the River
> Plate, probably the most expressive political move of this period, was
> created in --1776!). Third, the weakness of the bourgeoisie at the core
> country (and the heavy inheritance from the regressive and reactionary
> Austrias, that is the Spanish Hapsburgs) and the absence of a strong "free
> manufacture" society in South America made the whole new civil structure
> (created under the auspices of the Borbons) to somehow hover on a void
> terrain. Strong intervention by Britain in alliance with proto-oligarchic
> groups at the ports put the last drop of water in the already full cup.

I should have been clearer with "on surface" comment and referred to
"ostensible" bureaucratic centralism.  My earlier post had gone into
some detail about how apparatus existed on paper and in form but not
necessarily in practice.

Didn't Bourbons pursue centralization in some sense through decentralization
by reviving cabildos, creating new viceroyaltyes, audencias, & consulados?
And didn't Bourbon bureaucrats lead local elites to take renewed interest
in cabildos with one result being that cabildos played important role in
wars independence?  O. Carlos Stoetzer (_The Scholastic Roots of the Spanish
American Revolution_) has suggested that wars of independence can be
interpreted as resurgent national rebelling against centralizing tendencies
of Bourbon system at time when that system was weakened by French occupation
of Spain.

Thanks for earlier comments and any future ones.  As with many topics,
I haven't read this stuff for quite some time.      Michael Hoover

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