Forwarded from Anthony (Brenner)

Michael Hoover hoov at
Sun Nov 26 11:24:07 MST 2000

> arguments I have heard in
> the past about Spain's failure to capitalize on its New World plunder don't
> necessarily take into account the intermediary role of English colonies in
> the Caribbean, Jamaica in particular.
> There's an interesting article titled "England and the Spanish-American
> Trade: 1680-1715" by Curtis Nettels that appeared in the Mar. 1931 Journal
> of Modern History. (I found it by doing a keyword search on "silver" and
> "Spain" and "England" in the JSTOR database.) Basically Nettels lays out a
> scenario in which Jamaicans sold provisions, manufactured goods and slaves
> to the Spanish, while in return they received gold and silver freshly dug
> in the Latin American colonies.
> Louis Proyect

Here's Marx's take on impact of regionalism in Spain:
"Since the establishment of the absolute monarch they [the towns] have
vegetated in a state of continuous decay.  We have not here to state
the circumstances, political or economical, which have destroyed
Spanish commerce, industry, navigation, and agriculture...As the
commercial and industrial life of the towns declined, internal exchanges
became rare, the mingling of the inhabitants of different provinces
less frequent, the means of communication neglected, and the great
roads gradually deserted.  Thus the local life of Spain, the independence
of its provinces and communes, the diversified state of society
originally based on the physical configuration of the country, and
historicallt developed by the detached manner in which several provinces
emancipated themselves from from the Moorish rule and formed little
independent commonwealths - was now finally strengthened and confirmed
by the economic revolution which dried up the sources of national
activity.  And while the absolute monarchy found in Spain material
in its very nature repulsive to centralization, it did all in its
power to prevent the growth of common interest arising out of a
national division of labor and the multiplicity of internal exchanges -
the very basis of on which alone a uniform system of administration and
the rule of general laws can be created.  Thus the absolute monarchy
in Spain, bearing but a superficial resemblance to the absolute monarchies
of Europe in general, is rather to be ranged in a class with Asiatic
forms of government.  Spain, like Turkey,  remained an agglomeration of
of mismanaged republics with a nominal sovereign at their head.  Despotism
changed character in the different provinces with the arbitrary
interpretation of the general laws by viceroys and governors; but
despotic as was the government, it did not prevent the provinces from
subsisting with different laws and cutoms, different coins, military
banners of different colors, and with their respective systems of
taxation.  The oriental despotism attacks the municipal self-government
only when opposed to its direct interests but is very glad to allow
those institutions to continue so long as they take off its shoulders
the duty of doing something and spare it the trouble of regular
administration." ("Revolutionary Spain," in Saul Padover, ed., _Karl Marx:
On Revolution_, pp. 590-591, originally appeared in 9/9/1854 issue of
New York Daily Tribune)

Whatever one's view of Marx's use of "Asiatic forms of government" and
"oriental despotism," his point is that basis of Spanish regionalism
is not in regional differences or economy but in political failure of
Spanish state to centralize as later European absolutist monarchies
had.  In effect, external source of wealth from Americas freed
Spanish state from task of national economic and political integration.
Moreover, regionalism is not effect of mode of production but is
effect of political level - the state.

Re. Spanish colonizers, appears that pattern in which ostensibly
absolutist-centralist form overlays essentially regionalist reality
was transferred to Americas.     Michael Hoover

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