Forwarded from Anthony (Brenner)

Michael Hoover hoov at
Mon Nov 27 16:04:42 MST 2000

> >Re. Spanish colonizers, appears that pattern in which ostensibly
> >absolutist-centralist form overlays essentially regionalist reality
> >was transferred to Americas.     Michael Hoover
> Michael, Spain and Spanish colonialism was not one of Marx's strong points.
> He wrote an article on Bolivar for an encyclopedia which practically
> labeled the liberator as a reactionary bandit. Marx was only a human being.
> Louis Proyect

I used Marx for more specific - and more important - point about
relationship between political state and political economy.  But I
can make do without reference to the guy...

Conquest practice of establishing administrative center - city or
town - with jurisdiction over large productive hinterland while over-
laying that with centralized bureaucratic structure - viceroyaltys &
audencias - replicated social & political organization familiar to
Spaniards.  On paper - and in form - Spanish created centralized
bureaucratic apparatus in the Americas.  Flexibility in practice,
however, allowed for regional variation in administration in what was
supposed to be uniform system of rule.  Administrators could ignore
superiors' orders on grounds that law/policy wasn't applicable to
local conditions.

Spanish American cabildo declined as active institution in later colonial
period.  This is generally said to be result of selling offices and
subsequent imposition of corregimento placing cities/towns firmly under
royal administration - in later colonial period.  But eliminating relative
autonomy (which always existed in concert with position as outpost of
central power) did not eliminate regionalism.  In many instances, local
crown officials not only maintained their status but served themselves
and other local elite interests well as secular decline of wealth going
to viceregal treasuries and Spain throughout Hapsburg era indicates.

Breakdown of Spanish central state bureaucratic apparatus in Americas
disclosed system held together by slender thread.  Several tendencies
emerged in early 19th century post-colonial period.  Bolivar's
project of grand continental federated state could not re-connect what
had been sundered by legitimacy crisis, loss of king, and intense
regionalism that was unleashed.  Those who thought solution was state
based upon Bourbon viceroyaltys were more successful but in certain areas -
Rio de la Plata & New Granada, for example - localist forces fought long,
hard battles for autonomy.  In Central America, localist sentiment was
sufficiently strong to undo federal republic and balkanize region.

Creation of integrated national economy in early 19th century Spanish
America was blocked by imposition of dependency by external forces of
internatonal economy *and* by internal constraints of which regionalism
was important factor.      Michael Hoover

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