Decadent, backward, feudal Spain?

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at
Sat May 26 17:13:03 MDT 2001

En relación a Decadent, backward, feudal Spain?,
el 25 May 01, a las 18:15, Louis Proyect dijo:

> The result of these [Bourbon commercial] reforms was a rather
> remarkable increase in trade between Spain and her colonies. The
> Cuban trade with Spain, which in 1760 engaged only 6 ships, required
> over 200 ships in 1778. The exportation of hides from Buenos Aires
> rose from 150,000 in 1778 to 800,000 per year in 1783. Between 1778
> and 1788, the value of the entire trade with Spanish America is
> estimated to have multiplied by 700%. The revival of Spanish
> industry, especially the Catalan cotton industry, helped to support
> the new trade pattern. In 1792, the Catalan textile industry
> employed 80,000 workers and exported 16 million pesos worth of
> merchandise to the Indies. Catalonia ranked second only to the
> English midlands in the production of cotton cloth. The Basque
> hardware industry also expanded. In 1790, 4000 tons of finished iron
> products were exported to the New World. While the British still
> sold merchandise to Spain to be resold in the Indies, the proportion
> of Spanish goods carried in the trade was growing. At the end of the
> seventeenth century, only about 15% of the products shipped to
> America were Spanish. By 1798, the figure was closer to 50%. The
> proportion of Spanish national goods imported into New Spain
> continued to rise. In 1804, the consulado of Veracruz recorded the
> value of imported Spanish goods at 10,412,000 pesos, while foreign
> products imported through Spanish middlemen had dropped to 4,493,000
> pesos.  James Lang, "Conquest and Commerce"

The Bourbons tried to bring Spain out from the Ancien Regime by means
of the strength of the State, but even then, they were outcompeted by
the British.  Among the postings I am preparing there is one on the
commercial history of Buenos Aires between 1780 and 1810 which will
prove the above remarkably.

The Bourbons had to use all the power of the state in order to attempt
a modernization which, in the end, was ill-fated. They did not
succeed. Part of the power was used to enforce on the American
colonies a monopoly and a division of labor that had NOT existed, in
practice, before them.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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