Who Prospers? How Cultural Values Shape Economic and Political Success

By Lawrence E. Harrison | Go to book overview

2
Spain The Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution Finally Arrive

There is a new Spain and . . . a new kind of Spaniard very different from the intolerant, intemperate figure of legend and history.

-- John Hooper, The Spaniards: A Portrait of the New Spain ( 1987)

Tortura no es arte ni cultura ("Torture is neither art nor culture"). --Hand-printed sign beside a bullfight poster at a stadium in Gijón, Spain

[I]n its rush to become European, Spain is becoming less Spanish. -- Alan Riding, New York Times, 17 June 1991

Suppose an extraterrestrial social scientist visited all nations of the world in 1950, duly taking notes on their political, economic, and social condition. Forty years later, he returns to measure the changes. His mind is, of course, boggled by the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. He also sees a clear new pattern: Germany, in poor shape at the time of his first visit, has reunified and become the powerhouse of Western European democracies; Japan has transformed itself from a devastated militarist nation humiliated by defeat into the world's most dynamic economy, and a democracy to boot; the four East Asian "dragons"--Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong--have startled the world with their sustained high levels of economic growth. (As we shall see in the next two chapters, there are historic antecedents and cultural forces that make these East Asian "miracles" not all that astonishing.) But the extraterrestrial might be most surprised by what had happened to Spain in those forty years between visits.

In 1950, Spain was a closed, isolated, economically backward, inequitable, rigid, and traditional authoritarian society run by the quintessential caudillo, Francisco Franco. In 1990, Spain was an

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