Voices of Hostile Capital: 'Order' and Investment during the Second Spanish Republic
South European Society and Politics,
Vol. 4 No. 1 Summer 1999.Steve SnowWagner College Note: This is a pre-publication version of the final published article.The Spanish Second Republic (1931-1936) was a tumultuous period of democracy,reform and reaction. During the reformist biennium (1931-33), moderate leftistGovernments instituted policies to ameliorate the often-desperate circumstances workersand peasants faced. Greatly complicating these efforts, however, investors and landownersliquidated productive assets and all but ceased domestic investment. Bank accounts wereemptied, billions of pesetas drained from the country, the stock market dropped precipitously, and many landowners sold their holdings at bargain rates. The effects werecalamitous: capital flight and the sharp decline in investment were major causes of theSpanish economic crisis of the 1930s (Comín and Martín 1984: 254; Palafox 1991: 205).Why the panic? The most obvious, yet ultimately unconvincing, explanation is thatowners of capital predictably reacted against radical policies. A close examination of theSpanish financial press and employers' publications reveals that labor militance––mostoften referred to as 'disorder,' 'anarchy' and 'indiscipline'––was a major cause of investor
Preliminary versions of this article were presented at the Society for Spanish andPortuguese Historical Studies Conference, St. Louis, Missouri April 23-26 1998, and at theMediterranean Studies Association Conference, University of Coimbra, Portugal, May 26-29. For their comments and criticisms, I thank the conference participants, John Keeler, Stanley Payne,George Rappaport, Richard Sherman, Cheryl Wheeler and Kim Worthy. Translations fromSpanish are mine.