When did the path change?
The extraordinary development achieved by North Anglo-Saxon society contrasts with the aspiration to development ever made of the Iberian societies of the South. To understand this dichotomy we must understand the fundamental cultural and historical differences.
Differences found its genesis in the respective processes of colonization.
This dichotomy, however, ignores or references nuances of great importance. It ignores, for example, the other two colonial components present in the Americas: French and Dutch. Overlook, at once, the similarities between the cultures stately Iberian and French colonization introduced in America. The concept of own "gentleman" of Spain was at odds with any form of manual labor, in the same way the French notion of "derogance" entailed the loss of social status as a result of manual labor.
Ignores the specificity of African American Caribbean societies, also formed under Anglo molds but under a very different American colonial process and the coincidences between slave societies of South America and Latin America.
However, simplifications have an undeniable educational value. So, while recognizing the limitations of all history in black and white, use the comparison between the path followed by the Anglo-Saxon and Iberian colonial models to determine the subsequent evolution of these societies, it is very important. In fact, we might even overlook the Portuguese component of the Americas to focus on the Spanish, whose features are more defined.
What features of the Anglo-Saxon model transplanted to this side of the Atlantic gave the United States the ability to access their current economic, military and technological supremacy? What features of the Spanish model in the Americas laid the groundwork for the backwardness of our independent republics?
First, the Spanish colonial world was essentially urban and was composed of highly stratified societies. The notion of work under these conditions was associated with many prejudices, particularly with regard to manual labor. The British colonial sphere was much more rural than urban and while highly egalitarian. Physical exertion, far from diminishing socially dignified. As rightly pointed out Bernard-Henry Levy cradle of American society was the Protestant church, which favored the formation of a homogenised, austere and industrious citizens.
Second, and closely related to the above, Spain moved across the Atlantic a feudal vision of society, based on slave labor or slave labor. Somehow, Latin America was a transcultural replica of the Castilla Medioeval. In Anglo-Saxon North sphere, however, the path to capitalism began early.
Thirdly, Spain brought a heavy apparatus and an unavoidable bureaucratic mentality. This not only included legions of officials and magistrates but plenty of rules and regulations. Paradoxically it was accompanied by a stifling centralism in which even the smallest decisions should be consulted to Spain.
England, by contrast, turned to outside the State colonizing companies competing with each other to attract settlers. The latter meant to offer greater freedoms, franchises and immunities and, by extension, high levels of autonomy.
Fourth, the colonial Spanish America was characterized by a symbiosis between church and state, in which the latter was for the powerful role of inquisitor. This criminalized the intellectual and scientific curiosity, favoring a passive and conformist attitude.
In colonial America Anglo-Saxon business competition to attract settlers identified with a broad spectrum of religious beliefs from which to choose. In fact, the beginning of its colonization process itself responded to the quest for religious freedom.
Last but not less, England colonized the north with a clear spirit of extermination, situation that made it easier to stablish the models England was already living. Spain did also exterminate, but tried in some way to spread religion through education, so in less words they made Latin American indigenous communities skip their own processes leaving a huge gap while the north left few indigenous alive and so the gap is proportionally smaller.
And so on. In brief, three hundred years of rigid social stratification, prejudices in relation to work, a feudal vision of the economy, a heavy bureaucratic centralism and a passive and fearful attitude towards innovation and knowledge, they had to leave by force an indelible mark. How to compete with a homogenized, austere and industrious society, open to capitalism, accustomed to political autonomy and religious freedom and permeable to innovative curiosity? Since then our respective destinations were drawn.