Today’s Idiocy About Slavery And Reparations

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Was slavery a bad thing?

Yes.

Was slavery a common thing?

Yes.

Just about every society up to and just past the steam engine had slavery. True, it might have been villeinage, serfdom, rather than pure chattel slavery but yes, it existed pretty much everywhere and when.

There’s not even anything wholly different about the Atlantic trade in the chattel slavery of blacks from sub-Saharan Africa. The trans-Saharan trade predated it and outlived it. The East African trade most certainly outlived it – there were episodes of the Royal Navy capturing slavers in the 1920s.

That Atlantic trade also wasn’t a “white” thing. Near no European buying slaves on the coast of Africa went more than a few miles inland. On the reasonable basis that most who did died. Therefore it was locals selling other locals into that slavery on those boats. And in the absence of the boats the slavery had already existed and continued to do so too.

But still a bad thing and we’re all glad it stopped. And while we all laud Wilberforce for that there’s a very decent amount of praise that should go to Newcomen and Watt.

And then there are stupid arguments about the whole thing:

The footprints of slavery, and the profits it bequeathed to generations, still shape the present. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 formally freed 800,000 Africans. Not one of them got a penny. Instead, the British government paid out today’s equivalent of £16bn to former slave owners to “compensate” them for their loss of “property”, a national debt that took until 2015 to be paid off. Yes, that means the descendants of slaves here in the UK were, until just four years ago, paying off slave owners for their ancestors’ freedom. Britons today aren’t directly responsible for the actions of their ancestors, but we are responsible for making the consequences of their wrongful actions right – starting with recognising how history and a culture rooted in supremacy feed into modern-day injustice.

Arguable but we’ll take it, arguendo.

Today in Britain, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are more than three times more likely than white British people to live in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

And that’s idiocy. The effect of slavery on the never enslaved is clearly going to be nothing.

Oddly, just yesterday I was interviewed by NPR on this very subject of reparations. They described me as a “leading voice” on the subject. A leading voice against them that is. Which is seriously weird – for me to be a leading voice on anything there must be very few people indeed involved.

Rates of prosecution and sentencing for black people are three times higher than for white people. Unemployment rates are significantly higher for ethnic minorities; from mental health to education, crime to housing, there are enduring inequalities. The question, then, is why? Could it be that the supremacist beliefs that shaped slavery and colonialism did not simply evaporate in 1833?

We could of course employ Occam’s shaving kit. Recent immigrants tend to be poorer than indigenes. Does that explain that Pakistani and Bangladeshi position? Why, yes, it does. Do we need anything more to explain it? No, we don’t. Thus in a shower of soap foam that worry disappears then, doesn’t it?

As the Jamaican-American philosopher Charles W Mills points out, while other political ideologies are acknowledged – socialism, capitalism, fascism – we consistently fail to name the ideology that forged global European imperialism: white supremacy.

As Jared Diamond pointed out at length it was technological supremacy – itself driven by geographic circumstances. It never was going to be the Americas which invaded Europe, whatever the genes of the people, it was always going to be the other way around. So too with Eurasia and Africa.

Dr Myriam François is a research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, Soas University of London, and founder of the blog We Need to Talk about Whiteness

As ever, don’t go to SOAS if you want to learn anything useful.

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timworstallBoganboytamimisledusDe Ntarethammond Recent comment authors
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TD
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TD

There seems to be a growing fury at our forefathers, most of whom did not hold 21st Century views on basic issues of minority rights, woman’s rights, animal rights, global warming and you name it. Witness all the jumping up and down about Confederate statues.

There might be a simple solution. These people were largely buried and not cremated. Could former Confederate soldiers, slaveowners, and anyone else deemed to be retrograde by current standards simply be exhumed and hanged? Would that calm some folks down?

Pat
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Pat

Since the hadith make it clear that Mohamed was white (or at least most parts were white, the colour of certain parts is not described) I assume that the Mohamedan professor identifies as white.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

An American colleague of the progressive persuasion repeatedly likes to remind me of the evils of British colonialism, finally after repeated lectures I surrendered my composure and resorted to the most ineffective of tools, facts. I suggested that British colonialism was of the more benign variety and the USA is one of the most colonial nations on earth, indeed that it was once called the colonies. That the Persians, the Romans, the Moguls, the Mongolians, the Arabians, the Russians, The Ottomans, the French, the Belgians, the Vietnamese, the Zulus, the Dutch and the Germans were all colonisers. Her reply was… Read more »

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Blame global warming for the change in forecast.

thammond
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thammond

Could have added the Aztecs, Incas, Chinese (still today in Tibet), the Vikings (Normandy and then England), the Spanish.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

I don’t get this horror of buying out slave owners. The easiest way to abolish something is for the state to buy it out. Private individuals had been doing it for centuries. The state abolished private railways by buying them out, thay abolished the East India Compnay by buying it out, they abolished private waterworks by buying them out, they abolished private bus companies by buying them out. It’s a simple fact of life. Note, though, the increased demands of modern leftists to abolish things by government stealing stuff.

thammond
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thammond

“Britons today aren’t directly responsible for the actions of their ancestors, but we are responsible for making the consequences of their wrongful actions right.”

Eh? If i am not responsible for the bad thing then how can I be responsible for making the bad thing right? The number of slave owners was extremely small. The money they made was large at the time, but has since entirely dissipated. Our current wealth is largely what we make and have made over the last fifty years (perhaps less),

De Ntare
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De Ntare

All of you who downplay the horrific African Holocaust that was TransAtlantic Slavery – the worst Crime against Humanity in Human history – are NO different than the White Supremacists who condone and justify the animalistic brutality of their European forefathers. Even you were not there 500 years ago when European thugs and murderers were around the world killing Natives on all continents in the name of white supremacy and God, at least ACKNOWLEDGE this horrific history as “Humans” having compassion for other Humans. That would be a GOOD starting point for an INTELLIGENT discussion, not the ill-guided sound bites… Read more »

tamimisledus
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tamimisledus

It would be a good start for intelligent discussion if you understood and didn’t pervert the views with whom you wish to have an intelligent discussion. That is if you actually want to have an intelligent discussion, which from the tone of your comment, I very much doubt.

Boganboy
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Boganboy

An interesting example of racism. One notes that De Ntare does not blame the Africans who sold anyone they could catch to the traders who lined up with the cash. He also doesn’t criticise the flourishing trade in white slaves that the French invasion of Algeria only stopped in 1830.

One may also note the entertaining contrast between the free transport and life-time employment given to the slaves and the expensive trip and difficulty of finding a job for the present immigrants who swarm into Europe.

timworstall
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timworstall

Quite. I think I’ll be writing something much longer on this soon enough.