Caribbean Project: Adam Smith, Free Labor, Slavery

British West Indies

This is getting good.

If the free labor system was so superior to slavery, as Adam Smith argued in The Wealth of Nations, then why were the slave societies in the British West Indies so much more valuable and profitable than their free labor counterparts?

“Wealth of Nations was subtle in applying the evidence of European free labor patterns to the Americas. If, in general, “slave cultivation was not so advantageous as free tenants,” the Anglo-American plantation zone (harboring 90 percent of the empires’ slaves in 1775) clearly offered the paradox of combining the dearest labor and greatest profitability. The price of agricultural products for export in the plantations from Maryland to Tobago apparently enabled slaveowners to sustain rates of economic growth and even increased population growth of slaves unmatched in the contemporary free labor zones of Europe. Smith noted that the British West Indian sugar plantations were so profitable they their returns from rum exports, a byproduct of sugar production, paid for the entire overhead expenses of a sugar plantation. As far as Smith was concerned, this was an achievement without parallel in eighteen-century British imperial agriculture. The paradox was inescapable. The most inefficient type of labor system underlay the most profitable and dynamic agricultural activity in the British Empire.”

Reality triumphs over abstract liberal theory. What do we do?

Note: This excerpt comes from Seymour Drescher’s excellent book The Mighty Experiment: Free Labor versus Slavery in British Emancipation.

About Hunter Wallace 10083 Articles
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42 Comments

  1. Just note that the “Anglo-american” is the only one with slaves. It’s a bit sly to then define this as “thee empire.”

    As always— the real project is to locate the “anglo” areas as the (supposed) only “Empire,” and to locate all slaves there.

    This leaves the impression that anglos (code for the “american south” excepting louisiana, basically) had 90% of all slaves worldwide.

    In no writing does south america even exist. (Except as what the ANGLOS owe them and the spanish and their allies (seemingly like the irish) in “reconquista”, when in fact, no ANGLOS were near them ever. Oh, Dole pineapple— we have heard a lot about that).

    So, maybe there should be DWRW— disingenuous white “right wingers” lol

  2. So we may all look forward to being enslaved when you become President, Mr. Wallace? Thanks for the warning.

  3. If I was dictator, I would enslave all DWL’s and make hulking Negros their overseers. World turned upside-right.

  4. Hunter,

    I’m replying to your previous post to me from the other thread here just to keep the discussion more “current.”

    (2) I’m sneering at “free labor” as an abstract ideology that revolves around the “laws” of liberal economics which are supposedly universally applicable: the notion that “free labor” is superior to “slave labor” in every conceivable situation.

    “Abstract ideologies” seem to be a label you slap on things you just don’t like or consider impediments. Free labor is much more of a fact of reality than it is any sort of abstract ideology. Whether it’s superior with respect to economic returns in every conceivable situation is an open question but, as I said, the purview of economics is much greater than mere efficiency.

    Ate you following me? Do you understand that is not the same thing as “sneering” at free labor per se? The political economists before Adam Smith didn’t make such sweeping generalizations and tended to argue in favor of the relative superiority of labor systems to the task at hand.

    I’ll grant that Smith, who was as much a moral philosopher as an economist, had a tendency towards ideology (and was known for his quirky, absent-minded personality), but I have to say it sure did seem that you were sneering at free labor per se.

    (3) That’s true.

    Various social problems like the Black Undertow emerged in the aftermath of abolition and the triumph of free society that every former slave society from Maryland to Brazil is still dealing with today as a consequence.

    I never questioned this.

    (4) The Caribbean never recovered its former importance in the world economy. It went from being the center of the world economy to a peripheral region. That’s not to say that science and technology have not advanced in other regions that were not directly impacted by abolition or that the Caribbean has not benefited as a consequence.

    The relative importance in the world economy simply doesn’t bear any relation to the economic performance of the countries in question. The more relevant comparison is the performance of these countries in more recent times with their performance in the past. If world power or “greatness” (yes, now I’m the one sneering) is the issue of greater concern to you then I’d say their independence from their founding nations is at least as great a factor as the demise of slavery, since an independent Caribbean, even in the form of federation, is hardly something that would have commanded awe in international affairs — certainly not once industry superseded agriculture in economic importance.

    (5) Where are you drawing this number from?

    Davis says in the book that the abolition of slavery alone – that is, in the American South – entailed the destruction of a form of property that would be the modern equivalent of a 10 trillion dollar blow to the whole U.S. economy. That’s also just the loss of the financial value of slaves to the South.

    Davis says slaves amounted to capital stock equivalent in value to 10 trillion dollars in 2003. It’s not an apt comparison because the vastly more productive economy of 2003 compared to 1860 wouldn’t exist were it not for the various uses it has been able to put free labor to, uses for which it’s difficult to believe slave labor could have been substituted.

    How far do you suppose the abolition of slavery set us back? That doesn’t even take into consideration the destruction of cities like Atlanta or the infrastructure of our country.

    A gang of thieves is obviously going to be bitter when their criminal enterprise is thwarted. Now, while slavery is certainly immoral, I’m willing to cut the past some slack. People who didn’t know any better simply didn’t know any better. But it’s aggravating and dispiriting and, dammit, downright depressing beyond belief that anyone would attempt to justify slavery today. Geezus feller, if it wasn’t wrong back then why would it be wrong today? Your only possible answer is to say it isn’t wrong today, and that’s just not an answer I’m prepared to accept and I bet I speak for the overwhelming majority of mankind. Good God, people like you make me proud of the human race that were able to produce communists ready, willing and able to risk life and limb to deal death to oppressive scum like slave-owners and hereditary rulers — which is a pride I never previously thought I’d have any reason to feel, considering how adamantly I disagree with their economic views.

    The South isn’t an isolated case either. What happened to Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, the rest of the British and French West Indies, the Guianas, and Brazil? What was the cost of abolition there on islands which were literally turned over to savages?

    Abolition and turning things over to savages are two issues that should be kept quite separate. There’s no way in hell the latter naturally flows from the former, such that one who supports the former simply must (either immediately or in the fullness of time) support the latter.

    Anyway, you grossly overstate the problems of negro societies. They don’t look or behave like white societies, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made substantial progress or that they’re not on course to make substantially more progress yet. Neither whites nor anyone should feel compelled to integrate with blacks or tolerate the inevitable black dysfunction but that is hardly an argument against black liberation. Is it really that hard for you to just let them be? Why?

  5. So we may all look forward to being enslaved when you become President, Mr. Wallace? Thanks for the warning.

    His heart is in the right place and you can’t blame him for caring about his race and the injustices it is subjected to. And to his credit he deals mostly with facts, but some of his flights of fancy really do make it difficult to sympathize with him, never more so than when he attempts to justify slavery. Frankly, we are witnessing the Hunter become the Huntard.

  6. WTF John, you’re the one who talks ominously of warring on them and exterminating them, promising that no quarter will be given.

  7. “Geezus feller, if it wasn’t wrong back then why would it be wrong today?” – Slavery is obsolete today. If it is to remain morally wrong though, then that depends on whites continuing to be strong enough to force our views onto planet earth.

  8. Eric Hale says:
    September 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    “If I was dictator, I would enslave all DWL’s and make hulking Negros their overseers. World turned upside-right.”

    lol And they’d deserve it too. At least for a little while.

    Speaking for myself, I’d have nothing to do with slavery, for the simple reason I prefer to live around my own kind. Come on, why would anyone want to surround themselves, with hundreds of blacks?

  9. Re: Uncle Silver

    “Abstract ideologies” seem to be a label you slap on things you just don’t like or consider impediments. Free labor is much more of a fact of reality than it is any sort of abstract ideology. Whether it’s superior with respect to economic returns in every conceivable situation is an open question but, as I said, the purview of economics is much greater than mere efficiency.

    Did you read my previous post?

    In my previous post, I noted that there were different types of labor systems in the Caribbean: free labor, bonded labor, and slave labor. In other parts of the world, such as contemporary Poland or Medieval Europe, there was serfdom, but in a “slave society” like Jamaica, the “slave labor” of the black slaves existed alongside the “free labor” of Whites in a racial division of labor.

    In the late eighteenth century, political economists like Adam Smith started to glorify free labor as an ideology, which is to say, that they began to construct abstract systems which asserted that free labor was universally superior to its counterparts in every conceivable situation.

    Free labor, which had previously been merely a type of labor, which Smith’s predecessors correctly observed was superior in some situations (such as situations in which “heads” were required over “hands”), while it was inferior in other situations (such as when “hands” were required over “heads”), namely, relative to the economic task to be performed.

    The danger of free labor as an abstract ideology, above all when applied to the free negro, is that it rests on a false assumption: the assumption that “free labor” is always superior to “slave labor,” which was most obviously contradicted by the fact that the slave societies in the British West Indies were more efficient and more productive and generated more wealth and had a higher per capita income than Britain itself!

    In a condition of slavery, the negro was an economic dynamo who contributed to the progress of the world.

    I’ll grant that Smith, who was as much a moral philosopher as an economist, had a tendency towards ideology (and was known for his quirky, absent-minded personality), but I have to say it sure did seem that you were sneering at free labor per se.

    I’m sneering at the willful stupidity of ideology: Adam Smith believed that the only reason negro slaves were used by planters in the West Indies, as opposed to free laborers, is because the sugar industry was such a lucrative business that the West Indian planters preferred and could afford to use slaves because they could socially and psychologically dominate their captive labor force.

    That is not the same thing as sneering at “free labor.” Obviously, the superiority of “free labor” or “slave labor” is ABSOLUTELY CONTINGENT on the nature of the labor force and the economic task to be performed.

    How useful would a gang of enslaved negroes with an average IQ of 75 be in, say, a MIT laboratory? How useful would a free labor force of European intellectuals be on a West Indian sugar plantation in the 1750s?

    I never questioned this.

    You’ve insinuated that modern free laborers in the Caribbean are more efficient and productive than slave laborers in the West Indies before emancipation. But is that really the case? Isn’t it quite obvious that the real difference is that technology in other parts of the world has progressed over time?

    The relative importance in the world economy simply doesn’t bear any relation to the economic performance of the countries in question.

    Sure it does.

    Abolition was unquestionably an economic catastrophe that imposed poverty and backwardness and savagery on a large part of the world. The Caribbean went from being the center of the world economy to a peripheral region because of the abolition of slavery.

    The more relevant comparison is the performance of these countries in more recent times with their performance in the past.

    No one has denied that technology has progressed in other parts of the world or that the Caribbean has benefited from scientific and technological progress in other parts of the world or that much of the Caribbean is wealthier today than it was in the past because of these advancements.

    Look at Jamaican tourism industry. The tourist industry in Montego Bay was made possible by cruise ships, by cheap flights, by refrigeration, by foreign capital, by electricity, by the eradication of disease, etc. It was made possible by scientific and technological progress in other parts of the world, not by any triumph of the free labor system.

    At the same time, Jamaica is the third most violent country in the world. It is literally a warlord democracy. The pockets of tourism in places like Montego Bay coexist alongside the collapse of the rail system and the deterioration of roads, alongside some of the most dangerous black slums in the world, alongside all the visible manifestations of the Black Undertow including blight and low property values.

    If world power or “greatness” (yes, now I’m the one sneering) is the issue of greater concern to you then I’d say their independence from their founding nations is at least as great a factor as the demise of slavery, since an independent Caribbean, even in the form of federation, is hardly something that would have commanded awe in international affairs — certainly not once industry superseded agriculture in economic importance.

    This will be discussed in detail in the book.

    Haiti, for example, became an independent nation in 1804. Jamaica didn’t become an independent nation until 1962. Cuba didn’t become an independent nation until 1902. Guadeloupe is an overseas department of France.

    The abolition of slavery came at different times in different places. The same is true of independence, the demise of white supremacy, the creation of democratic governments, the triumph of freedom and equality, the triumph of black power, etc.

    This is why Haiti is worse off in absolute terms in 2012 than it was under slavery as French Saint-Domingue in 1791.

    Davis says slaves amounted to capital stock equivalent in value to 10 trillion dollars in 2003. It’s not an apt comparison because the vastly more productive economy of 2003 compared to 1860 wouldn’t exist were it not for the various uses it has been able to put free labor to, uses for which it’s difficult to believe slave labor could have been substituted.

    I disagree.

    It is an apt comparison because the dollar value of slaves in 2003 dollars doesn’t reflect the relative importance of slavery within the U.S. economy in 1865. The economy was much smaller back then and slavery was a much sector of the economy than the value of slaves in 2003 dollars suggests.

    The point of the comparison was to illustrate what the economic impact of abolition would feel like today and how it must have felt like to our ancestors.

    A gang of thieves is obviously going to be bitter when their criminal enterprise is thwarted. Now, while slavery is certainly immoral, I’m willing to cut the past some slack.

    Slavery was not a criminal enterprise:

    (1) Africans were legally enslaved in Africa under African law. They were legally sold to Europeans under European law.

    (2) Slavery was perfectly legal in the United States until 1865.

    Is slavery “certainly immoral”? On what grounds is slavery “certainly immoral”? As David Brion Davis points out, there had never been such a thing as “anti-slavery” (opposition to slavery in principle) until the 1650s, and there wasn’t an “anti-slavery movement” in the West until the last third of the eighteenth century.

    Until that time, virtually every society in the entire world had practiced slavery at some point or another, and free society in Western Europe and North America was “the peculiar institution,” not slavery, especially in Africa in Asia.

    “Now, while slavery is certainly immoral, I’m willing to cut the past some slack. People who didn’t know any better simply didn’t know any better. But it’s aggravating and dispiriting and, dammit, downright depressing beyond belief that anyone would attempt to justify slavery today. Geezus feller, if it wasn’t wrong back then why would it be wrong today?”

    What didn’t they know?

    In our previous exchanges, you claimed that anti-slavery was based on feelings. How then do you explain the almost total non-existence of anti-slavery until the late eighteenth century West? How do you explain the almost ubiquitous acceptance of slavery until the nineteenth century?

    Did all these previous generations not have feelings? The Romans? The Greeks? The Turks? The Chinese? The Arabs? American Indians like the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs? That seems impossible to believe.

    Isn’t it much more likely that they were “ignorant” of liberal ideology?

    “Your only possible answer is to say it isn’t wrong today, and that’s just not an answer I’m prepared to accept and I bet I speak for the overwhelming majority of mankind.”

    I’m willing to grant that slavery is immoral … according to liberalism, according to various Christian heresies.

    Good God, people like you make me proud of the human race that were able to produce communists ready, willing and able to risk life and limb to deal death to oppressive scum like slave-owners and hereditary rulers — which is a pride I never previously thought I’d have any reason to feel, considering how adamantly I disagree with their economic views.

    Communism is another secular fantasy ideology like liberalism.

    Abolition and turning things over to savages are two issues that should be kept quite separate. There’s no way in hell the latter naturally flows from the former, such that one who supports the former simply must (either immediately or in the fullness of time) support the latter.

    In some cases, the reversion to savagery was temporarily checked by the persistence of racialism, white supremacy, and imperialism after the demise of slavery, but in others, abolition was quickly followed by a descent into savagery once these other mitigating factors – all of which are deplored by the modern Left and liberalism as violations of so-called “human rights” – were removed.

    Anyway, you grossly overstate the problems of negro societies. They don’t look or behave like white societies, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made substantial progress or that they’re not on course to make substantially more progress yet.

    They’ve benefited from the overall progress of the rest of the world, sure. Have they contributed to that progress? Could they sustain that progress? Just look at the Caribbean where pockets of prosperity like Montego Bay – a place that is clearly a product of the progress of the rest of the world – exist alongside crushing, insoluble social problems in violent ghettos like Trench Town.

    Neither whites nor anyone should feel compelled to integrate with blacks or tolerate the inevitable black dysfunction but that is hardly an argument against black eliberation. Is it really that hard for you to just let them be? Why?

    Are you serious?

    Human rights requires “integration.” Equality requires integration. Liberty requires integration. Democracy requires integration. What is called “human dignity” also demands integration with the Black Undertow.

  10. In addressing this subject, Mr. Wallace–in this post and your several others about it–you are consistently intellectually opportunistic. All of your statements–about the “wealth” generated in the plantation West Indies or the plantation South, about per capita income therein, about those places’ products as proportions of trade, etc.–have nothing to do with the only meaningful but impossible comparison. The question–if the comparative efficiency of free and slave labor is your real concern–is how those places would have fared economically if their enterprises had been built upon free labor–whether of whites or blacks or anyone. That they fell apart economically when their fully-developed slave systems were destroyed tells us nothing. The question, to say it again, is how they would have fared if free laborers–even if only from Africa–had, from the beginning, been invited to work there. No numbers you have presented can answer that question.

    I’m also troubled by the last part of your exchange with Silver. I’m speaking of the following:

    SILVER: Neither whites nor anyone should feel compelled to integrate with blacks or tolerate the inevitable black dysfunction but that is hardly an argument against black eliberation. Is it really that hard for you to just let them be? Why?

    HUNTER WALLACE: Are you serious? Human rights requires “integration.” Equality requires integration. Liberty requires integration. Democracy requires integration. What is called “human dignity” also demands integration with the Black Undertow.

    Again, you’re being disingenuous. Obviously, Silver does not share the views of those who think integration is required, for any reason whatsoever. You consistently refuse to allow the question of slavery to be separated from the question of racial separation. That’s exactly what Dixie’s champions did in the period before the Civil War. The political struggle ended up being between two groups–the abolitionists and the Southrons–who were equally insistent on keeping those questions connected. Nobody who wanted to keep the questions separate was able to get a hearing. You’re repeating the errors of your Southron forebears.

  11. Hunter: The same morality that Silverman and his ilk use to characterize slavery is the same that will be used to sanction sodomy (gay marriage) and God knows what next.

  12. Bonnaccorsi: if what you say is true, why was the South forced to end segregation and Jim Crow. Hunter is right when he says equality equals integration. Northern fanatics took equality before the law (also questionable) and turned it into equality of people, it was further perverted by Marxists to mean equality among civilizations. Look, if blacks are equal whites, then it must follow that the sum of black society must be equal to Western society, right? This is one of the reasons the West is in decline…we can’t even recognize the superiority of our history and civilization.

  13. The real reason so many oppose slavery today has NOTHING to do with all the boilerplate such as Silver is discussing.

    Too many men today, especially Northern men in the industrial belts, who otherwise might manage to make 12 bucks an hour tops, want to make 30 bucks an hour changing lightbulbs and the like. They want to make big money and live in a big house with new SUV’s and Harleys but they are no skilled and usually at most semi-skilled.

    Then in recent years, after getting a stake from working these jobs, the semi-skilled man ventures into his own business of doing, for example, Bobcat work clearing brush and top soil and spreading dirt and gravel and charging outragious prices. Others do similar mediocre work and charge outragious prices.

    In short, most guys today out here in “flyover country” are scared too death that too many are going to figure out their labor is not worth as much as has been being charged. That is what all of this is about. It would be to their credit if they just came out and said so.

  14. PS, Mr. Wallace: “Southron” was the only term I could come up with for those Southerners who championed slavery. It’s inapt. In the period before the Civil War, there were, for all I know, many persons who referred to themselves as Southrons and for whom the question of slavery and the question of racial separation were separate. There was at least one–Hinton Helper.

  15. “Bonaccorsi: if what you say is true, why was the South forced to end segregation and Jim Crow.”

    How is what I said inconsistent with that? I didn’t say there were no persons who wanted integration. I’m as aware as you are, Wayne, that the persons who wanted it prevailed politically.

  16. “Look, if blacks are equal whites, then it must follow that the sum of black society must be equal to Western society, right? This is one of the reasons the West is in decline…we can’t even recognize the superiority of our history and civilization.”

    Exactly the point, Wayne. Very well said.

    The very notion of negro equality automatically degrades whites. It reduces the superior to a position of parity with the inferior. The results we see all around us, even if some refuse to see them at all.

    Like all levellers they fail to see that they do not really elevate the negro at all (a true opus contra naturam if ever there was one), but rather drag whites down to the level of the negro. They only succeed in making the human more animalistic, instead of making the animalistic more human.

    There never was and never will be a great negro civilization, in Africa or anywhere except in the fevered imaginations of these levellers.

    Deo Vindice

  17. Exactly, JB. Abolition was never enough, they demanded equality from the beginning and were willing to see 800,000 white men die for it. They were very sick people. The same spirit is at work to shove sodomy down the necks of all of us and it will be in the name of morality.

  18. “Exactly, JB. Abolition was never enough, they demanded equality from the beginning and were willing to see 800,000 white men die for it.”

    I don’t know the number; but yes, you’re right. That’s what I said. There were persons who were unwilling to separate the questions of slavery and racial separation. Some were opposed to slavery, some were in favor of it. They caused the Civil War.

    I used the term “abolitionists,” incidentally, for those who were opposed to slavery and who combined those questions, but that was as inaccurate as my use of “Southron.” Hinton Helper, for instance, referred to himself as an abolitionist even though he was opposed to integration.

  19. Neither Jesus, Moses or Allah spoke out against slavery. The Ten Commandments say nothing about slavery (or racism, for that matter). The Catholic Church condoned it for hundreds of years.

  20. “Neither Jesus, Moses or Allah spoke out against slavery. The Ten Commandments say nothing about slavery (or racism, for that matter). The Catholic Church condoned it for hundreds of years.”

    All of that might be true, though I’ve heard that an instruction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you figures in there somewhere. For me personally, it doesn’t matter what those persons or that document or that institution said about it.

  21. “if the comparative efficiency of free and slave labor is your real concern–is how those places would have fared economically if their enterprises had been built upon free labor–whether of whites or blacks or anyone.” – They would not have existed in the first place. not very many whites could live on the islands at the time, and blacks were never able to organize production to any great capacity along free labor lines. Haiti and the haitians themselves had to turn back to slavery to fund their own war efforts with the various colonial powers.

    Had France been able to see into the future, and kept Haiti exclusively white for that day that technology would make the island livable for Frenchmen, then the free labor(scarce European labor + capital investment rather) model would no doubt excel at turning haiti into a first world possession. Or more likely one of the other powers would have grabbed it and dropped a bunch of slave plantations onto it, sometimes thats how it goes.

  22. “They would not have existed in the first place. not very many whites could live on the islands at the time, and blacks were never able to organize production to any great capacity along free labor lines.”

    You’re omitting an obvious possibility: white-run enterprises with free black labor.

    At any rate, I reject your statement in its entirety. It is precisely the kind of thing with which persons waste their time in this sort of discussion. “X wouldn’t have happened because of y.” Everybody knows the answer to everything. My point stands: the various numbers and such that Mr. Wallace presents–at second hand–have nothing to do with the question of the comparative efficiency of free and slave labor.

    I’m not saying this matters to me. It doesn’t matter to me at all how “efficient” slavery might have been. I’m saying that Mr. Wallace’s statements as to its efficiency are insubstantial.

  23. “You’re omitting an obvious possibility: white-run enterprises with free black labor.” – I believe that our innate desire to seek status would preclude such an arrangement from being viable in the long term.

    “I’m not saying this matters to me. It doesn’t matter to me at all how “efficient” slavery might have been. I’m saying that Mr. Wallace’s statements as to its efficiency are insubstantial.” – If you want something to bolster your argument that slavery was a loser under genuinely equal competition you need look no further than the border states which were in the process of divesting themselves of slavery and the attendant slaves by the time of the civil war.

  24. They had free labour in Africa. Result? Elephant dung huts and clitorectomies on young negresses. Both freedom and slavery existed in Haiti in different eras. Compare the performance of either era.

    Case closed.

  25. Hunter,

    Why am I “Uncle Silver”? I would have thought my posts take on a tone of impassioned pleading more than avuncular indulgence. Anyway, I’m only a couple of years older than you, so not much of “uncle” to anyone, I wouldn’t think.

    In the late eighteenth century, political economists like Adam Smith started to glorify free labor as an ideology, which is to say, that they began to construct abstract systems which asserted that free labor was universally superior to its counterparts in every conceivable situation.

    A bit of a side note: Let’s be fair to Adam Smith. He wasn’t quite the inflexible free market ideologue some think. He was actually quite aware of many of the sorts of problems that can arise that critics of free markets today point out and went to some length to address them.

    Free labor, which had previously been merely a type of labor, which Smith’s predecessors correctly observed was superior in some situations (such as situations in which “heads” were required over “hands”), while it was inferior in other situations (such as when “hands” were required over “heads”), namely, relative to the economic task to be performed.

    Now, back to the point: free labor is morally superior to coerced labor, particularly that most extreme form of coerced labor, slavery.

    The danger of free labor as an abstract ideology, above all when applied to the free negro, is that it rests on a false assumption: the assumption that “free labor” is always superior to “slave labor,” which was most obviously contradicted by the fact that the slave societies in the British West Indies were more efficient and more productive and generated more wealth and had a higher per capita income than Britain itself!

    It’s far from certain that BWI had higher per capita income than Britain. It’s incredibly difficult to measure output before the latter part of the 19th century, but every estimate I’ve seen puts Britain of the 18th and early 19th centuries far ahead of all contenders (the Netherlands in some estimates are up there, too).

    More importantly, however, Britain’s output was based on free labor, meaning that not only was the system morally superior, the distribution of income was more equitable, too.

    In a condition of slavery, the negro was an economic dynamo who contributed to the progress of the world.

    Let me know if I’m moving too quickly for you, but it’s important here to point out that the end of economics is man, not the economy.

    Let that hang there for a moment.

    Now that we’ve got that straight we can also move on to state that in a condition of free labor the negro can also contribute to the progress of the world. How so? Because he is freely hired and fired as the needs of the market dictate, even if he is less efficient in this capacity than he would have been under a condition of slavery.

    Now, before you reproduce your litany of social costs the negro imposes (which I’m well aware of and don’t seriously dispute) allow me to point out that the foregoing statement applies as much in Africa or other black countries as it does in America.

    African economies are growing. The vast majority of them are better off today than after colonialism ended (50s-60s). They’re not necessarily worlds better off, but they are better off, and they’re standing on their own two feet. I won’t deny that aid, both in the form of finance and technical assistance, has helped them along; of course it has. But growth is no less legitimate for having borrowed from the technological developments of other groups/races/civilizations. (This is such a sore point for some WNs. Because the niggers could never have developed certain technologies on their own they don’t deserve to reap the benefits of those technologies which they adopt.) And just because black countries, it’s entirely plausible to believe, may never reach the developmental level of a Japan (or even a Mexico, perhaps), it certainly doesn’t justify the assertion that black countries have already reached the limits of their developmental potential. (This is another WNistic fallacy, the assertion that the present level development is the maximum level of development that any race (not just blacks) is capable of. That’s one reason (among others) there used to be so much bellyaching over southern and eastern Europeans, whose home countries were a great deal poorer than America. That logic was quite apparent in a classic/notorious “Attack” essay by some Ray Smith, in which the author blamed Portugal’s backwardness on nigger genes and went on to claim that Portugal’s complete demise was now all but certain. That essay must have been written some time during the mid-70s, at which time America’s per capita GDP in 2010 dollars was about $25,000 and Portugal’s about $12,000. Since the time Ray Smith penned those words Portugal went on to reach $25,000 per capita herself, making a total mockery of Smith’s logic.)

    It is an apt comparison because the dollar value of slaves in 2003 dollars doesn’t reflect the relative importance of slavery within the U.S. economy in 1865. The economy was much smaller back then and slavery was a much sector of the economy than the value of slaves in 2003 dollars suggests. The point of the comparison was to illustrate what the economic impact of abolition would feel like today and how it must have felt like to our ancestors.

    No, it’s misleading. Absolute decline, not relative decline, is the appropriate metric here. America in the 19th century had only marginally begun to rise above the economic level which had persisted among the most advanced societies for the previous 2500 years or so. To fall all the way back to the level of, say, 1700 would not have been as catastrophic a decline as to fall back from 2003 to as recently even 1930. It’s like someone who has $10,000 in the bank and loses $8000 and is left with $2000 compared to someone with $1,000,000 who loses $600,000 and is left with $400,000. The former is a greater relative loss, but a rather mild absolute loss; the latter is catastrophic absolute loss, despite being a milder relative loss.

    Is slavery “certainly immoral”? On what grounds is slavery “certainly immoral”? As David Brion Davis points out, there had never been such a thing as “anti-slavery” (opposition to slavery in principle) until the 1650s, and there wasn’t an “anti-slavery movement” in the West until the last third of the eighteenth century.

    On what grounds is “white genocide” (soft genocide, genocide via miscegenation) immoral? On the grounds of moral enlightenment, just like slavery.

    In our previous exchanges, you claimed that anti-slavery was based on feelings. How then do you explain the almost total non-existence of anti-slavery until the late eighteenth century West? How do you explain the almost ubiquitous acceptance of slavery until the nineteenth century?

    Fear, moral benightedness and lack of vision. People used to be much more afraid to challenge authority. People were more willing to accept the status quo without questioning it. And people tended to lack belief that the future could be much different than the past, and certainly not radically different.

    Isn’t it much more likely that they were “ignorant” of liberal ideology?

    Sure is. That’s why having become knowledgeable of liberal values no one on this planet (aside from a few WN malcontents) is in any mood to turn back the clock to slavery. (Okay, that’s being unfair. I’m aware that slavery still exists, and that large parts of the world don’t seem particularly eager to join in the liberal revolution. Fine. I’m no diehard universalist. Let them sink.)

    Communism is another secular fantasy ideology like liberalism.

    That’s okay. Mistakes are inevitable in any grand new enterprise. It’s their willingness to kill oppressors I admire more than the content of their wider belief system.

    They’ve benefited from the overall progress of the rest of the world, sure. Have they contributed to that progress? Could they sustain that progress? Just look at the Caribbean where pockets of prosperity like Montego Bay – a place that is clearly a product of the progress of the rest of the world – exist alongside crushing, insoluble social problems in violent ghettos like Trench Town.

    Those problems aren’t insoluble. The solution will simply take time. But there’s nothing a few generations of eugenics won’t fix.

    Are you serious?

    Human rights requires “integration.” Equality requires integration. Liberty requires integration. Democracy requires integration. What is called “human dignity” also demands integration with the Black Undertow.

    Sure, Hunter, there are only two possible belief systems in this world: conservatism and liberalism and each says precisely what you claim it does, never more and never less.

  26. “’You’re omitting an obvious possibility: white-run enterprises with free black labor.’ – I believe that our innate desire to seek status would preclude such an arrangement from being viable in the long term.”

    I’m afraid I don’t understand your statement, but it’s not as if there have never been white-run enterprises involving free black labor. I imagine many enterprises in the post-Civil-War American South and many enterprises in apartheid-era South Africa were of that type. If your suggesting that, say, the blacks of apartheid South Africa would have eventually become unmanageable, even if there had been no white opposition to apartheid, well, would they have become any more difficult for the whites to deal with than the black slaves of the South and the Caribbean had been, even before the rise of the abolitionists? I’m not saying the situation would have been great. I think the involvement of blacks with whites is always bad for both groups, but what reason is there to think that the policing of free blacks would have been any more difficult than was blacks’ subjugation? Let’s note, while we’re on the subject, that South Africa wasn’t an economic failure because the blacks there weren’t enslaved.

    As to the U.S. border states, I’d guess you’re right that that’s a subject worth examining, though I presently don’t know anything about it.

  27. Silver,

    I’m just joking with you. The commentators often invent names for each other like “Jewdel” and 313Piss. As always, my tone in the comments is generally amusement while indulging various queries.

  28. I’m just joking with you. The commentators often invent names for each other like “Jewdel” and 313Piss.

    Oh, okay, I don’t mind that. How about “Swillver”? Heh.

  29. Re: Uncle Silverman

    A bit of a side note: Let’s be fair to Adam Smith. He wasn’t quite the inflexible free market ideologue some think. He was actually quite aware of many of the sorts of problems that can arise that critics of free markets today point out and went to some length to address them.

    That’s true.

    Adam Smith wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) before he wrote The Wealth of Nations (1776). If he had been more historically self conscious, then he would have known that Britain’s wealth was based on its vast slave empire in the Caribbean and its dominant role in the transatlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century.

    Now, back to the point: free labor is morally superior to coerced labor, particularly that most extreme form of coerced labor, slavery.

    How odd.

    Adam Smith published a book about the “moral superiority” of free labor over slave labor in a world that hitherto throughout all of human history had been totally devoid of anti-slavery.

    It’s far from certain that BWI had higher per capita income than Britain. It’s incredibly difficult to measure output before the latter part of the 19th century, but every estimate I’ve seen puts Britain of the 18th and early 19th centuries far ahead of all contenders (the Netherlands in some estimates are up there, too).

    Drescher does just that in the book: he notes that the British West Indies probably had a higher per capita income than Britain itself, which had a higher per capita income than any other European country at that time.

    More importantly, however, Britain’s output was based on free labor, meaning that not only was the system morally superior, the distribution of income was more equitable, too.

    Not really.

    Britain’s output in manufacturing, finance, banking, shipping, agriculture and many other sectors of its economy was based on catering to the slave trade – in all the slave societies of the British Caribbean and the American South, “free labor” existed in a symbiotic relationship with slave labor.

    How were the British morally superior to the planters in the West Indies? They were happy to consume slave-produced sugar and coffee. They were happy to buy and process Southern cotton. They dominated the transatlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century.

    Let me know if I’m moving too quickly for you, but it’s important here to point out that the end of economics is man, not the economy.

    The end of economics is consumption of the generation of wealth.

    Now that we’ve got that straight we can also move on to state that in a condition of free labor the negro can also contribute to the progress of the world. How so? Because he is freely hired and fired as the needs of the market dictate, even if he is less efficient in this capacity than he would have been under a condition of slavery.

    As we have already seen, the average single black woman in the United States has a net worth of $5 and the average negro household under free society has an average net worth of about $6,000, whereas the average slave in 1860 was worth around $135,000.

    Now, before you reproduce your litany of social costs the negro imposes (which I’m well aware of and don’t seriously dispute) allow me to point out that the foregoing statement applies as much in Africa or other black countries as it does in America.

    Generally speaking, the negro in a state of freedom creates the Black Undertow everywhere he lives. I’ve learned that this is also true of the Caribbean islands which superficially appear to be success stories like Bermuda and Barbados.

    African economies are growing. The vast majority of them are better off today than after colonialism ended (50s-60s).

    That’s not true.

    It would be more accurate to say that some African countries (Botswana, for example) are better off than they were in the 1960s, that some African countries are growing in some places because the Chinese have stimulated world commodity prices, but the “vast majority” of African countries are not better off than they were in the 1960s.

    They’re not necessarily worlds better off, but they are better off, and they’re standing on their own two feet.

    Which African countries are standing on their own two feet?

    I won’t deny that aid, both in the form of finance and technical assistance, has helped them along; of course it has. But growth is no less legitimate for having borrowed from the technological developments of other groups/races/civilizations.

    Is Equatorial Guinea really a success story or is it just having an oil boom caused by Westerners?

    (This is such a sore point for some WNs. Because the niggers could never have developed certain technologies on their own they don’t deserve to reap the benefits of those technologies which they adopt.) And just because black countries, it’s entirely plausible to believe, may never reach the developmental level of a Japan (or even a Mexico, perhaps), it certainly doesn’t justify the assertion that black countries have already reached the limits of their developmental potential.

    There is nothing stopping foreigners from developing, say, the oil resources of Angola, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea, or stimulating the demands for diamonds in South Africa and Botswana, or creating a tourism industry in Jamaica and Barbados, or offshore financial centers in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

    When you talk about black countries and “development,” this is the “development” pattern you will almost always find, which is to say, pockets of prosperity like Montego Bay in Jamaica which co-exist alongside crushing blight and decay catered to by legions of NGOs.

    (This is another WNistic fallacy, the assertion that the present level development is the maximum level of development that any race (not just blacks) is capable of.

    I haven’t said anywhere that Africans have reached their maximum level of development.

    I fully expect that foreigners will continue investing in Africa because there are large deposits of valuable natural resources there. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africans live on top of gold, oil, diamonds, copper, coltan, uranium, vast forests and rivers which contain a much of the world’s hydroelectric power potential which dwarf the natural resources of European and Asian countries like Iceland and Singapore.

    The continent of Africa will continue to attract outside attention. Just like then black islands in the Caribbean are perfectly suited for tourism and growing tropical commodities like sugarcane and coffee. The places where Africans live contain multiple environmental advantages. The problem is the human capital isn’t there to develop those places to their full potential.

  30. On what grounds is “white genocide” (soft genocide, genocide via miscegenation) immoral? On the grounds of moral enlightenment, just like slavery.

    What is “moral enlightenment”?

    That’s okay. Mistakes are inevitable in any grand new enterprise. It’s their willingness to kill oppressors I admire more than the content of their wider belief system.

    Is killing the oppressors part of the “moral enlightenment”?

    Those problems aren’t insoluble. The solution will simply take time. But there’s nothing a few generations of eugenics won’t fix.

    How would a state imposed eugenics programs work? Just the other day, we found out that “junk DNA” was like really, really important.

    Fear, moral benightedness and lack of vision. People used to be much more afraid to challenge authority. People were more willing to accept the status quo without questioning it. And people tended to lack belief that the future could be much different than the past, and certainly not radically different.

    OR … they just didn’t see slavery as being a social problem or a moral problem. They had no concept of “human rights.” They had no reason to believe in human equality or to care much about promoting that concept.

    Sure is. That’s why having become knowledgeable of liberal values no one on this planet (aside from a few WN malcontents) is in any mood to turn back the clock to slavery. (Okay, that’s being unfair. I’m aware that slavery still exists, and that large parts of the world don’t seem particularly eager to join in the liberal revolution. Fine. I’m no diehard universalist. Let them sink.)

    A cynic might observe that Britain and the United States forced this anti-slavery consensus on the world during a continuous period of Anglo-American hegemony that has lasted since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 but looks increasingly shaky as we move further into the 21st century.

    Sure, Hunter, there are only two possible belief systems in this world: conservatism and liberalism and each says precisely what you claim it does, never more and never less.

    I’m saying that forced integration and anti-racism follow naturally and are logical deductions from the principles of universal liberty and equality and “human dignity.”

    No, it’s misleading. Absolute decline, not relative decline, is the appropriate metric here.

    Seeing as how David Brion Davis is one of the world’s leading authorities on slavery, I will defer to his expertise in the subject in this matter.

  31. “I imagine many enterprises in the post-Civil-War American South and many enterprises in apartheid-era South Africa were of that type. ” – And colonial africa approximates this as well, but all of these arrangements ended.

    ” If you’re suggesting that, say, the blacks of apartheid South Africa would have eventually become unmanageable, even if there had been no white opposition to apartheid, well, would they have become any more difficult for the whites to deal with than the black slaves of the South and the Caribbean had been, even before the rise of the abolitionists?” – They would eventually have done what they did, demand the country be theirs.

    “but what reason is there to think that the policing of free blacks would have been any more difficult than was blacks’ subjugation?” – Blacks under apartheid, Jim Crow, and colonialism aren’t exactly free now are they? The reality is that each of those is a tool to subjugate blacks, and that is the crux of the matter, they will object to living like that in the long run, even if they fled anti-colonialism to enjoy the benefits of apartheid.

    “Let’s note, while we’re on the subject, that South Africa wasn’t an economic failure because the blacks there weren’t enslaved.” – South Africa actually did practice slavery in the earliest part of its history, but SA’s wealth is built on sitting on top very large deposits of gold and diamonds.

  32. What is “moral enlightenment”?

    An expansion of one’s moral consciousness.

    Is killing the oppressors part of the “moral enlightenment”?

    Sure is.

    How would a state imposed eugenics programs work? Just the other day, we found out that “junk DNA” was like really, really important.

    By offering incentives to achieve desired demographic effects. More specifically, my plan would consist of paying the poor to limit or forgo childbirth and paying all classes to opt for eugenic artificial insemination. The importance of junk DNA is immaterial to this scheme.

    OR … they just didn’t see slavery as being a social problem or a moral problem. They had no concept of “human rights.” They had no reason to believe in human equality or to care much about promoting that concept.

    Yes, this comes under the heading “Benightedness.” That said, I share their disregard for human equality, which is simply not a fact of human existence.

    A cynic might observe that Britain and the United States forced this anti-slavery consensus on the world during a continuous period of Anglo-American hegemony that has lasted since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 but looks increasingly shaky as we move further into the 21st century.

    Anti-slavery looks increasingly shaky? Dream on.

    I’m saying that forced integration and anti-racism follow naturally and are logical deductions from the principles of universal liberty and equality and “human dignity.”,/i>

    I don’t believe in equality, and neither liberty nor human dignity require racial integration (though the latter could be said to be not incompatible with those concepts, provided its freely chosen).

    Seeing as how David Brion Davis is one of the world’s leading authorities on slavery, I will defer to his expertise in the subject in this matter.

    His expertise doesn’t bear on the question at hand.

  33. Religion and morality is fine, up until it threatens our posterity. I agree with Silverman that the people are the end of economics, but kin and nation is the end of morality. No morality should ever threaten posterity, if so it goes against the law of nature and is corrupt. Whites are concerned with everyone’s posterity except their own because of corrupt liberal morality.

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