The Modernization of Slavery

Chattel slavery wasn't on its deathbed in 1860

CSA, 1890 AD

Andrew Hamilton has another excellent article on the Confederacy at Counter-Currents.

While I mostly agree with his conclusions, I want to use this article as an opportunity to set the record straight on a few enduring misconceptions about the long term viability of slavery.

There was nothing inevitable about the demise of New World slavery. The successful attack on slavery in the nineteenth century was motivated by the humanitarian sentiment that drew its strength from liberal ideology and evangelical religious conviction.

Like most other crank leftwing utopian schemes, abolitionism succeeded in spite of its many empirical demonstrations as a failure, not because slavery had ceased to be viable. The “Golden Circle” would have continued growing and would have easily adapted to technological progress if the abolitionist fanatics hadn’t gotten their way when they did:

“The social viability of chattel slavery had run its course by 1860. Even if had it survived for a few more decades, it was on the way out.”

This isn’t true.

By 1860, there were almost 4 million slaves in the Confederacy. This is an amazing accomplishment when you consider that only 6 percent of the slaves imported to the New World – somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 to 600,000 – had been brought to the United States.

In fact, the slave population in the United States had nearly doubled since 1830. Demographically, the slaves in the South had a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy than free negroes in the Northern states. The slaves on Southern plantations had a material standard of living comparable to Northern manufacturing workers, but no one ever argues that industrialization had run its course.

The slaves in the South lived better than the English working class in London which, unlike the South, did not have a self-sustaining population. The same was true of most European cities at the time where free laborers were not as healthy, fecund, or self-sustaining as the slaves on Southern plantations. In Ireland, a million people died in the Great Irish Potato Famine from 1845 to 1852. In Finland, nearly 15 percent of the population died from famine between 1866 and 1868.

The slaves on Southern plantations in Mississippi and Alabama in the 1840s exported food to Ireland which was starving to death under freedom in the British Empire. Famines continued to plague parts of Europe into the twentieth century, especially Russia and Eastern Europe, where millions died in the Ukraine during the Holodomor. Slavery in the South undoubtedly saved millions of Africans from the fate of death by war or starvation in the Congo or Sahel region where war and famines carry off millions to this day.

Turning to the glorious triumph of freedom in Jamaica and Haiti, while the War Between the States was winding down in the United States, the free negroes in Jamaica had been reduced to near starvation by thirty years of their own stupidity and laziness:

“Jamaica loves a hero, and no Jamaican was more heroic than Paul Bogle, the Baptist preacher and reform agitator who led the Morant Bay uprising. Bogle and his conspirators were protesting not against the adored Queen Victoria and the empire she ruled from London, but against the plight of the half-starving black majority that was without work, without land or a future.

By the 1860s – thirty years after emancipation – many Jamaican plantations had turned to scrub as the owners were unable to compete with the cheap sugar produced by Cuba and Brazil. Jamaica had become a patchwork of ramshackle, half-evacuated farmsteads, where rumours of re-enslavement (associated with the possibility of Jamaica joining the United States as a slave state) were rife.”

The oldest operating NGOs in the world are anti-slavery organizations.

Ever since the reign of “Baby Doc” Duvalier in the 1980s, these NGOs have effectively transformed Haiti into a “Republic of NGOs,” where the Haitians (in spite of the billions of dollars in foreign aid, and with the assistance of countless thousands of bleeding heart Western liberals working for the NGOs) have managed to lose the capacity to even feed themselves.

This is a disturbing scene from Haiti in the 204th year of free society:

“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — It was lunchtime in one of Haiti’s worst slums and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.

With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.

Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.”

Since Haiti’s latest earthquake in 2010 (similar scenes of devastation, looting, and barbarism accompanied the 1842 Le Cap Earthquake), the UN “humanitarian intervention” has unleashed a cholera epidemic in the country, and Sean Penn slammed the whole fucking world for Haiti Fatigue at the Cannes Film Festival.

Curiously enough, no one in the mainstream ever points out that the Visible Black Hand of Economics is responsible for plight of Haiti whose absolute exports in 1995 were far short of the value of its exports under slavery as Saint-Domingue in 1791 after 207 years of freedom. Instead, the failure of “free” Haiti which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is blamed on slaveowners in Saint-Domingue when it was the richest and most dynamic colony in the world.

Is it really fair to pick on Haiti and Jamaica and point out the calamities of freedom there? What does that say about the viability of slavery as a social system in the South? Well, for starters, it adds the indispensable context which is always ignored by the disingenuous liberal proponents of freedom and equality.

They have been even more studious in ignoring the consequences of freedom in the United States:

“Professor Downs, 39, is part of a wave of scholars who are sketching out a new, darker history of emancipation, Professor Blight said, one that recognizes it as a moral watershed while acknowledging its often devastating immediate impact. And the statistics offered in “Sick from Freedom” are certainly sobering, if necessarily tentative.

At least one quarter of the four million former slaves got sick or died between 1862 and 1870, Professor Downs writes, including at least 60,000 (the actual number is probably two or three times higher, he argues) who perished in a smallpox epidemic that began in Washington and spread through the South as former slaves traveled in search of work — an epidemic that Professor Downs says he is the first to reconstruct as a national event.”

Nearly a quarter of the slaves in the South got sick and died as a direct consequence of the abolition of slavery. Emancipation ruined both the planters and the yeomanry while hurling the slaves, especially the elderly who basically lived under welfare capitalism on the plantations, into destitution where they starved to death or succumbed to smallpox and died in makeshift slums outside the cities.

So, in terms of demographic arguments, how had slavery ceased to be viable in 1860? Compared to what? To the destitute free negroes in the Northern states, who had a lower standard of living, a poorer diet, and a lower life expectancy than the slaves? To the European working class which had a lower birthrate and which lived on the precipice of famine? Maybe to their “free” counterparts in Africa where cannibalism was a major source of protein in West Central Africa?

Whatever the faults of slavery in the Old South, it was better to be a slave in the South than a starving peasant in Ireland or a starving serf in Finland or Russia, or someone’s lunch in Africa. The slaves in the South multiplied as fast as the White population because there wasn’t much of a material difference in their calorie intake, disease environment, or living conditions.

Economically, the idea that the demise of slavery was imminent in 1860 is even less plausible. In the British West Indies, it was widely accepted by 1860 that freedom had failed; free labor on sugar plantations in Jamaica had been soundly defeated by slave labor in Cuba.

The abolition of slavery in the British West Indies raised the price of sugar in Britain because free laborers were unable to sustain production or keep up with surging demand. That’s why the British succumbed to free trade in sugar in 1846. The lesson of Britain’s “Mighty Experiment” in abolition to the other slaveholding nations was to double down on slavery which became even more profitable in Brazil and Cuba due to the suicide of their leading competitor in sugar and coffee.

Freedom had already ruined Haiti. Freedom had failed again in Sierra Leone. Freedom failed spectacularly in the Niger Expedition of 1841. Gradual emancipation failed in the British West Indies. Freedom set off a similar economic calamity in the French West Indies, Dutch West Indies, and the Danish West Indies.

Now what about cotton? That’s the real test of the economic viability of slavery. The vast majority of the slaves in the Old South in 1860 were living on the cotton plantations. Well, it is probably significant that India had once been a major producer of cotton and textiles, but slave labor in the Old South had a strong comparative advantage over free labor in India, and over the course of the early nineteenth century had driven their Indian competition out of business.

Ever hear about that from the libertarians who are always talking up the “superiority” of freedom? Probably not. Who needs successful empirical demonstrations of the viability of economic theories when they are precluded by Austrian “praxeology” or Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand.”

British attempts to compete with slave labor grown Southern cotton in India, Niger, and British Guiana had failed. The Old South had a stranglehold over the world supply of cotton until the military intervention by Union Army destroyed slavery and changed the competitive equation. Southern dominance in cotton in a triumphant Confederacy in the late nineteenth century would have been even more one sided.

In 1860, the Cotton Kingdom was still in its infancy. Even Alabama and Mississippi weren’t even a generation removed from the frontier. The idea that slavery had reached its geographic limits is absurd because the South had an overabundance of uncultivated land when secession happened. By the early twentieth century, 3x as much land was planted in cotton as had been the case under the Confederacy.

This excerpt comes from Stanley L. Engerman and Robert William Fogel’s Time on the Cross: The Economics of Negro Slavery:

“The result of the test are presented in figure 29. It shows that far from falling, the prices of slaves would have risen. Indeed the average annual rate of increase between 1860 and 1890 would have been 1.4 percent a figure slightly lower than the prewar trend of growth. In other words, prime field hands in 1890 would have sold at 52 percent more than they did in 1860. This startling conclusion was completely unanticipated by the proponents of the natural limits thesis. It rests on two solid facts. The first is that the demand for American cotton grew a little more rapidly than the supply, not only until 1890 but right up to World War I. Hence the real price of cotton was higher in 1890 than in 1860. Second, the quantity of land devoted to cotton did not remain constant at the 1859 level. Quite the contrary, it grew at a rate (2.06 percent per annum) which was in excess of the growth rate of the black labor force. In other words, the assumption that the quantity of land available for use in cotton was almost exhausted by 1860 is false. The land devoted to cotton nearly doubled between 1860 and 1890; it more than doubled between 1890 and 1925.”

If it had not been for the war, the Cotton Kingdom in an independent Confederacy would expanded, slave prices would have risen, demand for cotton would have risen until World War I, and the South would have been vastly richer than it was in 1860 – significantly richer, because Southern taxes would have fueled Southern prosperity, as opposed to subsidizing the North’s inferior manufacturing industries and the pensions of Union war veterans, and slavery would have become even stronger and more entrenched than it already was in 1860.

Generations of liars have claimed that slavery was incompatible with industrialization and a modernized economy. How do they explain Cuba under slavery, which had built more railroads than the rest of “free” Latin America combined, or even the Old South where cotton production had exploded because railroads had opened up vast swathes of new land in Texas. The South didn’t have as many railroads as the North, but it had far more railroads than most “free” European nations at the time, many of which were built by slaves rented out to railroad corporations.

What about coal mining? Slaves worked in mines in Ancient Greece, in Spain and North Africa during the Roman Empire, most of the slaves in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia had worked in mines. In fact, more gold was mined in Minas Gerais in Central Brazil by slaves than in either Mexico or Peru. After the abolition of slavery, blacks worked in the coal mines in Alabama, and there was no reason why slaves couldn’t have been used in coal mines in Appalachia. Slavery would have colonized the Southern mountains in places like Birmingham and West Virginia.

In the aftermath of abolition, the “Big Mules” in Alabama (the alliance between Birmingham industrialists and Black Belt planters) ruled Alabama politics for generations. Planters feared that industrialization and a Northern-style urban working class would have undermined slavery. The successful wartime and postwar industrialization of Alabama, not to mention the White working class Klan in the 1920s, proves that racialism could have thrived in an industrialized Confederacy as easily as it thrived in the post-abolition Jim Crow South.

The biggest challenge to slavery would have been the mechanization of agriculture in cotton in the early twentieth century. Eventually, the cotton fields and the sugarcane fields would have been emptied of slaves. This is something that might have come sooner rather than later if abolition had not ruined the yeomanry or created a superabundance of cheap labor.

In an independent Confederacy, the South would have had a free hand to solve the Negro Question, something that was not the case under the restored Union with its 14th Amendment Constitution. The most obvious solution to this problem was to let slavery run its natural course. Already by 1860, the high prices of slaves was pulling slaves out of the Upper South and Eastern South to the Western South. Virginia and Kentucky had grown significantly whiter as slaves were sold south to areas where they could be more profitably employed.

An independent Confederacy could have solved the Negro Question in any number of intelligent ways: through the acquisition of new territory in Central America and the Caribbean, which would have pulled the slaves ever further south; adapting slavery to an industrialized economy by forcing slaves to work in manufacturing industries and mines just as they did in the Jim Crow South; through colonization by joining the European imperial adventure in Africa; through expanding the ranks of slaves in domestic service; through creating segregated reservations for the blacks in the manner which had been done with the Indians or with the blacks on the bantustans in South Africa and Israel under apartheid.

We can say this much with a high degree of certainty: if the South had been left alone to resolve the Negro Question, then it wouldn’t have created BRA in a million years, and an independent Confederacy founded on slavery and the self evident truth that all men are not created equal would be infinitely more hospitable to racially conscious Whites than the Northern-dominated dystopia we live under today.

If the abolitionist attack on slavery had been parried as successfully as the repeal of Prohibition, could its successors like “anti-racism” or “civil rights” have triumphed in the twentieth century? Highly unlikely.

About Hunter Wallace 9536 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

30 Comments

  1. I’ll admit that I didn’t read much of the article, but I agree that slavery can go on indefinitely, as there is always someone willing to use slave labor. I wouldn’t want a slave society, just as I don’t wish to live with blacks.

  2. Sullivan states that Lincoln’s white supremact views were stated by him many times. Maybe he was quoting Dilorenzo, I can’t remember, but it is incorrect.

    HW, would you, or someone, please call a halt to the nonsense about Abraham Lincoln being a white supremacist who supported African colonization of blacks?

    Lincoln made a couple of statements, denials of his equalitarianism. These statements were made during election campaigns when he came under attack for that equalitarianism. He could not have won those elections without denying his equalitarian philosophy.

    Dilorenzo is intellectually dishonest in this matter. He knows, or he should know, that the two now-famous statements by Lincoln about the inherent inferiority of blacks were taken out of that election-denial context in 1938 by (I can’t remember his name), a true white supremacist from Illinois, in the hopes of using Lincoln’s god-like status to buttress his own support for Hitler, or to at least counter the war he saw coming.

    Would a white supremacist, once he had no more elections to win, advocate black suffrage as Lincoln did in 1865?

    As for Liberia, Lincoln never budged more than his tongue in support of it.

    These are such easy things to disprove. I might go mad if someone with an internet platform doesn’t set the record straight on it. I don’t want Lincoln on my side because he wasn’t!

  3. A pattern emerges with you Hunter. I think you do actually like blacks.

    On another note, perhaps abolition was a way for competing white societies to destroy competitors or each other. An over mighty slaving nation would have been tricky to beat, kinda like Sparta. That simple.

  4. What Dilorenzo and the people who quote him on this are doing is Chastaining. They should be called on it as much as is Connie.

  5. Bill,

    You are correct.

    Lincoln endorsed colonization when he was being assailed by White Democrats like Stephen Douglas for being soft on white supremacy and an ally of the abolitionists. He abandoned colonization and embraced abolition and racial equality when the war turned against the Confederacy and it was too late for the Border States to secede and reinforce the Confederate cause.

    If Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and West Virginia had been fully committed to the Confederate cause from the beginning, the South would have won the war. Kentucky turned sharply against the Union at the end of the war and during Reconstruction.

  6. No, I hate equality and recognize that abolitionism was the root of anti-racism and civil rights. Fitzhugh was right when he concluded that racial equality and all sorts of perverted ideas followed naturally from abolition.

  7. A most interesting post, Hunter. I have also maintained African slavery would NOT have died away after the introduction of mechanical harvesters, but shifted to other employment, and probably increased!

    You also wrote:

    “(S)laves in the South had a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy (…) a material standard of living comparable to Northern manufacturing workers (…) better than the working class in London (…) Slavery in the South undoubtedly saved millions of Africans from the fate of death by war or starvation in the Congo or Sahel region where war and famines carry off millions to this day.”

    The “argument from benevolence” (that African Negro slavery was good because it improved the health of Africans and increased their reproduction and longevity) is weak if they are considered to be human, and spiritual!

    If bringing them here to work for our profit is good BECAUSE IT IS GOOD FOR THEM — to be helped by us to reproduce more, and live longer lives with less disease than they would have in Africa, etc. — AND THEY ARE HUMAN — how are we being good to them by enslaving them if we will NOT allow them the uniquely human good (FREEDOM) that we treasure above all? We know it is better to be poor, ill, short-lived AND FREE than to live many years in health and luxury under even the MOST BENEVOLENT despotism.

    The “benevolence argument” for slavery is strongest if African Negroes are NOT considered to be human and spiritual at all, but only “beasts that perish” — and then ANY method of treatment that is efficiently productive using them is justified (good), the same as for any other livestock, which could never grow fat and sleek on their way to slaughter, or even exist in the first place, if the farmer didn’t RAISE them.

    But a THIRD view of the “benevolence argument,” that most of the regular commenters on OD probably take, is that African Negroes ARE human but permanently child-like or mentally or emotionally “challenged,” and that lifelong firm discipline by white masters in the institution of slavery may be the best or most efficient way for them to acheive their full reproductive potential, best health and longest lifespan. Therefore slavery is good because it is good for them (and for several other reasons).

    A fourth view is that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake, whether through slavery or other means is always wrong, and therefore the Africans should never have been imported for that purpose in the first place, and their descendents would otherwise have continued living “feral” or FREE in their homeland environment to this day, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all!

  8. John wrote: “A pattern emerges with you Hunter. I think you do actually like blacks.” Maybe it’s just the argument from benevolence.

  9. well, I can’t say I like slavery, but given the alternative, I would prefer that the Blacks be slaves to the anti-white world we have today.

  10. There was nothing inevitable about the demise of New World slavery.

    But there was everything inevitable about the liberalism that led to it. Even if you don’t wish to make a deterministic reading of history, surely you’d nevertheless have to agree that the turn towards liberal ideas, liberal views, liberal values etc had an air of inevitability about it.

    Anyway, here’s a link to some other books on slavery you may find interesting.

    https://tpb.ipredator.se/torrent/6172280/Criticism_of_the_Western_Civilization_-_Collection_6_(Slavery)

  11. Here’s why Silver is wrong:

    (1) There was nothing inevitable about abolition. The first abolitionist movement had been discredited by its own extremism in Saint-Domingue. The only reason France failed to reconquer Saint-Domingue is because the Republic was embroiled in war with all of Europe.

    (2) Under Napoleon, France repudiated Jacobinism and restored slavery in the French West Indies.

    (3) Britain was the only country in Europe that developed a mass abolitionist movement: France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands were forced into abolition by British pressure after 1815.

    (4) If Napoleon had triumphed in Europe, there is no way that slavery would have been abolished in the Caribbean.

    (5) In the United States, slavery was stronger than ever before in 1860. Without British abolition and British anti-slavery pressure, American abolition would have been impossible.

    (6) Abolition was forced on Europe by Britain after it became a superpower during the Napoleonic Wars. The course of abolition was driven by the peculiar geopolitical situation and the peculiar triumph of evangelical Christianity in Britain.

    (7) If the Southern colonies had not joined the American Revolution, abolition would have been impossible because slavery would have been several orders of magnitude stronger in the early nineteenth century.

    (8) If France had intervened in the War Between the States, as Napoleon III had wanted to do, the Union would have lost.

    Abolition was not inevitable. It could have easily gone the other way on several occasions particularly if Napoleon had won in Europe. Even in 1850, it looked like abolition was a failure in Britain, where antislavery crested in 1840 and never recovered its former strength.

    If the Confederacy had won the war, France wouldn’t have been driven out of Mexico, and France and the Confederacy would challenged the Union for supremacy over the West.

    If the CSA had won, Cuba and Brazil wouldn’t have abolished slavery either.

  12. Very good comment, Hunter. Yes, it was not even likely, not inevitable, that abolitionism etc. would succeed.

  13. Mosin,

    There isn’t a benevolence argument for slavery: slaves were brought here for economic reasons, not for moral reasons.

    The abolitionists made various arguments against slavery. They claimed that slavery was cruel and inhumane. They claimed that slavery was wasteful, inefficient, and backward. Most of their exaggerations have long been discredited.

    – In terms of birthrates, disease environment, and calorie intake, there was little difference between Whites and slaves in the Old South. If anything is true, the slaves on Southern plantations had a material standard of living that was superior to many Europeans who lived on the brink of famine.

    – Slaves received 90 percent of the product of their labor over the course of their lifetime. “Free laborers” in Britain received substantially less.

    – Infant mortality was far higher in malaria and yellow fever West Africa than the American South.

    – Cotton monoculture exhausted the soil, but this was equally true of “free” farming in the Northeast and Canada. Abolitionists dropped context to make disingenuous arguments.

    – Slaves were better managed in the South: they were cared for in old age, they had access to healthcare, they had better subsistence, only 33 percent of their time was spent cultivating cotton, etc.

    – Abolition destroyed all the advantages of slavery without lessening dependence on cotton.

    – As for whipping, flogging was ubiquitous in European militaries at the time. Blacks thrived under slavery in spite of flogging.

    – Even today, blacks have a longer life expectancy in prison than under freedom. Under slavery, negroes were not allowed to destroy themselves through drug abuse or homicide or gang warfare. They worked for masters who managed them through old age.

    – The fact is, slavery harnessed negro industry to generate wealth, there was only about a 10 percent return on slavery for the master, and by putting blacks to work they generated wealth which elevated their own standard of living over time, which was not the case in Africa.

    “Freedom” does not follow from being “human.” This was a novel idea in the eighteenth century. The majority of the world’s population lived in some form of servitude at the time.

    The counterintuitive idea that “all men are born free and equal” was contradicted by the reality that most men – especially in Africa, where slavery was customary from the Mediterranean to the Cape – were not born “free and equal” at all. No one bothered to survey the world’s population to discern if this argument had any merit.

    Hunter gathering societies are more egalitarian. Agricultural societies are more stratified. Industrial societies are even more stratified and unequal and complex than hunter gathering societies.

    In the broad sweep of human history, the world has progressed toward inequality and servitude, and the rule of superior races and social classes, and away from the freedom and equality of primitives who were romanticized by Rousseau.

  14. “(D)riven by…the peculiar triumph of evangelical Christianity in Britain” seems to hit the mark. The PECULIAR phenomenon of recurrent “Revival” in Britain may be based on a tendency peculiar to our people?

  15. Hunter, I caught your last comment after posting mine. I am well aware of course that they were brought here for economic (“wealth-generating”) reasons ONLY, and NOT for benevolence! However, demonstrating that they were much better off under slavery, seems to imply, even “argue” that slavery was good (justified) because it is benevolent.

  16. Why this obsession with defending slavery? It demolishes all credibility with fellow whites who are tired of BRA,. Slavery was the same shit that the modern elites do with low wage illegal aliens. If the cheap labor lobby of the day hadn;t demanded the importation of Africans..we wouldn;t have these problems.. And I hate to say it in this crowd..but as inferior as Africans are,,,they are still protohumans,…and this slavery crap is just as objectionable as when the Romans practiced it against our Germanic forebears!!!

  17. So Hunter..do we whose Ancestors love the South,,and fought with the Confederate Army (don’t tell Dixiegirl but mine were Irish -catholics) have to advocate for slavery again when trying to once again succeed? How about expulsion? Lincoln was right there

  18. “In the broad sweep of human history, the world has progressed toward inequality and servitude, and away from freedom and equality.”

    In the broad sweep of generalisation, looking at the forest, the progress of inequality appears inevitable. British Revivalists among others took the contrary, counterintuitive view and also asked whether it is right.

  19. I’m arguing against abolitionism.

    Obviously, it was a mistake to unleash four million blacks in America, make them citizens, and run our society on the basis of the dubious assumption that they have capacity to achieve “racial equality.”

    I bet you a million dollars that someone here could have come up with a better way to handle the situation.

  20. “don’t tell Dixiegirl but mine were Irish-catholics”: Allow me to insert my apology here for the apparently anti-Romanist ranting last night.

  21. As I understand you, Hunter, you are striving for historical accuracy and not trying to justify anything.

  22. Illegal aliens are free laborers, not slaves; the costs of slaves are absorbed by private masters, the costs of illegal aliens are absorbed by taxpayers in a million ways.

  23. We react with “value judgements” to the historical facts you present. It would be better probably if we could share more facts, instead of objections or praises.

  24. “Illegal aliens are free laborers, not slaves; the costs of slaves are absorbed by private masters, the costs of illegal aliens are absorbed by taxpayers in a million ways.”

    Well, the illegal aliens can be “wage slaves” but yes, in many ways they are more free than any legal citisens. Some of us react to this new “taxpayer cost argument” for slavery (which it really is not, but just a presentation of undeniable FACT) negatively, while others probably enjoy reading it.

  25. Hunter, I didn’t say abolition was inevitable; I said liberalism was. This ensured that slavery would always be a live issue, and while “abolition” as we know it may not have been pursued, the conditions of slaves’ lives would be a subject of intense concern.

    “Freedom” does not follow from being “human.”

    The desire for freedom most certainly follows from being human.

    In the broad sweep of human history, the world has progressed toward inequality and servitude, and the rule of superior races and social classes, and away from the freedom and equality of primitives who were romanticized by Rousseau.

    This much is true, but as thinking and communicating creatures it was inevitable that we would analyze the condition of our existence, trace its causes and make adjustments in the way we organize our lives in order to produce higher quality outcomes. Above all it was inevitable that we would realize that we are not prisoners of the past; that the elimination of unnecessary suffering caused by oppressors was within our power to effect if only we had the courage to act; and that beyond eliminating suffering, we as individuals possessed the ability to achieve true fulfillment in life.

  26. One of the main drivers of liberalism was material progress. Nothing else short of war (especially defeat in war) occasioned reflection and revaluation like progress in this sphere. If the triumph of liberalism was a long time in coming it’s because the material progress necessary to assure its victory was a long time in coming.

  27. “One of the main drivers of liberalism was material progress.” Leisure allowed by material abundance allows free thinking, experimentation — often the basis of more progress.

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