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Was Slavery The Backbone of Early Capitalism?

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                               The purpose of this post is not to bash capitalism or to advocate  Marxism or Communism.


                               As people in America and all over the world know, capitalism has provided a very high standard of living.


                              But, there is a dark side to early capitalism.


                              Before businesses were privately or publicly owned, the government sponsored most forms of merchant activity and international trade. The British chartered the East Indian Trade Company in 1600. Later, it became an joint-stock company. This is an organization in which stocks are bought and sold by shareholders. It became a predecessor to, if not actually the first, major corporation similar to the Fortune 500 companies traded on Wall Street today. 

                             The commodities that the company bought and sold were cotton, sugar, tea, and spices.  But, more controversial, it traded in slaves and Opium. These slaves were sent to North American colonies.  This helped to create the Southern plantation system in America.  Some of the wealthiest people in America between the colonial period and the Civil War were planters and slaveholders.


                            The North in the US was by no means innocent  of slavery. Before the Revolution, the North also had slaves. But, after Independence, human chattel slowly died out. But, textile mills, which depended heavily on Southern cotton, were established. Merchants and shippers from the northern coasts often sold cotton to overseas buyers. .  As a result, financial institutions were established in the North to fund these businesses that revolved around slavery. These institutions included the early beginnings of Lehman Brothers, Aetna Inc, Jp Morgan Chase, and New York Life. It is estimated that 40 percent of New York's cotton revenue came indirectly through sources related to physical slavery.


                            The continental railroad system and the steamboat industry were established to transport cotton, sugar, and other Southern crops to different parts of the country. This would build the fortunes of post-antebellum, Gilded Age tycoons  like Cornelius Vanderbilt, the great-great-great grandfather of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper.


                            A similar situation took place in Britain. The British East Indian Company also sold slaves to Britain. Although slavery was abolished in England in 1833, thanks to the efforts of William Wilberforce, Britain still depended on Southern cotton imported from America for its textile businesses. The textile spinning would become the premiere industry of the Industrial Revolution. Over the next 100 years,  the Industrial Revolution  would expand to other businesses across Britain, western Europe, and America that depended on natural resources such as iron, timber, copper, coal, and petroleum(oil and gas).
                            The financial institutions who were responsible for funding these businesses were Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyd's of London, and Barclays.


                            Overall, I would say that slavery was just as indispensable to capitalism  then as the fossil fuel industry is today. More than just the transportation sector depends on oil companies for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene to run cars, trucks, and planes. Plastics are derived from the by products of oil and gas. Petrochemicals are also used to make some of the ingredients in soaps, detergents, polishes, deodorants, synthetic fibers, paints, rubbers, fertilizers, etc. Certainly, too many to name. 


                            Even the the moral arguments made by abolitionist against planters/slaveholders are very similar to the ones made by environmentalist/climate activist against the fossil fuel industry. Slavery was considered abuse and degradation of human beings.  The emissions that are produced by the fossil fuels industry(oil, gas, and coal) are considered abuse and degradation to the environment by contributing to global warming.


                            I guess this is the reason why many extreme pro-black, social justice activist, and far left woke militants are calling for an end to capitalism as we know it, possible to be replaced by socialism or Marxism.


                             But, capitalism is changing anyway. Today, it is morphing in to what Klaus Swab of the World Economic Forum has termed a "Fourth Industrial Revolution."  This is basically a digital revolution based off of IT, Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, big data,  and cloud storage of information. Also included would be electric/self driving cars from alternative sources of clean energy including wind and solar. The more pejorative term to describe these changes would be a technocracy. Others, maybe including Klaus Swab himself and Prince Charles(now King Charles), refer to it as part of a Great Reset.


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Slavery as 400 years of free labor generating what amounts to trillions of dollars in products, goods and services was definitely the backbone of capitalism.


To this day, companies and countries still pay as little as possible for human labor and fight raising wages in order to maximize profits.  Capitalism thrives.😎

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Slavery + Colonialism were the backbone of early Capitalism

Serfdom + Mass Incarceration is the backbone of modern Capitalism

Serfdom, meaning poor and destitute workers who are so desperate for money that they'll do any job under any conditions for almost any pay.

The involuntarity (Lol...is that a word??) of slavery presented too many moral problems for the masses to accept it as part of a more "cultured" and "civilized" society so they had to replace slavery itself with more mild and "humane" institutions that produce massive amounts of goods through exploitation but the workers appear to have a "choice" whether to participate or not.

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There is always an economic dimension to racism and Slavery was its manifestation from the 16th to late 19th century = Brazil abolished Slavery in 1888.  But think of the ways in which black labor is overrepresented in low paying unskilled least desirable and dangerous work to benefit a white corporate elite. While I'm not a Socialist I strongly believe class matters. It is as important as race.

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3 hours ago, Stefan said:

Slavery was not the backbone of Capitalism if you're only talking about the U.S. But it was the key and a certain path to wealth building for shipowners and planation owners.

Are here any developed Western counrties that didn't benefit from slavery?

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Was Slavery The Backbone of Early Capitalism?

Undoubtedly. Every successful society in existence was founded on slavery.

In and unto itself slavery is okay.

What makes slavery wrong is the types and kinds of slavery which came into existence.

There is a humane slavery. Which for centuries was a mutually customary social dynamic. People went willingly into the service of others. Many even looked forward to it. Making LIFE plans based on and around this event.


There is also inhumane slavery. Which for centuries was not mutual, but forced and demanded. People did everything they could to escape, and no-one looked forward to it.


Slavery is the key to a wealthy nation and a strong government.



Anyone who lives an inhumane lifestyle and does inhumane things must be killed immediately and their victims rendered aid and support. As well as their enslavers assets and bank being used for that purpose, with the remaining to be divided equally among the victims thereafter.


Free people have always chosen forms of enslavement in every culture. In every geographic location. In every society. It only went wrong when the choice was taken away.

Either by selling children, or by kidnapping. As no choice exist in those situations, then it is inhumane, and needs to be remedied using death and destruction.


The humane system of choice is still in effect even now. However it is being corrupted by those inhumane people.

And now, even as before, it is the backbone of these newer governments economic success.

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On 1/27/2023 at 8:55 PM, KENNETH said:


 While I'm not a Socialist I strongly believe class matters. It is as important as race.

In a racist society such as Western civilization......your race IS your class.






Rodney campbell


In and unto itself slavery is okay.

What makes slavery wrong is the types and kinds of slavery which came into existence.

There is a humane slavery.


Do you have an example of humane slavery that is ok?










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There are examples in historical archives from every country and from every government. Because all of them have done it. Just take your pick and do the research. These were things that I learned a very long TIME ago. Meaning that I would have to break away from my current work to do that work. I cannot.

However I don't know if you also have that restriction.

If you do not.

I do remember the pattern.

01. Cultural exchanges of their marriage age adults who would enter another nations house as a servant.

02. After a certain amount of TIME. The servant would become a citizen of that nation through that house.

03. Marriage would take place and the exchange was complete.

Eventually this changed to war against a neighboring country. Kidnapping the woman and girls for marriage and taking the males as working slaves.

There was still no truly inhumane treatment, as those captured still had all of the rights as those in their captive nation, and were generally free to come and go as they pleased. Even back to their home if they could afford it.


It was after this stage that the inhumane slavery began which included the violence and harm that is most popularized.


These are the stages.

Check in reverse order.

Generally before the inhumane slavery there was a standard of humane slavery.

So whenever you find inhumane slavery you will uncover humane slavery as that which came before it.


Many cultural neighbors in africa had this mutual slave exchange, this was a normal event.

Some of the exchanges for marriage of adult woman, and for working age men, it included mock warfare, nobody ever got hurt, and allowed kidnappings, which were willing participants really.

All following the patterns of 1. 2. and 3.

This changed to inhumane kidnapping and forced slavery around 1820, when europeans arrived and saw these exchanges, taking advantage of their cultural norm.

This is also on record. As exactly what i have rewritten here, is a paraphrasing of their own; the kidnapped slaves own, accounts of the difference between european slavery, and being a slave in their own land.

Being a slave in africa was humane, being a slave out of africa was inhumane.


Some of this you may know already which will be a boost for you if you choose to continue.

If not I have given all of the information.

When I am done with my current task I may revisit it.

If I do I will be certain to share.

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On 1/28/2023 at 3:45 AM, Delano said:

Are here any developed Western counrties that didn't benefit from slavery?


There are various schools of thought on this subject. What is interesting is that you are talking about Black Slavery. Because when individuals mention Slavery, most people believe they are discussing Slavery in the U.S.

Which is further proof that the word Slav has nothing to do with it.

The dilemma that we face when discussing Slavery is that were different forms of it. In Black Africa, Slaves were generally not mistreated and could even be freed after a time. Women were not raped and families would not be separated. But there were exceptions. This is also true in Ancient Israel, where Slaves had to go free in the Jubilee Year. But each region and each nation had their own rules. 

But in the Americas, Black Slaves were considered property and a vicious institution known as Chattel Slavery developed. It was brutal and inhuman and afforded a slave no rights. The Slave was wholly owned as were his or her descendants with no hope of redress.

Five countries that profited from Slavery

Karl Marx, among others, believed that Slavery made the U.S. a wealthy nation.

But here is an opposing view from Corey Iacono, a Master of Business grad student at the University of Rhode Island: He wrote this piece in 2019.

Slavery did not enrich the U.S.

So, in answer to your question, in the U.S., plantation owners in the southern regions of the U.S. became wealthy. But horse breeders, blacksmiths who produced leg irons, those who owned forests that produced wood for shipbuilding, auctioneers and bankers also generated income. It was not so much countries as certain classes of workers who made money.

Many would be surprised to learn the names of companies made a lot of money from Slavery.

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Capitalism is a system where wealth separates the haves from the have-nots. The have-nots are enslaved by their poverty but if they are enterprising enough, they can earn their freedom, one step at a time. When the quest for freedom becomes a mass movement, it bogs down. 

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Our peculiar institution of slavery made a minority of people super wealthy. But it was a net loss for the country on many levels. Think about all the geniuses whose contributions to the society were lost because there were laboring in some field.


Think about all the jobs lost because slaves were forced to do work for free.  That could have helped support many poor white people with good jobs. 

Slavery stunted America’s collective prosperity to this day, while making a small minority very wealthy. …just like today.

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15 hours ago, Troy said:

Think about all the geniuses whose contributions to the society were lost because there were laboring in some field.


I'm thinking but I don't believe there were any  more geniuses in the field than anywhere else.  Slavery didn't rob America of that much.  it robbed black people of a chance to immigrate to the promised land and the  oppportunity to achieve the American dream.  

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LOL If Americans had been humane to begin with, there wouldn't have been any slavery. You can't lose something that you never had. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? "Man's inhumanity to man" didn't begin in America. 

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Don't forget.....slavery STILL EXISTS in the United States.

Millions of people are still enslaved.
It's called "Mass Incarceration" and the inmates are Constitutionally considered ENSLAVED.

Slavery didn't end in 1865, it just transformed.

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