Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slaves Still Waiting To Be Free: 12-27 Million

This year being the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade, there has been a fair amount of sober reflection on the iniquity of that institution. There's been a fine movie, Amazing Grace, and some useful contemplation upon the "original sin" of the American republic. But there's also been a wholly insufficient amount of attention paid to the persistence of slavery in the world.

That's what I'm on about in my Chronicles column this week. My argument is twofold.

First, the ritualized demand-and-supply of apologies and regrets arising from historical European enslavement of Africans places an overemphasis on colonialism and racism that tends to overlook important contradictions and exceptions. North Africans captured at least a million Europeans and sold them into slavery between the 16th and 19th centuries. Tens of thousands of Irish people were sold into slavery in the Caribbean by 17th-century British slavers. On Canada's west coast, an "octoroon" colonial governor took pains to eliminate aboriginal slavery. And so on.

Second, if you place an overemphasis on race and colonialism you'll overlook the category of class, where slavery more fundamentally belongs, at the very bottom rung of a hierarchy of wealth and power. If you fail to notice that, you'll fail to pay sufficiently urgent attention to the present. You might completely overlook the fact that today, slavery is big business. It's bigger than it's ever been.

The contemporary global slave trade is worth roughly $32 billion. Today's slaves are routinely children. They are sex slaves in Southeast Asia, field labourers in India and Turkey, textile workers in Bangladesh, and house servants in Chad.

The United Nations estimates that around the world today, between 12 million and 27 million people are slaves.

10 Comments:

Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Slavery can be found through out the world for sure and did/does cut across all cultures and "races".
But no where was it practiced on the industrial scale that it was,in service of colonialism.Indeed no where has slavery produced so much wealth nor enriched so many as it did in the case of European and American colonialism/capitalism.Of which the consequences are still being felt.
The US has a moral duty to make reparations(what form that takes ?)to Black Americans.And together with Europe they have to find a way to return some of that ill gotten wealth to the "third World" in the form of some kind of real developmental aid(again real aid).
And I would concur,slavery is bigger than it's ever been.
...capitalism has made us all into slaves of one kind or another.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

"But no where was it practiced on the industrial scale that it was,in service of colonialism."

Except for the present, of course.

"The US has a moral duty to make reparations(what form that takes ?)to Black Americans."

Okay. But to whom should the citizens of Cork send the bill for the theft of the people of the village of Baltimore?

Algeria, maybe:

http://tinyurl.com/yosuxy

Better to free today's slaves than engage in silliness, is the point.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

I know lets make the Brits pay www.britishreparations.org.

10:33 AM  
Blogger thebookmistress said...

...capitalism has made us all into slaves of one kind or another.

Because of course none of the other economic and/or polical systems were built on slavery. Do you know (or care) about how much forced labour we had to do in the former Soviet Union, or people still have to do in Cuba? (I don't mean in the "labour camps", I just mean the unpaid mandatory work done to support the state.)

The thing that makes us "slaves" is the need to eat. Combined with the disinclination on the part of strangers to give us free food.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Good points all Bookmistress but lost on the True Believers i am afraid.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Silliness???The point of my comment was;that the developed west has to find a way to deal with the legacy/ies of colonialism.
By giving back some of that ill gotten wealth through -real- aid.
Its not about guilt or white guilt it's a matter of justice.Putting our money were our mouth is.
i.e settling accounts with First Nations,doing something to help blacks catch up with the majority of Americans ect,to make up for the decades of injustice that kept blacks down and in poverty.You know speeding up the process,mitigating the consequences of that colonial/racist past.
The present is a direct consequence of the past,and past actions...
Terry if you would have read my comment more closely rather than jumping to conclusions you would of read,that I agree with most of what you said,including the point you made that at no time has slavery been bigger than it is now.But than I have been noticing of late you seem to take my comments as somekind of challenge.I am not here to compete with you,I appreciate your point of view,though I do have some disagreements.I comment here because I enjoy intelligent conversation/discourse.Such blogs are few and far between.
As for blazing cat fur(fool) piss off,the only true believer here is you,in your own peasized intellect that is only capable of one liner's,and idiotic one liner's at that.
Bookmistress,All I can says is read my comment,ssssslowlyyyyy.Perhaps then you might be able to understand what I am really saying.
My criticism of capitalisms does not imply a defense of the Soviet Union,why the hell would I want to defend the S.U and what does it have to do with this topic.Quite assuming you know what I am about and respond to whats being said.Not what you think is being said.
I know you might find it quite hard to just listen,after all you obviously "know" it all...

5:07 PM  
Blogger thebookmistress said...

I did read you comment. Slowly. What I read is the following:

"...capitalism has made us all into slaves of one kind or another."

I disagree with you. I belive you are wrong when you say this. This does not make an illiterate moron or a know-it-all. It just makes me a person who disagrees with you. Patronizing me does not (shockingly) make me agree with you more.

There is NO political or economic system which does not make "slaves" of us in exactly the same way that capitalism makes "slaves" of us. In every political or economic system, the vast majority or people need to do things they may not like doing in order to get the things they want. If you believe that there is an economic or political system which does not require some kind of unwanted labour in exchange for wanted goods, please name it.

Otherwise, please explain what you mean by "slavery" when you say "capitalism has made us all into slaves of one kind or another."

6:07 PM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Buckholz please tell me what could possibly be accomplished by debating your tired, nonsensical positions? Reparations? Oh please, such a notion is absurdly impractical. The view must be nice from where you sit, on the moral high ground of the perpetually offended. How does that quote go? Forgive me for paraphrasing - Socialist make wonderful critics but poor theorists.

5:44 AM  
Blogger dirk said...

Blazing fool,you just confirmed my opinion of you.And it also seems you can't read...moral high ground???
If you did read,you would have noticed I did not define how reparations would be handled,nor did I want to debate reparations,I merely offered another perspective,on one small aspect of Terry's post.i.e, Unlike the other examples(of which I agree) that Terry wrote of:i.e., that there are other aspects of slavery that we have to pay attention to,other than just race and colonialism.
My point being;Colonialism/European slavery is still very fresh and it's consequences/dynamics still play a huge role in the politics,and ever day life of many many people.
It is this fact that cause many to equate slavery with Europe and America.Its not about blaming whites or thinking that only whites practiced slavery.
But unfortunately people here seem to take every thing personal.
Its telling that all the smart commenter's(last one here being "me" of course) who use to participate here have all drifted away due to the fact Terry's seems to take everything personal or makes accusations that other are trying to get digs, in on him.
Instead all one gets here now is one-liners and bad "jokes",juvenile kind of stuff

http://tinyurl.com/littleman

3:32 PM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Bucholz, you should really try reading your own comments - slowly.

7:33 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home