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""It really enforces white supremacy”: Edward Baptist on..." Topic

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1,062 hits since 14 Jul 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2017 3:05 p.m. PST

…the lies we tell about slavery.

" It's impolite to talk about money. Perhaps that's why, when we discuss the history of slavery in this country, we tend to talk about racism, and paternalism, and the way that awful social institutions just stick around, those pesky Bleeped texts — talk about anything, that is, except for the profits.

But there were profits, of course, and large ones. Slavery, after all, is a cost-efficient way to extract labor from human beings. It's an exceptionally brutal flavor of capitalism. And it worked: In 1860, the U.S.'s four wealthiest states were all in the deep South. After the Civil War, though, white Americans found ways to downplay the profit motive. "Above all, the historians of a reunified nation insisted that slavery was a premodern institution that was not committed to profit seeking," writes Edward Baptist in his new history of slavery, "The Half Has Never Been Told." (Read the Salon excerpt from the book here.)

Baptist, a professor of history at Cornell, has spent much of his career helping to undo this narrative. In "The Half Has Never Been Told," he lays out a sweeping economic history of slavery. Baptist traces the flow of human capital from the Atlantic seaboard to the cotton fields of the deep South. He describes how slavers used whippings to extract more work from their property. He details how slave labor and loans secured with human collateral helped drive the industrial revolution…"
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robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2017 5:39 p.m. PST

I will happily debate how much plantation slavery was "capitalist" and how successful it was as an economic system. I will not do so on TMP. An appropriate time and place for everything.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jul 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

I had a detailed response to this post of Tango's but then realized, it just wasn't worth it. The author of said book will never read it, and it won't change anyone's mind, and the author knows what he wants to know and that's it.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2017 6:20 p.m. PST

I'm not sure it's such a secret – something paid for all those White Mansions, and the social whirl of rich Southern Plantation owners. Plantations run using slave labour.

You don't have to be Karl Marx to work out that getting people to work for you, paying them nothing, and keeping the profits is an exploitative system.

It's addressed a little in the UK. Colston hall won't be for much longer link , and other "slave wealth" monuments are being looked at.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2017 5:42 a.m. PST

Well, at least Colston didn't fund the hall--just homes, schools and hospitals no one's giving back.
I see a lot of renaming going on, especially at schools repudiating donors who are safely dead. Let me know when someone refunds the money--inflation-adjusted and with interest, of course.
Myself, I'd make them keep the names. It might make them a little more careful who they take money and name things after in the future. (I used to have to drive over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. There's a man with a serious body count.)
But two links to the contrary, you don't need Adam Smith to tell you that slavery isn't capitalism. Marx could and did explain that.
And tell me again why this argument belongs on TMP?

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

No but Marx figures out how to get people to volunteer to be slaves to the state.

Hobhood4 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

VC CArter = I don't think Marx did. His credo was the need to create conditions and political circumstances in which the poorly paid 19th C. factory worker could have a better life. The totalitarian regimes who appropriated his ideas are responsible, if not for 'slavery' then certainly for a great deal of human suffering. The political economist, historian and philosopher Marx cannot be held responsible for these things.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 5:34 a.m. PST

Fruit from the poison tree?

Like saying the people who developed the atomic bomb have no responsibility for it's use.

steve1865 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2017 3:12 p.m. PST

This is a good thread.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


steve1865 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

Since the first Civilization was from Africa, EGYPT,. May be the African,s developed slavery?

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