Let's preface our modest foray into social justice and the theoretical armchairy rectification of ancient wrongs with a few points of actual fact. I am aware this is a shocking break with tradition in the field, if you can call it that, but I don't perceive much alternative. So :
- At the time, during the Age of Sail (and prior to the discovery of "America" aka "West Indies"), when the entrepreneurial, admirable, intelligent and adventurous Whites made contact with the troglodyte blacks befouling the slave coast (also "Barbary coast" in period notation), slavery as a socio-politico-economic practice had died out in the lands they inhabited. This is not proposed as some kind of ethical judgement or with the tendency towards some kind of moral implication -- it is simply a matter of fact : whites had known the institution of slavery in millenia past, but they had meanwhile forgotten it. Thus it is the necessary conclusion of any possible read of the historical record to say that the blacks reintroduced slavery in white culture. It can not be said that whites introduced slavery among blacks, for the very simple if self-obvious reason that it isn't even remotely true.
- The slave trade, as practiced for a good century prior to the discovery of America (principally by the Portuguese, various Italian city statesi, and others) occurred chiefly as an experiment. Its premise, eminently as transparently, was "given these economically utterly worthless blacks, can there be found some way, manner or device through which they could earn their daily bread ?". The attempt, doomed as any serious initiative intending to better the lot of mankind ever is, proceeded very much on the same lines as say Obamacare, or the building of a welfare state, or the operation of halfway houses, poverty reduction projects etcetera. These are all anti-economical activities, unjustifiable except for the purely religious belief in the existence of such a thing as the "human soul", which somehow, theoretically, can and "in certain conditions, which just haven't been found yet" (but will be found, supposedly, and in a finite interval and by the expenditure of finite resources) will manifestii.
- It took the whites centuries of experimentation (on their own time, and on their own dime) until the gap was finally sparked (as indeed it was) : some islands in the West Indies could be made economically profitable through the application of black labour to the intensive cultivation of sugar cane, it was discovered mid-1600s. This was the first (and only) time in history black labour was actually productive in an economic sense ; and even if they weren't the most profitable thing ever (mining, for instance, was still greatly more rewarding an economic activity, to say nothing of trading, or seafaring), nevertheless it was quite enough to maintain the involved population of black people in conditions which, if not comparable to either the elite or the average life of whites, was nevertheless infinitely above the average life of blacks. Who, then as now, ate the dirt they shat, I'm not sure how to put this in plainer terms.
- Upon this blueprint, some white people in the Southern half of North America brought their own refinements (such as applying said labour to the intensive cultivation of cotton, as opposed to sugar cane, and other things) producing a temporarily stable arrangement in which black people could live among civilised people, as opposed to among themselves in fucking Biafra.
- The collapse of this arrangement mid 1850s put an end to the historically rare situation where any group of black people earned their daily bread as a group ; cherry picked examples hence do not resolve the fundamental problem, namely that blacks ain't generally capable of subsistence on their owniii at any sort of level anyone'd deem human.
- The group of "African-Americans", ie "black" people left behind that particular experiment are not substantially representative of a putative "black race" in any sense, for the very simple reason that the transportation of slaves consisted of moving almost exclusively males. The females involved in reproduction with blacks in the West Indies were almost exclusively native, rather than White (demographically calling these women "Redskins" holds about as much water as talking about "blacks" in this context, so I suppose we might as well). In any case : given that pregnant women deliver a certain proportion of girls to term no matter how many or varied men worked them ensured some degree of gender balance in the population in question ; nevertheless the peculiar demographic winds under which this relatively small group of originating females had to do their work ensured a very divergent, very internally homogenous subgroup. Thus talking about things like "the medical problems of the black race" on the basis of observations made upon the African-American population is really discussing fruit in terms of apples.
- Any discussion of the hardships of transportation has to take as reference the hardships of the alternativeiv. It's not the case that the Africans captured by other Africans and sold to the Portuguese, Dutch, etcetera for absolutely anything these could be persuaded to pay, a broken knife, an apple core, anything at all would otherwise have enjoyed life in some sort of anachronistic Los Angeles of 1200 Guinea, pimping out their rides, wearing hats "innovatively" and dragging about large tools they didn't understand how to use. Transportation in and of itself, for all its hardship and misery, represented also a net increase of the life expectancy of the slave in question -- who, it bears repeating, was and would have been just as much a slave with or without the ship ; but wouldn't have received the little in clothing and food he did receive without the ship.
To bring this lengthy story to its necessary, natural conclusions : black people owe a lot. Not to me personally, it could be said, and I'd be willing to accept ; nor to any other douche incarnate, whoever they may be. That is fine.
They still owe ; and they still have to pay up.———
- Venice was already antique by the time Columbus was born. The first doge ruled in the year 726, not 1492. There's, for the record, seven centuries and a half between the years 726 and 1492, which is to say three times more than the entire existence to date of the United States. [↩]
- I am a first-rate sufferer under the burden of this delusion, as anyone who's been keeping current on Trilema is no doubt keenly aware. [↩]
- As it turns out, slavery isn't the only African technology the contact with blacks bestowed upon the misfortunate whites. After barely a couple of centuries of unhappy cohabitation, the whites appear to have somehow, magically, lost the skills, inclinations and proclivities which historically, for three or more millennia, made them not-black and non-African in this particular sense : that they did manage to economically justify their continued existence. Hurray for multiculturalism, I guess. [↩]
- In the immortal words of Margarete Buber-Neumann (escaped to Ravensbrück after a coupla years in Karaganda, part of the Soviet Gulag thingee) :
I looked across the great square, and could not believe my eyes. It was surrounded by manicured lawns, covered by flower beds on which bloomed bright red flowers. A wide street, which led to a large open area, was flanked by two rows of wooden barracks, on both sides stood rows of young trees and along the roadside ran straight flower beds as far as the eye could see. The square and the streets seemed freshly raked. To the left towards the watchtower, I saw a white wooden barrack and beside it a large cage, the size of a birdhouse the like you see at a zoo. Within it paraded peacocks (stolzierten) and on a climbing tree dangled monkeys and a parrot which always screamed the same word, "Mama". I wondered, "this is a concentration camp"?
Shit happens, and generally not the way you'd expect. What can I say. [↩]