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The 1619 Project

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David in MN:
The New York Times has embarked on it's "1619 Project" chronicling the 400th anniversary of the first imported African slaves to America.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_1619_Project

I'm a little taken aback by the journalism. For one thing to claim slavery built America is specious. I'll be real clear here. My home state of Wisconsin nullified the Fugitive Slave Act and my hometown was a stop on the Underground Railroad. We were anti-slavery before it was cool.

But what angers me more is the idea that slavery can build wealth. If you allow this flawed idea into your head it forgives all manner of human sins. We didn't circumnavigate the globe with Roman galley slaves; it required a professional sailor class who could tack the wind rather than whipping the slaves harder. Slavery has never produced wealth. We picked grain by slaves for millenia until we ended the practice and invented combine harvesters. The ending of slavery is the beginning of wealth.

I feel horrible that slavery has been a common practice to man since the dawn of time. But to give such an evil idea the power that it literally created modern society is beyond me. We're not wealthy because of slavery; we are wealthy because we ended slavery and sought to let every man, woman, and child empower themselves and through their wisdom enrich us all.

I do not think it's a coincidence that we ended the practice of slavery and all of the sudden within 50 years got cars and airplanes. Blues and Jazz became Rock and Roll and America became the cultural center of the world. Slavery might pick cotton the way it did for thousands of years but it can't give you a pair of Levi's that just fit right behind the wheel of your Cadillac. Chattle slavery didn't build wealth; it prevented human innovation and the flourishing of of the better angels of our character.

fritz_monroe:
It's always been frustrating to me that people try to make us believe that slavery is strictly Europeans keeping African people as slaves.  I know it doesn't fit the narrative, but slavery is as old as the human race. 

The Professor:

--- Quote from: fritz_monroe on September 07, 2019, 05:43:03 PM ---It's always been frustrating to me that people try to make us believe that slavery is strictly Europeans keeping African people as slaves.  I know it doesn't fit the narrative, but slavery is as old as the human race.

--- End quote ---

And it's still going on. . .yet. . .not a word about busting the Modern Slave Trade that goes on outside our borders.

Typical.

The Professor

Morning Sunshine:

--- Quote from: The Professor on September 07, 2019, 06:14:17 PM ---And it's still going on. . .yet. . .not a word about busting the Modern Slave Trade that goes on outside our borders.

Typical.

The Professor

--- End quote ---

or INSIDE our borders

David in MN:
It is odd that we never cite Brazil, the last western country to ban slavery in 1888. But I find the assumption that slavery can build an economy far worse. A slave owner doesn't invent a lawn mower because he already has a slave and scissors. One need only look to the slave economies of old to see the Egyptians and Greeks were phased out because their slave culture could not imagine anything beyond manual labor. Or look to the calcified European serfdom that ensured generation after generation of backbreaking labor.

For the Times to make a definitional statement that the birth of this country was built on the back of slavery feels wrong-headed. It actually is quite the opposite. Our slave states were totally eclipsed by the free states. It's not some mystical accident that we were industrialized by Ford in Detroit, John Deere in Wisconsin, The Minneapolis Moline, managed futures contracts in NYC and Chicago, and had a couple of bicycle mechanics from Dayton discover flight. Slavery held back the slave owners.

I have always felt this way and if I'm frank had the Egyptians taken my tack I think I'd be living on Jupiter by now. It's fairly simple to see our corn and wheat businesses radically modernized while cotton plantations languished. Free people do better work.

I don't know why I feel so alone. It's self evident that a slave economy will in 1000 years still have slaves pulling rickshaws and in my free society I hire Jason Statham to drive my BMW 5 series. The idea that slavery generates wealth is perhaps the darkest idea to have crept into our hearts. It's demonstrably false and we would have been better to abandon it earlier. Shame on the Times.

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