The roots of American wealth and capitalism: Slavery

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #1
    The best sort of long-form journalism, courtesy of the New York Times.

    If you are white and middle-class in the United States (or even, perhaps Britain) its more than possible that you owe that status to the legacy of slavery.

    Slavery made America (and Britain) rich. In 1800 the US had nothing to offer the rest of the world. But slavery-enabled cotton made America the richest country in the world by 1900.

    Slavery ended in 1863. But we are still living by the rules created on the plantation:

     
  2. Adam Warlock macrumors regular

    Adam Warlock

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2016
    #2
    LAMO! The roots of American wealth are hard word, risk-taking and trade. Nearly every nation on Earth has engaged in slavery, many even into the modern era, without gaining so much wealth. This is just more of the same guilt-inducing garbage Westerners have been fed for decades. Time to call it out for the crap it is.
     
  3. diamond.g macrumors 603

    diamond.g

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Virginia
    #3
    Sooo, you are saying slavery had no bearing on the success of the US?
     
  4. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    I’d say that the true success of the US began in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to the 1950’s. Industrialization and lots of space was key. Oil reserves played a role too. Prior than that, this country was almost third world like. Even if you read the history of baseball, which basically begins right after the civil war, you’ll see how awful this country was. Until very late in the 1900’s the (white) players were almost literally owned by the team owners, with virtually no pay and no rights.
    Slavery allowed many people, mostly white, to enrich themselves the same way some people in third world country enrich themselves while everyone else is poor and dying.
    What caused our status are the various fights for rights of the XX century, early and thereafter. Go read how people, white and non whites, lived in New York’s dumbbells for example. Go read the letters of those who were living in the countryside (I highly recommend the HP Lovecraft/Robert E Howard epistolary volumes as they are both intellectual and a window into the past). Life here was brutal.
    Does this mean that slavery was justified, justifiable? No, absolutely not. Does this mean that slavery didn’t hold black people back? No, absolutely not.
    But let’s face the truth, to one degree or another every class of citizens had to fight for rights in this country and saying that slavery is what allowed white people to a better place is ignorant at best.
     
  5. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #5
    The truth would be that it allowed white people a better starting place, than others.
     
  6. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    White people had it better when they landed in 1492 coming from enslaving countries and started doing the awful things they did. Africans sold their people to whites too.
    Let’s face it, at the time almost everyone was enslaving in one form or another.
     
  7. NT1440 macrumors G5

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    #7
    I’m always amazed by how tightly people have to clutch onto the fairy tale mythology of how great and noble this country was in the past. America was built on the backs of slaves, and then we just shy away from the generational ramifications of that truth because it pokes a hole in the shallow patriotic mythology of how righteous some want to believe we are.
     
  8. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    At the moment you’re the only one in this thread that mentioned a pious past for this country.
     
  9. LordVic macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
  10. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #10
    This must be the stupidest cartoon I’ve ever read.
     
  11. LordVic macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    #11
    than you're missing the point completely.
     
  12. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #12
    Just because one group did it, doesn't justify another doing it. Do we give a pass for the crusades? Slavery is evil, it's recognized as evil. It was also a necessity for many civilizations to develop the way they did. It doesn't make it less evil, and it doesn't mean that those exploited did not suffer more for that development.

    The point is as the article points out, that this country was built to where it is now on the literal back of slavery. The basic foundation that you are glossing over to instead focus on later advancements, is the U.S. was able to flourish as it did, due to very very very inexpensive HUMAN labor.

    Slavery has had a hand in the successes of civilizations. Slavery was a fundamental part in the early success of the United States. To get to what you want to focus on in industrialization, the United States had to be able to sustain & succeed until Industrialization ( industrialization that Blacks would play a part in as well ), slavery played a key part in that. To pretend that success began there, is selective cherry picking to gloss over another ugly part of this country's history.

    The fallout from slavery was that a race of people started from a literal position of being considered sub human, told they were sub human, denied education, rights, and land promised to them. Eventually with the help of whites, that intentional stopping point was slowly ( some would argue it's still being removed ) removed. But NOT completely, roadblocks were still intentional placed, segregation, Tom Crow, and more. I have to confess I don't remember the same battles being fought by many whites for the same things, unless you were a woman who wanted a voice.

    I'd argue it's ignorant to imagine that EVERYONE has had to fight for the same rights of one degree or another. That's a position I would say born from privilege. Because the degrees that Black, Asian, Women, & still Hispanic have had to weather are far greater than other citizens of this country. Yes, everyone has had their struggles, some more than others. That's the differentiation point. NOT ALL STRUGGLES were/are equal. That struggle for some was a literal fallout from the days of slavery that helped lay the foundation of what this country eventually became. What's helped make this country great that many have forgotten, is it's adaptability. It's ability to recognize that what worked in the past, may not work today, and build from that. Recognizing that slavery helped make this country what it is today, isn't a bad thing, it's a reminder of what will NOT work today, no matter the corporate variation.
     
  13. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #13
    Thank God, because the point is certainly even worse.
     
  14. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #14
    That would be, because it's true.
     
  15. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #15
    It's not a matter of justifying. It's a matter at looking at the pure simple truth that slavery was common for everyone back then, despite some changes in forms. This was true for white countries as it was from black countries in Africa, as it was true in Asia (sadly slavery is still a reality, but that's a different topic).
    Each and every country was built on awful stuff. Wars, famine, family feuds, slavery, exploitation, and so on.

    I totally disagree on this. The US sustained itself for the simple reason that it had lots of natural resources that could be utilized, but that was hardly success. It was survival. Were blacks treated unfairly? For the love of God, yes. But to say that what we have today, which is a direct result of industrialization + many social fights in the XX century (plus WW2 if we want to say it all), is due to slavery, that's idiotic at best. Less than 5% of the population owned slaves.
    At any rate, slavery is not a product of the US.

    No, whites had different fights. I have never said that whites and blacks had the same issues, and I never said that blacks didn't have more issues (Jim Crow is an examples). But let's not pretend that whites were living a dream world in the roaring '20s with top hats and drinks. This country has been awful to virtually every class.

    Absolutely. Each group and class fights its own battles.

    Are we really at a point in which we measure my struggle vs. yours? Are we so divided as a country? Lord help us.
     
  16. pshufd macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #16
    A lot of Chinese were brought over to be essentially slaves but they came voluntarily because it was better than what was back home. Today, these folks, as a group, are doing pretty well despite starting from a tough place. I'm sure that Jews, Italians, Irish and other immigrant groups faced very rough times before they became established too.

    The US is still a great place of opportunity. But it can be hard to figure out how to grasp the lower rung and start climbing.
     
  17. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #17
    For this it's a matter of rationalizing. Just because something was common, does NOT belay the importance it has. Everyone did it, because it was very successful. Are we going to pretend the pyramids just built themselves because of blueprints and the will of a royal class? No. Slaves were needed to build them. Want to deny the importance of slaves there? The economic engine that drove the United States to the 1800's was fueled by slavery.

    The US sustained itself until the 1800's heavily on cotton. Remember that? Cotton fields. That imagery before the invention of the cotton gin. Fields picked by whom?

    It doesn't matter who or how many owned slaves. The topic is the importance of slavery to the success of the United States. If one person was allowed to own all the slaves at that time, it still wouldn't wash the country's hands of the stink that is slavery. If the country allowed & profited off of slavery.

    NO ONE ever made that claim EVER here.

    Do you believe the 'fights' Whites had were of the same 'degree' as Black people? Evidently no, but you have to recognize that the conditions had by Whites even in the 20's was still BETTER in far larger numbers than Blacks.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_race_riot_of_1919

    That's the point. Things even then were NOT equal.

    We will unfortunately NEVER not be at that point, as long as some don't recognize the individual struggles others have had. It isn't wrong to recognize those struggles, it helps to truly understand where one's brothers & sisters come from, and not one's own imagined concept of what they went thru.

    It's those struggles, and the stronger individuals forged in those struggles that make this country great. Individuals.
     
  18. Anarchy99 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    CA
    #18
    his point is how inaccurate it is.

    in my opinion for it to be closer to accurate there'd be a group of blacks and white's helping out someone who looks like the monopoly guy.

    why because that comic forgets about white slavery/indentured servitude.
    it also forgets that at slavery's peak less than 5% of americans owned slaves of any race (it was a thing for the very wealthy/connected thus monopoly guy even though the clothes wouldn't be peroid accurate it would get he points across.)

    even if the comic was modified like that to be more accurate it wouldn't touch on the fact that there were some black slave holders.

    ive always found it weird considering how wrapped up in slavery the US is how ignorant many are about many of its aspects.
     
  19. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Scotland
    #19
    I am not saying that we should ignore slavery or underestimate its legacy. However, much of the wealth it created was destroyed in the Civil War. We should be focused on discrimination, prejudice and equal opportunities now, not just for people who are the targets of discrimination, but for poor people in general.
     
  20. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #20
    There are plenty of other places on earth that had a climate and soil that were suitable for the growing of cotton. Egypt, for example. But also India, China and Turkey.

    Why was it that the United States became by far the market leader in the 19th century? Answer: Because in the pre-industrialized world, the US alone relied on slave labor to cultivate and pick it. It also relied on the steady theft or appropriation of land from indigenous peoples to expand the land area available to grow it. Before chemical fertilisers, you could only grow cotton for a couple of years before needing to let the land lie fallow.

    Yeah: The US had natural resources. And in the 19th century these were an expanding supply of land and free labor.

    The point of there article is not to make anyone feel guilty about something their ancestors may, or may not, have had a hand in or directly profited from.

    But it is to make us understand that slavery - not democracy, or free enterprise or any other sort of ******** - is the reason America became a rich country in the first place.

    The other point of the article is to make you understand that American capitalism today shares many of the principles and practices that were developed on the plantation.
     
  21. pshufd macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #21
    Within each population you have people with gross challenges too. Mental illness, congenital problems, etc. There are poor in every race and ethnicity. Everyone has their own challenges but it's pretty easy to envy those that apparently have a lot more. The approach of division is frequently for individual political gain and that gain is a lot more important to the politician than actually resolving problems and not creating new problems.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 16, 2019 ---
    It does feel that way if you work in the salt mines.

    But the plantations can be pretty nice.

    The plantation where I work has free coffee, orange juice, sodas, spritzers, a couple of gyms, a game room, parking, air conditioning, healthcare, and lots of other things. In return, you just have to work a ton of hours.
     
  22. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #22
    The comic does NOT forget anything. The comic is about the fallout since slavery.

    Because of slavery, Black Americans ( who weren't even that then ) started in a lower position in society over their White ( Who for the most part were American ) counterparts. It's off the back of slavery that United States was able to sustain, then profit, then advance. Without the use of slavery White American would NOT have been able to or possibly willing to succeed ( this should sound vaguely familiar to anyone who's discussed about illegal immigrants working in the states ) the way it did. Still those slaves didn't automatically become full & true American citizens when slavery was abolished. They were relegated to a lower caste/class that literally didn't exist until they were put there.

    I could be incorrect, but I don't recall many Rich White / Poor White / Blacks separate bathrooms. My understanding was for the most part they were labelled White & colored bathrooms & drinking fountains. Neighborhoods in the worst areas were specifically zoned off for Blacks. Etc.

    Deflections on how many, who did, or whatever, don't change the fact. Slavery was an important part of the success of the United States. Is it shameful? Yes. The important part though, is the country recognized it's error and tried to fix it. Is it still a work in progress? Once again, some would say yes. But the point is, we recognize and fix the problems.
     
  23. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Scotland
    #23
    It is also self-evident that the US and many other Western countries have unsustainable levels of power-, health- and wealth-inequality. For many people, the emotion you are dismissing as 'envy' is actually simply the desire to survive, the desire for justice, and the desire for true opportunity.

    The rules of the game favour those in power, and even then aren't even equally applied to all. If you doubt this, do you truly think a poor paedophile would have gotten off as lightly as Epstein? Or that a drug dealer from a poor neighbourhood would be treated in the same way as the corporate executives who pushed opiates on the gullible US population?

    I don't think we're investing sufficiently in social programmes that help level the paying field, for either poor white people or poor people of colour.
     
  24. JayMysterio macrumors 6502a

    JayMysterio

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Rock Ridge, California
    #24
    People get paid to work in those salt mines?

    You get paid to work on that plantation? o_O

    Pretty nice.

    I won't ask about the disciplinary measures, or if you were allowed to call out sick.
     
  25. pshufd macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #25
    I look at what we spend in my town on schools, $13,000 per student. That seems like a lot to me when education, with modern technology, should be inexpensive.

    I grew up in your stereotypical single parent minority household and we frequently skipped meals. My mother worked two full time jobs to barely make ends meet. My wife grew up poor in a single parent household where there were laws written in to discriminate against her race. And she was in a third world country growing up with race riots.

    I will say that the United States, with all of its problems, has been good to us.

    We are all just trying to survive. Even the wealthy who worry that what they’ve earned will be taken away.
     

Share This Page

156 August 16, 2019