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  •  Slavery did wonders for the American economy (0+ / 0-)

    for many years, yet nobody with any moral sense thinks it was justified for that reason.

    •  Slavery was HORRIBLE for the American (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sneakers563, foufou

      economy.  There's a reason why the North was decades ahead of the south in technology and productivity--economic growth is severely hampered when a huge portion of its members do not have income and do not buy anything.

      "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

      by Geekesque on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:01:25 PM PDT

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      •  That was only after the beginning (0+ / 0-)

        of industrialization. I don't think very many people would seriously argue that slavery wasn't instrumental in the colonization period. Was it by accident that slaves were brought to every part of the New World, by not only the British, but also the French and the Spanish?

        •  That doesn't mean it's the most profitable (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          foufou

          means of labor.  Slaves were often used to fill shortages of labor.  There's plenty of studies that suggest that all in all, slavery is less profitable to the business owner than wage labor.  Sidney Mintz, for instance, writes about this in his (excellent) history of the sugar industry, Sweetness and Power.

          To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

          by sneakers563 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:37:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You guys are really stretching here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sneakers563

            So, every European colonial power spent massive amounts of time and energy forcibly removing hundreds of millions of people from Africa and bringing them to nearly every part of the New World that they went to, and yet, unbeknownst to them, there was a much more profitable way of colonizing the doing things?

            You really believe that? Slavery was just like some mass delusion that actually retarded the colonization and exploitation of the Americas?

            •  Yeah, there was (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              foufou

              You said it yourself: "massive amounts of time and energy forcibly removing hundreds of millions of people from Africa and bringing them to every part of the New World they went to".  Does that sound like the most profitable way to do things?

              That doesn't mean, though, that they had a choice under the conditions in which they were operating.  Acquiring large amounts of wage labor was a continual problem in the early days of colonialism, as most native populations were self-sufficient.  It was often necessary to compel labor, either through expropriation of land, forcible enslavement of native populations, importing workers from the home country, or forcible enslavement of others.  Look at E.G. Wakefield's description of the difficulties in finding willing agricultural workers in South Australia, for instance.

              To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

              by sneakers563 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 06:06:14 PM PDT

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              •  Yes, it does sound like the most profitable (0+ / 0-)

                way of doing things, because if there were another more profitable way, that other way would've certainly been easier. I suppose it's not really worth having this discussion though, I'm just sitting here shaking my head that we're even having this discussion. It was done on such a large scale, by so many different people, in so many different places, it just seems insane to me to try to make some argument that there were more profits to made doing it in another way, but somehow, no one even thought of that. That kind of willful refusal to consider the historical record is pretty hard to argue against.

                •  It's not entirely that they didn't think of that (0+ / 0-)

                  First, this is like arguing that feudalism couldn't have been less profitable than capitalism because otherwise the feudal lords simply would have been capitalists.

                  Secondly, it doesn't necessarily mean that people didn't think that there was a better way to do it.  Clearly, many did, as capitalism has largely swept away slavery.  It only means that local conditions at the time made slavery a necessary precondition for developed capitalism.

                  Frankly, I think you're the one ignoring the historical record as I've pointed to a couple of different sources for my argument, while your argument has boiled down to "but everybody was doing it".  40 years ago, half the world was communist, but that didn't mean that it was as profitable as capitalism.

                  Anyway, I've enjoyed our discussion.  My wife is yelling that we have to go see Toy Story 3, so I'm afraid I have to go.  Have a good night!

                   

                  To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

                  by sneakers563 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 06:36:04 PM PDT

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            •  And, I might add, it's not really so strange (0+ / 0-)

              The average wage laborer during that time was willing to work for a wage that would compromise their long-term health in order to have enough money to eat tomorrow (they really had no choice).  The cost of buying a slave, though, isn't set by the slave, but by the slave dealer.  The slave dealer doesn't care whether the slave lives or dies after the sale, so there's no incentive to sell the slave for a price lower than the amount of value the slave could reasonably be expected to produce over his lifetime.  

              In other words, if the average slave could reasonably be expected to produce 2,000 British pounds worth of cotton over his lifetime, the slave owner has no incentive to sell the slave for less than that.  Consequently, the slave owner has a big investment up front and needs to keep the slave alive long enough to make his investment back.

              On the other hand, if the wage laborer's health eventually declined to a point where he could no longer work, he can simply be replaced by another worker without trouble.  And, that's what happened in England throughout the early industrial period.  Look at the health statistics for the English laborer: they decline precipitously.  Eventually, so many are unable to work that a labor shortage ensues and the government begins forcibly moving people from the countryside to the cities.  The health of the working class even begins to be seen as endangering the ability to raise an effective army.

              All this suggests that wage labor is more profitable, because the wage laborer can be forced to accept a lower price for his labor than the slave dealer will accept for the labor of his slave.

              To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

              by sneakers563 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 06:28:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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