Enslaved Africans fueled Europe’s Industrial Revolution

By Lennox Farrell Wednesday February 25 2015 in Opinion
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By LENNOX FARRELL


There are several intersections at the historic points of departure between African enslavement and European Industrialization. One is that of a pre-15th century Europe and its social evolution in five centuries from the serfdom, famines and plagues of its Dark Ages to today’s nuclear-based domination of planet Earth. Put another way, if the continents had been a class of students, the one then least likely to succeed would have been Europe. Unfortunately, and particularly with regards to Africa, Europe escaped from the desperation of its Dark Ages, by imposing “Darker Ages” on the “Dark Continent”.

 

In short, wherever it went, Europe generously imposed on unsuspecting peoples, what it had in abundance: the sorrows, impoverishment and hopelessness of its own past. However, inter-European conflicts were sharpening. By the 16th century, the Portuguese, with a half-century head-start on carnivores battling for global supremacy, was outflanked by the alpha lion: Rule Britannia!

 

Thereby, the second intersection is that the strategy used by Europe to ensure its own development, was the systematic underdevelopment of Africa – see Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Europe’s team of Trojan Horses used to effect this included its missionaries, mercenaries and merchants. Over the centuries, enriched and enhanced by these enablers of charity, terror and dependency, European imperialism morphed after four centuries of chattel slavery to their mid-19th century Emancipation Proclamations (paying not the Black enslaved, but White enslavers, billions in reparations).

 

However, in Europe, Western Europe remained at war with itself. And this, despite the vast wealth accumulated between the 15th Century and the first decades of the 20th century of European “exploration, piracy, and carrying enlightenment to the dark corners of the Earth”. These were wars about religion and territorial expansion, etc. One lasting 30 years!

 

Another lasted 100 years (1337-1443), for territory both on and off the continent. Unmatched now for weaponry and war, Europeans readily controlled those the Victorian poet of empire, Rudyard Kipling, dubbed, “the White Man’s burden…the lesser breeds without the law”. One such war, “the Opium War” was waged by Britain against 19th century China to snatch China’s silver bullion. Imperialism drug-pushing Chinese national addictions.

 

In the British West Indies, 19th century “Emancipation Proclamations” were followed by a 20th century era of Colonialism. Between Europeans, this was to further ensure success poaching from the “overseas empires” of others, while preventing being poached upon. There were other concerns. The earlier Berlin Conference (1885) had initiated a significant change in Europe’s designs on Africa. The treaty was to tamp down the growing tensions between Europeans there, but not end the theft of Africa. With slavery ended, Africans would no longer be stolen from Africa; with Colonialism beginning, Africa would be stolen from the Africans.

 

Despite the treaty, inter-European conflicts for control of these “overseas empires” grew. Failure of the 19th century Berlin Conference led to the 21st century carnage of World Wars I and II.

 

In these wars, the “colonized” would ironically fight and die to ensure “Freedoms for Europeans against other Europeans”. After World War II, Colonial control was itself threatened. These colonized patriots, from the “war to end all wars”, had returned to end Imperial control; the match igniting these pro-Colonial wars. Anti-Colonial agitations, revolutions and wars erupted. In some instances – when in British-controlled Kenya, British troops assisted German-controlled Tanganika to defeat revolting African patriots. Also, in the British West Indies, after even Barbados – Little England – revolted during the interregnum, between the two World Wars, the British Parliament appointed the Moyne Commission. For more information, Google “Report of West India Royal Commission (Moyne Report)”. Its findings, conservative even as they were, so condemned British Imperialism, that to avoid handing Hitler anti-British propaganda for British-controlled Africa, details were published post-World War II.

 

After the ending of World War II; a weakened Europe was forced to concede to mid-20th century “Independence” for its colonies. These concessions were championed by the newly created United Nations with the mandate to “assist in keeping the peace”. However, Europe, seizing the most significant instruments of global power: the Security Council, the World Bank, etc., regrouped. The colonies would be granted “Independence”…in quotation marks.

 

Thus, African patriots who wouldn’t be corrupted and intimidated, e.g. an Nkrumah, a Mandela and a Machel were exiled, imprisoned or assassinated. “Independence” was cashiered in under European-engineered military, political, financial, cultural and legal institutions. By the mid-20th century, using threats and pressures under global financial institutions like the World Bank, “former colonies” were carefully undermined through immoralities in public affairs; parliamentary ineptitude and corruption; institutional lawlessness; scripted electoral outcomes; and social lethargy and anarchy among the youth. Europe had democratized dependency.

 

For analyses more comprehensive than are available here, consult Discourse on Colonialism by Martiniquan poet and writer, Aimé Césaire. Google an article by Trinidadian writer, Pankaj Mishra, titled, “The Western Model is Broken”. And, of course, the definitive text, Capitalism and Slavery by Dr. Eric Williams, first Prime Minister of an “Independent Trinidad & Tobago”.

 

But why would Europe create these crises of genocide and carnage, not only outside of, but also inside Europe? Here are specific examples of how enslaving Africa went to creating today’s Europe. Some gleaned from an article titled “Countries that became rich from slavery”, from the Atlanta Black Star website.

 

(http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/10/01/nations-that-benefited-the-most-from-enslaving-african-people/)

 

Also, citing an article titled “Major Corporations that Benefitted from Slavery” from the Atlanta Black Star website: “The enslavement of African people in the Americas, by the nations and peoples of Western Europe, created the economic engine that funded modern capitalism. Therefore it comes as no surprise that most of the major corporations…founded by Western European and American merchants (at least a century ago) benefited directly from slavery.”

 

These include JP Morgan, Barclays, and N M Rothschild & Sons Bank in London; insurance companies AIG and Lloyd’s of London; Enterprises like Lehman Brothers, Aetna, and Canada’s National Railways.

 

In fact, Wall Street, hallowed ground of American capitalism, was also ground zero for American slavery. An article by Alan Singer of Hofstra University: “Wall Street Was a Slave Market Before It Was a Financial Center”, noting an anniversary of Wall Street’s slave-trading links said: “the sordid history of Wall Street is actually much older and darker. December 13, 2011 was the 300th anniversary of the law passed by the New York City Common Council that made Wall Street the city’s official slave market for the sale and rental of enslaved Africans”.

 

Every country in Western Europe has these links. So necessary was slavery to the British economy, that to commemorate this, Britain named its most valuable coin, the Guinea, after the African country from which it had acquired its global ascendancy trading in gold.

 

It is correctly stated that the most profitable enterprise undertaken by European and other countries in the last five centuries has been the slave trade. Today, one of its derivatives, anti-Black racism, continues to guarantee to White societies standards of living they wouldn’t have otherwise. Mychal Denzel Smith, a writer and professor at Georgetown University wrote, “the genius of racism is that you do not have to be racist to participate in its benefits”.

 

To be continued: defining Europe: Bach with brass knuckles.

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