So, BBC World Service

No idea when this will go out. But on the subject of reparations for slavery. Roughly this argument.

Given that the descendants of those enslaved are between 6 times richer (Jamaica) and 16 times richer (Barbados) than the descendants of those not enslaved (Benin) then what damage is it that we’re supposed to be paying for?

The presenter was slightly shocked by the argument: but then the researchers had sought me out to make it so….

Update: the piece is here.

46 thoughts on “So, BBC World Service”

  1. They were shocked because it’s something they’ve really not thought about but merely held a view deemed appropriate.

    It’s exactly the same thing with the resource depletionists of the ‘pay gap’ whingers. They haven’t really thought about the issue as those of us who have don’t hold the ‘right on’ consensus view, as it’s a view sustained not but evidence, reasoned argument and refinement but by indoctrination and threat of excommunication to dissenters.

  2. I thought reparations went in two directions.
    To the descendants of slaves, for the pain of knowing what happened.
    And to the African countries which were impoverished by the loss of their workforce.
    Both are silly arguments, but neither are related to the relative incomes of the states.
    And of course no chance they will apply to the Arab countries that ran the trade in East Africa. Or China, which took slaves on condition they were castrated first.
    Only the West is to blame.

  3. These claims for reparations have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with trying a get a few quid out of self-hating white ‘liberals’.

    I am quite happy with this, as long as the self-hating Graun-reading twats don’t take cash off others to assuage their guilt.

  4. It’d get really interesting when you started looking at the bank accounts of those descended from salves who are currently earning millions in the NFL, MLB or playing basket ball.

    They must owe those responsible for the slave trade an awful lot of money.

  5. That does not exculpate those who engaged in or encouraged the slave trade. The UK spent more on eliminating the slave trade than it gained from it – who among you imagines that the increase in VW’s profits from its cheating software will exceed its fines and other costs?
    Forty years ago I was attacked by feminists on the basis that “you owe me because I’m a woman and you’re a man because my grandfather insulted your grandmother”. What makes you think they have changed?

  6. ” Or China, which took slaves on condition they were castrated first.”

    Well they aren’t going to have any descendents to make a claim.”
    The supposed injury from slavery is probably unquantifiable, particularly several generations later, but we can measure the difference in the standard of living between the West Indies or the USA and West Africa, and on that basis, I reckon they probably owe us.

  7. Non of the descendants would exist if not for the slave trade. There is no way the sperm and egg that made them, or their parents, (go back as many generations as necessary) would have combined and produced those descendents had not those historical events occurred.

    Very sad to think that you would not exist if not for some horror perpiterated upon your ancestors.

  8. “And to the African countries which were impoverished by the loss of their workforce.”

    And whose ancestors sold them into slavery in the first place. Bit like murdering your parents, then begging for leniency on the grounds that you’re an orphan.

  9. I want reparations from the descendants of the Roman Empire… and the descendants of the Duchy of Normandy… and the descendants of the Jacobins… and the descendants of the House of Orange

  10. “Jamaica should pay us reparations for Sir Lenny Henry.”

    I’ve seen him at the NT, and he’s actually a good actor.

  11. Do you get paid by percentage of bloodline? So I’m to be mulcted four times as much for a fine, strapping mulatto than an octoroon? That’s OK if it’s Halle Berry, and I get to keep her.

    David Horowitz has already laid out the counter-arguments in exhaustive and incontrovertible detail. The pro-reparations crowd are not acting in good faith, and can be dismissed on those grounds alone.

  12. Is there some confusion here? West Africans were participants as well as victims of the slave trade. 17/18th century Europeans lacked the military power to enslave without local helpers.

    American/carribean slaves and their descendants OTOH suffered generations of cruelty before they profited from better material well being. I wouldn’t have traded that for myself and my descendants back in 1600.
    (Not sure where that leaves reparations)

  13. The reparations crowd always paint this picture of white Europeans running round the African jungle with big nets trapping frolicking locals.

    The truth was victors in tribal wars sold their conquests into bondage. If white traders hadn’t bought them, someone else would have and their futures as slaves wouldn’t have altered.

    The reparations “debate”, like Black lives matter, feminism, islamaphobia et al is just another tool of the elites to drive us into conflict with each other so we have less cohesion to stand up to them…

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    I sneeze in threes – “Very sad to think that you would not exist if not for some horror perpiterated upon your ancestors.”

    Well that is true for all of us. None of us would be here if our ancestors had not been murderers, rapists and cannibals. So we depend on horrors perpetrated by and upon our ancestors.

    Mostly by rather than upon.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    JimW – “And to the African countries which were impoverished by the loss of their workforce.”

    But were they? Western slavers wanted slaves so they took mostly men. But in Africa men mostly sit around and watch the women do agriculture. So it is unlikely that the trade had a big impact on the economy. The Arabs and Africans themselves kept the women.

    AndrewC – “It’d get really interesting when you started looking at the bank accounts of those descended from salves who are currently earning millions in the NFL, MLB or playing basket ball”

    After the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight, Muhammed Ali, aka Cassius Clay, is reported to have said “I am sure glad my ancestors got on that boat”.

    Luke – “American/carribean slaves and their descendants OTOH suffered generations of cruelty before they profited from better material well being.”

    Only in America did people suffer generations of slavery. Everywhere else, slaves died pretty quickly. So in the British Empire and Brazil, the Blacks we have are the descendents of those enslaved just before slavery was abolished.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Luis Enrique – “what makes Benin a useful guide to the counterfactual for Jamaica?”

    Switzerland was too mountainous.

  17. “The reparations “debate”, like Black lives matter, feminism, islamaphobia et al is just another tool of the elites to drive us into conflict with each other so we have less cohesion to stand up to them…”

    Eh? What evidence have you for that dingbat conspiracy theory? Islamophobia etc are tools used by virtue-signalling radicals, not by the elites.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “Islamophobia etc are tools used by virtue-signalling radicals, not by the elites.”

    What makes you think there is a meaningful distinction between the two?

    In passing, anyone else see Corbyn lifted his speech from some blog?

  19. Don King made the famous remark about his ancestors being taken as slaves. Works better in the popular imagination if Ali said it though.

  20. BTW Tim, who was the presenter?
    And what.makes to think they were shocked? Your factual evidence is correct and your argument follows the logic of the proposition. So why the shock? Did they articulate ot?

  21. SMFS – sorry for being subtle. I put the argument, I didn’t say i agreed with it.
    Of course they weren’t impoverished by slavery. Nations are poor now for lots of reasons, but not because their distant relatives were sold into slavery.
    BTW, some African slave sellers were so keen to maximise their return that they sent sales reps to the Caribbean to check what slaves were in demand and would get the best prices.

  22. CHF – I would not be surprised. Comedians are often good in serious roles. People often seem to be surprised by this, but to be a successful comic you need good timing and presence.

    The best film Adam Sandler ever did was Punch Drunk Love. Robin Williams was spookily good as the baddie in a couple of flicks he did at the turn of the century: One Hour Photo, where he plays an obsessive loner in the Travis Bickle mould, and Insomnia, where he stole the limelight from Al Pacino.

    Then, of course, there’s Bill Murray. Lost in Translation is a perfect little diamond of a movie, like a sad and beautiful haiku about middle aged regret.

    I’d like to see Lenny Henry play a gangster in a Guy Ritchie film. I have a feeling he’d be good playing a Brick Top type character.

  23. “These claims for reparations have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with trying a get a few quid out of self-hating white ‘liberals’.”

    If only. In fact it’s about getting self-hating white liberals to extort a few kid from the proles and hand it over with pleasure.

  24. Oi Stevie boy
    Jamaica should pay us reparations for Sir Lenny Henry.
    I pulled you up on this before. Lenny Henry is from Dudley, so hands off. I bet you are a secret welshman and long to be an Englishman.

  25. johnny bonk – “I pulled you up on this before. Lenny Henry is from Dudley, so hands off.”

    So Wellington was a horse then?

  26. Tim,

    Rereading your actual post (comment thread has, as is its wont, taken on a life of its own…) and having listened to the piece as broadcast, I think you ought to prepare for lorry loads of hate mail…

    Too much focus on the plain economics makes you look heartless. Did the rest of the argument get left on the cutting room floor?

  27. SMFS

    “What makes you think there is a meaningful distinction between the two?”

    Observation, dear boy, observation.

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “Observation, dear boy, observation.”

    My observation of our ruling class is that they are very socially liberal. Radical in fact. Journals like the Economist have embraced the Long March Through the Institutions and hence things like Gay marriage.

    When it came to the Cold War, the only thing that saved us was working class Christians. The intellectuals, our ruling class, were supine when they were not supportive of Stalinism.

  29. The Pedant-General

    I doubt Tim will need recourse to a comments policy. His reaction to ‘lorry loads of hate mail’ would be much the same as mine – if you are having to recourse to crude ad hominems your argument is weak to agree it can’t actually withstand debate or scrutiny. Unlike Murphy, Tim is willing to tolerate almost any comment or any opinion. In a Liberal society this is how progress is made. It’s a lesson the ‘pro-reparations crowd’ either never learned or chose to ignore.

  30. johnny bonk – I bet you are a secret welshman

    Tim, this sort of vile personal abuse is why we need a comments policy.

    Secret Welshman indeed! I am triggered.

    I do not point at aeroplanes, have no relatives named Rhodri or Gareth, and am over four feet tall.

    However, I have noticed a few lads in the office whose Welshness was hitherto entirely unsuspected suddenly adorn their desks with those little green and red dragon flags and makeshift shrines to Charlotte Church.

    What could have caused this unexpected eruption of Cambrian consciousness?

  31. @”The truth was victors in tribal wars sold their conquests into bondage. If white traders hadn’t bought them, someone else would have and their futures as slaves wouldn’t have altered.”
    It was more complicated than that, over time some wars were fought to have slaves to sell.

  32. VP,

    “I doubt Tim will need recourse to a comments policy. ”

    Quite so. My concern for our genial, if heartless :-), host is that the hate mail is likely to be real world rather than simply here.

    And of course, Tim, perish the thought that anyone should lie to the BBC.

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