Fightin’ Talk

Introduction
Ask a historian, or a political scientist, or a politician the question,
“Who benefited from North American slavery?” and the answer
you will probably get is, “The slaveholders, of course.” The
slaveholders got to work their slaves hard, pay them little, sell
what they made for healthy prices, and get rich.
We economists have a different view. Consider North American
slaves growing cotton in the nineteenth century. Those
slaveholders who owned slaves when it became clear that Cotton
would be King—that the British industrial revolution was
producing an extraordinary demand for this stuff and that Eli
Whitney’s cotton gin meant that it could be produced
cheaply—profited immensely as the prices of the slaves they
owned rose. But slaveholders who bought their slaves later on and
entered the cotton-growing business probably profited little if any
more than they would have had they invested their money in
transatlantic commerce or New England factories or Midwestern
land speculation: with the supply of slaves fixed, the excess profits
produced—I won’t say earned—by driving your slaves hard were
already incorporated in the prices you paid for slaves.
And there is another group who benefited mightily from North
American slavery: consumers of machine-made cotton textiles,
from peasants in Belgium able for the first time to buy a rug to
London carters to Midwestern pioneers who found basic clothing
the only cheap part of equipping a covered wagon. Slave-grown
Who Benefited From
Slaver
U.C.
Introductio
Ask a historian, or a political scientist, or a politician
“Who benefited from North American slavery?” and
you will probably get is, “The slaveholders, of
slaveholders got to work their slaves hard, pay them
what they made for healthy prices, and
We economists have a different view. Consider
slaves growing cotton in the nineteenth
slaveholders who owned slaves when it became clear
would be King—that the British industrial
producing an extraordinary demand for this stuff and
Whitney’s cotton gin meant that it could
cheaply—profited immensely as the prices of the
owned rose. But slaveholders who bought their slaves later
entered the cotton-growing business probably profited little
more than they would have had they invested their
transatlantic commerce or New England factories
land speculation: with the supply of slaves fixed, the
produced—I won’t say earned—by driving your slaves
already incorporated in the prices you paid
And there is another group who benefited mightily
American slavery: consumers of machine-made
from peasants in Belgium able for the first time to buy a
London carters to Midwestern pioneers who found
the only cheap part of equipping a covered wagon.
Economics 113, Spring 2018
2
cotton could be produced cheaply, yes, but the cotton-growers did
not collude and so sold their cotton at prices that incorporated only
a normal rate of profit. Cotton could be spun and woven by
machines at amazingly low prices, yes, but British factories did not
collude and sold their garments at prices that incorporated only a
normal rate of profit.
And there is yet a third group that benefited: northern and western
Americans whose taxes are lower because of the tariffs collected
on imports of goods financed by cotton exports

True though.

28 thoughts on “Fightin’ Talk”

  1. Surely one wouldn’t buy a rug made of cotton. Not even Belgians, they’d be made out of wool. Perhaps he means table cloths.

    At what stage ( if any) did American cotton become more important or cheaper to Britain than Indian ?

  2. Dennis, Clear-Eyed As Always

    This comes from Brad DeLong (aka Paul Krugman’s Renfield). DeLong is an intellectually dishonest, virtue signalling white liberal who was more than happy to work for Bill Clinton – he of the “justice reform” movement that lead to today’s “mass incarceration” of African-Americans – and endorser of Barack Obama – he who never lifted a finger during the eight years of his presidency to end mass incarceration or reform policing in the U.S. Go to DeLong’s blog and read the syllabus for his course on slavery: It’s clearly politically correct anti-Americanism and anti-Capitalism masquerading as an college course.

    Back in the day I once left a polite (no really, it was polite) comment on his blog back during the Bush presidency when DeLong was parroting Krugman’s “Bush is corrupt because of Enron” propaganda, asking him to explain several of Paul Krugman’s own dealings with companies such as Enron (Krugman did pick up Enron’s money when he had the chance). Rather than respond, DeLong simply deleted the comment. That’s all you need to know about Brad DeLong… He’s a very minor intellectual who was born to carry water for those he deems useful to his career.

  3. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    Note what group is excluded from DeLong’s answer to the question of who benefited from North American slavery: The slavers, especially the non-white slavers. The African and Middle-Eastern slavers who caught and then sold black Africans to white slavers.

    Can’t mention the slavers… because then you get into Guilt that ain’t White Guilt. And guys like Brad DeLong don’t have the balls to go there.

  4. It has long occurred to me that the major beneficiaries were the consumers. Cheap cotton, cheap sugar …
    I suppose that’s our ancestors of a few generations back.
    Prepare for compensation claims against ordinary folk, this gets more interesting by the day.
    I wonder that Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ might itself be now ending.

  5. Dennis: Oppressor, Warmonger, Capitalist and Consumer of Petroleum Products

    What difference at this point does it make?

    The difference between inducing and not inducing White Shame in white people, in order to gain the compliance of those same white people in a political agenda they may otherwise be dubious of?

  6. Dennis said::
    “inducing White Shame in white people, in order to gain the compliance of those same white people in a political agenda they may otherwise be dubious of?”

    Does that actually work? Are there many white people who are convinced by this who wouldn’t be signed up to a leftist redistributive agenda anyway?

  7. Dennis, Proven Correct In Most Things Most of the Time

    Does that actually work?

    Yes, it does. You’d be amazed at how many white folks will positively grovel to make sure the general public knows they are one of the “good” white people. As opposed to the “bad” white people that live next door to them. This is more about class than race. It’s about middle-class white folk attempting to assert class superiority over other white folk. It’s what being “woke” is really all about.

    When it comes to dealing with black folk, the woke whites only acknowledge those blacks that are in a position to validate them as “good” whites (thus validating their class superiority). Woke whites don’t go into the hood, don’t believe blacks can do anything successfully without their help and are happy to get racist as hell with black conservatives.

  8. Slavery has been part of the human condition since humans evolved.
    It continues to this day.

    An economist might want to look at the correlation between slavery becoming economically feasible to do without, and industrialisation, principally driven by fossil fuels.

    Wouldn’t it be a hoot of the Gretards are actually bringing back slavery by their destruction of fuel-powered mechanisation!
    Someone has to plant and reap the crops for the elite to eat!

  9. “Someone has to plant and reap the crops for the elite to eat!”

    Don’t be silly. Their food comes from the grocery store.

  10. “Don’t be silly. Their food comes from the grocery store”
    Only while the lights and tills are on, and the delivery trucks burn diesel. When it’s all to be done by hand, however,…

    Probably worth stocking up the reeducation camps a year or two early, just to be ready.

  11. “since humans evolved”[citation needed]

    Of which, prehistoric slavery, or that humans have actually evolved since? 🙂

  12. Wouldn’t it be a hoot of the Gretards are actually bringing back slavery by their destruction of fuel-powered mechanisation!

    Not really. It is on their to-do list. They are very keen for peasant servitude and serf status for the untermensch, not so much for the great and good. Moonbat has written quite frequently about the worthiness of the peasant farmer and how much better it would be for the masses to subsist on pease pudding.

  13. But Dennis, what I asked was “Are there many white people who are convinced by this who wouldn’t be signed up to a leftist redistributive agenda anyway”.

    Aren’t your “middle-class white folk attempting to assert class superiority over other white folk” already “signed up to a leftist redistributive agenda”?

    I can see what they’re doing, but I’m not convinced that this will actually convert anyone.

    The aim, you said, was to “gain the compliance of those same white people in a political agenda they may otherwise be dubious of” – but from what I can see the whites who sign up to BLM etc. are already onboard with the wider agenda; those who are dubious about the wider agenda aren’t going along with the BLM stuff either.

  14. Dennis, Tiresome Denizen of Central Ohio

    I can see what they’re doing, but I’m not convinced that this will actually convert anyone.

    The issue isn’t convincing that particular demographic, it’s getting them to comply. There’s a difference, and the difference is important.

    Installing shame, or if necessary fear, isn’t about producing converts, it’s about producing obedience.

  15. Dennis, A Vast Reservior of Toxic Masculinity

    OTOH, black history is a very rewarding specialism. You get eleven months off.

    It’s rewarding only if you’re a white liberal.

    Blacks live it 12 months a year. Whites who don’t give a shit don’t live it at all.

  16. Economically speaking this is a question of capital v current expenditure. Buying a slave is a capital investment, paying a wage is a current cost. Both modes operated in a market. From studies of slavery in the Classical world it appears that slavery is grossly inefficient.
    So the notion that cotton or sugar was cheaper because of slavery does not pass the economic test.
    Subsequent history would seem to bear this out. Sharecropping led to a very small uplift in family income. Prosperity everywhere in the US increased where workers were free to move to where their labour was most valued.

    We have near contemporary evidence. Collective farm and industrial workers in the USSR would do the bare minimum to keep themselves alive in reasonable health. They were operating the labour theory of value without having read Marx. So denying the capitalists / the Central Committee the reward of excess profit.

  17. @ philip
    I think that you are marginally mis-stating the situation in the USSR. The workers on the collective farms would do what *they thought* was the minimum required – so the USSR bought millions of tons of wheat from Australia. They were doing *less* than the minimum required to feed the USSR which relied on the export of gold and diamonds from Sakha (as well as oil and gas from western Siberia) to pay for food for the populations of Moscow and Leningrad. Why didn’t they starve like the Ukrainians under Stalin? Most likely they stole part of the harvest.
    Now Russia and the Ukraine are both among the top six wheat exporters. One of the failures of capitalism according to “woke” commentators.

  18. Gamecock: An anecdote. 5 or 6 weeks ago myself & Mrs TG were on a walk through the fields locally, where the local farmer was preparing for potato planting. A couple were in the field, staring at him in his tractor, piling up the soil in rows, and asked us what he was doing. ‘Preparing for planting potatoes’ we said. He seemed bemused. Anyway, we got to the next village where we met the farmer’s wife who confirmed that’s what he was doing. The couple were behind us, so we said to them ‘Yes, potatoes, this is the farmer’s wife’, to which the man asked her ‘why don’t you eat them rather than planting them?’. We had great difficulty in not falling about. It’s hard to believe that some people who you might expect to be educated just don’t know stuff, probably because they have no interest in anything except themselves.

    The potato plants are now well grown & in flower when we passed by them yesterday.

  19. Thanks, TG. I actually heard Pelosi say something to the effect that food comes from the store, suggesting that she knows nothing of what goes on beyond the back door of the store, nor any knowledge that it actually exists.

  20. I can remember seeing a comment on the subject of hunters in the US justifying their evil ways by stating that they always eat the meat from the animals that they shoot. They should get their meat from the store so that no animals have to die.

  21. Dennis said:
    “Installing shame, or if necessary fear, isn’t about producing converts, it’s about producing obedience.”

    Ah, yes, I see, thank you. Good point.

  22. ‘Who benefited from North American slavery?’ Obviously the British convicts who were lucky enough to go to Oz instead.

  23. @Tim the Coder June 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Spot on. Industrial Revolution made most slaves too expensive – purchase then board & lodging are a cost

    @Dennis – agree

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